Ultrasonic Capsaicin Extraction from Hot Chili Peppers

  • Capsaicin is the main flavour and spice compound in hot peppers, also known as chilies.
  • To produce high-quality capsaicin as aromatic flavour and medicinal ingredient, an efficient, yet mild extraction technique is required to prevent degradation.
  • Ultrasonic extraction is a mild mechanical extraction method, which gives high yields of capsaicin in a very short extraction time.

High-Performance Ultrasonics for High-Quality Capsaicin Extracts

Ultrasonic extraction of capsaicinoids from hot chilli peppers (e.g. Capsicum frutescens) improves the extraction yield significantly. Power ultrasound promotes the perforation and disruption of cell walls, as well as swelling and hydration by pushing the solvent into the plant cells. This results in an increased mass transfer of the intracellular substances (including capsaicinoids) from the plant cells into the solvent.
As a purely mechanical, non-thermal processing technique, ultrasonic extraction prevents the thermal degradation of thermo-labil compounds. Ultrasonic cavitation intensifies the extraction process, resulting in high yields of superior extract quality. The investment and operational costs of ultrasonic extraction equipment are relatively low and allow for a fast RoI.

Ultrasonic extraction is used to produce isolates from botanicals. The video shows the efficient extraction of flavor compounds from chili flakes with the UP200Ht.

Ultrasonic Extraction of Chili Flakes using the UP200Ht

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Advantages of Ultrasonic Capsaicin Extraction

  • Superior yield
  • High-speed extractionwithin minutes
  • High quality extractsmild, non-thermal
  • Green solvents (e.g. water/ethanol)
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy and safe operation
  • Low investment and operational costs
  • 24/7 operation under heavy-duty
  • Green, eco-friendly method
2kW batch sonication setup for the extraction of herbal extracts

120L Ultrasonic Batch Extraction of Botanicals with UIP2000hdT and Agitator

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Ultrasonic Capsaicinoid Extractionin Batch or Continuous Flow Mode

UP400St agitated 8L extraction setupBatch: Ultrasonic extraction processes can be operated as simple batch processes or as inline treatment, where the medium is continuously fed through an ultrasonic flow-through reactor.
Batch processing is an easy procedure, where the extraction is performed lot by lot. Hielscher Ultrasonics offers ultrasonic processors for small to large batches, i.e. 1L to 120L.
For processing batches of 5 to 10L, we recommend the UP400ST with sonotrode S24d22L2D. (see pic. left)
For processing batches of approx. 120L, we recommend the UIP2000hdT with sonotrode RS4d40L4. (see pic. top right)

Flow-through: For larger volumes and full-scale commercial capsaicin extraction, a continuous liquid stream containing hot pepper flakes is fed through an ultrasonic reactor, where the solvent/botanical slurry is intensely sonicated.
For a volume of approx. 8L/min., we recommend the UIP4000hdT with sonotrode RS4d40L3 and pressurizable flow-cell FC130L4-3G0.

Case Study of Ultrasonic Capsaicin Extraction

Olguín-Rojas et al. (2019) report the isolation of capsaicinoid yield higher than 96% using three Capsicum chinense Jacq. cultivars (‘Bode’, ‘Habanero’, and ‘Habanero Roxo’ peppers). They used the Hielscher probe-ultrasonicator UP200S (200 W, 24 kHz) with the sample immersed in a temperature-controlled water bath was used. 0.25g of Capsicum chinense sample was put in contact with 25mL of methanol for 10 minutes, and was then transferred to the water bath at 50ºC, 200 W output amplitude, and 0.5sec duty cycle. Afterwards, the extracts were filtered through a nylon syringe filter and analyzed via chromoatography. In the analysis, all five principal capsaicinoids (n-DHC, C, DHC, h-C, and h-DHC) were found. Ultrasonic extraction gives a full spectrum extract with a broad flavour profile.

Sganzerla et al. (2014) found that ultrasonic extraction is an excellent method for the quantitative and reproducible extraction of capsaicinoids from chili peppers using methanol as solvent. Due to its simplicity and efficiency, ultrasonic extraction can be applied for the fast routine analysis of capsaicinoids in chili peppers.

Ultrasonic Extraction Equipment

Hielscher Ultrasonics is specialized in manufacturing high-performance ultrasonic processors for the production of high-quality extracts from botanicals.

Do you want to produce your own spice extracts or sauces? Whether for the restaurant kitchen, the ambitious sous chef or for commercial manufacturers, with Hielscher ultrasonic equipment you can produce high-quality extracts and sauces in a short time. Make organic extracts yourself! Eliminate preservatives! Use only the ingredients you select!

Chili Pepper Extraction - Hielscher ultrasonicator UP200HT

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The broad product portfolio of Hielscher Ultarsonics ranges from compact, powerful lab sonicators to robust bench-top and fully industrial systems, which deliver high intensity ultrasound for the efficient extraction and isolation of bioactive substances (e.g. quercetin, caffeine, curcumin, terpenes etc.). All digital sonicators from 200W to 16,000W feature an intuitive menu with programmable settings, a coloured touch display for digital control, an integrated SD card for automatic data recording, browser remote control and many more user-friendly features. The sonotrodes and flow cells (the parts, which are in contact with the medium) can be autoclaved and are easy to clean. All our ultrasonicators are built for 24/7 operation, require low maintenance and are easy and safe to operate.
A digital colour display allows for a user-friendly control of the ultrasonicator. Our systems are capable to deliver from low up to very high amplitudes. For the extraction of polyphenols and other bioactive phytochmicals such as capsaicinoids, we offer special ultrasonic sonotrodes (also known as ultrasonic probes or horns) that are optimized for the sensible isolation of high-quality active substances. The robustness of Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment allows for 24/7 operation at heavy duty and in demanding environments.
The precise control of the ultrasonic process parameters ensures reproducibility and process standardization.

The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch VolumeFlow RateRecommended Devices
0.5 to 1.5mLn.a.VialTweeter
1 to 500mL10 to 200mL/minUP100H
10 to 2000mL20 to 400mL/minUP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L0.2 to 4L/minUIP2000hdT
10 to 100L2 to 10L/minUIP4000hdT
n.a.10 to 100L/minUIP16000
n.a.largercluster of UIP16000

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In this presentation we introduce you to the manufacturing of botanical extracts. We explain the challenges of producing high-quality botanical extracts and how a sonicator can help you to overcome these challenges. This presentation will show you how ultrasonic extraction works. You will learn, what benefits you can expect using a sonicator for extraction and how you can implement an ultrasonic extractor into your extract production.

Ultrasonic Botanical Extraction - How to use sonicators to extract botanical compounds

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Ultrasonic extraction improves the extraction rate and yields of capsaicin and piperine from chili peppers

The light-weight yet powerful sonicator UP200Ht is ideal for capsaicin extraction in beakers

Literature / References

Facts Worth Knowing


Peppers are popular around the world, and are often used as food additives to provide a hot and pungent taste. Capsaicinoids are flavor compounds in red chili peppers, mainly composed of capsaicin (trans-8 methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and dihydrocapsaicin (8 methyl-N-vanillylnonanamide), nordihydrocapsaicin, homocapsaicin, and homodihydrocapsaicin. Capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin are the most abundant capsaicinoids, which are responsible for about 90% of the spiciness. Altogether, more than 20 capsaicinoids have been distinguished in different pepper species.
Capsaicinoids are the most prominent type of phytochemicals in peppers. They are nonvolatile alkaloids, which are chemically acidic amides of C9–C11 branched-chain fatty acids and vanillylamine. Responsible for the pungent and spicy flavor in chili peppers, capsaicinoids are a popular spice ingredient. Besides their use as food ingredient, capsaicinoids are known for their pharmacological properties, which include their function as chemoprotectors against mutagenesis or tumorigenesis, as antimicrobials, as antioxidants, for their anticancer effect, their analgesic effects, and their effect on the neuronal responsible for pain transmission and neurogenic inflammation. Another common use of capsaicinoids is in topical analgesics against pain, antiarthritic and anti-inflammatory ointments and as natural inhibitor of pathogenic microorganisms
In food industry, capsaicinoids are sometimes added as natural preservative due to their antimicrobial properties.

The chili fruits of Capsicum annuum L., Capsicum frutescens L., Capsicum baccatum L., Capsicum pubescens Ruiz & Pav., and Capsicum chinense are cultivated around the world and are thereby well-known.

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