DMT extraction using lye (sodium hydroxide) and naphtha
This guide is provided for informational and educational purposes only. We do not encourage you to break the law and cannot claim any responsibility for your actions.
Crystallized DMT can be obtained from its natural plant sources using a number of chemistry extraction techniques. This article documents the procedure for one of the most common DMT methods, known as the acid-base (A/B) extraction.
The technique described is usually recommended to beginners to familiarize themselves with the basics of performing chemical extractions. It has been designed to balance simplicity, accessibility, and product quality while prioritizing user safety.
Acacia confusa root bark
The root bark of the Acacia confusa tree has been shown to contain up to 1.15% DMT. If the steps of this extraction are followed precisely on 500 grams of acacia root bark, a maximum (theoretical) yield of 5.75 grams of DMT can be expected. Experimental yields are highly dependent on adherence to procedure, and can also vary based on the quality of the root bark used.
It is recommended to start by first running a test extraction on a lesser amount of Acacia confusa root bark (e.g. 200 grams). As one gains experience and familiarity with the process, the extraction will tend to produce higher yields.
Mimosa hostilis root bark (alternative)
This extraction can also be performed with Mimosa hostilis root bark (commonly abbreviated as MHRB, also known as Mimosa tenuifluora). In past studies, MHRB has been shown to contain 0.31% to 0.57% DMT content (Schultes 1977) while the inner root bark has been reported to contain up to 2% in active alkaloids. Dried Mexican MHRB has been recently shown to have a DMT content of about 1% while the stem bark has about 0.03% DMT.
It should be noted the United States has experienced a crackdown on imported MHRB, making it relatively more difficult to acquire compared to Acacia confusa root bark.
This extraction uses a traditional acid-base methodology to extract freebase DMT. This process can be summarized as follows:
- The first steps (the wash using vinegar and water) acidify the solution to a pH of ~4.
- Vinegar then reacts with the DMT in the plant material to create DMT acetate. This stage is called the "de-fat".
- Converting DMT into a salt form allows for easier absorption by the polar solution.
- Basifying the solution to a pH of 13 in the following steps allows it to be extracted from the polar solution (i.e. water) to the non-polar solution (i.e. naphtha).
- The basic solution reacts with DMT acetate through de-protonation to produce the pure basic form of DMT (the freebase).
- A high pH solution reduces the solubility of DMT. When naphtha is added, the freebase DMT transfers into this non-polar solution layer.
- DMT is virtually insoluble in this aqueous phase. When kept at temperatures near or at the freezing point, it will precipitate out of the naphtha solution via crystallization.
Risks and hazards
- Naphtha (Warning: Extremely flammable) - Naphtha is a petroleum solvent comparable in strength to paint thinner, but more volatile. The volatility of naphtha means that its vapors can accumulate in an unventilated space quickly. It has a low flash point, meaning it is highly flammable, behaving similarly to lighter fluid.
It can be handled safely but is harmful if it is inhaled, swallowed, or if the liquid is breathed into the lungs; it is also an irritant to the eyes and skin. In the event of skin contact, washing hands thoroughly with soap will prevent irritation. To prevent exposure, give ample time to let the end product fully dry.
Naphtha can be found in many hardware or paint stores (e.g. VM&P Naphtha; prohibited in California).
- Sodium hydroxide (also known as lye or caustic soda) - Sodium hydroxide is very hazardous in case of skin or eye contact, ingestion, or respiration. Eye contact can result in corneal damage or blindsides while skin contact can produce inflammation and blistering.
Exposure can result in chemical burns as sodium hydroxide solutions can readily decompose body tissue. Exposure will leave the skin feeling soapy and will not immediately damage the skin; wash hands thoroughly if this soapy sensation or irritation is felt. Wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling this substance.
When sodium hydroxide is added to the glass jar, it must be done gradually to prevent the strong exothermic (heat-releasing) reaction that can crack the container. Sodium hydroxide readily absorbs moisture from the air, so one should keep the container sealed when not in use.
Lye can be found in many hardware stores, sold under brand names such as "Red Devil Lye."
- Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), commonly known as lye
- Acacia confusa root bark or Mimosa hostilis root bark - preferably red pre-shredded but can be shredded oneself if this option is unavailable.
- 2L glass container
- 2 large pots
- Glass turkey baster
- Chemical resistant gloves - Necessary to reduce the chances of skin exposure to toxic solvents.
- Chemical splash goggles - Necessary to protect the eyes from any accidents that would otherwise result in direct contact with lye or naphtha, causing a guaranteed loss of vision.
- Respiratory mask - This is vital to reduce the exposure to the noxious gasses given off by the naphtha and lye. Dust masks or simple surgical face masks provide zero protection from naphtha vapors. The minimum recommendation by NIOSH (still assuming a well ventilated area) is a chemical cartridge respirator with an organic vapor cartridge. One with a full face-piece would provide additional protection to the eyes from gasses.
- PH meter
Note: The measurements given are meant for an extraction using 500g Acacia confusa root bark. They can be scaled up or down for an extraction on a different amount of root bark.
For example, to extract 100g of root bark one would scale the proportions of the other materials accordingly to 20% of their original amounts. Do not scale down duration in steps such as cooking time in step 2. Only the quantity of the reagents should be scaled.
- Start with the chosen root bark in its powdered form. If the root bark is un-powdered, use a coffee grinder or blender to shred the bark into fine pieces.
Note: a standard coffee grinder will not be sufficient for large pieces of root bark and the root bark may have to be cut to fit into the grinder or blender. Therefore, pre-shredded bark is preferable. The finer grain of the shredded root bark can have a large impact on extraction yields as it results in a larger surface area for the chemical reactions to occur.
- Freeze the root bark, then let it thaw out. Repeat three times. Freeze and thaw cycles cause the plant cells to undergo lysis (the destruction of the cell wall and membrane) which results in the disintegration of the cell. Decomposing the cell membrane allows for higher absorption of DMT from the plant matter in the following steps.
1. Wearing a dust mask, add 1800mL of de-ionized (or distilled) water, 200mL of vinegar, and 500g of root bark to a large pot (Pot A). Cover, and bring to a boil on high heat, stirring occasionally. This step brings the pH of the solution to approximately 4.0.
2. At a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium and recover. Boil with a lid on the pot, checking and stirring every 5-10 minutes for at least an hour and 30 minutes, to give sufficient time to separate the DMT from the plant material. This process will convert the DMT in the plant material to its water-soluble acid salts. Most other alkaloids from the plant material are not soluble and will not be absorbed by the solution.
This step helps remove impurities by separating the DMT from the other plant alkaloids. These other alkaloids are not physically harmful, but lower purity product is reported to result in an increased body load.
3. Strain the solution into another large pot (Pot B) using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. The desired result after straining is 1000 mL in Pot B (but some excess is fine).
4. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 three times, using fresh water and vinegar each time but reusing the root bark. The desired yield in Pot B after straining 4 times is 4000 mL. Repeatedly transferring the solution to Pot B and adding fresh water and vinegar to Pot A encourages increased reaction of DMT with the solution. This helps prevent the reaction from reaching equilibrium with the solution, causing more DMT to react out of the plant material.
5. Reduce the contents of Pot B from approx. 4000 mL to 1200 mL by boiling without a lid for approx. 40 minutes. The liquid should now be a rusty red color while hot. Reducing the volume of liquid at this stage increases the concentration of DMT within the solution by evaporation. This serves to make the following steps easier by requiring less reagents.
6. Allow the liquid in Pot B to cool, then pour it into a 2 L glass container and allow it to completely cool in the refrigerator. This will take at least two hours. Allowing the liquid to cool helps prevent excess heat from the sodium hydroxide reaction from damaging the jar in the following steps.
7. For the following steps, take appropriate safety precautions and wear safety goggles, a mask, and chemical resistant gloves. Sodium hydroxide can cause chemical burns and blindness. Maximum care should be taken while handling.
8. Weigh out 120 g of sodium hydroxide. Slowly add it in small increments to the solution in the glass container. The contents of the container will heat up rapidly with the addition of the sodium hydroxide. It is important to add it slowly to prevent the glass container from exploding from the exothermic reaction. A safe guideline is adding 20 g every 2 minutes and stirring in between. The contents will turn gray and then black as the pH increases. This step aims to reach a pH of 13. At this pH level, the solution will be black. This step converts DMT into its freebase form, which can be extracted with naphtha.
8a. (Optional) Measure the pH of the solution with a pH meter. For ideal results, the solution should reach a pH of 13.
9. The contents of the jar should still be warm from the previous step. If not, double boil the jar to warm the solution. To do this, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Hold the jar suspended in the boiling water. Keep the jar suspended in the boiling water so that it doesn't touch the bottom of the pot. A double boil allows even heat distribution by heating through contact with the water surrounding the jar instead of heating it through contact with the bottom of the pot. Add 500 mL of naphtha to the jar and seal it.
10. Shake vigorously for 3 minutes and then let the contents separate for 10 minutes. Repeat this step 4-5 times, keeping the jar contents warm throughout the process. Shaking the jar encourages maximum dispersion of its contents. This allows more DMT freebase to be pulled into the layer of naphtha.
11. Now allow the naphtha layer to separate fully. This may take up to several hours.
12. Using a glass turkey baster, carefully transfer the top naphtha layer into an appropriately sized crystallization jar. Avoid transferring any of the black basic layers underneath. Err on the side of caution as it is preferable to prevent contamination by leaving the remnant of the naphtha layer. It can be difficult to prevent contamination as the naphtha layer left in the solution jar is transferred. A wide mouth jar for crystallization will be easier to scrape the DMT out of.
13. Place the jar into the freezer for at least 48 hours. The DMT will gradually precipitate out of the naphtha solution. 72 hours gives ample time for it to crystallize completely. DMT is insoluble in the naphtha solution at low temperatures so it will precipitate out. If the naphtha solution is left at room temperature before the DMT is separated from it, the DMT can potentially dissolve back into the naphtha.
14. To separate the DMT from the naphtha solution, pour the contents of the crystallization jar through a funnel with a pipe screen or coffee filter. Allow the extracted DMT to dry for at least ten hours. It should dry into powderized crystals or a waxy consistency based on the purity of the extraction. The remaining naphtha can be reused in additional pulls.
15. Steps 7-13 can be repeated about 5 times for maximized yields. A pull can result in 200mg - 1g of DMT dependent on the success of the extraction. Using pH strips and all of the recommended equipment is beneficial to increase yields.
- Study of the composition of the root bark of the Thoughtful Tree, Liu et al, Chemistry (Chinese Chemical Soc, Taiwan) #1:15-16, 1977.
- Mimosa hostilis - DMT-Nexus Wiki, retrieved 1 May 2017
- Naphtha MSDS http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9926175
- MSDS Naphtha, Nova Chemicals (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) NOVA-0025, 2013.
- Sodium Hydroxide MSDS http://www.certified-lye.com/MSDS-Lye.pdf
- MSDS Sodium Hydroxide, Scienelab.com, Inc. (Houston, Texas) CAS 1310-73-2, 2014.
- CDC - NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Petroleum distillates (naphtha)
- Thermo Scientific Pierce Cell Lysis Technical Handbook Featuring Cell Lysis Reagents and Detergents https://tools.thermofisher.com/content/sfs/brochures/1601757-Cell-Lysis-Handbook.pdf