Crystal methamphetamine, which is also known as crystal meth or just meth, is a version of the drug methamphetamine, which is a crystalline drug that can be taken by snorting, smoking or injecting it.

When someone takes meth, it creates a euphoric rush, also known as a high. This feeling includes an intense sense of happiness, well-being, and confidence, as well as energy and sociability. When people take meth, it also diminishes their appetite.

Understanding Meth

The effects of crystal meth will usually last around six to eight hours, but in some cases, the effects can extend for up to 24 hours.

Meth is an illegal drug that’s classified in the same way as cocaine because it’s a stimulant, and it’s often used as a club or party drug because of the energy and euphoria it creates, allowing people to dance or stay up for long periods of time.

Meth is incredibly dangerous and addictive, and many people say they become addicted to it after trying it once. Meth is a synthetic drug made from chemicals, and it’s associated not just with the high people seek out, but also with very serious and frequently deadly mental and physical health problems.

Meth can lead to aggression and psychotic or delusional behaviors that can play a role in a person hurting themselves or someone else. It can also damage the brain and heart, along with almost every other part of a person’s body.

What is Meth Made Of?

One of the primary reasons meth is so dangerous is because of the ingredients it can include. That’s also why a lot of answering, “What does meth smell like?” relies on an understanding of how it’s made. It’s a process called cooking that leads to the creation of meth, and it begins with extracting ephedrine or pseudoephedrine from cold or diet medicines. Then there’s a chemical reaction that can occur by adding ingredients such as ammonia and lithium, and a solvent is then added to extract the meth. Acidic gas that goes through the meth then creates the crystals.

Process of making meth

Most of the meth that’s illicitly purchased and used in the U.S. is made in domestic labs, whether large or small, and some is also made in Mexico. As part of the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005, Congress set requirements that retailers and pharmacies track the purchase of products frequently used to make the drug such as pseudoephedrine. There are also limits on how much of certain over-the-counter medicines people can purchase in one day as a result.

The process of making meth is dangerous, as is using the drug, and the materials are not just toxic but also flammable and explosive.

Common ingredients used in meth

  • Some of the ingredients that may be used to make meth include:

    • Acetone, which is found in nail polish remover and paint thinner
    • Anhydrous ammonia found in cleaners and fertilizer
    • Hydrochloric acid which is corrosive and can eat away at flesh
    • Lithium which is explosive and is found in batteries and can also cause burns to the skin
    • Red phosphorous which is found in explosives and is very flammable
    • Sulfuric acid, which is commonly used in drain cleaner and toilet cleaner and can burn skin

What Does Meth Smell Like?

Common meth smells when used and in the lab

As a result of the materials used, meth can smell like powerful chemicals. For example, signs of a meth lab can include smells of paint or something that’s often called a “hospital smell,” because of the powerful chemical cleaners used in medical facilities. In some cases, meth smells like vinegar or ammonia, which is an odor similar to window cleaners.

What about answering what does meth smell like when it’s smoked? This is a bit harder to define. The smells above, which are strong and often apparent are associated with meth labs, but when meth is smoked, it tends to have a lighter, more subtle and almost sweet smell.

How to Spot a Meth Lab

People may have their suspicions about friends or neighbors and wonder not only what does meth smell like, but how to spot a meth lab.

Things to look for when spotting a meth lab

Along with smells, some of the signs of a meth lab can include odd activity at late night hours, people who seem to be unemployed but appear to have no problem paying bills, people who seem paranoid, or homes where there are frequent visitors throughout the day and night hours. The curtains of a meth lab may often be drawn, or people might go outside to smoke a cigarette rather than doing it in the house.

There may also be dead spots in the lawn because of dumping chemicals or waste, or there could be a lot of bottles and containers in the garbage.

Of course, these signs don’t have to mean a meth lab is present, but they are some of the red flags law enforcement officers often look for.