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Meth Production Methods

Although meth is not the only drug manufactured in clandestine labs, meth labs are the most common.  The "cooking" of meth can involve a large variety of chemical reagents depending on the specific method of manufacture.  In general, the process involves precursor reagents, organic solvents and reactive reagents that facilitate the conversion of the precursor into methamphetamine.  The chemicals used are typically purchased, stolen or illegally manufactured.


Even though many of these chemicals are commonly found in household and can be "safe" if used appropriately, their inherent dangers are increased when used inappropriately or in combination with other chemicals during the meth production process.  Improper storage and disposal of these chemicals and mixtures also creates hazards. For more information on active and inactive methamphetamine labs visit our download page.


There are many methods for making meth.  Most meth "cooks" use variations of the anhydrous ammonia method and the Red P lab method that utilizes red phosphorous.  Other less common methods that are used include the P2P or Amalgam method.


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Meth Precursor Regulatory Controls

Chemical precursors are required to manufacture illicit drugs.  In the past, regulatory controls on industrial chemical precursors in the United States and some European countries were effective in curbing diversion of these chemicals to clandestine laboratories.  The advent of simple methamphetamine production methods has allowed clandestine drug manufacturers to circumvent diversion controls and has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of clandestine laboratories in the US.  In addition, the Internet has allowed clandestine methamphetamine manufacturers in Europe and North American to exchange information on production methods.

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Fentanyl Laboratories

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that among the more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths. Officials believe the spikes in overdoses are stemming from illegally manufactured fentanyl.  Another contributing factor to the overdose increases is the fact that illegally manufactured fentanyl is being mixed with other illicit drugs like heroin, and people may not even realize it when they take it.   


Fentanyl exposure can possibly occur by inhalation, ingestion, injection, and dermal uptake causing depression of the respiratory system with a fatal dose as low as 2 mg (or less for analogues). Fentanyl powder has been increasingly used in illicit drug manufacturing activities (heroin, methamphetamine, crack cocaine, etc.), pill presses, and other clandestine distribution operations.