The Drug Defined

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.


Users commonly disregard once-important things like friends, appearance, and living conditions. Homes are often filthy.







  • A poisonous substance that affects the central nervous system and damages nervous tissue. Over time, Meth can damage the brain’s dopamine neurons—important for reward, motivation, and learning. Brain Damage

  • Any chemical substance, like methamphetamine, that acts on the central nervous system, changing the way the brain functions.

  • Commonly called an “upper,” it is a substance that causes increased alertness or physical activity. A stimulant like Meth first elevates mood and energy, then leads to rebound depression and anxiety. Comparing Highs

  • A man-made compound created by a chemical process. Methamphetamine is not a naturally occurring substance and is synthesized by combining various toxic chemicals. Home “cooks” prepare Meth in makeshift labs, hotel rooms, trailers, even the back seat of a car. Shopping List

© Meth Project Foundation, Inc., 2015. All rights reserved.