Citation: Wupster. "Thujone Concentration Experiment: An Experience with Absinthe (exp91459)". Erowid.org. Dec 1, 2017. erowid.org/exp/91459
One should not attempt to perform alkaloid extractions or other home chemistry without first having an understanding of safe handling, risks associated with different solvents, procedures, and equipment. Risks include burns, cancer, lung damage, flammability, and explosion.]
Well, I did a bit of experimenting with absinthes available in the US, to determine if the Thujone thing was real or not. There are people on the interwebs claiming that the thujone effect is imaginary.
I researched and found two brands of absinthe reported by a third party web site, which did gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy of absinthes, to determine their thujone content. I settled on trying Absinthe #1 and Absinthe #2, which were both confirmed to contain some detectable thujone, but less than the maximum allowed by law in the us (10 mg / liter). I believe Absinthe #1 was determined to have about 2.6 mg/L and Absinthe #2 to have about 7 mg/L. A friend and I bought two bottles of Absinthe #1 and two bottles of Absinthe #2. (Yes, it was expensive.)
Given the small amount of thujone present in these preparations, one would be ill from alcohol poisoning before feeling the thujone effects if one were to drink enough (I calculated a full 750 ml bottle to have about enough thujone for 1 dose of a strong absinthe, ie, 70-100 mg/L).
I removed the alcohol from the absinthes by boiling. Note: THIS IS DANGEROUS! Anyone else interested in doing this, I'd recommend just evaporating it patiently over a few days, to get the alcohol out, then maybe boil down the water portion.
First, I poured both bottles of Absinthe #1 into a large pot and put it over low heat. Note that I would not recommend this process to anyone. We could have burned the house down, or burned ourselves. I started the heat low, then gradually raised it as I thought the alcohol content was decreasing. Thujone boils at > 400 degrees, much higher than water and alcohol.
In fact, the entire contraption did burst into flames at one point, which I solved by simple putting the lid on the pot, which put out the fire. Did you notice me saying I don't recommend this procedure to anyone? I did it, so here are the results for posterity's sake.
Anyway, to cut to the chase. I boiled the Absinthe #1 down to a small volume of liquid. My friend and I each drank liquid corresponding to the product of a full 750 mL bottle of Absinthe #1. It tasted fine. The house smelled like a licorice factory, though.
The effects came on quickly and laid waste to the theory that thujone effects are a myth. Within 10 minutes, we both felt a speedy sensation, happiness, mental clarity, sociability, and some visual effects.
Within 10 minutes, we both felt a speedy sensation, happiness, mental clarity, sociability, and some visual effects.
Things looked sharper, more clearly defined. We felt giddy and in a positive mood in general. This shit was real. A bit cannabis-like and a bit mushroom-like. Effects lasted about 30 minutes. Some residuals maybe until 45 minutes to an hour.
Later on, did the same thing with the Absinthe #2. Had another minor fire that was put out without too much trouble. (NOTE: Don't do this at home!!!) We drank this stuff. I found it weaker, my friend found it stronger, than the Absinthe #1 product. But again, it was definitely psychoactive.
Anyway, an expensive experiment, and the results posted here for posterity.
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