Difference Between Maceration and Percolation

The main difference between maceration and percolation is that the maceration is a process of soaking something to make it softer whereas the percolation is the seepage or filtration of a liquid through a porous substance.  

Maceration and percolation are two methods of extraction used to take out desired components from a mixture into a liquid medium. Both are used in a wide array of applications in the food industry, pharmaceutical industry, biology, etc. 

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Maceration
     – Definition, Facts, Examples
2. What is Percolation
     – Definition, Facts, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Maceration and Percolation
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Maceration and Percolation
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Filtration, Maceration, Percolation, Preparation of Tincture, Tincture


Difference Between Maceration and Percolation - Comparison Summary

What is Maceration 

Maceration is a process of softening a substance by soaking in a liquid. The two main biological examples of maceration are skin maceration or pruning, and the breakdown of food into chyme during digestionSkin maceration is the breaking down of the skin through softening due to the continuous exposure to moisture for a long period of time. Chyme is a semi-digested food dissolved in the gastric juice. It is very acidic since it is soaked in the hydrochloric acid from the digestive juice. The term, maceration, is also used in the preparation of the specimens from the skeleton

Main Difference - Maceration and Percolation

Figure 1: Skin Maceration

In the production of tinctures by maceration, either fresh or dried herbs are added into a jar, which is then covered with alcohol. The jar is soaked every day for a month and stored in a cooled, dark place. At the end of the procedure, the required substances can be found in the liquid portion. 

Difference Between Maceration and Percolation

Figure 2: Maceration of Swedish Liqueur

Maceration is also used in the dehydration of food, seasoning wine and fruits, and in the addition of flavor to different food.  

What is Percolation 

Percolation is a widely used method used in the preparation of fluid extracts. The two main applications of percolation are brewing liquids such as coffee preparation and disinfection. Filters with very tiny pores can be used to sterilize fluids by filtering. Hence, percolation regulates the effect of microorganisms in many products such as food and pharmaceuticals.  Percolation is also used in the purification of water.  

Main Difference Between Maceration and Percolation

Figure 3: Coffee Preparation

In the preparation of tincture by percolation, grounded, dried herbs are put into a funnel through which alcohol runs slowly.  

Similarities Between Maceration and Percolation 

  • Maceration and percolation are two types of extraction methods used to take out desired components from a mixture. 
  • They extract substances into a liquid medium.  
  • They have various applications. Both methods are used in the production of tinctures. 
  • Both are involved in the extraction of medicinal and aromatic plants.  

Difference Between Maceration and Percolation 


Maceration refers to the process of becoming softened by soaking in a liquid while percolation refers to the process of a liquid slowly passing through a filter. 


The main purpose of maceration is to obtain softer substances in a liquid medium while the main purpose of percolation is to extract particular substances into a liquid. 


The maceration results in a liquid with waste and has to be purified further while the percolation results in a liquid that only contains desired substances dissolved in it; hence, no further purification is required.  

Time Taken 

Maceration takes a long time while percolation takes comparatively very little time to complete the process. 


Maceration does not require specific equipment for the procedure while percolation requires equipment such as a filter. 


The breakdown of food into chyme during digestion and skin maceration are examples of maceration while brewing coffee is an example of percolation.  


Maceration is a soaking method by which the substances are softened and extracted into a liquid while percolation is a brewing method in which the liquid runs through a filter with the dried and grounded compound. Maceration takes a long time than percolation. The main difference between maceration and percolation is the method of extracting substances. 


1. “Maceration – Definition and Examples.” Biology Dictionary, Biology Dictionary, 29 Apr. 2017, Available Here
2. “Percolation.” Pharmacognosy – Medicinal Plants, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Fingers showing skin maceration” By Srilakshmi96 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 
2. “La macération de l’élixir du Suédois” By WIKISKYMAN – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 
3. “Manual coffee preperation” By miheco from California, USA – FlickrUploaded by JohnnyMrNinja (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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