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Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
Basic Synthesis Procedure
This piece is intended to describe the basic GHB synthesis procedure for those who are interested. It is not meant to be instructions for how to make GHB. It does not (and is not intended to) contain all the information you would need if you were actually going to attempt the procedure. Please do not contact us asking for further instructions.




Production of GHB consists simply of mixing "lactone" (short for gamma butyrlactone) and lye (sodium hydroxide) in the proper amounts. The only equipment necessary for doing this in grey and black market production are: a scale which can measure grams accurately (or premeasured chemicals such as what comes with a GHB kit, though kits are much less available now that GHB has been scheduled in the U.S.), a container for the reaction, pH papers, and some human-safe acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, and someblue food coloring. The chemicals are mixed according to simple ratios which are available on the internet.

The biggest dangers of black market GHB is that the originating chemicals are often not human-consumption grade and may contain impurities or contaminants. In practice, however, high grade lactone and sodium hydroxide have been easily accessible from online and local chemical suppliers. Neither lactone nor lye are currently controlled anywhere in the US to my knowledge (Jan '99). There are many chemical suppliers on the net and otherwise who sell these very common chemicals.

Sodium hydroxide (lye) is a powerful and dangerous base which can and will burn exposed skin. Unreacted lye which is swallowed or that contacts sensitive areas like the mouth will burn and can kill. Lye is normally stored as a dry material and when kept very dry it does not react quickly; thus the main danger is getting it wet and then leaving it. Gamma butyrlactone, on the other hand, is a relatively safe chemical to handle.

The chemical reaction between the gamma butyrlactone and the sodium hydroxide (lye) is exothermic, meaning it creates energy/heat when they are mixed. This requires that the GHB chemist have a pyrex or borosilicate glass beaker which won't crack when heated. Metal pans should not be used as the chemicals can react with the pan leaving the chemist with metal in their finished product. Pyrex or borosilicate beakers can be purchased at chemical supply stores, and some home chemists use extra large pyrex measuring cups available at home stores.

The actual process of making GHB is considered some of the simplest home chemistry possible in the grey/black market, which is one of the main reasons for GHB's popularity and wide spread use. The process consists of putting lactone into the heat-resistant container, adding a small amount of water, and then mixing NaOH slowly into the solution. This is usually done over a hot water bath to make it easier for the sodium hydroxide to go into solution. The solution of NaOH and lactone are heated for 10-30 minutes over simmering water in order to force any residual lactone and NaOH to react.

By smelling GHB liquids it is possible to tell whether there is unreacted lactone in the solution. The primary indicator used to determine if the reaction is complete and useable is pH. The pH of safe liquids are generally between pH 6 and 8. Home chemists use pH papers to test the acidity/alkalinity of their products and then use more NaOH or a little lemon juice or vinegar (acetic acid) to adjust the pH to between 7 and 8. Some chemists say that it is best to keep the acididity of their liquid GHB nearer 8 in order to keep the lactone from 'coming back out of solution'.

Because of the shift in laws, other GHB-relatives have been popular as well including 1,4 butanediol and just straight lactone (it is said to convert to GHB in the stomach). Some 'diols' are said to be heavy kidney loads, but there have been no reports yet of serious long term health problems resulting from ingestion of 1,4b.

Consuming any GHB salt should be combined with consuming excess water as it is a very heavy salt load -- normal dosages of Na-GHB or K-GHB are in the 1-3 gram range, sometimes taken multiple times per day. Each gram of GHB contains a large amount of either Potassium (K) or Sodium (Na) salt. A high salt diet can be hard on the kidneys as well as causing other health problems. Making sure to drink plenty of water with GHB might help reduce kidney problems.

Once the GHB has been adjusted to the correct pH it should be cooled (either at room temperature, or in the refrigerator). When it is cool, add a little blue food coloring to the GHB. GHB is a clear liquid which visually can be easily mistaken for water. Despite it's relatively strong taste there have been quite a few cases of accidental ingestion of GHB where an individual takes a drink of what they think is water...only realizing after they've swallowed that it obviously was something else. Making sure to color GHB blue can help prevent this (Blue was chosen as a good color to try to set as the standard. Red, yellow, and orange could all possibly be mistaken for some sort of juice, while green is traditionally the color of absinthe.) Erowid strongly recommends that people color their GHB blue; simply add a couple of drops of food coloring and mix it in.