How Methamphetamine is Made

Would drug users ever touch meth if they knew how it was made?

Looking at how methamphetamine is made offers an understanding of the scale of the problem authorities are battling with. Meth can be produced in small labs in houses, garages or trailers. This is often done by meth users cooking meth to feed their own habits, Currently, it accounts for roughly twenty percent of all the meth that finds its way onto the streets.

It can also be produced in much greater bulk in large scale labs, often located inside abandoned barns or warehouses. Such labs are set up for factory-line production of methamphetamine and produce about eighty percent of the drug that reaches the streets. These labs must be located in remote locations such a rural areas of Mexico or California’s Central Valley.

Manufacturing Crystal Meth

Crystal methamphetamine, the more potent version of the drug, can be produced in several different ways. All of them use one of two key basic ingredients: ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The various production processes can also involve as many as 32 different chemicals.

Without giving out the exact recipe, here is an outline of how the more methodical large-scale criminal operations manufacture crystal meth. The process takes about two days to churn out hundreds of thousands of crystal meth doses.

  • The ephedrine or pseudoephedrine is required in pure powder form but if that is not available, the decongestant pseudoephedrine can be obtained by acquiring a cold medicine, dissolving it in a solvent and filtering the resultant solution.
  • The next stage is to mix the pseudoephedrine powder with two other chemicals: red phosphorus and hydriodic acid.
  • Once that has been done, the red phosphorus is filtered out. It can be used again to make more batches of crystal meth.
  • Any remaining hydriodic acid is neutralized using a lye solution.
  • A substance is then added that will bind to the meth and the solution is drained.
  • Hydrogen chloride gas is bubbled through the liquid meth to turn it into a crystalline salt.
  • The crystalline salt is then passed through a filter.
  • Meth crystals are left on the filter and then dried.
  • The crystals are mixed with an inert filler, the meth dealer’s equivalent of watering drinks so as to maximize profits.
  • Once that is done, the crystal meth is ready for the streets.

Shake’n Bake: Methamphetamine’s Do-It-Yourself Method


Drug users are now making their own meth in small batches using the “shake’n bake” method, so called because the chemicals are mixed in a two-liter bottle and then shaken gently. This method rapidly became popular because it requires a relatively small number of pseudoephedrine pills, which can easily be obtained even where tough anti-meth laws have restricted purchases of some cold medications. Household, yard, garage or pool chemicals make up the rest of the list.

Shake’n bake involves taking a soda bottle, a few handfuls of crushed cold pills and these easily obtainable but toxic chemicals and giving them a good shake. The resultant volatile reaction results in one of the world’s most addictive drugs.

All this has created a huge problem for the authorities tasked with dealing with the criminals who market and promote these drugs and seek to profit by the misery and death of others. At the same time it brings massive heartache to the community and the families of users. Yet the good news is we can do a great deal to help drug users kick the habit, escape the misery and live drug-free lives.

Our vast experience and track record in successfully handling all kinds of drug addiction offers the real hope of a happy ending for anyone trapped in the hell of methamphetamine addiction.