Silica Gels Role In Color Remediation & Extract purification
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Silica Gels Role In Color Remediation & Extract purification

by BVV |

When it comes to extract potency and purity, consumers prioritize nothing less than the best. Among the most valuable tools in extract purification, adsorbent filtration takes the spotlight, with silica gel being a powerful tool in creating the highest purity extracts possible. Silica gel, known for its versatility as an adsorption medium, has become a vital ally in achieving enhanced extract quality. In this article, we delve into the exceptional capabilities of silica gel, which enables the removal of unwanted compounds such as soaps, metals, and phospholipids, resulting in extracts of unmatched quality. Discover how silica gel revolutionizes the extraction process, yielding extracts that meet the highest standards of potency and purity.


What Is Silica Gel?

Silica gel is a porous and amorphous form of silicon dioxide, also known as silica (SiO2). Despite its name, it is not a gel but a solid, granular substance. It is commonly used as a desiccant to absorb and hold moisture, making it a highly effective drying agent. Silica gel is often found in small packets or sachets inside product packaging to prevent moisture damage and extend the shelf life of various items, such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, and food products.

Due to its high surface area and ability to adsorb moisture, silica gel is a valuable tool in many applications beyond moisture control. In laboratories and industries, it serves as an adsorbent material, efficiently trapping and separating various compounds during processes like chromatography and adsorbent filtration. During adsorbent filtration silica gel can be used to improve the color remediation processes and aid in the removal of fats, waxes, lipids, pigments, heavy metals, and other unwanted impurities from extracts, resulting in safer and purer extract.

Silica gel's wide range of uses, from moisture control to purification processes, makes it a versatile and indispensable material in various fields, contributing to the quality and longevity of numerous products and processes.

What Is The Difference Between Normal Phase and Reverse Phase Silica?

Silica gel, renowned for its versatility as an adsorbent material, holds a pivotal position across multiple industries, especially in extract purification through chromatography. This dynamic material is available in two primary forms: normal-phase silica gel and reverse-phase silica gel, each designed to serve distinct purposes. While both normal-phase and reverse-phase silica gel are not inherently selective media, they exhibit a propensity to retain certain compounds longer than others based on their polarity.

Silica gel's ability to selectively hold onto some compounds longer than others is the result of its unique adsorption properties. In normal-phase chromatography, polar silica gel interacts favorably with polar compounds, allowing them to bind tightly to the surface of the gel. As a result, these polar compounds elute later during the separation process since they require more time to be released from the silica.

Conversely, in reverse-phase chromatography, the hydrophobic nature of the reverse-phase silica gel promotes strong interactions with non-polar compounds. These compounds tend to be retained longer on the surface of the gel, causing them to elute later in the separation process.

The elution order in chromatography is determined by the compound's polarity and its interactions with the silica gel. Polar compounds tend to elute later in normal-phase chromatography, whereas non-polar compounds elute later in reverse phase chromatography.

By strategically selecting the appropriate type of silica gel and optimizing the chromatographic conditions, chromatographers can achieve precise separations and isolate specific compounds with varying polarities, ultimately leading to the isolation of target compounds from botanical extracts. 

In chromatography, the choice of silica gel phase depends on the polarity of the compounds being separated. Normal-phase silica is typically used to separate polar compounds, while reverse-phase silica is employed for nonpolar compounds. In most adsorbent filtration and color remediation applications, normal-phase silica gel is almost always utilized for its cost effectiveness.

What Is The Ideal Silica Particle Size?

The difference between different size silica gels lies in their particle sizes and surface areas. Silica gel is available in various particle sizes, ranging from fine powders to larger beads or granules. The choice of particle size depends on the specific application and the desired adsorption properties.

Smaller particle size silica gels generally have higher surface areas, providing more available surface sites for adsorption. This makes them more effective in adsorbing and retaining smaller molecules or compounds. On the other hand, larger particle size silica gels have lower surface areas, making them suitable for adsorbing larger molecules or compounds.

For example, in chromatography, smaller particle size silica gels are often used in high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) for faster and more efficient separations of smaller molecules. Larger particle size silica gels are commonly used in gravity column chromatography for larger-scale separations of bulkier compounds.

In desiccant applications, fine powders of silica gel are used when a high surface area is required for quick and efficient moisture adsorption. Coarser silica gel beads are used in applications where a slower and more controlled moisture adsorption rate is desirable.

Overall, the selection of the appropriate size of silica gel depends on the specific application, the size of the compounds or molecules to be adsorbed, and the desired adsorption efficiency and rate. For chromatographic purposes generally a smaller and more uniform particle range is desired.During adsorbent filtration/color remediation applications particle size and uniformity becomes less of a factor, for general adsorbent filtration/color remediation procedures we recommend our BVV Chromatography Silica Gel 60A 30-200um Silica.

What Is The Ideal Silica Pore Size?

The "best" silica angstrom size depends on the specific application and the desired adsorption properties. Silica gel is available in various pore sizes, including angstrom-sized pores. The term "angstrom" refers to a unit of length equal to 0.1 nanometers, and angstrom-sized silica gels typically have pore sizes in the range of a few angstroms.

For some applications, such as gas adsorption or molecular sieving, silica gels with smaller angstrom-sized pores (e.g., 3-10 angstroms) are more suitable. These fine pores can selectively adsorb smaller molecules while excluding larger ones.

In contrast, for applications like chromatography or desiccant use, silica gels with larger pore sizes (e.g., 60-300 angstroms) may be more appropriate. These larger pores can accommodate a broader range of molecules and provide more efficient adsorption of moisture or target compounds.

Ultimately, the best silica angstrom size depends on the specific requirements of the application. It is essential to consider factors such as the size of the molecules or compounds to be adsorbed, the desired selectivity, the capacity for adsorption, and the overall efficiency of the adsorbent material. Generally for Adsorbent filtration/color remediation purposes, 60A silica produces exceptional results.


What Is Silica Gels Role In Color Remediation/ Adsorbent Filtration?

Beyond its role in chromatographic separations, silica gel also serves as a vital ally in color remediation and adsorbent filtration processes. In color remediation, silica gel acts as an efficient adsorbent that can effectively removes unwanted soaps, phospholipids, and metals while increasing the effectiveness of bentonite clays due to its chromatographic effect. By utilizing the adsorption properties of silica gel, these undesired compounds are effectively trapped and removed, resulting in clearer and purer extracts.

The remarkable adsorption capabilities of silica gel empower industries to achieve unparalleled levels of purity and potency in their final products. As a fundamental component in both chromatography and color remediation/adsorbent filtration, silica gel continues to revolutionize extraction processes and drive purity standards.

Removing Soaps and Phospholipids

Similar to its role in chromatography, in adsorbent filtration silica gel acts as a gatekeeper, selectively retaining undesirable compounds such as waxes, fats, and lipids, while allowing the target compounds to elute from the filtration process. By effectively removing these unwanted components, silica gel enhances the overall quality of the extracts, increasing their purity and clarity.

Moreover, natural components like soaps and phospholipids are often present in botanical extracts, but their presence can have adverse effects on the stability, clarity, and shelf life of the oil. Here, silica gel's natural moisture content comes into play, rehydrating excess phospholipids and effectively crashing them out of the solution. This process provides a light dewaxing effect, resulting in a more stable and clearer extract, free from the negative impact of these natural components.

Trapping Metals and Contaminants

Furthermore, silica gel's capabilities extend to addressing the issue of heavy metals and other contaminants that can be absorbed from biomass during the extraction process.

Silica gel removes heavy metals through a process called adsorption. Adsorption is a surface phenomenon where molecules or ions from a liquid or gas adhere to the surface of a solid material, in this case, silica gel. The structure of silica gel consists of numerous pores and an extensive surface area, which allows it to attract and retain heavy metal ions.

When a solution containing heavy metal ions comes into contact with silica gel, the surface of the gel acts like a magnet, attracting the metal ions to its surface. The metal ions are then held in place by chemical bonds, effectively trapping them within the silica gel matrix.

As the contaminated solution passes through the silica gel, the heavy metal ions become immobilized, thereby removing them from the solution. The result is a purified liquid with significantly reduced heavy metal content.

The ability of silica gel to effectively remove heavy metals makes it a valuable tool in various applications, such as water purification, environmental remediation, and extract purification. By harnessing the adsorption capabilities of silica gel, extractors can mitigate the harmful effects of heavy metals and produce safer and cleaner extracts.

Creating an Optimal Purification Window for Bentonite Clays

During Adsorbent Filtration/Color Remediation, the interaction between pigments and bentonite clays is significantly enhanced by the involvement of silica gel. By effectively retaining lipids while allowing pigments to elute, silica creates a favorable lipid-free window where pigments can be more efficiently adsorbed without interference.

The absence of lipids enables the bentonite clay to work more effectively, selectively targeting color pigments and impurities in the oil. This targeted approach ensures maximum utilization of the bentonite clay improving purification results and reducing the amount of bentonite clay needed.

As a result, the final product achieves a higher level of purity, with a visually appealing color and clarity. The strategic use of silica in conjunction with bentonite clays optimizes the purification process, delivering cleaner and superior-quality extracts without compromising its target compounds.

Reducing Bentonite Clay Usage

Indeed, bentonite clays play a crucial role in adsorbent filtration, but their excessive use can inadvertently impact the desirable factors of an extract, such as the terpene profile and flavor. Fortunately, when a top layer of silica is utilized above the bentonite clay the chromatographic effect of the silica increases the efficiency of the bentonite clay reducing the amount of bentonite required to produce exceptional extracts. 

This strategic approach not only preserves the terpene and flavor profile of the extract but also optimizes production costs. By utilizing less bentonite clay, manufacturers can achieve cost savings while maintaining the extract's desirable characteristics.

In summary, the synergy of bentonite clays and silica gel creates an effective and cost-efficient adsorbent filtration process. By minimizing the use of bentonite clay and leveraging the benefits of silica gel, manufacturers can deliver high-quality extracts with preserved terpene profiles and enhanced flavor, meeting the expectations of discerning consumers.

How to Use Silica for Color Remediation/Adsorbent Filtration?

For optimal color remediation and adsorbent filtration results, silica is best suited as the top layer in your filtration stack, just above the bentonite clay, to facilitate the breakdown of the incoming solution into its individual components. To achieve the best outcomes, we recommend using 30-50g of silica per lb. of biomass, adjusting the quantity based on the material's age and the diameter of your filtration column.

To create a professional-grade three-part recipe for color remediation and adsorbent filtration, we suggest starting with BVV's Activated Alumina as the bottom layer. This choice is due to its exceptional moisture, phospholipids, and free fatty acid capturing capabilities, which promotes crystallization and improves extract stability, ensuring consistent extract quality. To achieve optimal results, we recommend 30-50g of Activated Alumina per lb. of biomass, taking into account the material's age and filtration column's diameter.

Moving to the middle layer, we recommend a bentonite clay, either Neutral B80 for freshly harvested material or the more aggressive Perform 6000 for aged material.  Both media effectively remove chlorophyll, color bodies, and other undesirable impurities. B80 being a natural clay with a neutral pH of 7 aids in retaining terpene profiles while producing mild purification resulting in a golden honey colored extract.

Alternatively, Perform 6000 being an acid activated clay with a pH of 2.5 provides greater purification ability clarifying and eliminating dark colors from your oils resulting in a neon yellow or completely clear extract. While acid activated bentonite clay tends to create purer extract when used excessively they can promote terpene isomerization into limonene.

This can be negated by reducing bentonite usage with a top layer of silica, reducing bentonite filtration depth with a wider diameter filtration column, and staying within our bentonite clay usage recommendation of 80-100 grams of Bentonite Clay per pound of biomass.

Above the bentonite clay, Silica serves as the top layer of the filtration stack providing a chromatographic effect that increases the efficiency of the bentonite clay and a light dewaxing effect. While it won't fully replace a cold extraction, or traditional winterization, or dewaxing, it does produce a noticeable reduction in turbidity of the extract alone at 30-50 grams per pound of biomass depending on the age of the biomass and the diameter of the filtration column.

By following these recommended guidelines and layering the media accordingly, you can achieve impressive results in color remediation and extract purification, ensuring a clean and high-quality final product.


In conclusion, silica gel proves to be an invaluable asset in achieving unparalleled extract potency and purity. As a versatile adsorption medium, silica gel is highly effective in removing unwanted compounds like soaps, metals, and phospholipids during color remediation and adsorbent filtration processes. Its chromatographic effect enhances the interactions between pigments and bentonite clays, allowing for a more efficient adsorption process and reducing the amount of bentonite clay needed.

By strategically layering silica gel as the top layer above bentonite clay in a filtration stack, extractors can achieve superior results in color remediation and extract purification. Silica gel's ability to selectively retain lipids while allowing pigments to elute creates a favorable window of opportunity for bentonite clays to work more effectively, ensuring maximum purification without compromising the terpene profile and flavor of the extract.

To optimize the color remediation/adsorbent filtration process, we recommend using 30-50g of Silica per lb. of biomass as the top layer of your filtration stack, adjusting the quantity based on the age of your material and the diameter of your filtration column.

Moreover, combining silica gel with bentonite clays and Activated Alumina in a three-part recipe delivers exceptional results. Activated Alumina acts as the bottom layer, efficiently capturing moisture and promoting consistent extract quality. Bentonite clays, such as Neutral B80 for freshly harvested material or Perform 6000 for aged material, occupy the middle layer, effectively removing impurities and color bodies while retaining terpene profiles.

By understanding the unique properties and capabilities of silica gel, extractors can harness its power to create high-quality extracts that meet the demands of discerning consumers. As a driving force behind extract purity and potency, silica gel continues to revolutionize the extraction process, elevating standards and delivering superior products in various industries.