Making opiate based drugs safer by cold water extraction

by Jannie on July 5, 2013

Drugs which are derived from opiates are often mixed with analgesics. The purpose of this is to alleviate pain when these drugs are takes. These prescription drugs are sold over the counter and are easily available. These analgesics are composed of APAP, aspirin and acetaminophen. These drugs have proven to be very successful in pain relief. However, when taken in high doses, these drugs can have fatal consequences as they cause damage to the liver.

Even more so when consumed with alcohol. The generally accepted dosage limits for APAP and aspirin is about 4000mg or 4 grams. People having better tolerance for opiate based drugs often exceed the limits for these analgesics. This group of people faces the greatest risk of having health problems arising due to overdose of APAP.

A strong need to create a technique reduce the harmful content of these opiate based drugs was felt. A new procedure was then formulated to overcome this problem called cold water extraction. It is a simple and safe procedure which can be performed by anyone at their home.

Cold Water Extraction

Cold water extraction process

This process is dependent on the differences in solubility of different compounds. A few substances have reduced solubility when the water is cold. This property can be utilized for separating and extracting the required compounds from the undesired compounds from their water solution.

Acetaminophen and aspirin are insoluble in water and their insolubility increases with a decrease in temperature wherein they become readily insoluble.

Opiates on the other hand are highly soluble. This drastic difference in solubility can be used to our advantage and segregation of the different compounds is implemented. The main procedure is simple enough and easy to follow.

To perform cold water extraction

, first the opoid based drug is crushed into a fine powder. This fine powder is then taken in a vessel. Cold water extraction is added to this vessel and is constantly stirred. The solution is then left to settle.

After allowing the solution to settle for about 10 minutes, a clear white residue can be observed at the bottom of the vessel. This residue is the unwanted APAP content of the drug that can be discarded by either using the decantation technique or by filtering. The remaining solution gives us the APAP free opoid compound of the drug.This solution can be directly consumed or can be evaporated to obtain a fine powder of the required opiate.
Another common method is to mix the fine powder with warm water or that at room temperature and mixing it thoroughly. The solution is then placed in a refrigerator and left to settle. As the temperature decreases, the APAP content of the drug readily separates from the opoid content and settles down at the bottom of the vessel.The same procedure of decantation or filtering can be applied to extract the required content from the solution. In this way, the harmful effects of a drug can be subsidized.

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