Lanthanum is more commonly found in such mineral ores as monazite and bastnasite; both of these minerals can be composed of more than ¼ of lanthanum in the form of LnPO4 and LnCO3F. Lanthanum extraction and isolation is complex because it is difficult to separate it from the other compounds it occurs with; monazite also contains radioactive elements so it must be handled with caution. The isolation process of lanthanum begins with extracting the metal out in salt form from the ores with sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide. Further isolation procedures involve complex techniques including solvent extractions and ion exchange chromatography.
Lanthanum can also be extracted from its fluoride by reacting it with metal calcium. Lanthanum fluoride undergoes a reduction reaction with pure calcium metal to form lanthanum and calcium fluoride. The isolation of lanthanum is rarely carried out on a small scale laboratory basis as the isolation process is just too complex.