What's In Meth

Most of Meth’s key ingredients are toxic and highly flammable.
Although the “recipes” vary, here are the most commonly used ingredients.

  • AcetoneAcetone
    Nail polish remover or paint thinner. Extremely flammable. In the setting of a Meth lab where Meth is being cooked with high heat, acetone is very dangerous.
  • LithiumLithium
    Used in batteries. Lithium seriously burns the skin upon contact. It also reacts violently with water and is highly explosive.
  • TouleneToluene
    Used in brake fluid. Toluene is powerful enough to dissolve rubber.
  • Hydrochloric AcidHydrochloric
    Used to make plastic. It can remove rust from steel and is highly corrosive to human skin. In high concentrations, hydrochloric acid will literally eat away human flesh.
  • PseudophedrinePseudoephedrine
    Decongestant found in cold medicine. Large amounts of pseudoephedrine on its own can harm the respiratory and nervous systems, as well as the heart.
  • Red PhosphorusRed
    Found on matchboxes, in road flares, and other explosives. Ignites when overheated.
  • Sodium HydroxideSodium
    Lye. Can burn the skin or cause blindness. It’s used to dispose of road kill because it turns the dead bodies into a coffee-like liquid.
  • Sulfuric AcidSulfuric
    Used in drain or toilet bowl cleaner. Another highly corrosive substance that burns the skin on contact.
  • Anhydrous AmmoniaAnhydrous
    Found in fertilizer or countertop cleaner. On its own, it has a pungent, suffocating odor; mixing it with other chemicals can release highly toxic gases.

Which of these is not a common ingredient in Meth?

  • Nail polish remover
  • Lithium
  • Nitroglycerine
  • Drain cleaner
  • Brake fluid

Nitroglycerine is used to make explosives. Although explosions can happen while methamphetamine is being made, nitroglycerine is not involved. All of the other ingredients are commonly found in Meth.


Signs of Use

Meth contains a variety of poisonous ingredients. Some become even more dangerous once the cooking process begins.
REPLAY Tap an ingredient to put it into the container.
Red phosphorus is highly flammable and if overheated can become white phosphorus—a volatile and highly explosive substance.
Lithium reacts violently with water and if splashed in the eyes during cooking, will cause blindness.
Toluene is used to form Meth crystals and the fumes it releases can cause brain damage or even death.
Drain cleaner is extremely corrosive and without wearing protection, even the smallest spill on the skin can eat through flesh.
Anhydrous ammonia gives off vapors during cooking that can burn the mouth, throat and lung tissue.
  brake fluid
  drain cleaner

Types of Meth

Meth can take a variety of forms. Here are some of the more common.


Meth is typically a white or yellowish-white, odorless crystalline powder.


When methamphetamine takes the form of crystals, it’s usually referred to as Crystal Meth or Ice.


Crystal Meth, or Ice, can also come in a range of colors due to
impurities of the drug.


Meth is also produced as tablets, which are sometimes called Yaba, their Thai name meaning "crazy pill."


  • The toxic fumes, vapors, spills, or chemical waste that pollute an area. Each pound of Meth produced yields up to six pounds of waste, which is often haphazardly dumped—endangering communities and the environment. These toxins can cause poisoning, lesions, burns, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Long-term exposure can cause cancer and damage the brain, liver, kidneys, and immune system. Chemical Concoction

  • Making methamphetamine. Because many of Meth’s ingredients are caustic and explosive, the process is extremely dangerous to “cooks” and anyone else in the lab or surrounding community. Breathing the fumes and handling the hazardous chemicals used to make Meth can cause injury and even death. Out with a Bang

  • Any place where people make methamphetamine. Meth labs can be found in places like warehouses, homes, motel rooms, car trunks—even in the middle of the woods. Due to the lethal ingredients used, Meth labs are toxic waste sites that can be highly explosive. Even if the Meth lab doesn’t blow up, the toxins remain in the area long after the Meth lab is gone. Signs of a Meth Lab

  • Slang for Meth