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Author: Subject: sassafras extraction from roots - anyone have experience or know yeilds?
RogueRose
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sassafras extraction from roots - anyone have experience or know yeilds?

I have the opportunity to buy some fresh roots, IDK if fresh is best or not, but it's a few lbs and I've been wanting to do some extractions and this is a good thing to try it on IMO. I tried on basil, sage and different mints and it created a mess and yeild was really low (I think my fault for drying too much) so I thought this might be worth a try.

I plan on using the extract as an essential oil and try some soaps or similar products, or maybe even make some real authentic root beer! (a couple bottles won't hurt I don't think!!).

So I'm wondering if it is worth trying to extract from a few lbs and how much I might be able to expect. Also, is their oil in the wood, bark (non-root) or anywhere else?
B(a)P
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I think safrole has gone out of fashion as a flavouring due to the carcinogenic nature of the compounds formed when it is oxidised.
It is also regulated in my country due to its use as a precursor to illicit substances.
Now I feel like the fun police.....
SWIM
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There is oil in the bark as well.

Steam distillation is popular for sassafras, and that's what gives you sassafras essential oil.

I guess you could find way to get to more or less the same thing with extraction, but it wouldn't be a simple one step process.

Only time I ever saw somebody try it the yields were terrible, but maybe it was the sassafras material.
It had little smell, and I bet it was old.

This was back when there weren't restrictions in the US on sassafras oil so roots were in little demand and these might have been rather old. They were also bought from a bin in a health food store which was not sealed so they may have been in the fresh air for quite some time.

The small amount of oil they gave off did certainly smell right though.

EDIT: It's worth mentioning that it usually takes an awful lot of plant material to distill an essential oil.

Anise is a bit of an exception, and there are probably others, but in most cases it seems to take about 10 times as much boiling as you'd think to get an ounce of oil.

[Edited on 20-5-2020 by SWIM]

@CharlieA below: Last time I checked the essential oil can be bought (expensive) by the 1/2 ounce.
The restrictions were, at least then, on quantities over 1/2 ounce.

Aromatherapy essential oils are probably your best bet for getting the real thing.

But you'll have to look a bit as many aromatherapy suppliers won't sell it in any quantity.

At least that's how it was in California.

EDIT: And oh yeah, recipes can probably be found in old cookbooks and formularies.
I'd try Dick's formulary first as it's easy to find. Might be in there.

Sarsaparilla's pretty good too though, and you don;t need any ecstasy precursors to make it.

Birch beer's too sweet for me.

[Edited on 20-5-2020 by SWIM]

[Edited on 20-5-2020 by SWIM]

Ebay says they need to get their hands on my bank account if I want to keep selling there.
This sounds like the best idea since putting ortho tricresyl phosphate in Ginger Jake.
I'm walking while I can still walk straight.

CharlieA
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I'd rather make root beer from sassafras...if I knew how!
G-Coupled
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'Rootbeer' - lol
karlos³
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I know a detailed anecdotal report.
Just took a look at it, and the plant matter amounted to 20 pound of freshly dug up roots.
After they were deepfrozen for 24h to damage the plant cells, he cut it all small, the small ones were used simply completely and the larger roots were peeled to their core of hard wood.
For this job, he used a potato peeler apparently, which probably reduced the overall weight of the roots at the start maybe to a quarter at most, maybe even just a tenth, with all the rootbark separated from the wood, who knows, he did not say that.
Anyway, it was steam distilled and the total amount of crude sassafras oil amounted to 320ml.

This oil was simply separated out of the distillate, not extracted.
It was fractionated and the safrole obtained was then again vacuum distilled twice.
The quantity of pure safrole amounted to 240ml at this point.

And then it went on, etc, etc, everybody knows that, he was successful and it was a respectable job he did all in all with this project.
Pretty cool, I wish sassafras would grow here in europe too... its just so cool to make such a substance out of a precursor that grows wild, and its price is only hard work and time.

Sooo... in conclusion, if it is done right and well, then one can even with the material that grew just a few years ago, still get acceptable quantities of safrole from this tree, rather only his root bark, its hard work, but it does pay off obviously.
draculic acid69
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 Quote: Originally posted by B(a)P I think safrole has gone out of fashion as a flavouring due to the carcinogenic nature of the compounds formed when it is oxidised. It is also regulated in my country due to its use as a precursor to illicit substances. Now I feel like the fun police.....

I know that the oil is banned but I'm not sure if buying the roots is banned.
RogueRose
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Thanks for all the responses. I found that I can get the entire tree, so maybe I can strip the bark off, cut it down the length of the tree with a very sharp knife and peel. The tree is 3-4" diameter and 20-25ft tall, so not real big.

I also have a wood chipper that can cut very fine, so I'm thinking that is the best option but I also have some good chain saws that can make some serious chips, even smaller than the wood chipper, so maybe that's a last resort, giving them more surface area (1/8" x 3/16") and the shredder is about 1/4" x 1/4" x 1/16-1/8", so all are pretty small chips. I'm guessing either would be fine, or is there a major advantage to more surface area.

I have a 1L Soxhlet extractor that I've never had the need to use, so would this be best done in here or would normal boiling then steam distillation be adequate. I was thinking of boiling the wood in a pressure cooker and putting all the escaping vapor through a condenser.

Finally, I found a large grove of these trees, not to far, and they are old, probably pushing 75-100 years old and maybe 40-60 of them in this lot. What this means is that there are going to be maybe 100-150, 35-44 gallon bags, of shredded leaves in the fall which would be fine b/c I have a 6gal and 16gal still that could be used for this but I'm not seeing alot of sites mention that there is safrol in the leaves, maybe at a certain time of year?
I was planning on planing a bunch of tree's this year, I have 1000's of oak sprouts that came from some AMAZING stock (the acorns did at least) so now I'm thinking of adding a couple hundred Sassy trees to the planned forest (starting in a green house for first 1-3 years)
karlos³
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The leaves contain other unwanted stuff, and only a minute quantity of safrole, they make a rather dirty oil with little valuables in there.

As for using the woodchipper, I wouldn't recommend that either.
If you remove the bark properly, you can reduce the total volume of plant matter to steam distill much, meaning you don't have the worthless inner wood taking place away in the still pot.
Everything else besides the root bark(and actually the aerial parts of the bark aren't very good either), is not of much value.

You should better do a good pre-selection of the most valuable material only, and process that first.
If you then still are motivated to repeat the same for a small number of dirtier oil, compared to your first batch in high quality where only the good rootbark is used, it also gives you a very visual impression on this matter.
And you will see with your own eyes how much more, and how much of a better oil the rootbark gives and how much worse and less every part else.
The qualitative differences will be very impressive as well.

This way you also don't ruin the good oil out of the best parts with the low quality plant matter, something you will be happy about later, thats for sure.
G-Coupled
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 Quote: Originally posted by karlos³ The leaves contain other unwanted stuff, and only a minute quantity of safrole, they make a rather dirty oil with little valuables in there.... Everything else besides the root bark(and actually the aerial parts of the bark aren't very good either), is not of much value.. You should better do a good pre-selection of the most valuable material only, and process that first.... This way you also don't ruin the good oil out of the best parts with the low quality plant matter, something you will be happy about later, thats for sure.

Great post which if followed will greatly improve any extraction - it seems you don't get very much Safrole to begin with.

[Edited on 20-5-2020 by G-Coupled]
RogueRose
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 Quote: Originally posted by karlos³ The leaves contain other unwanted stuff, and only a minute quantity of safrole, they make a rather dirty oil with little valuables in there. As for using the woodchipper, I wouldn't recommend that either. If you remove the bark properly, you can reduce the total volume of plant matter to steam distill much, meaning you don't have the worthless inner wood taking place away in the still pot. Everything else besides the root bark(and actually the aerial parts of the bark aren't very good either), is not of much value. You should better do a good pre-selection of the most valuable material only, and process that first. If you then still are motivated to repeat the same for a small number of dirtier oil, compared to your first batch in high quality where only the good rootbark is used, it also gives you a very visual impression on this matter. And you will see with your own eyes how much more, and how much of a better oil the rootbark gives and how much worse and less every part else. The qualitative differences will be very impressive as well. This way you also don't ruin the good oil out of the best parts with the low quality plant matter, something you will be happy about later, thats for sure.

Thank you, I think that will save me from making a rather large mess had I done that. on a side note, the guy wants $30 for 3lbs of roots, which is now sounding like too much if only the root bark produces the oil... karlos³ International Hazard Posts: 714 Registered: 10-1-2011 Location: yes! Member Is Offline Mood: verrückt & wissenschaftlich 1,5kg of wood for 30 bucks? Hmm... I mean it has to pay off for you, but in this case nothing will pay off because you are willing to pay instead of investing an afternoon of hard work to obtain much more material. I can't provide you with useful or even exact numbers though, and that obviously varies a lot. I don't know, if a few ml's are sufficient and you think this is ok to buy...? But honestly, I would feel that is taking advantage off me, I could have digged them up myself, I know how to use a shovel too. Its fresh and has much higher amoúnts of a better oil, it doesn't involves giving money away, especially not for something thats likely not fresh and worth that price at all, and lastly, you're doing some great excercise for your health RogueRose International Hazard Posts: 1443 Registered: 16-6-2014 Member Is Offline Well the roots were$30, I was thinking this might be OK if I got the whole tree with it. now I just think he is out of his mind. I'll tell him I'll give him $5 (for everything) if he has no other offers. The roots are only 2 days old he says. I think he cut them like 12-16 hours b/4 I posted. I wish I could find these on our property, you'd' think with 20 acres of woods (old farm field that grew up), there's bound to be some in there, but I never saw it. I'll need to look in spring again when leaves are more easily identifiable. I did find a wood shop not far that specializes in strange lumbers, sassafrass being one of them. he's always getting in new logs and milling them, so I'm guessing he has to deal with the bark. I'm thinking THIS might be the avenue to pursue. get all the scrap boards and where they trim the bark off, then use a bandsaw to cut it very close to the wood. If they are cutting the trees completely down, maybe I can find out where and get access to the roots. IDK if you can coppice sassy or not, where you cut it down and new trees (staves) sprout up. This is an awesome method of lumber management if you need certain types of wood, like fence posts or other 2-6" diam timber. Oak does this very well, as far as some poplar, locust and I think hickory among many others. It takes advantage of the established root system so the new growth grows like 3-10x faster than it would if it was a new tree. You usually have to wait until the tree is 40-80 years old, depending on species and climate. sorry for the tangent! S.C. Wack bibliomaster Posts: 2116 Registered: 7-5-2004 Location: Cornworld, Central USA Member Is Offline Mood: Enhanced  Quote: Originally posted by karlos³ Pretty cool, I wish sassafras would grow here in europe too... its just so cool to make such a substance out of a precursor that grows wild, and its price is only hard work and time. Yes it's great to make piperonal from the plant since the smell of piperonal is almost unknown here (definitely not OTC), unlike Europe. Tons of oil were taken there starting from the 1600's; how many more centuries before someone plants seeds or live roots. Before the ban on safrole flavor, distilleries chipped down whole roots and never bothered separating the bark. The yield was 1-2%. For 15 years now, nothing sold here as sassafras oil contains safrole. "You're going to be all right, kid...Everything's under control." Yossarian, to Snowden draculic acid69 International Hazard Posts: 850 Registered: 2-8-2018 Member Is Online The poor man's chemist on YouTube has a video on sassafras steam distillation to get the oil.its a great channel.you should check it out if you want to see it done. Amos International Hazard Posts: 1245 Registered: 25-3-2014 Location: Yes Member Is Offline Mood: No I filled a 500 mL flask about halfway with sassafras root bark and obtained about 4mL of sassafras oil to show for it. Digging up the roots probably took 2 hours :| RogueRose International Hazard Posts: 1443 Registered: 16-6-2014 Member Is Offline Quote: Originally posted by S.C. Wack  Quote: Originally posted by karlos³ Pretty cool, I wish sassafras would grow here in europe too... its just so cool to make such a substance out of a precursor that grows wild, and its price is only hard work and time. Yes it's great to make piperonal from the plant since the smell of piperonal is almost unknown here (definitely not OTC), unlike Europe. Tons of oil were taken there starting from the 1600's; how many more centuries before someone plants seeds or live roots. Before the ban on safrole flavor, distilleries chipped down whole roots and never bothered separating the bark. The yield was 1-2%. For 15 years now, nothing sold here as sassafras oil contains safrole. Piperonal comes from peppers, correct? I have a 2 HUGE bags of ground black and a bag of white pepper that had gotten contaminated with some aluminum oxide powder and maybe some small parts of aluminum. Probably about 10-15kg of each. The bags were above a stove vent (made of very thin aluminum mesh) that corroded over a cople days and all the vent material fell down into the open bag/container. It also has a very slight bit of orange something that is sticky, I think a grease from the vent. Someone had left a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner or something similar that had volatile HCl and a the fan drew air up into it, it turned the grate into powder and fell down. I've been hesitant to do anything with it, I was thinking of an extraction but don't know what I would do with the product. This stuff is only a year or so old and was very fresh when it was ordered. Maybe this is a better experiment than the sassy bark considering it's free and doesn't cost me$30 for a few ml.
G-Coupled
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Extract the pepper and use any extracts in future endeavours - you might as well IMO.
S.C. Wack
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 Quote: Originally posted by RogueRose Piperonal comes from peppers, correct?

Fairly pure safrole, piperine, and piperonal (from piperine or isosafrole) are all easy.

"You're going to be all right, kid...Everything's under control." Yossarian, to Snowden
morganbw
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Even though it is watched, I plan to synthesis some Piperonal this year or next.
I really desire to smell this before my end.
karlos³
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 Quote: Originally posted by morganbw Even though it is watched, I plan to synthesis some Piperonal this year or next. I really desire to smell this before my end.

It has a very nice smell, a warm flowery smell with an undertone of vanilla, its really good!
And not the least bit artificial or synthetic like some other isolated substances do smell, despite being natural.
No, piperonal is really a good and nice smell and not even overwhelming as other fragrances easily get in larger amounts.

And, I've heard quite a few claims from others that went like: "I couldn't stop smelling it, its so good"
Whenever I have a little of it, I put a few grams on the side for my partner, she loves the smell too

In turn, I really desire to smell sassafras oil some time!
I can't even imagine what it is like, I have no idea.
Maybe it smells obviously related to piperonal?
Then again, eugenol doesn't smell like vanillin either...
Wiki says it has a "sweet-shop smell", our wiki say it has an unique and complex smell... I'm really curious about this!
So far never had an opportunity to smell the real deal ever.

Only a few months ago I found US-imported root beer in the supermarket, and I bought a can to have a taste of it, I was motivated by the connection of it with sassafras oil.
It tasted, hmm, I have to say I was warned in advance about it, that europeans will find that its taste "dentist-ry"-like... and I had the same impression, it was still good though but it tasted not much like anything else except methyl salicylate.
Well, they use some artificial sassafras flavor nowadays, so it isn't the real thing anymore todays.
I'd like to taste the real thing some time, flavored with the real sassafras extract and not some stupid substitute.
draculic acid69
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All root beer flavouring is now just methyl salicylate.i tried some a few hrs ago,took a sip then handed the can back to the girl behind the counter and said get rid of that for me please.ive had a shit load of camphor timber once that instead of smelling like Vicks vapour rub smelled like a candy store so I think I know what safrole smells like
and if it taste as good as it smells it should be pretty awesome.

[Edited on 22-5-2020 by draculic acid69]
S.C. Wack
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There might be some perfume with piperonal in it, and it used to be available for this in more and more restricted ways, but lets not go on a sourcing rant.

 Quote: Originally posted by karlos³ In turn, I really desire to smell sassafras oil some time! I can't even imagine what it is like, I have no idea. Maybe it smells obviously related to piperonal? Then again, eugenol doesn't smell like vanillin either... Wiki says it has a "sweet-shop smell", our wiki say it has an unique and complex smell... I'm really curious about this! So far never had an opportunity to smell the real deal ever. Only a few months ago I found US-imported root beer in the supermarket, and I bought a can to have a taste of it, I was motivated by the connection of it with sassafras oil.

A grandfather often took me to the A&W (best big fast food chain ever) in the 70's, and he never mentioned the root beer being really different now and of course after I find out about the change everyone to ask is dead.

Do not try root beer flavored candy. Maybe at one time it was OK.

The only root beer worth drinking is A&W. Sassafras root smells like safrole and it seems odd that people want to make teas from it. It's rather antiseptic to me. Sweet yes but not like candy. More like somewhere between limonene and pinene. Nowhere near piperonal. Not what you'd expect from a tree root or any other part. But, like piperonal, it's a strong, unique odor that people are drawn to. IIRC most oil not for piperonal or safrole was used in soaps.

That which is sold as sassafras oil smells and tastes nothing like sassafras, and neither does root beer.

"You're going to be all right, kid...Everything's under control." Yossarian, to Snowden
morganbw
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I have has sassafras tea off and on my entire life.
My mother would make some on occasion when I was growing up.
I have never gone looking for the roots myself but sometimes I come across a bit and will still make the tea.

The rarity of it makes it nice. I would not use it as a continuous part of my diet but on occasion it is nice.
arkoma
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