How can I modify my flash chromatography method to separate chemically similar compounds?

The challenges organic, medicinal, and natural product chemists face are many: from designing reactions, to optimizing synthesis, work-up / extraction, and purification / isolation of the desired compound or compounds. Among those issues related to purification / isolation is the common problem of separating compounds with similar chemistry that either co-elute or separate poorly.

In this post I will discuss some tips on how to “resolve” this issue (yes, pun intended).

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Ionizable compound purification using reversed-phase flash column chromatography

With most chromatographic purifications, only two solvents are needed to adequately separate compounds from each other. Unfortunately, there are instances where the separation is either poor or cannot be accomplished with “normal” elution conditions such as those with ionic or very polar organic molecules.

In this post I offer some solutions to this issue.

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How do I purify ionizable organic amine compounds using flash column chromatography?

For most organic reaction mixture purifications the process is fairly straightforward. Use hexane/ethyl acetate or, for polar compounds, DCM/MeOH.  But what do you do if this doesn’t work and your compounds are basic organic amines?

In this post, I re-examine the options available to achieve an acceptable organic amine purification when typical separation methods are insufficient. Continue reading How do I purify ionizable organic amine compounds using flash column chromatography?

What do I do if a 2-solvent gradient will not separate my sample?

Usually, a 2-solvent or binary gradient will separate your desired compound from the by-products and impurities. Sometimes though, you can encounter a mixture in which some compounds co-elute and are not separable with any binary gradient you try.

I encountered this situation recently while trying to purify a lavender essential oil and have dedicated this post to how I solved the problem.  Continue reading What do I do if a 2-solvent gradient will not separate my sample?

How does mobile phase organic solvent choice impact reversed-phase flash column chromatography?

Organic and medicinal chemists frequently utilize flash chromatography to purify their reaction mixtures. Normal-phase flash chromatography is most often used but may not the best methodology, especially when the compounds are quite polar and/or ionizable.

For these molecules, reversed-phase flash chromatography is preferred but often is not used due to an uncertainty regarding the best solvent choices and the reversed-phase mechanism.  In this post, I will discuss how organic solvent choice in reversed-phase chromatography can influence the chromatographic separation.

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Why do I see more peaks than I expect with flash column chromatography?

Are you observing more chromatographic peaks than you expect compared to TLC or other assessment data?  Well, it could be that your method is separating some isomers or, it could be that there is an actual method issue.

In this post I will discuss what could cause a method issue and suggest some ideas as to how to fix it. Continue reading Why do I see more peaks than I expect with flash column chromatography?

Using pH to optimize reversed-phase flash chromatography separations

I have previously posted on the topic of normal-phase optimization by evaluating different solvent blends or mixtures. I have also touched on reversed-phase method development as well suggesting chemists use HPLC to optimize their purification.

In this post, I will look at the impact modifying mobile phase pH can have on reversed-phase separations.

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How do I remove an annoying MS TIC background?

Have you ever run flash column chromatography with mass detection (Flash-MS) and observed the total ion current or TIC increase during the purification only to find that there was no discernible compound contributing to the effect?

In this post I discuss how I came across this issue and the solution I found to work.

Continue reading How do I remove an annoying MS TIC background?

Why is my UV baseline changing during flash column chromatography?

A baseline that rises or drops when using flash chromatography with a UV detector can be a problem, especially if you are trying to collect compounds with poor detectability or that exist in low quantities.

In this post I will talk about the causes and solutions for a rising (or even dropping) baseline. Continue reading Why is my UV baseline changing during flash column chromatography?

Using TLC to Scout Flash Chromatography Solvents

TLC is the tool most used for normal-phase flash chromatography method development. For many chemists, a solvent system of hexane (or heptane) + ethyl acetate is the first, and sometimes only, solvent system evaluated. Though often useful, ethyl acetate may not always provide the optimal purification conditions. Continue reading Using TLC to Scout Flash Chromatography Solvents