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How to Extract Acetaminophen

By Robert Ceville ; Updated July 27, 2017

Extracting acetaminophen from combination pills such as Vicodin and Percocet can keep from causing damage to your liver from extended periods of use. You do not need to have any previous chemistry knowledge. Cold-water extraction works by dissolving the other contents of the pills while leaving the acetaminophen behind. If you haven't ever attempted to extract acetaminophen, do not feel overwhelmed. With the right instruction, you can do it with only a few common household items.

  1. Crush the pills and place them in a glass of cold water. The more finely the pills are crushed, the more yield you will get out of the extraction process.

  2. Stir the contents of the glass with the spoon until there are no longer any visible clumps, then pour it into the bowl.

  3. Place the bowl in the freezer, then cover it with the paper towel. Leave the bowl in the freezer long enough for the water to become chilled, almost to the point of freezing. Do not allow it to become frozen.

  4. Place the cloth over the empty glass, then pour the contents of the bowl over top of it. Since the acetaminophen is not water-soluble, it will be left behind on the cloth. The other contents of the pills will be filtered into the glass.

  5. Warnings

    Cold-water extraction will not remove 100% of the acetaminophen from the pills.

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