Quebracho is derived from the word quebrar hacha, meaning “axe-breaker” in Spanish. Quebracho is a tree indigenous to South America that is commercially used because its extract contains a water-soluble polyphenol called tannins.
The extract has no odor but has a bitter taste and texture of the extract is most commonly solid as a fine uniform powder texture with a natural luster.
Since the late 1800s, quebracho has been heavily utilized to be used in leather tanning. Likewise, the extraction process has not changed since then. There are several steps in the production of quebracho extract, of which are as follows:
1. Raw Material Preparation
Firstly, tree trunks that are cut down are allowed to rest in open air, allowing easier process of the quebracho wood. Then, trunks are shredded into smaller pieces, known as chips, to be able to provide as much surface area as possible.
2. Extraction of tannins
Next, large autoclaves are used to feed the wood chips and boiling water to be able to extract the tannins. The chips are fully immersed without any chemical additives. Subsequently, after that, the mixture is filtered to remove the exhausted wood chips from the aqueous solution of tannin. The wood here is usually turned into biomass at a different processing plant.
3. Purification and drying
The tannin solution is cooled down to room temperature to be able to separate the impurities that will precipitate around this temperature, allowing it to produce a purer solution. It is usually followed by an evaporator to further concentrate the extract. Then, with the concentrated tannin solution, it is fed through a spray dryer to convert it to solid powder. As the extract is now in powder form, it is easier to be transported and it saves storage space.
The powder is packed into bags, ready to be shipped. Its destinations vary, such as for the pharmaceutical industries, textile, paints and inks, food and beverage industries and many more.
- Leather Industry
The quebracho extract is commonly used as a leather tanning agent for all types of leather. The finished result provides a very robust and durable reddish leather.
- Agriculture Industry
In agriculture, this product is used to reduce methane content in animal guts that have stomachs that ferment food before digestion, specifically cattle. Furthermore, it is also used as an antioxidant to interrupt inflammatory processes.