I've had a fantastic distraction at work this week: a soxhlet extractor. Since not everyone gets to see these used on a regular basis, I thought I'd take a little video. (Hopefully it's faster for you than it was for me to upload!) Unfortunately, it's...sideways. I don't know why it's sideways. The camerahands are mine, so they're shaky. (The little piece that holds the camera on the tripod broke, and I'm a poor student, so...it's still broken and I don't have a tripod to use at the moment.) But it's a soxhlet in action.
If you've never set one up, well, the stuff you want to flush with solvent goes in the little paper thimble. You have boiling solvent (ether, in my case...yay!) in the bottom that...condenses...in the condenser and drips into the thimble. What's soluble collects until it's pushed into the top of the little siphony loop thing, and at some point there's enough that it can drain back down into the flask at the bottom.
My product here is brickdust (unless it's in DMF or THF), so all the brown-looking stuff is crud I'm trying to get rid of. Soxhlets are extremely useful for things that look like dirt. They're also useful for soil extractions, which is pretty much the only other capacity in which I've seen them used.
Anyway, enjoy the video. Loop for maximum distraction.