DMSO, or dimethyl sulfoxide, is a potent solvent with a wide range of uses in scientific research and potential applications in health and wellness. But where does this versatile compound come from?
DMSO starts its journey in the heart of a tree. More specifically, it is a by-product of the wood industry. Wood pulp, the raw material used in the manufacture of paper, is composed mainly of cellulose and lignin. During the paper-making process, lignin is separated from the cellulose in a procedure known as 'pulping.' This discarded lignin serves as the starting point in the production of DMSO.
Lignin, a complex organic polymer, undergoes a series of chemical processes to create DMSO. In the first stage, it is treated with oxygen under alkaline conditions—a process known as oxidation. This procedure results in a mixture of several compounds, including DMSO.
However, the journey is far from over. This initial mixture needs to be refined to extract the DMSO. Distillation, a process that separates substances based on their boiling points, is used to isolate DMSO from the other components. At this stage, the DMSO is still not fit for use in laboratories or health applications. It contains a variety of impurities, including residual compounds from the previous steps and water. These impurities need to be removed to produce high-purity DMSO, which is typically 99.9% pure or higher and is sometimes referred to as 'pharmaceutical grade' or 'laboratory grade.'
The purification process is a critical part of DMSO production. Impurities can alter the properties of DMSO, leading to inaccurate results in research or potential health risks. This underscores the importance of sourcing high-purity DMSO from a reputable supplier.
Today, DMSO has become an indispensable tool in various research fields due to its unique properties. It can dissolve a wide range of substances and penetrate biological membranes—characteristics that have opened the door to numerous scientific and potential health applications. The journey of DMSO—from a by-product of the wood industry to a valuable compound used worldwide—is a testament to human ingenuity.
FDA Disclaimer: The statements made in this blog post have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. DMSO is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.