Cold Water Extraction Step-by-Step Guide

Extraction of solids is a fairly common operation. Depending on the nature of the substance to be recovered, either a cold solvent (cold extraction) or hot solvent (hot extraction) is applied. The latter is necessary in the case of extraction of substances swelling before dissolving or poorly soluble in a cold solvent.

Extraction with Water or Aqueous Solutions

Water is one of the most important solvents for a large group of inorganic and organic substances. In addition to pure water, sometimes aqueous solvents of acids, alkalis or various salts are used as solvents. Extraction of solids by water or aqueous solutions is often called leaching.

cold water extraction

Cold water extraction or CWE is widely used to separate the desired medicine (i.e. Tylenol, Hydrocodone) from an opiate-based substance that dissolves in cold water. Tylenol, on the contrary, will filter off and remain on the bottom.

Here is how to perform cold water extraction:

  1. Crush Pills

Take not more than 5 pills and crush them into a fine powder. To minimize the loss of powder, you can put the pills into a zip-lock bag and then crush them there.

  1. Add Warm Water

Warm about 150 mL of cold water. Bring the water to a warm temperature but make sure it’s not hot, otherwise, the opiates will get destroyed.

  1. Mix and Stir

Take the powder and mix it with warm water. Then stir. Leave it on the table for about 10 minutes.

  1. Use Freezer

Put the substance into your freezer. Allow it to sit there for approx. 30 minutes. Do not put the lid on top or let it freeze.

  1. Use a Coffee Filter

Take out your glass and then filter the water with the help of a coffee filter.

  1. Squeeze the Filter

Squeeze the coffee filter into the same empty glass and you’re done.

What Is Cold Water Extraction Needed for?

Many opioid medications may be harmful, especially to the liver. A cold water extraction allows to remove paracetamol from such combinations and make the pills safe.

However, there is one issue that should be addressed. Many opioid pills also contain caffeine. After CWE most of the caffeine will remain in the finished product. It should not be a problem for most patients but those who have caffeine issues should be careful.

One Tip for a Better Taste

The extracted substance may taste bitter. To fix the situation, you can mix it with something sweet.