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How It's Made

The processing required to make methamphetamine from precursor substances is easier and more accessible than ever. There are literally thousands of recipes and information about making meth on the Internet. An investment of a few hundred dollars in over-the-counter medications and chemicals can produce thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine. The drug can be made in a makeshift "lab" that can fit into a suit case. The average meth "cook" annually teaches ten other people how to make the drug.

There are many different methods for producing methamphetamine. Each method has its own inherent dangers. Many of the chemicals used are caustic or corrosive, and some of the processes create noxious and harmful fumes.

One variation is called the "Nazi method" because it supposedly mirrors a meth-making procedure followed by the Germans during World War II. Instead of hydriodic acid, the Nazi method uses anhydrous ammonia, a chemical found in fertilizer and often stored in large tanks on farms. Meth makers sometimes are known to steal the product in the middle of the night and briefly set up shop near the tank. Anhydrous ammonia can produce a poisonous gas if its liquid form is released into the air.

Another method is more earthy. In some areas, so much meth by-product has been dumped into the soil that cooks are excavating hundreds of cubic yards of earth from the sites to process the dirt and extract the chemicals to make meth.

Chemicals and Equipment Frequently Found at Methamphetamine Lab Sites

Many of the chemicals can be found in common household items such as lantern fuel, cleaners, acetone, muriatic acid, and diet pills.


  • Ephedrine (Cold Tablets)
  • Pseudoephedrine (Cold Tablets)
  • Acetone
  • Alcohol (Isopropyl or Rubbing)
  • Toluene (Brake Cleaner)
  • Ether (Engine Starter)
  • Sulfuric Acid (Drain Cleaner)
  • Methanol/Alcohol (Gasoline Additives)
  • Salt (Table/Rock)
  • Lithium (Batteries)
  • Anhydrous Ammonia (Farm Fertilizer)
  • Sodium Hydroxide (Lye)
  • Red Phosphorus (Matches/Road Flares)
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Iodine (Teat Dip or Flakes/Crystal)
  • Trichloroethane (Dun Scrubber)
  • Sodium Metal


  • Pyrex or Corning Dishes
  • Jugs
  • Bottles
  • Funnels
  • Coffee Filters
  • Cheesecloth
  • Blender
  • Rubber Tubing
  • Paper Towels
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Gas Can
  • Tape/Clamps
  • Hotplate
  • Strainer
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Propane Cylinder (20-lb)
  • Books "How to Make Methamphetamine"
  • Methamphetamine Lab Sites

Photos courtesy of Digital Broadway LLC