Methamphetamine is a very powerful stimulant drug that is extremely addictive. It is also commonly known as meth, ice, or chalk, among other names. Crystal is a form of meth that looks like clear ice crystals. Meth can be consumed by snorting, swallowing, or injecting (skin popping) but smoking is the most common method.

A meth lab, or covert drug lab, is a place where meth is produced or “cooked.” Recipes and the ingredients for meth and its manufacture can be easily garnered from the Internet or from association with others who cook meth.

The necessary ingredients for meth are pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, which can be found in common cold and antihistamine medications.

Other ingredients may include mixtures of volatile organic compounds, such as acids, bases, and solvents. These include such chemicals as acetone, lithium, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus, and lye, among others.

The components of meth tend to be highly flammable, and often result in chemical fires, explosions, and the production of toxic gases, which can contaminate the area or the soil/water where they are disposed.

Many cooks have been severely burned with their chemistry set exploded.

How To Recognize A Meth Lab

Labs can be found either indoors or outdoors, in homes, apartments, motels, vehicles, or remote wooded areas. Signs of illicit production or drug sales include the following:

  • Frequent visitors coming and going, especially at odd hours
  • Occupants present as unkempt or unemployed, yet still appear to have money and make a living
  • Occupants are secretive, unfriendly, or exhibit strange or paranoid behavior
  • Windows are covered, or excessive security is in place, such as fences and cameras
  • Burn pits, stained soil or dead vegetation is present due to waste dumping
  • Strong chemical odors are present

Also, there may be visible dumping of meth-related products, such as:

  • Cold medication packaging from drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine
  • Empty containers from antifreeze, ether, starting fluids, lye, paint thinners, alcohol, acetone, etc.
  • Compressed gas cylinders or camp stove containers
  • Soda bottles or other glass containers that appear to contain dried chemical deposits
  • Bottles connected with duct tape and rubber hosing
  • Coolers, thermoses, or other cold storage containers
  • Coffee filters or masks that are stained red or contain a white powder residue
  • Cat litter bags with litter still in them

Keep in mind, if you see someone using methamphetamine, it does not mean that he or she cooked it. If you suspect you have identified the location of a meth lab, call your local law enforcement immediately.