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What is a Meth Lab?
A Clandestine Methamphetamine Laboratory (Meth Lab) is an illegal operation consisting of certain chemicals and equipment that has already been used, is being used, or could be used in the future to produce Methamphetamine. The purpose of a Meth Lab is to process ephedrine or pseudo ephedrine, which is commonly found in over the counter cold medicine, into Methamphetamine.
Over the past several decades Meth Lab Equipment consisted of commercially purchased items such as separatory funnels, Bunsen Burners, reaction vessels, and large glass beakers. These are the type items that you would associate with a science class or a chemistry lab. These labs are often referred to as “Super Labs” and are capable of producing multiple pounds of Methamphetamine during one cooking process. These labs were commonly located on the West Coast. Today, smaller labs, called “Tweaker Labs” or “Box Labs”, are popping up all over and are the most common type recovered in the metro Atlanta area. These labs produce only a few grams of Methamphetamine at a time and are often operated by persons strung out on Methamphetamine. The different equipment found at a “Tweaker Lab” can be purchased from any retail store and consists of items like Mason Jars, Pyrex Glassware, plastic Igloo coolers, and plastic gas cans. These items can be used as they were purchased or can be slightly modified to process the ephedrine using the chemicals and heat sources like stove top and microwave ovens. The following pictures are of Equipment that could be used or found at a Methamphetamine Lab.
Common Chemicals (back to top)
The list of chemicals included on this site is only a portion of the chemicals that can be used to produce Methamphetamine. There are several methods that can be used to produce Methamphetamine and each method or process has its own list of chemicals that are unique to that process. Often in a Meth Lab two separate chemicals can be combined to produce a desired chemical that is needed for the cooking process. The dangers that exist with Methamphetamine Labs are the dangers that exist during the cooking process and the hazardous wastes that are left over after the process is complete. The cooking process itself posses a risk to the person controlling the cook, to other people including innocent children that are living at the house where the cook is being conducted, and those people that accidentally come into contact with the lab such as neighbors and law enforcement officers involved in the dismantling of the lab. Sixty percent of all Methamphetamine Labs have children present in them.
Many of the chemicals used in the Methamphetamine cooking process are flammable, explosive, corrosive, or produce inhalation dangers that all are deadly. Twenty percent of illegal Methamphetamine Labs are discovered as a result of a fire or explosion. Burns are a common injury resulting from Methamphetamine Labs and death related to fires caused by Methamphetamine Labs are becoming more common. The most tragic examples of this are those involving the innocent young children that are present during the cooking process. The clean up and disposal of a Methamphetamine Lab require specialized training by law enforcement and fire personnel and even the smallest lab cost thousands of dollars to dispose of. One pound of Methamphetamine produces about 10 pounds of toxic waste. Often that waste is disposed of in areas like farm land or dumped on the sides of dirt roads. If you smell strong chemical odors around your neighborhood or you think someone might be operating a Meth Lab you can report them to your local law enforcement or meth task force.
Chemical List (back to top)