What Does Meth Smell Like?
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What Does Meth Smell Like?

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 28, 2019

Meth is an incredibly dangerous stimulant that has been described as smelling like chemicals. Overcoming meth addiction will likely require intensive and long-term rehabilitation.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is highly abused and illegal in the United States. Also known as crystal meth, this substance can be ingested by injecting, snorting, or smoking it.

Meth is commonly used and abused for its euphoric effects. People who ingest meth will feel an intense high as well as an overall sense of euphoria, boosted energy, and increased confidence. Many people take this as a party drug, as it allows people to stay awake and party for extended periods of time.

Using meth is incredibly risky and can quickly lead to addiction. In fact, many people report that they become addicted to the drug after only one use. Continuous meth abuse can lead to a number of physical and mental issues and even death.

How Is Meth the Substance Made?

Meth is dangerous for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is how the drug the made.

Meth that is available for illegal purchase on the street is most commonly made in a home-based lab. People “cook” meth through an intrinsic process that can involve dangerous chemicals.

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Most meth is created by extracting pseudoephedrine or ephedrine from diet and cold drugs that can be bought over-the-counter. Once this is done, substances like ammonia are added to create a chemical reaction. A solvent is added to the concoction to extract the methamphetamine, and acidic gas is pushed through the meth to form crystals.

The ingredients used to make meth impact how the drug smells. Common ingredients used in the meth-making process include:

  • ammonia
  • lithium
  • acetone
  • sulfuric acid
  • hydrochloric acid
  • red phosphorus

These substances are not only dangerous to the human body but are also potentially explosive and flammable. Making meth is a risky task, and many people die in meth lab explosions.

What Does the Drug Meth Smell Like?

The chemicals used in making meth give the drug a powerful chemical smell. If you suspect a friend or loved one is using you may wonder what does meth smell like. Common odors of meth may include vinegar, ammonia, or chemical cleaning substances. These strong smells are often one way that a meth lab is spotted.

When smoked, meth often smells much lighter. Some people describe the smell of smoked meth as sweet. Others have described the drug as smelling like burning plastic or sulfuric like rotten eggs.

Getting Help For Meth Addiction at a Professional Rehab

Meth is an incredibly powerful and addictive substance that can have tremendous negative consequences on a person’s life. If you or loved one is struggling with meth addiction, intensive professional meth treatment will likely be needed.

Inpatient treatment programs have shown to be among the most successful routes for overcoming an addiction the meth. Inpatient programs provide personalized and daily treatment that can help people quit meth and remain sober in the long run.

Illinois Department of Public Health - Environmental Health Fact Sheet: Methamphetamine Laboratories

U.S. Department of Justice - Methamphetamine Laboratory Identification and Hazards Fast Facts

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