Frequently Asked Questions

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  1. Where can aloe vera be grown?
    Aloe vera cannot tolerate a hard freeze, therefore it cannot be grown in areas that has temperatures that fall below freezing. Aloe vera will freeze at 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and if freezing does occur, the plants will die.

  2. Is there a most common type of commercially grown aloe vera?
    Yes, Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller is the most common type grown. It can be distinguished by its yellow flower.

  3. How much supplemental water do aloe plants require for commercial harvesting?
    You need around 150 ml of water a month in order to produce a quality leaf weighing around 1 Kg.

  4. Is there a relationship to water deprivation of the leaf and the quality of the inner gel?
    Yes, when the aloe vera leaf is starved of water, there is a increase production of aloin and emmodin which causes the gel to have a very bitter taste, a brownish color, and a very strong odor.

  5. What type of soil do I need to grow aloe vera?
    Sandy loam soil is best type of soil, however aloe vera will grown in a wide range of soils. Soils with a high clay content are not recommended.

  6. Is fertilization of my soil necessary?
    You need to keep your soil slightly acidic and supplement with a cheap nitrogen form. Ammonium nitrate is one form and if used it should be added once a year to the soil at the rate of 120 pounds per acre.

  7. How many aloe plants should you plant on one acre?
    If you plant in rows at 31 inch centers, with 36 inches between the rows, you plant around 5,000 aloe plants per acre

  8. What kind of an annual yield can I expect from my mature aloe field per acre?
    You can usually harvest aloe plants 4 times per year. You should take around three leaves per plant. This makes a total of 12 leaves per plant per year. At an average weight of 1 kg you can expect an annual return of 60,000 kg of aloe leaves per acre.

  9. What kind of yield can I expect from my aloe vera leaf when I produce filets?
    This depends on whether you are hand filleting, the skill of your employees, whether you are using an automated extraction machine, however you should yield at least 43 to 45 percent from a 1 kg aloe leaf.

  10. How long does it take an aloe plant to mature?
    If you start with an 8 to 12 inches tall aloe pup, it should take 18 to 24 months for it to fully mature.

  11. What do aloe pups cost?
    This varies greatly depending on labor costs to harvest and what the market will bear. In the United States, aloe pups run approximately $0.50 each. In China, the same aloe pup could be as cheap as 5 cents.

  12. What commercial products are sold from the aloe?
    There are two basic processes used in the manufacturing of aloe vera products:

             a. Whole Leaf processing in which the entire aloe leaf is used to manufacture
                  whole leaf gels, whole leaf concentrates, and whole leaf powders.

             b. Aloe vera gel processing in which only the inner gel fillet is used to manufacture
                  aloe vera gels, aloe vera concentrates, and aloe vera powders.

  13. How do you extract the aloe vera gel?
    In order to get a good quality aloe gel, the the tips and the ends of the leaf are removed then the spiny sides are removed. The aloe rind can be removed by squeezing the leaf, filleting the leaf or by grinding up the entire leaf. There are several types and versions of aloe filleting machines.

  14. What can I do with my waste product that is generated in the processing phase?
    Aloe rinds should be placed back in the fields for fertilizer.

  15. What equipment is necessary to process inner gel or whole leaf?
    You will basically need the following:

             a. A soaking tank to loosen the dirt from the leaf.

             b. An aloe leaf washing machine or hand washing station to wash each individual leaf.

             c. A sanitizing rinse to sterilize the leaves.

             d. Trimming the aloe leaf to remove the ends and sides. (filet only)

             e. Filleting of aloe leaf to remove the gel. (filet only)

             f. Grinding to liquefy the gel.

             g. Pulp separation to remove the cellulose pulp.

             h. Stabilization of aloe gel to achieve microbial protection.

             i. Charcoal Decolorization to remove color, and odor.

             j. Filtration to remove charcoal.

             k. HTST or Vat pasteurization to provide final bacterial stabilization.

  16. What is the cost for a basic aloe vera gel processing plant?
    The equipment is designed to handle specific daily volumes of aloe leaves and various labor and utility constraints. Only as an example, a 100 hectare farm could produce 55,000 kg of aloe vera leaves daily. The equipment necessary to handle this volume would cost between $400,000 and $600,000 USD.

  17. How are concentrates produced?
    Aloe concentrates are produced removing the water content. There are various ways to do this, reverse osmosis, thin film evaporators, and vacuum distillation process are a few examples. Aloe vera gel will have approximately 0.5% solids. It is common to concentrate up to 20% solids making a 40:1 concentrate.

  18. What kind of aloe vera powders are produced?

             a. A 200:1 pure aloe powder made from the inner gel.

             b. A 100:1 pure whole leaf aloe powder from the leaf.

  19. What kind of equipment is used to make the powders?
    Basically there are two types of equipment used to make powders:

             a. Freeze drying

             b. Spray drying



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