Nan's Nook : Archives : Misc Teks : Lab/Extraction Info : HOMEMADE COLDFINGER-TYPE EXTRACTOR
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By Admin (Admin) on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 12:16 pm:

Things to find:

Large pickle jar

Small 8 oz jelly jar

Saran wrap.

Small plastic tube about 5 " long, and about 1/8" in diameter. (if you cannot find this you can use a piece of 12 gage plastic insulated wire and pull out the wire to make the tube)

pan for boiling water.

Get some Methanol. Or if you cannot find pure methanol go to Checker and get Pyrol gas line de-icer (methanol with bitters) My dreamer friend says you will have to get the bitters out before you can use this. See:
The Still

So make your homemade "coldfinger" first.


Take the small 8 oz jar and wrap thin wire, steel or copper, around the top beneath the lid ridges. Then get three lenghts of the same wire and attach these 120 degree apart to that wire wrapped around the lip of the jar. These are then bent so that the little jar can be suspended about 1/4th the way down into the big jar and centered in it.

You are almost there, and to test your homemade unit, take the gas line de-icer and pour it into the large jar but not the small one. It will then be at the bottom of the larger jar. (You could do this before suspending the small jar)

Now with the small jar centered and the gas line de-icer at the bottom, carefully place the plastic tube over the lip of the big jar so that one end of it is inside and the other is over the lip and down the side of the jar. (use scotch tape to hold it if you have to) This little tube will serve as a breather and is necessary if using saran wrap as your water bath lid. Now use the saran wrap over the top of the big jar with enough slack so that you can make a cone that dips about an inch of so above the small jar suspended in the larger one. Be careful in this as you don't want to make holes in it.

Now, use a rubber band to hold it in place, and fill it with cold water. Have ice cubes ready as you will have to cool the saran wrap water bath. Look at the saran wrap water bath to see if it has any leaks, these will drip down to the apex over the small jar. If you see this, then there is a pin hole in the saran wrap (rare) and you will have to replace it.

Now place the entire unit into the pan with water in it, and place it on the range. Turn the heat up and bring to a light simmer.

By then the Methanol will have started to boil and and beging to condense on the saran wrap water bath to run down and collect into the smaller jar.

Watch it happen, and add ice to the water bath to keep it cool.

When the small jar is almost full stop the process let it cool for a moment or two and then pour it off into a proper storage bottle.

Contine the process until all the methanol is out of the bottom of the larger jar, and the bitters or the extract residue is left behind.

My dreamer friend says this system works very, very well in purifying commercial methanol from automotive gas line de-icers.

And it also works very well in plant extractions where the methanol is used to soak the plant material. In such a case, he tells me that all one has to do is pour off the methanol plant extract into the larger jar, set up the system as per his above explanation and the result is that the methanol can be retrieved and the dry plant extract left at the bottom of the larger jar for scraping off and later experimentation.

Overall it is a cheap and very effective means of making pure plant extractions

By Admin (Admin) on Thursday, August 23, 2001 - 12:17 pm:

Methanol extraction using a soxhet (sp?) [that is what "coldfinger" is] is a very effective means of extracting just about any kind of plant substance. Some will use ethanol instead as it is not poisonous as is methanol, but methanol on the other hand is much more efficient in removing plant actives, and its boiling point is lower.
Now the method.

What my dreamer friend does is to take a jar and put the finely ground and dry plant material in it (usually no more than 2 doses to minimize the bulk of it). Pour the methanol in to cover the plant material and fill the 8oz jar. Shake well and let sit for a day or so.

Pour off the methanol extract filtering it as much as one can.

Now pour this into the large pickle jar. Then affix the smaller jelly jar with the wires so that it is centered in the mouth of the large pickle jar and about 4 to 5 inches down into the jar. The wires will bend down over the lip to hold it in place. (once you make this setup it takes only a few minutes to break it down and put it together for use) Then attach the little breather tube as per the previous instructions. (This little tube is very important as witout it the saran wrap will billow up and down in the process and thus dump your cooling water) Next make the saran wrap cone so that it bulges down am inch or so over the mouth of the 8 oz jelly jar suspened within the larger pickle jar.

Now when it is secure and everything in place, put a rubber band around the top of the pickle jar to hold the saran wrap and breather tube in place.

Next fill the saran wrap cone with cold water, and have your ice cubes nearby for cooling as the process is underway.

Place the entire apparatus in a pan of simmering water, and watch the methanol boil to condense on the saran wrap and then fall down into the little jar for further use.

One adaptation of this method that my dreamer friend has not yet explored is to have the extraction process with this device.

First that would involve having a basket to hold the plant material. Pour the methanol into the big jar, then put the basket with the plant material to be extracted in place of the 8 oz jelly jar. Put everything together as described above, and let the extraction begin. Methanol will evaporate, collect on the saran warp cone, drop down into the basket, drip through the plant material and then fall to the bottom with all the actives.

After the process runs for a while and the droplets coming off the basket have lost their color one could assume that the extraction is complete. (The methanol at the bottom of the large pickle jar will have deep color from the extracts).

Now, replace the basket with the 8 oz pickle jar and retrieve the methanol for future use.

Stop the process when the extract is dry at the bottom of the larger container.

That is all there is to it.

Then when you scrape out the extract allow it to dry a day or so in the open air to make sure that all methanol has evaporated off.

This device works with just about all plant materials. It is very, very effective in making pure and natural extractions.

Make your own and save 250 bucks. It is easy to put together. Look at how the commercial one is made and simulate that concept. If one were to find a glass cone to cover the large pickle jar, that would get rid of the saran wrap. I have suggested to my dreamer friend to use a metal funnel with the spout plugged. This would be dropped into the mouth of the pickle jar and then filled with ice water. The plugged spout of the funnel would then be pointed over the smaller jelly jar for methanol collection.

The only drawback I see for this is that the seal would be broken, so along the edge of the jar where the funnel and lip touch a bit of saran wrap will, or should restor the seal.

One final note, ALWAYS use a water bath with this device to heat it. That is use a pan of simmering water set on the range and place it into that. This regulates the temperature to that of boiling water, and methanol boils much lower than that.