Harmalas Extraction and Separation Guide

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Note error.png Note: This page is a transcription of Harmalas Extraction and Separation Guide[1].


Here's how you can get pure harmala alkaloids with food-safe materials.

Materials Required Checklist.png
Source Material:
  • Syrian Rue (seeds)
Solvents:
  • Water
Reagents/Desiccants:
  • Salt (rock salt or iodine free table salt)
  • Vinegar
  • Sodium Carbonate (which can be made from sodium bicarb by putting in the oven on high for an hour or two)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (optional. Either you can make sodium carb from it if you dont have, or also it would make your life easier if you want to separate harmine from harmaline. If you only have sodium carb and want to separate harmine from harmaline you'll also need a pH meter)
  • Lye (optional)
Equipment:
  • Funnel
  • Coffee Filters
  • Cotton
  • 2 big pots for boiling and transfering liquids
  • 2 big jars for transfering liquids



Resumed Process

A- Boil seeds 3x, filter (discard solids)

B- Reduce, filter (discard solids)

C- Add lye or sodium carbonate, filter (keep solids, keep liquid separately for retrieval of any lost alkaloids in the end).

D- Redissolve precipitated harmalas in warm acidified, filter (discard solids)

E- Saturate with salt, filter (keep solids, discard liquid)

For having purer product, redissolve in hot water, and repeat steps C, D and E a couple of times

F - Redissolve harmalas in hot water, add sodium carb, filter (keep solids, discard liquid).

G- (optional) Instead of precipitating all the alkaloids in step F, first add sodium bicarbonate to precipitate harmine, then add sodium carbonate to precipitate harmaline


1.jpg

Step one

Grind rue seeds in blender or grinder (for the making of this guide 200 grams were used, but adjust to your desired quantity). If you freeze the seeds beforehand, they will be easier to grind.

Step two

Boil for half an hour in water with a little dash of vinegar. No need to be exact with amount of water, just dont use too little that it forms a thick syrup, better give a bit more water space for the alkaloids to move out to.

2.jpg

Step three

Pour the water out and keep it in a separate container, filtering in some very coarse filter such as very loosely-put cotton on the bottom of a funnel or even better an old tshirt/cloth.


Step four

Put the seeds back in the pot, with more fresh water and dash of vinegar, and repeat steps 2-4 for a total of 3 or 4 times.

3.jpg

Step five

Put together the liquids from all the boils and discard the solids

Step six

Filter in a funnel with cotton plug. Be patient, it may take some minutes. It goes faster when there is a lot of liquid in the funnel to press down on the rest. If its taking much too long, filter again once or twice through a coarser cloth filter or dont pack the cotton plug so tightly.


Step seven

Repeat step 6 packing the cotton tighter for removing finer particles

Step eight

Put filtered liquid back in the pot to reduce in low fire. If you had, say, 4 liters of filtered rue tea, reduce to 1l so that its more manageable later.


Step nine

After reducing, filter again like in steps 6 and 7 because more solid impurities will have appeared in the process of reducing.


Step ten

Slowly add sodium carbonate (or lye) to your harmala tea At first it might bubble from sodium carbonate reacting with acetic acid from vinegar until it neutralizes. Dont add too fast or it might bubble up and make a mess. After it stops bubbling, the colour starts changing as the pH rises and alkaloids start precipitating. Keep adding a bit of sodium carbonate even after colour stopped changing, just to make sure everything will precipitate. Dont worry if there's a lot of sodium carbonate because any excess will be removed in the next step. Let it rest for at least a couple of hours in the fridge, and then filter with a coffee filter.

This time you want to keep the alkaloids so you have to use a finer filter that wont let the alkaloids pass, like a cloth or cotton might. Therefore, has to be like a coffee filter and this step may be slower. Some shortcuts can be made which is to use a vacuum filtering system, and if one cannot afford a propper one, it can be improvised at very low cost, or adapting a paper filter in a french coffee press.

If you use lye, it will make for an easier filtering. If you dont want to use lye, use sodium carbonate.

harmala tea changing to lighter color as sodium carb is added

''' This is a mix of harmaline and harmine + some unwanted alkaloids, vasicine, deoxyvasicine and vasicinone. They will be removed later on during step 12'''

Step eleven

Redissolve the Harmalas in hot water+vinegar (1:3 vinegar:water for example)

5.jpg


Step twelve

Filter a couple of times with coffee filter. Now there are less impurities, so using a fine filter like coffee filter, a few times, will help getting more and more rid of the finer impurities too. Your alkaloids should be dissolved in the liquid so any solid/color that stays in the filter is impurity. A coarse filter would not be enough, needs to be coffee filter or even two stacked up. The colours change beautifully from the yellowish salt precipitation to the clear reddish colour when redissolved.

Step thirteen

Decanting the rue tea after having added the salt, when one adds a lot (200g/l). Notice the salt that stays behind. When adding 100g/l the brew stays transparent after all salt is dissolved, and takes hours to start precipitating

Saturate the solution with salt. Have the tea boiling in a pot, and add 100-120g salt per liter of water. Let it cool down to room temperature slowly over the next couple of hours, and then you can stick it in the fridge. After 3-5 hours, the harmalas will have crystallized. If you add more salt (closer to 200g per liter), the harmalas precipitate faster but less pure and more powdery than crystally.

What is happening here is that with excess of salt, the harmalas get the Chlorine ions from salt and precipitate in the salt harmala form, harmine and harmaline HCl, which are insoluble in salt saturated water therefore precipitate. In this step one removes the uterotonic and possibly more toxic alkaloids vasicine and vasicinone, dangerous specially for pregnant women because they are abortifacient. Analysis done by Shulgin and others have shown salt-precipitated harmalas to be indeed free of these mentioned alkaloids.

Picture of the harmala salts precipitating in the second or third round. Notice the lighter precipitating alkaloids and the yellower liquid.

Step fourteen

Redissolve your harmala salts in hot water and repeat steps 10-13 a few times to make product cleaner. When repeating step 10, specially on the last run when you dont want any excess sodium carbonate, I recommend, instead of straight away putting the sodium carbonate in the tea, better heating some water to around 50c (around the limit where you can touch the water without burning yourself), and adding excess sodium carbonate, shaking/stirring, to make a saturated solution, and filtering/decanting away from excess sodium carbonate. Then, with this sodium carb solution, add it slowly to the solution of your dissolved harmalas.

I recommend repeating the steps 10-13 at least 3 times. I also recommend always doing in this alternating order, precipitating the salt, then redissolving in warm water, precipitating the base, redissolving in warm acidic water, repeat again, until its clean enough for you. In the first runs it is a darker brown, and then it gets progressively lighter yellower, like in these pictures:


6.jpg
Picture of harmala salts from salt precipitation getting lighter with repetitions. For pictures of how the harmala bases look, check lower down the guide

Step fifteen

Redissolve the Harmalas in hot water (no need for vinegar as salt-precipitated harmalas are very water soluble already)


''' For keeping the mixed harmalas, read step 16, for separating harmine and harmaline, go to step 17'''

Step sixteen

Slowly add a sodium carbonate saturated solution to your dissolved harmalas. As you add the sodium carbonate solution, you will see the harmala solution changing color. Keep adding slowly until you see no more color change. Let the harmalas precipitate over a couple of hours in the fridge, decant/filter with coffee filter, dry them up and you're ready to go :)

Or if you want to separate harmine from harmaline:

Step seventeen

This step is only if you want to separate harmine and harmaline. For this process we use the difference in their pKa, which is basically the measure that says at a certain pH, how many of its molecules will be freebase or in salt form. Harmine becomes a freebase in a pH where most harmaline is still salt, so one can separate them. If you have accurate pH meter, at pH 8,75, 92% of harmine present in rue will precipitate while only 8% of the harmaline present will precipitate. Add sodium carbonate saturated solution till pH 8,75 or add sodium bicarbonate saturated solution freely till it stops changing colour and a bit more, to precipitate harmine. Wait at least half an hour and filter with coffee filter, and add sodium carbonate freely to precipitate harmaline. Wait at least 2 hours and then filter with coffee filter to retrieve your harmaline. Note that depending on the original ratio of harmine and harmaline, there might be considerable amounts of harmine in your supposed harmaline. Check this thread for more info. If one really wants mostly pure harmaline, one can redissolve the harmaline and again precipitate with same selective pH, and the first precipitation will be most of the harmine and the second will be purer harmine. Dry and enjoy :)

The more one repeats the whole process, the cleaner the alkaloids get. I recommend repeating and alternating a few times between the salt precipitation and the freebase precipitation, with more runs on the salt than on the freebase. The reason for this is because even at a high pH, it is possible that a small quantity of harmaline still does not precipitate, so every basing could lose a small amount of it. It might not be such a significant quantity but maybe if one repeated many many times one could lose some alkaloids. One could make for example 3x salt precipitation, 1x base, again 1 or 2x salt and 1 or 2x base. If one does this, this is what happens:

In the first two or so base precipitations the product browner, with maybe a dark pink tone.
Then after repeating the clean ups it starts getting lighter tan.

And after one or another clean up run, the final products can be such as this:

Harmine
Harmaline

Reference

  1. Harmalas Extraction and Separation Guide [1]