How meth is made
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Making Meth

Would you walk through a store, pick up a bottle of drain cleaner, and then guzzle it down? No way! Interestingly enough, that is just one of the many ingredients used in making meth. 



Other dangerous ingredients may include:

  • Acetone
  • Anhydrous ammonia (farm fertilizer)
  • Battery acid
  • Cleaning products
  • Cold pills
  • Engine starter fluid
  • Gasoline
  • Antifreeze
  • Lye
  • Red phosphorous
  • Rubbing alcohol

Most of the ingredients used to produce meth are easy to get a hold of and unfortunately recipes are also easy to find online these days. Additionally, "labs" can be located just about anywhere. Meth labs are often found inside homes, barns, garages, motel rooms, and even vehicles.

Making meth can be as dangerous as taking it. Explosions of meth labs can shatter buildings, burning and incinerating everything in sight. Why? The ingredients used in making meth contain a hazardous combination of poisonous and flammable chemicals which are heated on a stove or hot plate. A slight miscalculation with ingredients or cooking temperature, and meth becomes a deadly bomb.

"If someone was truly interested in manufacturing meth, it would not be that hard", said Matt Leland, who works in career services at the University of Northern Colorado. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently invited Leland and other citizens consisting of software engineers, a teacher, a pastor, and even a school principal to make meth in a lab at Metropolitan State College of Denver. "At first, I thought, man, I cannot believe they showed us how to do it. But you can find the recipe on the Internet," Leland said. "It just goes to show anybody who really wants to do it probably could." The class was held as part of the DEA's first Citizens Academy in order to give the public a close-up view of what the agency does to keep drugs off the street.

Making meth is still a huge issue across the U.S., but the number of clandestine labs has diminished significantly as some of the ingredients are now much harder to achieve. For example, pseudoephedrine tablets (like Sudafed) now require a prescription and cannot be obtained in massive amounts. In 2006, 102 labs were detected in Colorado, compared to 425 in 2002. "There are parties where cooks have free beer and drugs and people sit around tearing striker plates and removing Sudafed tablets from their foil packs," said Paul Eyerly, a DEA chemist.

"Agents still need to stay on top of the problem, testing recipes they find on the Internet and learning the many ways the drugs can be made so they can testify against manufacturers in court. The crooks are always coming up with new technologies even though the chemistry stays the same," said Roger Ely, another DEA chemist.

"Methamphetamine is now largely a smuggling issue. Most of the product comes from Mexican cartels that manufacture the drugs in "superlabs" where cooks are capable of quickly making pound after pound," said Jeff Sweetin, the DEA's special agent in charge of the Rocky Mountain region. "Mexican authorities are trying to stop the manufacturing of meth in their country by implementing the restrictions on ingredients that exist in the U.S.," he added.

How meth is made
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