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What Meth Is Made Of (Ingredients & Creation)

Crystal meth is created in makeshift labs. It is an illegal drug and there is no regulation in its production. It contains many harmful and even toxic ingredients.

History of Crystal Meth

Before crystal meth became popular as we know it today, Chinese scientists isolated ephedra to create an old-fashioned form of meth in 1887, according to Live Science. Ephedra was combined with iodine and red phosphorus in 1919 to enhance its ability to boost alertness and suppress appetite.

During World War II, Nazi Germany created a drug called Pervitin, which soldiers took to stay awake. Der Spiegel reports that this drug was habit-forming. A former soldier named Heinrich Böll, who is known for his Pulitzer Prize, had become addicted to this pill.

Pervitin was crystal meth. Soldiers who took this pill were able to be productive for long periods, but they could not keep working with the short rest periods allotted to them.

Meths Ingredients

German soldiers using the drug also began experiencing negative side effects, such as psychotic episodes and hearing failure. Pervitin was available for use after the war and prescribed for depression. University students then would use it so they could study for longer periods of time.

The drug was eventually banned in West Germany in the 1970s, and it was banned for use in East Germany in 1988. But it became popular in the United States in the 1970s.

Today, crystal meth is produced unlawfully in homemade labs around the world. Motorcycle gangs such as Hell’s Angels started to make meth and sell it on the West Coast. Problems with the drug remained in that area until meth became more popular across the entire country.

Scientist Steve Preisler published his book Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture in the 1980s. Cooking meth became popular, and would-be scientists and dealers began distributing meth across the country and around the world.

The Process of Making Meth

The first edition of Preisler’s book provided six methods for preparing meth. He encouraged people to use certain ingredients.

  • Cough medicine
  • Antifreeze
  • Battery acid
  • Drain cleaner

Meth makers found their own preferred ingredients, and the drug now includes other items.

  • Freon
  • Paint thinner
  • Cold medicines
  • Battery acid
  • Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in decongestants such as Sudafed and Suphedrine. It is used to treat symptoms of colds or bacterial infections, such as congestion, runny nose, allergies, or sinusitis.

Sudafed and other over-the-counter medications containing pseudoephedrine do not require a prescription, but people do have to show their driver’s license or provide identification to buy it. In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005, which put these safeguards into place.

This law now requires people to provide information that allows pharmacies to track sales of decongestants containing pseudoephedrine.

Many meth cooks understand that their purchases are tracked, so they may send several people to buy these over-the-counter medicines. This practice is known as “smurfing.”

A New York Times article from February 2018 says that some doctors require patients to get a prescription for the nasal decongestants that are ingredients in meth recipes.

Meth labs became well-known because of the things that occur when people are making the drug. One can recognize a meth lab by looking for the following:

  • A strong stench, sometimes resembling urine
  • Frying pans or glass cooking implements with dusty remnants
  • Propane tanks with blue stains on their attachments
  • Coffee filters with crystal or powdery debris
  • A suspiciously large number of cold medications with ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as their main ingredient
  • Rubber tubes attached to innocent-looking bottles

There are also ways to recognize facilities from the outside.

  • Open windows, ventilation, and methods to tackle meth’s strong smell despite very cold weather
  • Trash that contains odd items
  • Extreme security measures, such as guard dogs, signs that warn people against trespassing, cameras, and even baby monitors
  • Burned grassy areas or dead spots, which indicate the dumping of toxic byproducts

VICE reports that making meth is dangerous and could cause explosions. Making meth in rural areas was more appealing because it was easier to hide these explosions there.

Some behavior could also point to a person who cooks meth.

  • Dumping garbage in different sites
  • Smoking outside
  • Not leaving the premises for long periods of time
  • Frequent houseguests at odd hours

New Methods

Though some people have cooked meth in laboratories, lawmakers in Oklahoma discovered a new “shake and bake” method, as mentioned on NY Daily News.

People who make meth using this method need pills containing pseudoephedrine, a container, and common chemicals. This method eliminates the need to have a lab, and some people use items as innocent as empty soda bottles.

Lawmakers warn that more people are using this method because it allows dealers to make meth on the go. “Shake and bake” meth creation poses new dangers.

  • Explosions if oxygen in any amount gets into the bottle
  • Making meth while driving
  • Allows any place to turn into a makeshift meth lab, including public bathroom stalls or cars

Most people who make meth are not knowledgeable about the drug’s chemistry. Authorities say that even removing the cap from a soda bottle too quickly could result in a fire, and shaking the bottle the wrong way could result in injury.

Though making meth in a lab is dangerous, officials have noted that making meth on the go causes people more extreme burns and injuries when things go wrong because people are holding their “lab” in their hands.

The “shake and bake” method enables people to throw their containers just about anywhere, releasing meth’s toxic remnants to the public. People may start turning to this method because they can make their own batches of meth. Even though they will get much less, it is still enough to satisfy a person’s cravings.