Making pure caffeine at home

If you’ve ever thought about extracting caffeine from coffee beans, [Ben] is the guy for you. The last time we ran into him, he had already produced a few aerogel monoliths with a few chemicals, pipe fittings, and some CO2. We’re guessing he needed another use for his supercritical drying chamber, so after looking over a few patents, he decided to make pure caffeine in his garage.

The extraction began with green coffee beans inside the drying chamber. Liquid CO2 is pumped in and heated to the supercritical point. After a few hours, the caffeine will have been extracted from the beans and can be drained from the chamber. Right now, the process results in an inky goo that contains caffeine. [Ben] refined this a little further with Methylene Chloride, a process he’ll document in a future video.

Of course it goes without saying that this build is a little bit on the dangerous side. We’re confident in [Ben]‘s abilities to know what he’s doing, but we’re not going to endorse this for every joker on the Internet. Also, two spoonfuls of caffeine will kill you, so try not to screw around with that either.

Comments

  1. SQ says:

    This doesn’t look good.

  2. jordan says:

    that picture just looks wrong…

  3. NatureTM says:

    Where was this guy last night when I needed him?

  4. Raph says:

    Median lethal dose (ld50) for caffeine is 192mg/kg. It is a better reference than an ambiguous “spoonful”.

  5. Monty Werthington says:

    I’m intrigued to see how he deals with the volatility of DCM in his next video. Interesting, reminds me of a similar experiment at university where we extracted caffeine from tea bags.

  6. Renee says:

    “Hmm, don’t know what this black material is so I’ll just drink it”

    Gahhh!

    I mean, brilliant job on the patent research and constructing the chamber but that’s just, I don’t know.

  7. threepointone says:

    dude, methylene chloride REALLY, really should not be anywhere near anything you eat! that stuff is actually toxic!

    • boggle says:

      Ever seen a raw container of vitamin c? (Citric Acid) Trucks that carry it have to have a corrosive hazmat identification plate. We drink that stuff.

    • BoilerAlchemist says:

      Well, DCM is volatile enough that if you dry it off, you won’t hardly have anywhere near a toxic dose on the caffeine….you’d probably get more from being near the vapors than you would from ingesting something you made with that caffeine. Furthermore, they used to decaffeinate coffee with DCM in bulk back in the day until they figured out supercritical CO2 extraction.

      Although, a bit of safety advice on handling DCM would probably deter a lot of people from using it in this build: it actually hydrolyzes and forms HCl with the water in your skin…so if you get it on you, there is a possibility you might get a mild to moderate chemical burn from the hydrochloric acid. Although if the area you are in is warm enough, it might evaporate before it gets the chance to react.

  8. haineux says:

    I have seen anhydrous caffeine in head shops locally. I suspect people “smoke” it. Note: it is anhydrous, so if you snort it, it will soak up water in your sinuses and make you unhappy.

    If you really want, you can purchase “Food Grade” or “USP” caffeine, but make sure you get it from a reputable source.

    Do NOT purchase “Lab Grade” or “Reagent Grade” chemicals — they may or may not have few impurities, but only “Food Grade” and “USP” are certified not to have impurities that will kill you.

    Anhydrous caffiene is a fluffy powder, so it’s tricky to measure out by volume. A typical “dose” of caffeine in a cola is 30-50 mg, and in a cup of coffee, 100 mg. This is a very very small volume, well under 1/8 teaspoon.

    LD50 is very high — BUT! — If you take 1 – 2 grams of caffeine, you almost certainly will not be happy about it, and might have to go to the hospital.

    Remember there’s an easy way to measure out small quantities precisely — dilute it by putting, say, 1 gram of caffeine in 20 grams of sugar, and stirring well.

    When food scientists talk about “bitterness,” they use caffeine as a reference. Unless you use very, very small quantities, the bitterness is quite detectable. Thus, putting caffeine on scrambled eggs is not Good Eats. Put it in orange juice, instead, where the bitterness is acceptable. I’ve made capsules by buying caps and a capping device at a health food store, but again, knowing exactly how much is in the capsule is tricky. A large capsule can contain anywhere from 200 to 600 mg, which is a whole lot.

    • Bill says:

      Smoking caffeine – You Do Not Want To Do This! A couple of decades ago an acquaintance of mine and his druggy friends decided to see what it would be like, drawing the analogy to chewing coca leaves vs. using powder cocaine vs. smoking crack. So they crunched up some caffeine pills and smoked them. Everything bad that caffeine does to you happens pretty much at once – jitters, nausea, headaches, tachycardia – and it was Not Fun. (And no, this really was somebody else and not me :-) (And he was somebody sufficiently adventurous about his drug consumption that I’d trust his rating of “this was not fun” to be more reliable than “this was fun, you should try it!”)

  9. asheets says:

    Didn’t Mythbusters once try to perfect a Mentos/Diet Coke fountain by using pure caffeine? That’s about the only use I see for the pure stuff…

  10. baum says:

    From the same director who brought you contacts in his eyes and a homemade SEM. This guy has way to much fun. He better watch out.

    check out his website…

  11. N0LKK says:

    At those pressures Ben should be using forged steel fittings. But that might bust the disposable income budget. As always with Ben, an interesting video to watch.

  12. John says:

    After having a long new years night, MFW I miss read caffeine and saw the little pile.

  13. biozz says:

    WOOO LETS PARTY LIKE ITS 2011!

  14. Afterm3th says:

    I’d like to see him do a tutorial via the Reductive Amination of CAS 537-46-2 using Phenyl-2-Propanone.

  15. Pihkal says:

    Damn Afterm3th, you just triggered a lot of old memories of a much happier, simpler time! I had all but forgotten that we were able to live our lives without everything being regulated for us, inspite of us……Bring back P2P!

  16. KillerBug says:

    I want to see him make heroin from garden poppies…what’s the point of making something you can buy in the store for less than the price of the raw ingredients?

  17. Derpies says:

    Id like to see extracting caffeine out of caffiene pills (remove the binder etc)

  18. I would like to know where the video of refining the caffeine from inky goo is?

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