How to Cook Meth? Effects, Cutting Process, Ingredients & Addiction Risks & Treatment

Meth is produced by mixing solvents and cutting agents to a cold medicine base, adding water, and applying heat until the meth can be extracted. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with meth addiction.

How to Cook Meth? Risks & Effects of Meth Addiction

The meth manufacturing process is both complex and risky. The process often causes explosions and fires. Cooking meth also creates large amounts of toxic waste. Meth labs are usually found in trailers, homes, motel rooms, and other relatively small spaces. Containers, hoses, jars, and filters can all be signs of a meth lab.

How do you cook meth? Unlike drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, which are derived from plants, meth can be manufactured using a variety of store-bought chemicals. The most common ingredient in meth is pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, commonly found in cold medicine. Through a cooking process the pseudoephedrine or ephedrine is chemically changed into meth.

To curb production of methamphetamine, Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act in 2005, which requires that pharmacies and other retail stores keep logs of purchases of products containing pseudoephedrine and limits the amount of those products an individual can purchase per day. 

How to cook crystal meth? The ingredients that are used in the process of making meth can include: ether, paint thinner, Freon, acetone, anhydrous ammonia, iodine crystals, red phosphorus, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lithium (taken from inside batteries). Toxicity from these chemicals can remain in the environment around a methamphetamine production lab long after the lab has been shut down, causing a wide range of damaging effects to health. 

As a powerful stimulant, methamphetamine, even in small doses, can increase wakefulness and physical activity and decrease appetite. Methamphetamine can also cause a variety of cardiovascular problems, including rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure. Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) and convulsions may occur with methamphetamine overdose, and if not treated immediately, can result in death.

What Does Cooking Meth Smell Like?

Meth production involves using dangerous chemicals, which tend to have a powerful smell that may be similar to rotten eggs, glass cleaner, or cat urine. Odd behavior, such as residents rarely coming outside or individuals who burn or haul away the trash, can indicate a meth lab. Residents may also appear paranoid, have frequent visitors, or keep curtains drawn at all times. Meth production is risky, so if you suspect a meth house in your neighborhood, you must alert law enforcement and never approach it yourself. When meth is manufactured or “cooked,” it produces chemical byproducts in gaseous form. The odor made by cooking meth depends on the chemicals produced. Cooking meth may create odors that are:

  • Solvent: This cooking meth smell comes from different solvents, such as paint thinner and cleaning fluids used while making meth.
  • Sweet: This cooking meth smell is produced by chemicals called ethers. This smell can be described as a “hospital smell.”
  • Sharp and pungent: This cooking meth smell comes from ammonia. It is similar to the smell of stale urine and glass cleaner.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Meth?

The production of methamphetamine — and the desire to consume it — is seemingly unstoppable. When precursor chemicals are brought under tight control in one country, like the United States, production simply moves to another country. Then, the finished product is shipped right back into the very countries that have waged such a battle to eradicate it in the first place. Most meth smuggled into the United States is made in large labs — “superlabs”

Houses used as meth labs are often uninhabitable afterward, and cities and states involved in meth lab busts often don’t bother with seizing the property, since nobody in their right mind would purchase it at an auction, even at a steep discount. Small meth labs can be found in suburban houses, motel rooms, car trunks, in campsites or in the woods. Outdoor operations often result in water contamination and a dying-off of nearby vegetation.

Methamphetamine can be produced by a number of different methods, including scary “shake-and-bake” and “one-pot” processes. All of them, though, involve ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The entire process can involve as many as 32 different chemicals, but the formula varies by the ingenuity and intelligence of the “chemists”. The process generally takes about two days‘ time and can result in hundreds of thousands of methamphetamine doses.

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Meth Addiction Statistics

There are about 24.7 million amphetamine-type stimulant abusers worldwide. In 2018, these figures continued to increase. There are about 24.7 million amphetamine-type stimulant abusers worldwide. In 2018, these figures continued to grow.

2.6 million

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 0.9% (or about 2.6 million people) reported using methamphetamine in the past 12 months.

Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

1.5 million

Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, an estimated 0.6% (or about 1.5 million people) had a methamphetamine use disorder in the past 12 months.

Source: 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health


In 2020, approximately 23,837 people died from an overdose involving psychostimulants with abuse potential other than cocaine (primarily methamphetamine). 

Source: CDC

Methamphetamine Drug Facts Sheet

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine (meth) is a stimulant. The FDA-approved brand-name medication is Desoxyn.

What is its origin?

Mexican drug trafficking organizations have become the primary manufacturers and distributors of methamphetamine throughout the United States, including Hawaii. Domestic clandestine laboratory operators also produce and distribute meth on a smaller scale. The methods used depend on the availability of precursor chemicals.

What are common street names?

Common street names include:

  • Batu
  • Bikers Coffee
  • Black Beauties
  • Chalk
    Chicken Feed
  • Crank
  • Crystal
  • Glass
  • Go-Fast
  • Hiropon
  • Ice
  • Poor Man’s
  • Cocaine
  • Shabu
  • Shards
  • Speed
  • Stove Top
  • Tina
  • Trash
  • Tweak
  • Meth
  • Methlies Quick

What is its legal status in the United States?

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II stimulant
under the Controlled Substances Act, which
means that it has a high potential for abuse and a
currently acceptable medical use (in FDA-approved products). It is available only through a prescription that cannot be refilled.

Today there is only one legal meth product, Desoxyn®. It is currently marketed in 5, 10, and 15-milligram tablets (immediate-release and extended-release formulations) and has very limited use in the treatment of obesity and ADHD

What does it look like?

What does meth look like? Regular meth is a pill or powder. Crystal meth
resembles glass fragments or shiny blue-white “rocks” of various sizes.

How is it abused?

Meth is swallowed, snorted, injected, or smoked. To intensify the effects, users may take higher doses of the drug, take it more frequently, or change their intake method.

What is its effect on the body?

  • Taking even small amounts of meth can result in:
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Increased physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)

What is its effect on the mind?

Meth is a highly addictive drug with potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant properties. Those who smoke or inject it report a brief, intense sensation or rush. Oral ingestion or snorting produces a long-lasting high instead of a rush, which reportedly can continue for as long as half a day.

Both the rush and the high are believed to result from the release of very high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure. Long-term meth use results in many damaging effects, including addiction.

What Are The Ingredients to Cook Meth?

People addicted to meth and attempting to sell it can easily find different recipes showing how to make meth. Crystal meth can be made with products that can be found in any grocery store. Certain ingredients, like ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, have been further regulated to prevent people from making meth.

 Herare some typical meth-making ingredients and supplies:

  • Hydrochloric acid. A chemical used to make plastic or refine metal.
  • Lithium. This chemical is used in lithium batteries and is highly corrosive.
  • Acetone. Usually found in nail polish remover or paint thinner.
  • Toluene. Used in brake fluid and is powerful enough to dissolve rubber.
  • Pseudoephedrine. The active ingredient in Sudafed or other cold medications.
  • Red phosphorous. This is commonly found on match tips and in road flares.
  • Sodium hydroxide. Also known as lye, this is used to dissolve road-kill.
  • Sulfuric acid. This is an active ingredient in drain cleaners and is highly corrosive.
  • Anhydrous ammonia. This chemical is used in fertilizer and strong cleansers.

While many of these ingredients and equipment are common, the amounts and the form of the ingredients needed to manufacture meth are different than what the average person would possess. For instance, multiple boxes of cold medicine, or cold medication removed from blister packs, may indicate the presence of a meth lab. The same is true for coffee filters covered with strange stains or powders.

How to cook meth? Meth is produced by mixing solvents, cutting agents, cold medicine base, water, and heat until the meth can be extracted.
How to cook meth? Meth is produced by mixing solvents, cutting agents, cold medicine base, water, and heat until the meth can be extracted.

Cutting Meth with Other Substances

Illicitly manufactured methamphetamine may contain numerous cutting agents and chemicals that were improperly separated during production. These often include:

  • Red dye. This is common in some forms of methamphetamine where pseudoephedrine is used and the red dye in the tablets has not been washed away, which may make the meth appear reddish or brown.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane. MSM is a pain reliever used for strengthening cartilage in people or animals, and it is virtually undetectable in meth.
  • Amphetamines or other stimulants to disguise impurity.
  • Sulfur that comes from ephedrine sulfate. This may make the meth orange in color.
  • Copper salts, which may result in a greenish color.
  • Phosphorus. When phosphorus—an extremely toxic chemical—is used in the manufacturing process and not fully washed out, the meth may have a purplish look to it.
  • Fentanyl or other synthetic opioids that are fatal in small doses.
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Dangers of Cooking Meth

Toxic chemical fumes, spills, explosions, and fires make meth labs dangerous places. Meth cooks, their family members, and first responders are often the ones who are injured (or worse) in illegal drug labs. Waste dumped from meth labs can expose people to toxic chemicals. People picking up litter on the side of a road have been injured from meth lab waste dumps.

Exposures to high levels of contaminants found in meth labs can cause shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, dizziness, lack of coordination, chemical irritation, and burns to the skin, eyes, mouth and nose, and in severe cases, death. Symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue have occurred in people who entered a meth lab after the bust was completed, but before the property was properly cleaned and ventilated. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.

Not much is known about the long-term health effects from these labs. Long-term exposure to meth labs is a big concern, especially for children living in a very contaminated environment. However, there is scientific evidence from animal and human toxicity studies that shows the chemicals used in the manufacture of meth can cause a range of health effects. These include cancer, damage to the brain, liver and kidneys, birth defects, and reproductive problems, such as miscarriages.

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How Can You Tell If Someone is Cooking Meth?

What does meth smell like when you’re cooking it. Alone, these activities or signs may not mean that illegal drug activity is occurring. However, some or several of them happening together may indicate a problem.

  • Strong chemical odor coming from house, garbage, or detached building.
  • Visitors come and go throughout the day and night and stay for short periods of time.
  • Extra efforts to cover windows or have extensive security, such as reinforced doors.
  • Deterioration of property and excessive amounts of trash, such as large amounts of antifreeze, drain cleaner, and glass containers.
  • Appear to have plenty of money but don’t seem to go to work – drive expensive cars, pay rent or bills with cash.
  • Never take trash out to be collected or put garbage in another neighbor’s collection area.
  • Residents come outside to smoke cigarettes.
  • Children and pets of the home appear to be neglected.
  • Residents act unfriendly, paranoid, or appear secretive about their activities.

How to cook meth?  Make no mistake,  every recipe in cooking meth is explosive, corrosive, and toxic
How to cook meth? Make no mistake, every recipe in cooking meth is explosive, corrosive, and toxic

Is Cooking Meth Illegal?

In the U.S., it is illegal to produce, possess, transport, or sell illicit methamphetamine. A person must have a prescription in their own name if they are found with medical methamphetamine. Methamphetamine use in America is framed as a criminal issue, with people who use methamphetamine subject to incarceration, removal of children and separation of families, and other punitive measures. 


A federal first conviction for simple methamphetamine possession can result in a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If a person has 5 grams or less of methamphetamine, that will count as simple methamphetamine possession under federal laws. To visualize, one gram of methamphetamine is about as big as a quarter. Drug possession charges can result when someone is found carrying methamphetamine, or it is in their car, or other belongings. It could also mean someone was found using the drug when they were arrested. 


Trafficking is the charge given when law enforcement believes there was the intent to distribute the drug to others. If a person has between 5 and 49 grams of pure meth, or 50 to 499 grams of a mixture, it is considered possession with intent to distribute (trafficking), and federal sentencing ranges from 5 to 40 years. The sentencing goes up for larger amounts. State methamphetamine laws vary. 


Manufacturing methamphetamine carries a federal sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for the first offense, and up to 20 years and a $500,000 fine for the second offense. The sale of over-the-counter (OTC) medications like Sudafed are restricted because they contain pseudoephedrine, a precursor to the manufacture of methamphetamine.

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How is Meth Cooked?

The equipment for manufacturing meth typically uses common items found in everyone’s home. This might include glass bottles, cheesecloth, aluminum foil, oven-safe or heat-safe dishes, rubber tubing, and other common items. Everything can be picked up at a hardware store or discount store. In addition, most of the chemicals used in meth are perfectly legal and can even be acquired in large quantities. That explains the growing popularity of making meth in the everyday kitchen.

The process of manufacturing or “cooking” meth is very dangerous. It starts with grinding down the cold medication pills and adding a binder to them to separate the pseudoephedrine from the medication. Then the medication is mixed with acid and red phosphorus, bubbled for a while, and then the red phosphorous is filtered out. Next, caustic soda is added to give the meth a “base,” a process that has to be carefully cooled to avoid explosion.

After that, Freon or other chemicals are added to separate the liquid from the solids. Hydrogen chloride then turns the meth into a salt, which lowers the acidity. It is then dried on a cloth. The final product is filled with yet more additives to make it even more addictive, then it is packaged for sale and use.

Cooking meth is a highly dangerous process. Most of the chemicals involved are exposed to high heat, and that heat can lead to explosions. It can also lead to serious toxic fumes – for instance, red phosphorous heated to a high degree can crate deadly phosphine gas, which will kill someone if they inhale it. Some chemicals are also highly reactive with each other – an example is ammonia and alkali metals, which can form a spectacular explosion if even a tiny bit of each is combined.

Dangers of Using Meth

The dangers of methamphetamine ingredients do not end when the cooking is done. Each ingredient can be lethal to the user; put them all together, and you can imagine how dangerous the finished drug can be.

Meth is taken orally like a pill, smoked, snorted like cocaine, or dissolved in water or alcohol and injected into the body. Smoking or injecting the drug is the most popular, as it delivers a very quick and intense high.

That high makes users feel like they can do anything, and so they often push their bodies dramatically and do things they might not be able to do otherwise. But when they “come down” and crash, they wind up in physical and emotional distress. That’s why they crave more of the drug almost immediately.

How to cook meth?  People typically cook Meth in pots on the stove or in microwaves with methods known as the “shake and bake method”
How to cook meth? People typically cook Meth in pots on the stove or in microwaves with methods known as the “shake and bake method”

Other problems might occur from the start, such as a loss of appetite, sleeplessness, hyperactivity, severe nausea, aggressiveness, irritability, delusions of grandeur, hallucinations, paranoia, and much more.

The long-term effects are even more devastating. These can include increased heart rate and blood pressure problems, damaged blood vessels, strokes, lung and kidney damage, heart attacks, liver damage, brain damage, loss of memory, and even death. Keep in mind that these problems can happen after using meth for only a very short time, as methamphetamine ingredients are highly toxic and can easily kill. 

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Meth Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing meth, you should research the substances and their associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs.  Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle the effects of meth addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, show your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of meth withdrawal. 

Meth Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated meth detox withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete the meth detox.

Cravings are very common during drug detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Meth Addiction Rehab

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug use. the goal is to help the patient stop using meth and other substances, but drug rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Following a full medical detox, most people benefit from inpatient rehab. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from 28 days to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare plan, which may include continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. Traumatic experiences can often result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

How to cook meth? Meth addiction is a difficult and dangerous disorder that impacts both physical and mental health.
How to cook meth? Meth addiction is a difficult and dangerous disorder that impacts both physical and mental health.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our opioid addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Meth Rehab Near Me

Meth addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and clarify issues like meth withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

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