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A tek comparison: Kash v Aeon

Jameis Vu

Esteemed member
Introduction:
I have referenced this in another thread in the "Cultivation" forum, but this is where I think this information should live.
I recently got into cactus growing and my friend SWIM is an aspiring psychonaut, so I thought I would delve in.

After procuring 3 specimens of T. bridgesii, SWIM was curious about the best way to perform an extraction. Internet research pointed me to two promising and similar teks: Kash's A/B and what I am calling Aeon's A/B, named after a user experience on erowid that can be found here: Low-Dose Mescaline and I will now quote:
Preparation: Having 31 gm of Trichocereus bridgesii (Bolivian torch) on hand, I placed 350 ml of xylene and 31 mg of dried cactus powder (outer green flesh) into a 1 gallon HDPE bucket that came with a vapor lock lid. I next added 150 ml of 10% NaOH solution (i.e., 15 gm of NaOH dissolved in 150 ml of H2O). I stirred / beat the mixture for 10 minutes with a wire spatula and then placed on the lid and let it settle overnight. On day 2, I removed the xylene layer with a baster, filtered it, and then I added 150 ml of xylene and beat the mixture again with a wire spatula for 10 minutes and allowed the mixture to settle overnight. On day 3, I again removed the xylene layer with a baster, filtered it, and then I added 150 ml of xylene and beat the mixture again with a wire spatula for 10 minutes and allowed the mixture to settle overnight. The following day, I took the combined filtered xylene layers, which now contain the mescaline free base, and I placed them into a 1 liter glass separatory funnel and performed three extractions (each 7 minutes in duration) with dilute HCl solution (each extraction consisted of 70 ml of H20 to which I had added 5 drops of concentrated HCl (30% muriatic acid)). I took the combined dilute HCL extracts, which now contain mescaline HCl, and evaporated the water to obtain 487 mg of alkaloid crystals (1.6 % yield).
One will notice that the two teks are quite similar, save for the beginning. Kash's tek calls for a boiling of either powder or fresh cactus, where as Aeon goes from powder straight to basification and non-polar solvent (NPS).

If you're familiar with the art of experimentation, you will know that variables are the mind-killer, so really this comparison is designed to look at the necessity of boiling in the first step.

There were other variables that, if SWIM could do it over again, he would control for. But I think they are minimal enough that, and the results interesting enough, that I thought I would share them.

The biggest variable is that both teks were performed with different plants, harvested at different times. However, the plants are the same clone, I believe to be some variety of SS02 based on morphology, and each extraction was performed 24 hours after cutting.

Methods:
Aeon's tek was performed first. SWIM harvested and peeled and cored one cactus, and got 34 g of cactus powder from it, upon which he followed the tek with one minor change: Iowering the sodium hydroxide/lye (NaOH) concentration from 10%/2.5 moles/liter (M) to 8%/2 M as he felt like it would be plenty basic enough; the hypothesis being pH matters more than NaOH concentration. Sure enough, pH strips showed the basified cactus powder was around pH 13-14.

The first 3 pulls using xylene netted 860 mg of crude, beige, mescaline hydrochloride (HCl). I salted the fourth xylene pull separately and got an extra 50-60 mg of crude product, and decided to stop there, good for a 2.5-2.7% yield. pH on the HCL saltings were much lower than 7, so likely more than just mescaline got pulled out. SWIM did not wash with acetone, and 2 bioassays were performed: 400 mg and 460 mg, the latter done using gel caps. Both resulted in a long but not unpleasant psychedelic experience that SWIM, weighing ~85 kg, would say was "strong, but managable", indicating reasonable purity of the final product.

Kash's tek was performed not long after this. Starting material 718 g of fresh cactus, cored and peeled the same way as the previous plant. More alterations were made for this tek:
  • 2 freeze-thaws prior to boiling
  • Immersion-blended the cactus chunks during the boil
  • 2 M NaOH instead of the 12.5 M (!!) solution recommended by the tek. pH was checked and was in-fact around 13-14
  • Xylene in place of toluene
  • Each xylene pull sits for atleast 24 hours in the basic cactus reduction (as in Aeon's tek)
  • Each xylene pull gets its own HCl pull, to judge how many pulls are necessary
  • HCl was a weak concentration that I neglected to measure accurately, (as in Aeon's tek) but certainly less than 1 M. pH was measured at ~2 post-pull, indicating success but lower-purity
Blending and freeze-thawing perhaps negate any benefit that could be had by such a concentrated NaOH solution, but perhaps someone with more knowledge of chemistry can correct me. But at least here, its one less variable compared to Aeon's tek.

Cactus pulp was squeeze-filtered through a linen cloth until it lost its bitter taste. All the resulting liquid phase was brought down to roughly 500 mL to make it managable. Boiling only lasted for 2-3 hours (with a dash of vinegar).

Since i salted each xylene pull separately, I could judge again when to stop doing it. The first 2 pulls netted 518 mg crude, the third resulted in 65 mg, and the fourth was 22, for a total of 605 mg. Assuming a dry weight of 36 g (5% of the fresh cactus, a reasonable estimate) for a final total of 1.7% yield.

Acetone (anhydrous) washing reduced the yield to 586 mg, and a subsequent bioassay will be performed.

Results:
TL;DR: Aeon's tek gave 2.6% yield, Kash's gave 1.7% yield (crude HCl salt)

Discussion:
I was surprised at the considerable difference between the two methods, given a rough equivalent in starting material. I would expect the cacti, treated basically identically prior to harvest, would be able to produce the same yield, so i don't think it's a confounding variable.

Granted SWIM did NOT follow Kash's tek to the letter. However, the changes he did make should have resulted in improvements, or at least had no affect. Is 12.5 moles/liter of NaOH truly necessary for efficient extraction? Maybe, but my intuition begs to differ.

Perhaps also the crude product from Kash's tek is more pure than Aeon's; the xylene sitting on the raw cactus powder may be pulling more than just mescaline, and indeed the fat mid-layer for Aeon's tek was noticeably thicker, and the xylene looked greener. Regardless of your thoughts on the psycho-activity of non-mescaline alkyloids, the bioassays showed the product from Aeon's tek to be sufficiently strong, and qualitatively what one would expect for such doses (mid-to-strong experience)

My personal theory is that, through boiling and straining to make cactus tea, a considerable amount of product is lost. This is true for any process; more steps = lower yield. It also lends credence to the idea that prolonged heating is bad for mescaline; Aeon's tek is much more gentile in that way.

Happy to discuss what people think about this. I personally consider this to be good news, as i am all about simplifying protocols to get better results. I know Kash's tek is considered the gold standard, but I think, if you don't want to drink cactus tea, you shouldn't make it in the first place.
 
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Yes, it's much more convenient to STB cactus powder and extracts into NPS. What we found out here on the forum is that water should be used only in limited amounts. No boiling and tea preparation.
Check CIELO tek here on wiki.
CIELO
 
So the basic (!) difference between Kash's and Aeon's is the use of fresh and brewed, vs. dried and STB, cactus? It does indeed sound better to save the energy (although a good cactus brew is also something not to be sniffed at). Echoing @doubledog, though, while skimming your method descriptions/lab notes I did think "hang on, that's adding more water to the Kash tek - not fair!", so it could be argued you haven't made an entirely fair comparison by not following the instructions to the letter.

However, your comments on potency loss through boiling are entirely plausible since, for example, imine formation by mescaline with carbonyl groups in glucose and other carbohydrates from the cactus could quite conceivably lead to decomposition of the mescaline, as well as simply preventing it from being pulled into the NPS in this combined form.
 
Yes, it's much more convenient to STB cactus powder and extracts into NPS. What we found out here on the forum is that water should be used only in limited amounts. No boiling and tea preparation.
Check CIELO tek here on wiki.
CIELO
The critique of CIELO is that it's not as straightforward as Kash's A/B, although undoubtedly safer. I want something as simple as possible. Getting the paste "just right" is not something easily reproducible without experience. The fact that the Kash protocol is the one newbies come across is, I think, a problem. It needs an update at the very least on the wiki. 12.5 M NaOH is nothing to be sniffed at.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the terms, but I wouldn't call Aeon's tek an STB, as the final product is HCl salt, not a freebase. But I stand corrected if this is what is meant by the term.

What I think would be very interesting is a direct comparison of the two teks, starting from the same material. Has this been done, to your knowledge @doubledog ?

@Transform Perhaps you are right, and the additional water is a cause for the lower yield, something I had not considered. It still argues that Aeon's tek will result in superior yield.
 
Maybe I'm misunderstanding the terms, but I wouldn't call Aeon's tek an STB
STB is in contrast to A/B, rather than a specific description of the state of the final product. In particular, we could differentiate Kash's as a "brew & base" (since it's not necessarily acidified) in order to clarify that Aeon's involves dumping the cactus powder straight (in)to the base solution. But it still does, indeed, seem that Aeon's tek will be likely to provide the highest yields.

It may be prudent to run it side-by-side against CIELO, which has a very simple crystallisation stage once one has the water content dialled in correctly.
 
The critique of CIELO is that it's not as straightforward as Kash's A/B, although undoubtedly safer. I want something as simple as possible. Getting the paste "just right" is not something easily reproducible without experience. The fact that the Kash protocol is the one newbies come across is, I think, a problem. It needs an update at the very least on the wiki. 12.5 M NaOH is nothing to be sniffed at.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the terms, but I wouldn't call Aeon's tek an STB, as the final product is HCl salt, not a freebase. But I stand corrected if this is what is meant by the term.

What I think would be very interesting is a direct comparison of the two teks, starting from the same material. Has this been done, to your knowledge @doubledog ?

@Transform Perhaps you are right, and the additional water is a cause for the lower yield, something I had not considered. It still argues that Aeon's tek will result in superior yield.
Imo wet cactus paste style is quite simple, just do not use too much water. CIELO uses 1:2 ratio (cactus:water) and no free water, but Aeon's ratio of 1:5 is also not very watery, it probably creates some slurry. It must be mixed with nps very thoroughly, but I am sure it works pretty well.

Freebased alkaloids really like to stay in liquid cactus brew, they do not migrate between layers so well. High concentration of NaOH helps to push freebase mescaline out of alkaline brew and into NPS. I would not recommend Kash's tek because of this.

I am not aware of any direct comparison of the teks.
In my understanding STB means that you start the extraction with alkaline treatment of plant matter without any boiling step. Final product is always some salt.
 
I'll try this in the future myself comparing the two...
How many times did you acid boiling to extract? I tend to do 2 30min PC pulls with water then hardboil it down. I've not yet worried about product lost much since I'm still using young material. I'd think that the main thing would be pulling to exhaustion.

I've read that hard boiling removes other alkaloids (the non-mescaline salts) which is why shamans do hours long lower temp cooks. Basifying especially if not adding fresh hot lye mix would conserve those other alkaloids present resulting in a higher yield when using excess HCL to salt. I would be interesting in the results of a cleaned extract from both doing equal acetone or isopropanol pulls of the nonmescaline salts. I'd assume that mescaline content wouldn't be affected despite the high cooking temps.

I'd say that aeons tek pulls even more non-mescaline salts since not being heat damaged. Perhaps yet another test would be cold acid pulls then base and salt. Just extra work but would remove the products not soluble in acid vs pulling from everything that is soluble in the NPS.
 
I'd say that aeons tek pulls even more non-mescaline salts since not being heat damaged. Perhaps yet another test would be cold acid pulls then base and salt. Just extra work but would remove the products not soluble in acid vs pulling from everything that is soluble in the NPS.
It depends if the extra alkaloids contain any free phenolic hydroxy groups. Those will get deprotonated by the base and stubbornly remain in the aqueous phase.
 
Mescaline extraction has been performed since 100 years in an aim of analytical accuracy.
I love the "style" of cielo since it is elegant and doesn't involve all the annoying steps other extraction methods come up with.

But clearly: If you looking for the best yielding technique, have a look into professional extraction methods, - if you have the gear, the glass wear and the solvents at hand.

(Edit: I can't say it often enough: i.m.o. columnar chromatography)

This isn't newly discovered science but basic techniques of extraction.

Also pure mescaline Vs. Non mescaline salts are to take into consideration.

What is the purpose of your experience? If you just want a straight forward method of extracting mescaline in a consumable manner, go for cielo.

You can certainly separate several layers of phenetylamines by concouisly worked out A/B Separation with selective Solvents, but is this a thing you want to do?

Evitating pain in the ass methods by delivering easy application and practice approached techniques seems quite pretty straightforward to me.
 
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