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Soxhlet Extractor: Why We Do What We Do

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Mindfull Mycology’s current products use a Soxhlet extractor and look nothing like the products from our early days.

What’s changed?

In short, everything. But if you’re here, you’re probably thirsting for the juicy details. Let’s get into it then, shall we?

When Sam first began making medicinal mushroom extracts for personal use, he used the classic homestyle dual extract process, which we’ve outlined in a simple step-by-step guide.

Later, his processes added a third extraction step, explained in a simple step-by-step guide here.

Nowadays, Mindfull Mycology’s processes are far more evolved. The largest evolution to date has been incorporating a piece of laboratory equipment known as a Soxhlet extractor. The reason for this new equipment and methodology is multifaceted.

For one, using a Soxhlet extractor allows us to cycle our solvent—mineral rich well water or certified organic cane alcohol, depending on the step—through the dried mushrooms (multiple times during each extraction process. This allows for constant contact between the heated solvent and the mushrooms, thereby increasing the extraction’s efficiency.

Second, because the solvent percolates through the entirety of the mushroom and then returns to the boiling flask without any mushroom matter—other than the medicinal compounds—we can reuse a solvent multiple times while cycling in fresh mushroom powder. This leads to a more potent, medicinally-rich product.

Third, because the Soxhlet extractor is a closed system, we’re able to heat 190 proof alcohol to its boiling point without danger, thereby allowing us to efficiently extract medicinal compounds that are insoluble in water like the highly desired triterpenes, phenolic compounds and fatty acids. Reishi mushrooms, for example, contain more than 100 triterpenes (e.g. Ganoderic acids) known for their medicinal qualities. Our Soxhlet extractor pulls most of these lipids out, causing our Reishi extracts to appear opaque and almost milk-like.

But perhaps all these finer details are making your head spin. If so, we get it. There’s a steep learning curve with a lot of this stuff.

Simply put, what we're saying is that the unique attributes of a Soxhlet extractor allow us to use a smaller amount of solvent to extract a larger amount of mushrooms than in a homestyle process. And more mushrooms into each bottle = more medicinal compounds in each dose.

Compared to the homestyle extracts—like the one’s your local mushroom farmer may make with leftover mushrooms—you can expect Mindfull Mycology’s products to have more medicinal compounds per milliliter of extract.

There are more reasons why we prefer this process but by now, you probably get the point: Medicinal mushroom products extracted with a Soxhlet extractor are superior to products extracted using the homestyle dual extract or triple extract methodology.

To learn about our current extraction processes, read our article Medicinal Mushroom Extractions: A Primer on Our Process, dive into our methods with our simplified How to Use a Soxhlet Extractor guide, and learn about why we prefer the dual extract methodology for our products at Medicinal Mushroom Dual Extracts: Why We Make Them and You Take Them.

At Mindfull Mycology, all our extracts are made using a Soxhlet extractor, 100% mushroom fruit bodies grown in-house or foraged by a certified wild ID expert, and USDA Certified organic cane alcohol. That means no mycelium, fillers or grains are ever put into our products. Just homegrown mushrooms and a whole 'lotta love.
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Is dual extraction needed with Soxhlet extraction? Do you just mix water and alcohol to begin with or run two cycles, first with water and then with alcohol? I thought we are supposed to run a cycle until the solvent runs clear, does that mean everything is extracted in one go?

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