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Soxhlet extraction

Definition: The process of transferring the partially soluble components of a solid to the liquid phase using a Soxhlet
extractor. The solid is placed in a filter paper thimble which is then placed into the main chamber of the Soxhlet
extractor. The solvent (heated to reflux) travels into the main chamber and the partially soluble components are
slowly tranferred to the solvent.

It was originally designed for the extraction of a lipid from a solid material. Typically, Soxhlet extraction is used when
the desired compound has a limited solubility in a solvent, and the impurity is insoluble in that solvent.

Soxhlet extraction is a continuous solid / liquid extraction. A solid which contains the material to be extracted is
placed in what is called a thimble. A thimble is made out of a material which will contain the solid but allow liquids to
pass through. A lot like filter paper. The thimble containing the material is placed in the Soxhlet extractor. An organic
solvent is then heated at reflux. As it boils its vapors rise up and are condensed by a condensor. The condensed
solvent then fills up the thimble. After it fills with enough solvent it automatically siphons back down into the container
of organic solvent. This process takes place over and over again until all the material to be extracted from the solid in
the thimble is now extracted into the organic solvent.

Soxhlet extractor is a piece of laboratory apparatus Soxhlet extractor is not limited to the extraction of lipids. Typically,
a Soxhlet extraction is only required where the desired compound has a limited solubility in a solvent, and the
impurity is insoluble in that solvent. If the desired compound has a significant solubility in a solvent then a simple
filtration can be used to separate the compound from the insoluble substance.

Normally a solid material containing some of the desired compound is placed inside a thimble made from thick filter
paper, which is loaded into the main chamber of the Soxhlet extractor. The Soxhlet extractor is placed onto a flask
containing the extraction solvent. The Soxhlet is then equipped with a condenser. The solvent is heated to reflux. The
solvent vapour travels up a distillation arm, and floods into the chamber housing the thimble of solid. The condenser
ensures that any solvent vapour cools, and drips back down into the chamber housing the solid material.

Normally a solid material containing some of the desired compound is placed inside a thimble made from thick filter
paper, which is loaded into the main chamber of the Soxhlet extractor. The Soxhlet extractor is placed onto a flask
containing the extraction solvent. The Soxhlet is then equipped with a condenser. The solvent is heated to reflux. The
solvent vapour travels up a distillation arm, and floods into the chamber housing the thimble of solid. The condenser
ensures that any solvent vapour cools, and drips back down into the chamber housing the solid material.

During each cycle, a portion of the non-volatile compound dissolves in the solvent. After many cycles the desired
compound is concentrated in the distillation flask. The advantage of this system is that instead of many portions of
warm solvent being passed through the sample, just one batch of solvent is recycled.

After extraction the solvent is removed, typically by means of a rotary evaporator, yielding the extracted compound.
The non-soluble portion of the extracted solid remains in the thimble, and is usually discard.

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