Arizona Attorney General

Mark Brnovich



How Meth is Made

Backpack Meth LabMeth is made in drug laboratories that vary from those that look like chemistry labs to small home-based labs set up in kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, garages and outbuildings. Drug labs have also been discovered in businesses, houseboats, mini storage units, car trunks, hotel/motel rooms and backpacks. No matter how sophisticated they appear, these drug labs have one purpose – to make illegal drugs, usually meth – secretly, quickly and cheaply.

Meth lab in reach of child; hot plate and chemicals on counter tops in sleeping area of home.

Meth is made through a cooking process that requires heating materials that are toxic,caustic, corrosive, flammable and explosive. To make meth, precursor substances such as pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, commonly found in over-the-counter cold and diet medicines, are modified by adding more chemicals to make a chemical reaction. A solvent is added to the chemical mixture to extract the meth from waste by-product. Bubbling an acidic gas through the dissolved meth forms meth crystals.

Many of the individuals who make meth (cooks) have little, if any, knowledge of chemistry and often operate under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Their lack of chemical knowledge, combined with their drug and alcohol use and the mixture of harmful chemicals they use without adequate safety equipment, explain the common occurrence of meth lab fires, explosions and toxic poisonings.