Local News

March 2, 2014

Meth labs go under the radar


The products are kept behind the counter at pharmacies and dispensed on request.


The substance is chemically similar to methamphetamine, Niles said.

“Knock off the oxygen-hydrogen (molecule), you have methamphetamine. That’s the whole process where you mix the chemicals together. You synthesize methamphetamine.”

Users call it the “shake and bake” or “one pot” method, and the small amount produced is usually for personal use, he said.

The pseudoephedrine is usually ground up finely in a coffee grinder, he said, and mixed with ammonium nitrate from instant cold packs, sodium hydroxide from Red Devil Lye or Drano, lithium from lithium AA batteries and camp fuel sold by Coleman and other companies.

“When water mixes with ammonium nitrate, there’s an instant exothermic reaction,” Niles said. “That’s another thing to look for, a bunch of ice pack wrappers.”


The sodium hydroxide is very dangerous, he said.

“It causes severe chemical burns. It’s not unusual to have it in your house, but it’s unusual to have six of them.”

Users add a small amount of water to a plastic bottle with the chemicals inside, shake it, and the reaction takes an hour, he said.

Niles said he wasn’t revealing anything potential meth makers couldn’t get in a quick Internet search.

Besides meth, the reaction produces poisonous hydrogen chloride gas, he said.

The liquid in the bottle is siphoned out with plastic tubing and directed through a coffee filter, leaving the methamphetamine in the filter.

“They use a lot of coffee filters, more than you or I would ever use in a lifetime,” Niles said. “This is something to look out for.”


The whole process produces about two grams of methamphetamine and costs around $70.

The resulting white crystalline substance is then smoked in a glass pipe or injected.

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