Drug testing reagents


Jul 5, 2021
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I decided to make this tutorial due to the one interesting case where chemist identified 72% of a-PVP and 18.5% of caffeine instead of premium quality amphetamine. Surely the drug dealer not specifically put a-PVP instead of declared substance. But this mistake could cost if not someone their life, then at least a severe overdose and the intensive therapy as a sequence. The active dosage of a-PVP is several times less than that one of amphetamine. Just imagine the typical track of amphetamine, instead of which there is a-PVP.

Nowadays, such cases as I mentioned above are not uncommon, unfortunately. It is known another test of the amphetamine sample with following composition: 34% of amphetamine, 36% of caffeine and 19% of a-PVP. Two cases with a-PVP admixture or total a-PVP substitution instead of amphetamine in one month took place. And imagine how many similar cases remain beyond the pale of testing. Imagine how many incidents of amphetamine (or mephedrone) substitution by a-PVP (or methadone and etc.) took place. No one is safe from such a courier’s fatal flaw. It is possible to choose stores that do not sell such drugs like a-PVP and methadone but in this case, there are no guarantees that courier would not garble the samples from another store that sell drugs mentioned above.​

As you noticed, the problems I want to raise and to highlight are unwanted substitution of substances and ways of its revealing. The cases I described above are extreme incidents. However, there are a lot of other ordinary cases of contamination of amphetamine samples by methamphetamine or caffeine. Sometimes there is necessity to establish the composition of a stolen sample or occasionally found sample. For these purposes, the BB forum will publish reports on determination of drugs and its metabolites in urine (link soon). I propose you to try on the role of developed drug dealer and to discuss the reagents for PAS (psychoactive substances) testing.​
What are Testing Reagents?
Reagents are chemical compounds that could change the color of solution while reacting with the specific substance. For example, the interaction of amphetamine with a specific reagent gives the orange color of the final solution (the reaction takes one minute), but the interaction of the same reagent with caffeine do not change the color. As a specific reagent is intended for the whole group of compounds, some drugs could interact with the same reagent similarly. In this way, it is necessary to use few different reagents for testing at once. According to the obtained data, 90% of known substances would be identified by 3 reagents and 95% of known substances would be identified by 5 reagents.

In short, the PAS testing reagents are absolutely legal solutions that will help you to identify which substance exactly you have. Usually, to check the conventional drugs 5 reagents are needed: Mecke reagent, Marquis reagent, Mandelin reagent, Simon’s reagent and Ehrlich’s reagent. In general, there are more than 10 different reagents used in such analysis. To clarify the method operation, I propose to consider the example of test I mentioned above. If the drug user gets the sample supposed to be the amphetamine, but in fact contain a-PVP instead of amphetamine, how can he figure it out?

To reach this goal, two reagents are needed: Mecke reagent and Marquis reagent. Interaction of the Marquis reagent with amphetamine or methamphetamine proceeds with changing yellow color of solution to the orange-brown one. Withal, there is no color changing as a result of interaction between the Marquis reagent and 4-MMC (mephedrone) or a-PVP. That is to say, it is needed only one drop of reagent to determine if your amphetamine sample contains such dangerous impurity as a-PVP. To distinguish 4-MMC from a-PVP, you need to use the Mecke reagent. The interaction between Mecke reagent and a-PVP leads to yellow color of solution as a reaction result, whereas the interaction between Mecke reagent and mephedrone would not give any changes. The same reagent you can use to distinguish amphetamine and methamphetamine. Mecke reagent gives yellow color of solution while interaction with methamphetamine and there are no any changes while interaction with amphetamine.​


There are a lot of qualitative reactions that could help you to determine any drugs you want to use. You can distinguish 2C-B from 2C-I, MDA from MDMA, DOB from DOS, 25B-NBOMe from 25C-NBOMe (or LSD). As for cocaine, the examination method is similar. Such common impurities as levamisole and benzocaine could be distinguished by test reagents. There is one more interesting case of impurities examination took place. The results showed 44% of benzocaine impurities in cocaine sample. Qualitative analysis using the test reagent, would show the similar result more likely. Perhaps, the Mandelin reagent would change the light orange color of the studied sample to the yellow-brown one. The Froehde reagent is used as a simple spot-test to presumptively identify alkaloids, especially opioids, as well as a range of aromatic compounds.
There are list of tables with color reactions:​

Types of Reagents and Pitfalls
I mentioned such phrases as “more likely” and “perhaps” for some reason. The truth is test reagents point out only the presence of substance in the sample, i.e., it proceeds the qualitative analysis but not the quantity one. Test reagents could not show the amount of substance and could not show the purity of that one. If analyzed substance contains 50% of caffeine and 50% of amphetamine, it is quite complicated to predict such quantitative result based on test reagents. It is possible to take part of sample where amphetamine amount is prevailed. In such situation, the orange color of the studied solution would be obvious, and you could not even suspect the presence of impurity. It is possible the opposite case where caffeine is prevailed and in this way the color of studied solution would shift to another side. Such situation also makes the result discussion difficult. The database formation could solve the problem mentioned above. It is desirable to conduct the high-performance chemical quantity analysis in parallel with the qualitative analysis using test reagents. It is common in European laboratories to check the drug composition and to publish it on DrugsData. Such investigation would contribute to data accumulation. In this way, it would be possible to conduct the half-quantity analysis to establish the sample composition. For example, we would know the color of amphetamine solution with different percentage of such impurities as caffeine or levomethamphetamine.​

Taking in account the information above, the best way to use test reagents is qualitative analysis with obvious proof of substance presence in the studied sample. However, there is a certain way of quantity problem-solving. Test reagents are divided by two groups. One of them point out the presence of substance. Another group shows the percentage of interested substance in your sample. Test reagents of the second group also change the color of the studied solution but in quite another way. The higher concentration of the active substance, the brighter color of the final solution will be. Back to the test example above, the color of the final solution would be light blue and the pure sample would show dark blue color. This method has two disadvantages. One of them is relative approach of such analysis, it could show the sample purity only in certain ranges (0-20%, 20-40%). The second disadvantage is the limited list of suitable substances. I could find the test reagents only for heroine, MDMA and cocaine determination. The links to stores where you can buy these reagents you will find below this article.

How to Get Testing Reagents?
I have already mentioned that PAS testing reagent are total legal. Some of them could be qualified as hazardous substances due to sulfuric acid in its content (it is prohibited to send it by delivery services). That is why some sellers remove all designations and other signs that can, firstly, give out the composition of the transported substances, and secondly, their essence, purpose and sender. Also, some sellers offer the option of the safest delivery: they remove all flyers that could indicate the presence of psychoactive substances. Besides, almost all sellers of such commodity offer payment in cryptocurrency (and very often not only in bitcoin).
The cost of one reagent purchasing will be from 7 to 14 usd; it depends on selected sellers and the selected options (i.e., 5 milliliters is enough to conduct about 100 tests and 10 milliliters is enough to conduct about 200 tests). The cost of ready-made kits which contain PAS testing reagents as well as other necessary stuff will be from 27 to 41 usd.
For those who do not take the easy way out, it is possible to synthesize test reagents themselves. Although the word "synthesize" is a strong word. Mostly it means to combine two or three initial substances. Nevertheless, these initial substances are mostly hazardous acids, so the process of mixing should be conducted under strict observance to safety precautions. I wrote an individual article concerning principles of reagents obtaining that you can find by this link: Synthesis of materials for testing PAS.

Useful Links
In general, I wrote about everything there was to say about PAS testing reagents to gain a basic understanding of the topic. Surely, the information above is not complete and comprehensive. I did not mention analysis of LSD using Ehrlich’s reagent and other various reactions, so in case of interest you can research it by yourself. To help you in such investigation, I will give a list of useful links, in which I will also indicate the best stores for purchasing reagents in my opinion.​
  • Store with reagents of the second type for the purity determination (mention the word “purity” in the product description) —
  • One of the leading suppliers of test reagents in Europe with a huge knowledge base on reactions, its own application and excellent booklets—
  • YouTube channel from Bunk Police with a huge database of videos that perform interactions of test reagents with different PAS in parallel with chromatography analysis of pure samples—
  • Another proven European supplier of reagents with excellent attributes and ready-made kits for testing substances such as mephedrone— https://www.protestkit.eu/
  • Subreddit about using PAS testing reagents, there are a lot of useful information— https://www.reddit.com/r/ReagentTesting/
  • A complete list of all reactions with various reagents according to the subreddit version (do not trust very much, in case of mistakes it is better to focus on the videos and brochures of Bunk Police and Protestkit) — 1 and 2 .


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