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How to Purify Street Heroin
Heroin purification to nearly USP
by Steve J. Quest [squest@moonwatcher.avrtech.com]
from alt.drugs, Wed May 18, 1994

[Erowid Note: We've received notes saying that following this procedure with street "heroin" that contains fentanyl or other non-heroin psychoactives could result in a substance that would be dangerous to use. One primary concern is that substances more potent than heroin such as fentanyl could be concentrated so that the resulting material would be far too strong. This purification process should not be used for street "heroin" that contains other substances. It is for the purification of actual heroin (diacetyl morphine) not to separate heroin from other psychoactive chemicals. See the notes below for additional comments about this issue.]

This is as complete and as accurate as I can remember, it has been something like 9 years since I have used heroin. The process I used for purification was straight forward. Diacetylmorphine can exist in two forms, an insoluble base, or a soluble salt. Often it contained a plethera of other agents like pieces of broken glass, pieces of foil, dirt, wood, metal, mannitol, lactose, maltose, sand, you get the idea. The first stage of the process I used was to make sure the diacetylmorphine I received was totally converted to a soluble hydrochloride salt. The heroin I usually received was a brown powdered heroin, sometimes off white, very little vinegar smell. Today all you can find is a black crud that reeks with a vinegar (acetic) odor. The way I made sure it was a soluble salt was to drop enough 28% hydrochloric acid to make it wet. This insured that I would not waste any of the available drug, but would remove most if not all of the cut. I think that it would be better for me to detail it in a procedural manner. FYI, hydrochloric acid can be purchased in gallon jugs at hardware stores under the name Muriatic acid, 28%.

First weigh out one gram of heroin from the stock you received from your supplier. Place this gram into a 13 x 100mm test tube. Add a few drops of 28% hydrochloric acid until it is evenly damp. Allow to react for a minute or two. Next add 5 ml distilled water, place your thumb over the end and carefully shake to dissolve all that will dissolve into the water. Allow the insolubles to settle. Using a pipette, remove and transfer as much of the liquid to a fresh test tube leaving the solids behind. Dispose of the undissolved remains in the first test tube. Slowly add via pipette, one drop at at time, ammonium hydroxide (water clear household ammonia) until the white precipitate ceases production. Add several more drops at this point just to be sure. Shake gently to be sure that all the solution is evenly ammoniated. The solution should look milky. Now add 100 ml ethyl ether (some kinds of diesel starting fluids, read the label) to a 150 ml beaker. Dump the milky liquid into the ether and stir briskly and allow the water to settle and collect on the bottom. The water will turn clear. Using a glass pipette, remove this water from the bottom of the beaker and dispose of.

Now mix up a solution of 5ml 28% hydrochloric acid and 5ml distilled water and add this to the ether in the beaker. Stir briskly keeping as much acid/water suspended as possible for several minutes. Allow the water/acid to collect on the bottom of the beaker. Using a glass pipette, remove this water layer from the bottom of the ether and transfer to a glass petri dish. Transfer the ether back to its storage bottle for reuse. It will still contain small amounts of heroin base, so don't throw it out. Recycle! Slowly add small portions of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the water/acid solution in the petri until you don't notice any more bubbles being formed. Place the glass on a warm surface, and allow to evaporate. The residue will be diacetylmorphine hydrochloride and salt. Table salt is a by-product of the reaction and will not hurt you at all when injected. Scrape up the residue and weigh it. Yield from one gram of smack (yea, we called it that) would be anything from 100 to 300 mg, rarely more. Place 100 mg of this powder in a test tube, add 10 cc sterile isotonic water for injection (available OTC at drug stores) and heat to boiling. Transfer this liquid while still hot using a syringe (available OTC at some drug stores) to a 10 ml rubber stoppered empty sterile ampoule (available OTC at drug stores).

To use this drug which is 10 mg/ml, extract with a sterile syringe as much drug as you wish to use. 10 mg would send me flying believe it or not. 2.5 mg (1/4 cc) was usually enough to keep me "happy" and was my normal dose. 20 mg was the most I could take safely in my opinion, and was a waste of drug and money. Normally, for most 150-170 lb males, 2.5 mg is more than enough in my opinion. Using heroin in this manner avoids the problems associated with "street use" and will keep your body healthy and safe, reducing the risk of disease and overdosage.

My memory is pretty good, and I think I covered all the bases here, but I may have made a mistake somewhere. Overall I think this is an accurate method, to the best of my ability to remember.

Notes #
  1. April 2009: D's Note : As a chemist who has dealt with fentanyl, I wanted to comment on the issue of whether this is a dangerous procedure to use on street "heroin" that actually contains fentanyl.

    Plain fentanyl should *not* convert to anything dangerous via the procedure listed. Unless the high or low pH values associated with the procedure were coupled with prolonged exposure to heat, no modification of fentanyl should occur. Nothing dangerous would be generated, to the best of my knowledge.

    If the product is a fentanyl analogue like sufentanil, I am unsure of what may happen to some of the more fragile aromatic rings upon exposure to strong acid or base, but I would still assume that nothing *dangerous* would occur.

    However, if the "heroin" did contain fentanyl, two problems would arise trying to use this procedure. First, the hydrochloride salt of fentanyl is insoluble in water, and the extraction procedure would be useless as in several steps the desired product would be discarded. Second, the amount of fentanyl in such a mixture would be very small, probably something like 10 mg in a gram of stree *heroin*. This would be exceedingly hard for a novice chemist to extract, and even harder to use properly.

    Therefore, if a user suspects they have fentanyl (a short lived high, less euphoria, very white powder, etc), *I* would suggest they not try this approach. For regular heroin I would highly recommend it. Several details about this could be verified by reading Siegfried's "Synthesis of Fentanyl".
  2. Jan 2008 : BS's Note : If we supose than street heroin could be fenantyl+filler excipient to dilute and reduce the potency at the heroin level and we eliminate the filler, it would be posible to suffer an overdose taking the purified fenantyl. So before the purification we must be sure than we have heroin and not fenantyl with TLC or colometry test.

    On the other hand this purification technique is only valid to eliminate non-alkaloid fillers/cuttings. If the 'heroin' contains caffeine, morphine, codeine, cocaine or other alkaloids, those will will pass through the purification process with heroin because those react similarly to heroin in an acid base extraction.