This web page is NOT designed to teach one how to manufacture meth. However, basic knowledge of the process enhances one’s understanding of the dangers involved in both the manufacture and use of methamephetamine as well as educating law-abiding citizens on how to determine if a meth lab is on or near your property.
Meth is a man-made drug. There are three primary methods for cooking meth the P-2-Pmethod, Psudoephedrine/ephedrine reduction through the red phosphorus method, psudoephedrine/ ephedrine reduction through the anhydrous ammonia method.
These processes received their name from the primary precursor (ingredients) chemicals used in the production of meth. The P-2-P (phenyl-2-propanone) method is primarily used by large drug cartels in Mexico. The possession or purchase of P-2-P is illegal in the United States. International drug cartels have access to P-2-P through illegal markets and manufacture meth in Mexico and later distribute the finished product in the United States. P-2-P was legally available in the past and west coast motorcycle gangs utilized the P-2-P cooking method when they controlled the methamphetamine trade. The government’s restrictions on P-2-P forced meth production to take a different direction.
The prohibition against P-2-P in the United States has resulted in almost a total reliance upon ephedrine reduction. In this process, methamphetamine manufacturers commonly referred to as cooks, chemically extract ephedrine or psuedoephedrine from over the counter cold medicines. Although meth users, cooks and law enforcement officials refer to meth labs, they have little or no resemblance to one’s normal image of a scientific laboratory. Clandestine labs are often simple, crude and consist of common household items. Meth can be cooked in basements, old buildings, motel rooms, camping trailers and moving vehicles.
Once the ephedrine has been extracted, the cook will manufacture “Nazi” or “Red P” meth. Both “recipes” utilize heat and chemical reactions to manufacture the finished product, Methamphetamine Hydrochloride. The process is essentially the same with the exception of the agents used in the reaction.
In Nazi meth, the cook will add lithium strips, usually extracted from batteries, and anhydrous ammonia to the reduced ephedrine to start the chemical reaction.
To produce meth, drug makers often steal anhydrous ammonia -- a commonly-used fertilizer in agriculture -- from ag chemical dealerships. Unlike most of the other precursor ingredients, anhydrous is not readily available to most citizens. Because it is commonly stored as a gas, the meth cooker will drain the anhydrous into a 20 lb propane tank, the same one you might have on your gas barbeque grill. Again, it is not illegal or necessarily suspicious to possess one of these tanks. However, if the tank has been used to transport anhydrous the valves will discolor to a bluish tint and is often an indicator that meth production is afoot. Other cooks will drain the anhydrous into a plastic or Styrofoam cooler and transport it in its liquid state.
Because anhydrous ammonia is an extremely hazardous substance, the potential for explosion is great, especially when you have inexperienced people mixing highly volatile chemicals. The improper storage and transport of anhydrous ammonia places law enforcement officers, fire and medical responders, ag chemical dealers, and the public at great risk. Exposure to anhydrous ammonia can cause serious injury or even death.