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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

What a Meth Lab Smells Like

By June 17, 2013

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Do you live or work next to a meth lab? How would you know? The big giveaway of a meth lab is its trash, which would include everyday chemicals that aren't found together except when someone is cooking meth. Assuming you don't see evidence of a drug shopping list, you might be able to smell a drug lab. What kind of smell would tip you off? Basically, there are a number of chemical-type smells that could be associated with meth synthesis, including the rotten egg smell of sulfur compounds, a nail polish sweet ether or toluene smell or a cat urine ammonia smell. There isn't any single "meth lab smell."

Before calling the law, take into account the household uses of stinky chemicals. Does your neighbor have a ton of cats and a predilection for cleaning with ammonia? Have you seen him out in his driveway spraying ether into his auto engine? Chances are he is not cooking meth! However, if you smell these odors routinely, it's worth having them checked out. The chemical stink comes from toxic chemicals, plus some of them may be flammable... Learn more

Photo: Kansas sheriff searches rural barns for evidence of meth production, including trash from materials commonly used to make methamphetamines or lab space that would be suitable for cooking the drug. (Larry W. Smith/Stringer)

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November 2, 2011 at 11:18 am
(1) Beth Peterson says:

Wow…I’d never thought about a smell…. Thanks for this interesting information!

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