A reader on one of our articles put a link in their comment that links to a 1926 medical journal article explaining how to produce insulin for use in diabetes management. It’s an excellent article, so we are bringing it to the forefront. Here’s a sample:
The fresh pancreas of beeves and hogs are trimmed of fat and extraneous matter. They are kept on ice until a quantity has accumulated sufficient for a “run,” about 30 pounds. The chilled glands are then ground to a pasty consistency in a Buffalo chopper. 20 pounds of this meat are placed in a rotary mixer together with 1 gallon of water and 100 cc. of concentrated sulfuric acid. After the mixer has run for 15 minutes, 5 gallons of 95 per cent alcohol (ethyl denatured with 10 per cent methyl) are added. The mixing is then continued to a total of 1 hour. The juice is pressed from this mixture by means of a heavy power press. At this point the concentration of alcohol should be 63 to 65 per cent and, if it is too low, enough 95 per cent alcohol is added to attain this concentration. The hydrogen ion concentration is about pH 2.5 to 3.0.
The solution is next filtered. About 50 cc. of sodium hydroxide (sp. gr. of 1.50) are added to each 10 gallons of filtrate. It is important to make this partial neutralization rather’exact in order to secure rapid filtration from the fat later in the process. The extract is concentrated in vacua to about -2n its volume. The temperature of this residue is about 45°C. upon removal from the water bath which is regulated to maintain a temperature of 80°C. The concentrate is filtered immediately through double folded filter papers. The filter papers containing the dark brown, fatty precipitate are extracted with enough water to cover and filtered the next day. The active material thus recovered is worth the labor involved. This filtrate is added to the main extract.
That’s not the whole process; there’s a bit more involved. It’s a pain, but if it’ll save your life or someone you love, it might be worth learning something about.