Many drugs have specific looks, textures and smells that make it easy to identify them. Unlike marijuana’s pungent herb and sage smell before and after being burned, heroin is often times odorless in its purest form. However, when diluted or manipulated, heroin is recognized from its acidic, vinegar-like smell.

what does heroin smell like
Heroin, scientifically known as diacetylmorphine, is a powerful and highly addictive opiate drug processed from morphine. In the early 1900s, heroin was intended to be a non-addictive substitute for pain relief. It was also used as a cough suppressant for children through the Bayer pharmaceutical company. Once the addictive qualities were realized, heroin was banned and made illegal across the United States.

This opiate drug comes in many forms, but it is typically sold as an off-white or brown powder that can be eaten, smoked, snorted or injected. In its purest form, heroin is sold as a pure white powder with a bitter taste. On the street, users are likely to come across black tar heroin, a lower quality of the drug in solid form. Unlike pure heroin, black tar is impure and cheap, typically appearing black or dark in color with the consistency of a rock or roofing tar. What helps to distinguish this form is its potent vinegar or medicinal smell.

Black tar heroin is a cheaper, impure version of heroin. Its dark color is a result of synthetic processing that leaves behind remnants of chemical and bacterial impurities. Because the solid form is not as potent as pure heroin, black tar is manipulated with other acidic additives to enhance and prolong the high. These additives in combination with other chemicals added to the mix produce a vinegar-like smell.

Street heroin or black tar is never exactly the same from batch to batch. While only 25 percent of black tar heroin is pure, the other 75 percent contains toxic contaminants. Because it may be cut with so many things, it is more difficult to understand correct doses and the potency, increasing the likelihood of overdose or adverse reactions to the drug. Users will also spend more money for larger portions of black tar since the high is short-lived.

Black tar poses significant health risks to users, and the tar-like consistency is known for clogging needles and blood vessels. Frequent use and addiction can prove to be fatal. Other common health risks of using black tar heroin include:

  • Skin abscesses
  • Severe itching
  • Nausea
  • Wound infections
  • Decreased bodily blood flow
  • Narrow or collapsed veins
  • Gas gangrene
  • Heart infections
  • Brain damage
  • Liver damage