Cacti - T. pachanoi or Cacti - T. bridgesii
Citation: Huxley. "Extraction to the Viscosity of Light Syrup: An Experience with Cacti - T. pachanoi or Cacti - T. bridgesii (exp97141)". Erowid.org. Jan 25, 2018. erowid.org/exp/97141
The Best Cacti Preparation Method Yet
Cactus consumption once involved chugging down sludge of blended whole cactus that tasted awful and lent discomfort to the whole experience. After ten years of trial and error within Australian Shamanic Communities, the procedure has been refined so that the minimal amount of plant material need be consumed for the maximal benefit.
The procedure involves adding only the flesh of the cactus with the highest alkaloid content to distilled water, and results in uniform syrup that has potent effects from manageable quantities. Any nausea or ‘heavy belly’ feelings usually associated with cactus consumption are virtually eliminated using this preparation. The final product is a worthy effort and does justice the wonderful active ingredients found in the cactus. This is a process for people who know and respect the cactus and are prepared to take a little extra time and effort in preparing a shamanic brew.
The aim is to complete a water-based extraction of mescaline and the other alkaloids from the cactus body. The taste of the cactus extract is unpleasant so the strongest drinkable concentration of alkaloids to water is desired in the final product.
• Trichocereus Brigesii or T. Pachanoi cactus lengths. In general terms of raw ingredients, one foot of T.pachanoi or three inches of T. Brigesii is a mid-level dose for most people.
This procedure does not require measurement of initial cactus length because it evaporates the final cactus-water extraction down to the liquid viscosity of light syrup. This standardizes the potency of the mixture. The ratio of dissolved solids to alkaloids remains constant independent of overall syrup volume. When the liquid reaches light syrup viscosity, it has (x) dissolved solids and a correlating level of (y) alkaloids.
The volume of the overall syrup solution may change from batch to batch, but evaporating a 30 L water extract of cactus down to a few hundred millimeters of light syrup results in a concentration of alkaloids identical to a larger amount of cactus reduced down to a larger volume of light syrup.
By creating light syrup, one is effectively using viscosity as an indicator for when the highest concentration of dissolved solids/alkaloid salts attainable before the solution begins to stick or burn due to the evaporation. Beware - the solution may burn easily when the syrup point is reached. Watch the pot constantly at this stage.
• One large stock pot that can hold at least 10 L of distilled water, OR one large pressure cooker (faster procedure)
• A second large empty container. This is to hold the mixture when filtering it through a sieve or tea towel. A saucepan or bucket can be used.
• 30 L of distilled water. This can be purchased from auto stores or the supermarket for around $3 per 5 L bottle.
Using distilled water stops a scum forming when the solution is evaporated down in the pot. It also lessens the concentration of unwanted mineral salts having to be filtered by the body when consumed, which makes it easier on the stomach in general, as well as increasing the gradient across which the alkaloids cross from the cactus cells into the solution, making the extraction more efficient. Keep the empty plastic bottles to hold the bulk water extractions prior to the final evaporation.
• A stainless steel sieve to drain the water from the cactus between repeated water-based extractions.
• A tea towel to finely filter the solution near the end of the process.
• A variety of knives to dismember the cactus.
Preparation of raw ingredients: Harvesting the plant
Start with a T. brigesii or T. pachanoi cactus plant that has some long arms. Cut an arm cleanly from the plant as close to the base as possible with a clean sharp knife. Notice that the trichocereus cacti have a waxy outer film, a green outer flesh, a white inner flesh, and a fibrous core.
The alkaloids exist in the highest concentrations in the outer dark, green flesh between the waxy outer layer and the inner core. The high alkaloid content of the plant and the resultant bitterness is thought to be a protective mechanism of the plant against insect and animal attack.
The thin, glossy, outer layer of the plant protects the plant from dehydration and predator attack. It is waxy and is unsettling to the stomach when consumed. It needs to be separated from the dark, green flesh.
The fibrous core of the cactus is a very weak source of alkaloids and adds unwanted bulk so is also separated from the dark, green flesh.
Preparation of raw ingredients: Separating active flesh from inactive fiber and wax
The two primary objectives when cleaning the cactus are to peel the waxy film from the outer surface and remove the inner fibrous core.
Begin by cutting the cactus length into shorter lengths (approximately 4” cross sections). Stand the cactus sections upright. Slice down each cactus rib so a long strip of triangle-shaped cactus rib falls off like a tobleroen chocolate bar. Do this for each rib. Only the inner core should be left standing. Discard the inner core.
A collection of 4-7 ribs should now be left from which the wax needs to be peeled. Upon close examination, the waxy film should be distinguished from the sumptuous dark green flesh underneath. Use fingernails or the tip of a knife to peel the waxy film from the green flesh underneath.
If the ribs are dehydrated and sunken, the waxy film is difficult to remove. Watering the cactus a day or two prior to harvesting can restore sunken ribs to a more manageable condition for peeling. Cutting the triangle strips into smaller strips can sometimes aid the peeling of the wax from the strip by making it easier to pull off a complete section of wax, like peeling an orange with a knife in one unbroken attempt.
The peeling of the cactus ribs could probably be avoided by decanting the final boiled-down mixture, however the constant boiling of the cactus with the wax might cause some mixing of the waxes into the liquid.
Such a method of wax removal by decanting has not been tested and an excellent palatability of the final extraction has been repeatedly achieved by peeling the wax off the cactus. Consumption of whole cactus bodies has unsettling effects on the stomach, of which none have been apparent when using the wax peeling method in combination with distilled water. For best results, freeze the flesh before proceeding to the next step.
First Water Extraction
When the cactus is peeled, dice the dark green outer flesh that remains then freeze the flesh. Add 10 L of distilled water to the large stock pot or the pressure cooker and bring to the boil. Add about 1/3 the volume of diced cactus flesh as there is water in the pot. My stock pot must be around 15 liters capacity as I add the 10 L water and then add cactus flesh until the water rises to with 1-2 cm from the rim. If the flesh was frozen, it will release its alkaloids sooner due to the instant cell wall damage from freezing and rapid re-heating. Note that pressure cookers must never be filled more than 2/3 full due to the risk of blocking the steam outlet valve.
The stock pot is my preferred method purely for reasons of convenience. I can safely leave the pot on to simmer for extended periods of time and change the water over at time like breakfast and before bed. That way the whole boil up process becomes just a rhythm of life. This method takes several days but saves time compared to waiting around all day sitting next to a steaming, whistling pressure cooker while waiting to change the water every hour and a half.
Though it is tempting to fit as much cactus flesh as possible in the pot, it is inefficient to exceed a flesh volume to water ratio of 1 part flesh : 3 parts water. There needs to be enough water for all the dissolved solids from the cactus flesh as well as the alkaloids to diffuse into.
To optimize this process, freeze the green flesh before adding it to the boiling water. This helps rupture the cell walls of the plant to hasten the release of the desired alkaloids.
Return the pot to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Mescaline and associated alkaloids are very resilient. They will stand these high temperatures of 95’ – 125’ Celsius for extended periods of time.
On the lowest simmer, place lid on pot and heat for 6-8 hrs overnight (if using a pressure cooker, boil the cactus for 45 mins instead of 8 hrs). Though the slow method seems cumbersome, it demands less attention as pressure cookers often need watching in case the stop-cock gets stuck up thereby releasing all the steam. By slowly simmering the large pot with the lid on, the water will not boil away and the operation requires no maintainece. Turn off the heat in the morning.
Place the sieve above the second large empty container. Use oven gloves to hold the hot pot and pour the green water extract through the sieve to separate the green water from the cactus chunks. Use the flat end of a serving spoon to gently squeeze excess juice from the chunks in the sieve into the second empty container.
The green water now contains the alkaloids from the cactus flesh, and the initial volume of water that was added to the cactus flesh may have reduced in volume by up to 20%. If you started with 10L of distilled water, there will be approximately 8-9 L of green water strained from the mix.
Transfer the green liquid into the 5 L distilled water containers and put aside until ready to begin final evaporation by boiling.
Second Water Extraction
Refill the now empty stock pot with another 10 L of distilled water, heat to a boil, and add the now slightly squashed chunks of boiled cactus from the sieve. Simmer on low for another 8 hours (or 45 mins if using a pressure cooker). Repeat the sieving process and store extract in the 5 L distilled water bottles until ready to begin final evaporation by boiling.
Third Water Extraction
Return the chunks to the empty stock pot. Use a potato masher to crush the chunks until the solids are a mix of glug and some slightly intact pieces of flesh so it looks like a chunky green paste.
Again, refill the empty stock pot with another 10 L of distilled water and add the now squashed chunks of boiled cactus from the sieve. This is the last extraction ‘boil-up’ so simmer on low for another 6 - 8 hours (or 45 mins if using a pressure cooker).
Use a sieve to filter the solids from the liquid and place them into a holding cup. If needed, use a small saucepan or jug to scoop the contents from the pot into the sieve. The liquid will eventually drain into the large container and leave sludge in the sieve.
Transfer the solids into a tea towel or cotton pillowcase. Squeeze the pillowcase by twisting it around to wring all the liquid from the sludge. Every drop of water contains active alkaloids. Bitterness signals the presence of alkaloids so taste the sludge for bitterness before discarding it. If it is still strongly bitter then complete a fourth water extraction. If the remaining sludge tastes bland, then discard the sludge.
Siphoning the clear liquid from the cloudy solids
Once the ‘boil-up’ has been completed, the first two ‘boil-ups’ have been sitting long enough to be ready for separating the liquid from the tiny solid particles that are in the watery extract. Removing these particles makes it easier to ‘boil-down’ the watery extract to a more concentrated quantity. Repeat this once the third ‘boil-up’ has rested for at least 24 hours.
Final Evaporation by Boiling
The empty large stock pot now becomes the final evaporation pot. Gather the clarified green water extracts that are stored in the clean 5 L distilled water bottles and fill the evaporation stock pot close to full.
Start heating until a boil is achieved. Medium alert is now present as this pot contains the desired extract. Do not allow the evaporation pot to EVER boil dry. It will burn. Such an event will destroy all active ingredients and render all efforts thus far futile.
Continue adding the light green-water extract as the level in the evaporation pot gets lower until all the green-water extracts are in the pot. Evaporate expediently until only a couple of liters remain. Stir regularly at this stage.
As you learn this method, the following pacing will become apparent: use vigorous boiling during the early stages when there is a large volume of liquid and the risk of burning / dry-boiling the extract is low. When the total volume of liquid drops to the last few remaining liters, simmer cautiously and be watchful. An extra option at this stage is to remove the watery liquid and leave sit for a few days before decanting to remove any sludge that settles in that period. If undertaken, this would remove more suspended solids than decanting the more viscous finished product.
Consider it a quest of an increasingly focused endurance and persistence from here until the end of the process. The liquid will darken as it becomes more potent and this is a sign that the desired syrup-point is approaching. Lower the heat so that a light steam evolves from the liquid with a low boil intensity level.
Transfer to a smaller saucepan if possible at this stage by filtering through a tablecloth and sieve once more. If a smaller saucepan is not available, still filter through the tablecloth when only a few liters remain and the mixture is dark but still of a watery consistency. Note: This step is unnecessary if liquid has already been decanted.
From this point on, near constant attention is needed to safely achieve the light syrup end product. Only 1-2 hours remain of the extraction process but succumbing to distraction at this point risks all previous labor if the liquid is ‘stuck’ or burned.
On a low heat so that a visible steam is evolved from the liquid without barely a simmer occurring, constantly stir the liquid until it becomes light syrup.
Turn off the heat as soon as the liquid loses its watery ripples when stirred and begins to appear ‘syrup-like’, ‘glossy’, or ‘thick’. It is better to remove the saucepan from the heat source at the earliest sign of ‘syrup-like’ consistency so it can still be poured easily into the storage container. Avoid the tendency to create the most potent brew rather than a brew that is potent and can be easily ingested. The quicker the extremely bitter extract liquid can flow down the throat, the less-prolonged the duration of revolting taste. A watery brew just short of syrup is the ultimate aim.
Heavy syrup is undesirable for several reasons: the risk of burning is increased, and it is less pleasant to drink than light or watery syrup. If thick syrup is produced, much of this potent syrup will remain coating the saucepan after it has been poured out. Small quantities of distilled water would then need to be added to the saucepan to dissolve the syrup so it too can be poured into the storage container. Distilled or spring water is used to dilute a mix that has become too thick or ‘syrupy’ thereby reaching the desired end-product.
The storage container should now contain a potent dark greenish-black liquid whose drinkability can be enhanced by leaving the liquid to settle for up to a week before decanting to remove the last of any indigestible ‘sludge’.
Decanting for Optimum Palatability
When the cactus extract has cooled, pour the liquid into a clear, narrow plastic drink container using a funnel. The drink container can be like the ones used for bottled water (small, med or large depending on the volume of the extract).
Leave the syrup to settle in the fridge for at least three days but a week is best. Any suspended solids will form a sludge layer on the bottom 1/8th of the bottle, and the alkaloid extraction will remain as a solution in the liquid on top.
Decant (pour off) the top dark-green liquid into another vessel. Be prepared to sacrifice just a little of the dark-green liquid to prevent any of the bottom gunk flowing into the final vessel.
Stop pouring as soon as sludge particles begin to appear in the liquid flowing over the neck of the bottle. Discard the bottom sludge. Wipe your brow and take satisfaction in a job well done.
A second decant is usually unnecessary but may provide confirmation that the extract is indeed free from floating solids.
Several years ago there was scant information available regarding T. Brigesii’s use as an entheogen; little still exists today. It is said to be a wild relative of the more common T. pachanoi (san pedro). One of the few first hand reports exists as an aside in a fine book for anyone interested in the entheogens called “The Lost Amazon”, by Wade Davis.
Typical mescaline effects are felt from 10 mls of syrup while 60 ml syrup gives intense out-of-body sensations to a healthy, experienced 80kg male that requires an especially safe and supportive setting and is not recommended for most people.
T. Brigesii light syrup will provide a more than satisfactory other-worldly experience for eager pschonoughts at a dose of 30ml light syrup due to the mescaline and associated alkaloids it contains.
Even though the lower potency of T’ Pachanoi tends to result in self-limiting doses due to the larger volume of syrup needed to be consumed (80ml), the same cannot be said of T. brigesii. Be very careful with dosage when using T. Brigesii.
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