How to Spot a Meth Lab

Meth Labs Are Everywhere

Meth, or methamphetamine, is one of the most addictive drugs that is being abused today. As a result, meth labs have been springing up in homes and apartments where meth is made for personal use and/or to sell to others. Whether you’re looking to buy a new home or you just want to make sure your neighbors are safe to be around, you’ll want to take steps to ensure you’re nowhere near a meth lab. The signs of a clandestine meth lab can be spotted if you know what to look for.
How do you know when to spot a Methlab

Common items found at a Meth Lab site

Meth Ingredients

The ingredients used to make meth are household products that in and of themselves do not pose inherent danger. However, when these products are combined together to make meth, they can have toxic, explosive and very dangerous effects.

Be Aware of These Elements

If you see any of these items stockpiled in higher than normal household amounts, it might indicate that someone at the residence is operating a meth lab:
  • Cold tablets (containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine)
  • Acetone
  • Ammonia (anhydrous)
  • Sulfuric acid from batteries
  • Brake cleaner (toluene)
  • Drain cleaner (sodium hydroxide)
  • Freon
  • Paint thinner
  • Iodine crystals
  • Red phosphorus
  • Reactive metals (sodium or lithium)
  • Starting fluid (ether)

 Common Signs a Meth Lab is Nearby

MethLab using SudafedThe processes and equipment used to make meth are also distinctive. The Drug Enforcement Administration warns against the following:
  • A home’s occupants acting suspicious and continually coming outside to smoke
  • An odor of urine, ether, ammonia or acetone around the residence
  • Propane tanks with blue tinged fittings
  • Lots of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine cold tablet boxes in the garbage cans or recycle bins
  • Bottles and/or jars around the residence containing suspicious liquids or substances
  • Coffee filters in the garbage can caked with a dark red sludge, a pasty white substance or shiny white crystals
  • Bottles and/or jars with rubber tubes attached
  • Large quantities of camp fuel cans, acetone, paint thinner or starter fluid
  • Glass cookware that contains a powdery white residue
  • Large quantities of lithium batteries, in particular batteries that have been stripped
  • Chunks of gray metallic or soft silver or ribbon being stored in kerosene or oil

What to Do Next

If you think you may have found a meth lab, first and foremost is your safety: do not touch, move or sniff anything; do not turn on any power or light switches. Do not smoke, eat or drink anywhere near the site.Do not attempt to confront anyone near or at the lab. Leave the premises and decontaminate yourself as quickly as possible; wash your hands and face thoroughly and decontaminate or discard your clothing. Notify local law enforcement about the lab as soon as possible.

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