Cinnalmaldehyde Extraction – Cinnamon Oil from Bark with Steam Distillation

Today we tried to extract Cinnamon Oil (Cinnalmaldehyde) from cinnamon bark via steam distillation.

This was done, by putting about 50g of crushed up cinnamon bark together with 150ml of water into a boiling flask and connecting that to a condenser.
We only have this fancy looking, but horribly impractical, Graham Condenser, so we used it for this purpose. A simple Liebig or Aliihn Condenser would have done a much better job, as our Graham was clogging up with the oil-in-water emulsion distillate. This caused the boiling flask to build up pressure which led to a higher temperature needed to continue to boil, as well as vapors escaping at the lids and joints.

The distillate is collected and the whole process is repeated two more times by adding 100ml each time, or until no more milky liquid is coming over.
Pour about 50ml of solvent together with the collected distillate into a separatory funnel. Use dichloromethane or hexane, as those give the best results.
(We used naphtha, but do not recommend it, it took days to evaporate and left a very slight benzene stinky note to the final product. Maybe our naphtha wasn’t pure enough though.)

Shake the mixture and don’t forget to vent from time to time as quiet some pressure builds up at this type of solvent extractions.
Wait for the layers to separate out and drain them off in different flasks. The water layer should be almost clear. If it is still milky, repeat the solvent extraction with another 50ml of fresh solvent.
The water layer can now be discarded off.

Now you can distill off your solvent, which should contain all of the Cinnamaldehyde now, or let it evaporate on its own. The product left is fairly pure Cinnalmaldehyde which is the main ingredient of Cinnamon Oil.

The average yield of steam distillation of Cinnamon Bark is about 5% – 7%. We only made 1,4% but this was probably due to the use of naphtha and the very long evaporation time.

If you don’t have DCM, make it! Check out the video below:
How to make Dichloromethane:

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