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Kava Extract - Buyer's Guide

  • Kava Extract - What Are the Different Types of Extract?
  • Kava Extract - CO2 vs. Alcohol Extract
  • CO2 Kava Extracts - Positives
  • CO2 Kava Extracts - Negatives
  • Alcohol Kava Extracts - Positives
  • Alcohol Kava Extracts - Negatives
  • Kava Tinctures
  • What is a Kava Tincture?
  • 80% kavalactone Extract vs. Kava Tinctures
  • 80% Kavalactone Extract
  • Kava Tinctures
  • Instant Kava
  • Kava Drink and Using Emulsifiers
  • Extracts Made With Alcohol
  • Alcohol as a Carrier
  • Kava Extract Formulations - Advanced Techniques
  • Formulations Using Oil
  • How To Create Custom Powder Kava Extracts?
  • Kava Extract - What Are the Different Types of Extract?

    With its mass production as a dietary supplement, kava is now available in capsules as well as in extract form and powdered form for making a kava drink, sometime referred to as kava tea. Traditionally, however, people make a type of kava tea by steeping and kneading kava kava roots with water. The water temperature is usually slightly warm. If it's too hot, it will destroy kavalactones, which is the active ingredient in kava kava root and used as a standard to measure the strength of kava extracts.

    Kava Extract can be performed by hobbyists, but commercial extracts are usually performed by qualified chemists. There are many ways to extract kavalactones, the chemical compounds that contain the therapeutic properties of kava. Two common most common methods use CO2 or alcohol as a solvent.

    Kava Extract - CO2 vs. Alcohol Extract

    The CO2 extraction process is more desirable compared to ethanol because of the purity of CO2 vs. alcohol extracts. Using CO2 for extraction allows scientists to target kavalactones in the kava root better, resulting in a more concentrated extract. C02 extracts come with a price, and it is exceptionally costly to have them done correctly. If you are looking for a similar extract at a more competitive price, a high-quality ethanol extract will fulfill most needs. Both C02 and Alcohol derived extracts are soluble in alcohol, MCT oil, and other oily substances. Both extracts are not soluble in water.

    CO2 Kava Extracts - Positives

    1. CO2 immediately turns to gas after the extraction, leaving no residue in the final product.
    2. Non toxic gas. Not a solvent.
    3. C02 is not flammable and ideal for indoor extraction
    4. Gas is recyclable.

    CO2 Kava Extracts - Negatives

    1. High cost of production
    2. Equipment needs high amount of maintenance and inspection
    3. Extremely high pressures
    4. Equipment cost is expensive
    5. Extraction protocol is more complex than alcohol

    Alcohol Kava Extracts - Positives

    1. Lower cost of production
    2. Initial equipment purchase will be a at a fraction of the cost of CO2
    3. Easy to obtain solvent
    4. Method of extraction is simple

    Alcohol Kava Extracts - Negatives

    1. Difficulty of evaporation
    2. Alcohol fumes can be toxic to breath in
    3. High flammability risk
    4. Alcohol is recyclable
    5. Popular method for refining extracts

    Kava Tinctures

    What is a Kava Tincture?

    Tinctures have been around for ages and are very popular in herbalists and naturopath stores. Since the alcohol will act as a carrier, it is usually a great way for many plant alkaloids to be absorbed by the body quickly and efficiently. Different plants will need different ratios of alcohol to target the right alkaloids properly. If too much water is added to the alcohol, alkaloids will not be extracted efficiently. There exist protocols that will provide the right ratio of alcohol needed to extract the most common plants. We have adopted that kava tincture is not the best method for consuming kava to get the benefits from it. Kava and alcohol are associated with possible liver issues, and mixing them should be avoided.

    80% kavalactone Extract vs. Kava Tinctures

    Kava Extract - Tincture vs Kavalactone extracts

    80% Kavalactone Extract

    80% kavalactone ethanol extracts are made by soaking the kava root in ethanol. They are then filtered and then evaporated so that there is no alcohol content in the finished product. Too much heat in the process is said to destroy kavalactones, so extractors will often use a vacuum pump to bring the boiling temperature down and keeping kavalactones intact.

    Kava Tinctures

    Tinctures always remain in a wet state and contain alcohol and water. The process is simple and is traditionally just the raw kava root macerated cold in alcohol for up to a month or more. Once the mixture is ready, it is filtered and usually diluted with water. A tincture usually has between 20%-93% alcohol. Companies with large volumes sometimes will take an already tested high percentage kavalactone extract and dilute in alcohol to create a tincture in as little as one day. It is important to note that finished kava tincture should be diluted in a large amount of liquid before use to lower the risk of negative effects from kava and alcohol. If you want to buy kava extract, you may want to search for one that it is in thick honey, paste, or dry powder extract.

    Instant Kava

    Another popular product is instant kava, which is a type of dehydrated kava tea. It is often used in kava drink formulations and used in many kava bars to create kava smoothies, kava shakes, and other special kava drinks.

    Kava Drink and Using Emulsifiers

    Most traditional brews do not use emulsifiers. Ceremonies involving kava use the root, water, and something to filter, such as a muslin bag. By kneading the kava for several minutes, some of the kavalactones and natural oils will be released. Still, there will be a lot of kavalactones left behind inside the root fibers. There are more modern techniques and special ingredients that kava enthusiasts and connoisseurs use when preparing kava tea drinks. Emulsifiers are one of those used in many kava recipes. Soy Lecithin is a popular emulsifier used in their kava drink concoctions. Emulsifiers can also be used when preparing kava traditionally during the kneading process. Emulsifiers help release more kavalactones with less work. Emulsifiers turn the water into somewhat of the same properties that a nonpolar solvent has. Instead of the water and oily kavalactones repelling themselves, the act more like magnets.

    Extracts Made With Alcohol

    Kava extracts made with alcohol are more challenging to work with than a powdered extract. But all powdered extract will start from an extract that was made with alcohol or CO2. We discuss how to make your own custom powdered extracts in the advanced techniques section.

    Alcohol as a Carrier

    You can use an emulsifier or carrier to separate the tightly bonded alkaloids which are stuck together as a matrix. A small amount of grain alcohol can be mixed to help break this bond. But ideally, no alcohol should be used, but if you have to do so, a little heat will help dissolve the extract faster.

    Kava Extract Formulations - Advanced Techniques

    Formulations Using Oil

    Kavalactones are nonpolar; therefore will dissolve well into fats and oils, which are nonpolar also. Product formulators like to work with oils to transform a thick honey extract in a flowing workable liquid form. There are many types of oils to use, such as edible oil like coconut oil. Ideally, the liquid kind, which may be harder to find than the wax textured coconut oil. Another choice for oils is MCT oil, which is quickly growing in popularity. Olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, and any other oil would be other options for experimenting with. A small amount of heat can be used to speed up the dissolving process. Once in a homogeneous state, it can be used as-is, and will also be easier to mix with other liquids.

    How To Create Custom Powder Kava Extracts?

    Drying powders should be used for making it easier to micronize into a dry powder. Maltodextrin is often used to turn thin or thicker oils such as kava 80% into a dry form. This is the traditional method that manufacturers will use to formulate kava 30% and 40% kavalactone extracts. Mixing 1 kg of 80% kava extract with 1kg of maltodextrin makes 2kg of 40% kava extract. The pure extract ranges from a honey oil to a paste-like texture, and this will be added to the maltodextrin and blended in a special blender. It will turn into a powder, but care should be taken to not blend for too long to avoid overheating the extract. Too much heat will destroy kavalactones. The final product will range from light beige to light yellow, and dark yellow to brown for the kavalactone extracts higher in concentration.


    Kava Extract - Kavalactone extracts