Aloe Vera Processing
Aloe vera is considered to be nature's miracle by people all over the world because it possesses numerous medicinal properties. As more and more people are learning about the benefits of aloe vera, the demand for aloe vera products are also on the rise. Although making aloe vera gel is quite simple and can be easily prepared at home, it cannot be trusted completely if one needs to use it for internal consumption. This is because while making aloe vera gel at home, there are chances that the aloin or latex gets mixed into the gel accidentally, making it unreliable for consumption as aloin is laxative in nature and can cause stomach problems. In this case, it is best to rely on aloe vera products which are prepared through a careful process. Let us take a look how exactly aloe vera processing is done.
Aloe Vera Processing
The first step in the process of making aloe vera gel is harvesting of the aloe vera leaf. Only the leaf that is fully matured (2-3 years old) is chosen for aloe vera processing. An important thing that has to be followed is that aloe vera plant once harvested must immediately go through the process of preparing the gel. This is because more time the aloe vera plant is kept without processing, the more its quality starts deteriorating. However, if aloe vera is not used immediately, it should be placed in a refrigerator within 4-6 hours after harvesting.
Once the aloe vera leaves are harvested, it has to go through a severe cleaning process. In most aloe vera processing companies, the aloe vera leaves have to go through a series of soak tanks, high pressure sprayers and scrub brushes to wipe out any unwanted remains that can deteriorate the quality of the end product.
Aloe vera processing can be divided into three main steps which include crushing, grinding and pressing of the whole leaf. Most manufacturing companies make the use of aloe vera processing equipments for extracting whole leaf aloe vera gel. First, the tip as well as the base of each aloe vera leaf is removed and it is cut into small pieces. These aloe vera pieces are placed in a grinding unit where they are crushed till they achieve a soup like consistency. This aloe vera liquid is then transferred into cleaned and sanitized stainless steel tanks. After this, the large pieces of pulp present in the liquid are removed with the help of a de-pulping extractor.
The liquid that is obtained in the end goes through the filtration process. This is important to separate the aloin or latex from the liquid, along with the microscopic remains of sand, leaves and other such particles. The filtration process is done with the help of a press filter which possess various carbon coated plates. These plates have the ability to absorb the latex from the aloe vera liquid. This process is repeated until the whole liquid is free from almost 99% of aloin. After this, the liquid goes through a press filter that contains 5 micron filter paper several times, until it is completely devoid of latex. Finally, the aloe vera liquid is purified through the cold filtration process.
The stabilization of the aloe vera liquid or gel that is obtained after processing is extremely important. This is because processed aloe vera is bound to get oxidized, thus making it unusable. Stabilization of aloe vera gel or liquid can be done through various techniques including cold processing as well as heat treatment processing.
Cold processing is done by using enzymes like catalase and glucose oxidase in the aloe vera gel to stop the production of aerobic organisms. Another cold processing method is to expose the aloe vera gel to ultraviolet rays. On the other hand, heat treatment processing involves pasteurization of the liquid at a high temperature. Another aloe vera gel stabilizing method is by adding preservatives and additives like potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, vitamin E, citric acid, etc. in the gel.
Needless to say, aloe vera processing is definitely complex. However, it is quite essential to make the aloe vera gel or juice effective and safe for topical application as well as internal consumption.