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Experiment 1: Isolation of Caffeine from a Tea Bag

Objective: To extract caffeine from tea powder using polar - nonpolar solvent extraction technique.

Theory: Caffeine is a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid. It is found in varying quantities in the seeds, leaves and fruits of some plants, where it acts as a natural pesticide that paralyzes and kills certain insects feeding on the plants, as well as enhancing the reward memory of pollinators. Caffeine has a molecular formula of C8H10N4O2. Its molecular weight is 194.1906 g/mol. It has a molecular structure as follow.

Caffeines most notable pharmalogical effect is as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing alertness and producing agitation. It also relaxes smooth muscles, stimulates cardiac muscle, stimulates dieresis and appears to be useful in the treatment of some types of headache.

Material: 100mL beaker 50mL beaker Small separatory funnel Cotton wool Measuring cylinder Analytical balance Filter funner Filter paper Round bottomed flask Rotary evaporator

Chemical: Sodium carbonate Methylene chloride / dichloromethane Anhydrous sodium sulphate Water


The tea bag was teared and the tea leaves was weighed.

The weighed tea was transfered into a 100ml beaker.

50ml water was added into the beaker containing tea leaves.

The mixture was heated on the hot plate and was frequently stirred.

Sodium carbonate was weighed approximately 0.5g.

When the tea solution was boiled, put it aside and the sodium carbonate was put into the heated solution.

The solution was filtered using a cotton wool into a small separatory funnel.

15ml of dichloromethane was added into the separatory funnel and the extraction was started.

Drain off the lower dichloromethane after the emulsion was completely break.

The step was repeated with another 10ml dichloromethane added.

The combined dichloromethane was dried using anhydrous sodium sulphate.

The dried dichloromethane was transferred into small round bottommed flask.

The solution was then evaporated off using rotary evaporator.

Calculation: Tea brand Mass of tea leaves / g Mass of empty round bottomed flask / g Mass of round bottomed flask + caffeine / g Mass of caffeine / g Average mass of caffeine / g BOH 2.02 372.29 372.61 0.32 0.0533

Percentage of caffeine in a packet of tea. 100

100 = 2.64 % Theoretically, tea is said to be 3% caffeine by weight. That tells, in this experiment, when 2g of tea was used, the amount of caffeine should be obtained is = 2.02 g

= 0.061 g

Percentage of error = 100

= = 12.6%


Discussion: In this experiment, I used tea from a BOH brand. The mass of the tea leaves obtained from a packet of tea is 2.02g. The caffeine from the tea leaves was obtained by doing the extraction method. The extraction method was done by mixing a tea with hot water to make a tea solution. The solution was then mixed with sodium carbonate. Sodium carbonate was used because sodium carbonate acts as a base. When you boil tea leaves, tannins dissolve in the water as well as the caffeine. If you do not use a base the tannins will also be extracted into the solvent used in the subsequent extraction. The base converts the tannins into their sodium salts - being ionic these salts are not soluble in extracting solvent so it will remain in the aqueous layer during extraction. This allows purer caffeine to be extracted. The solution was then transferred into the separatory funnel before the extraction solvent; dichloromethane was added into the solution. Dichloromethane is a polar organic solvent which is good in dissolving most organic molecules like caffeine. Water, in the other hand is immiscible with dichloromethane. Dichloromethane is denser than water, thus, it will form a separate layer at the bottom of the solution. The mixture was shaken to ensure that the caffeine will migrate from the tea into the extractant. The denser layer of the dichloromethane then was drained out from the bottom of the separatory funnel. When the extract was collected, anhydrous sodium sulphate was added into the extract. Anhydrous sodium sulphate is soluble in water; it will remove any water molecule present in the extraction, leaving the caffeine and dichloromethane to be evaporated. The extract was then evaporated using a rotary evaporator. During the evaporation method, the liquid from the extract will be evaporated to another round bottomed flask, leaving the caffeine on the wall of the other flask. The empty flask was pre weighed before the evaporation process. To obtain the mass of the caffeine obtained from the experiment, the mass of the flask containing the caffeine was

subtracted with the mass of an empty flask. Thus, from the experiment, the amount of the caffeine obtained from the experiment was 0.0533 g. Theoretically, tea is said to be 3% caffeine by weight. Theoretically, I should obtain an amount of 0.0606 g of caffeine. From the experiment conducted, I get 0.0533 g of caffeine. The amount of the caffeine obtained is slightly low than a theoretical amount with the percentage of error is 12.6%. From the result obtained it was believed that some errors were done during the experiment. One of the errors detected was the extraction method. During the extraction, the caffeine might not be fully extracted from the tea. There might be a little amount of caffeine left in the tea that is not being extracted. Thus, the caffeine is not extracted in enough amounts for it to achieve the theoretical value. Other than that, the error might arise from the method error. That is, when weighing the mass of the round bottomed flask, it has to be held a bit because it is not stable. The real mass of the bottomed flask might be an error because there is interruption during the weighing process. Furthermore, the amount of the caffeine obtained is from the extraction of six students. Thus, only the average mass of the caffeine was taken into account and not the exact amount of single, own extraction. This is because there are not enough instruments to be used for each student, so we have to combine our extraction and get the combined result to be calculated. Another error that might be the contributor of the result error is during the filtration. After the extract was dried using anhydrous sodium sulphate, the extract was filtered using filter paper. There might be some extract left on the filter paper that is not evaporated. This has caused the amount of the caffeine obtained to be lower than it should be. To overcome the error in the future, it is a good idea to carefully conduct the experiment. We should use proper techniques during the extraction process to get enough amount of extract needed. We also need to apply a proper filtering technique so that the extract needed was completely filtered so that all the extract was evaporated. The calculation of the percentage should also be done correctly by choosing the correct decimal points and formulas.

From the experiment, we know that the amount of caffeine in tea is as low as 3% for every 2g of tea. Caffeine is said to be an agent for increasing alertness and producing agitation. It also relaxes smooth muscles, stimulates cardiac muscle, stimulates dieresis and appears to be useful in the treatment of some types of headache. But it will be dangerous to the body if consumed in excessive amount. The excessive amount of caffeine may raise blood pressure or cause incontinence. It can also cause insomnia as it can increase alertness. It also could reduce fertility in women. There are a lot of other ways to gain energy other than consuming excess caffeine. People can drink energy drinks or by doing exercise. Caffeine must be consumed in low amount to ensure the body is not exposed to any harm cause by caffeine.

Conclusion The amount of caffeine in a bag of tea is in the range of 2% - 5%. Caffeine cannot be consumed in excessive amount because it is harmful to the body.


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