Fourier transform solution 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometry with homogated water peak irradiation is a useful method for detecting low molecular weight substances in humic extracts. Succinate, acetate, methanol, formate, lactate and some aryl methoxyl compounds have been detected in extracts from a wide range of sources. In view of the controversy over whether low molecular weight substances are contaminants in humic extracts introduced by the concentration procedure, we report that some of these materials are not contaminants since 1H-NMR can be used to follow their formation from higher molecular weight species. ?? 1988.