The methamphetamine that is sold on the streets today isn’t just dangerous in itself, it frequently contains additives that can make it even more damaging to the body. These additives, which can be anything from sugars to milk powders, to other drugs or substances – anything that looks like the methamphetamine. By the time meth is purchased by the person who intends to use it, it’s likely passed through many hands, starting with the actual manufacturer and then through various dealers. At each step along the way, a dealer can alter the drug by “cutting” it, or mixing in additives. Dealers do this to increase the weight of the meth so they can make more money from selling it. In other words, if they can by a kilogram of meth, cut it with a substance, and then sell one and a half kilograms, their profit is bigger.
The meth that is sold on the streets isn’t cut in the same manner as other drugs like heroin and cocaine by the manufacturers. It is typically cut with adulterants that have no additional effect on users, instead it just lowers the actual amount of methamphetamine in what’s sold.
One of the most common additives used for cutting meth is the chemical methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). It is a supplement that is most commonly used to strengthen cartilage in the body. It looks similar to meth when processed and doesn’t have any serious side effects.
What Is Ice?
Ice is a street name for crystal methamphetamine, which is an artificially formed drug that is made from methamphetamine. It received this nickname because it resembles actual ice. You may also hear crystal meth referred to as glass. It’s usually smoked with a pipe, but it is also sometimes cooked and injected into the body intravenously.
What Is MSM?
MSM is a Sulphur-based compound that is found in both plants and animals. It is often used legitimately as a supplement that helps alleviate certain medical conditions, like arthritis. It’s often paired with other supplements, like chondroitin or glucosamine. MSM is used to relieve muscle pain, reduce inflammation, and boost immunity. It is used as a cutting additive for meth because it is similar in appearance to meth and it isn’t dangerous.
What Does MSM Look Like?
MSM offers several advantages that make it the most common choice for dealers when cutting crystal meth. First, it is a white, crystalline powder that can be easily combined with the drug without leaving a residue. MSM is highly soluble and is typically added to the crystal meth during the last stages of production. MSM is also odorless, so it isn’t as detectable as some of the other cutting agents that are used. As a result, meth that is cut with MSM usually seems to be uncut because once the meth and MSM are combined and the finish product cools, the MSM recrystallizes, looking like the pure crystal meth.
How to Tell If Ice Is Cut With MSM
Because MSM looks like meth and doesn’t smell, it can be hard to detect ice that is cut with it. That said, there are some ways that users may be able to determine if there is MSM in their supply of meth.
Ice is not tough and can typically be crushed fairly easily just using your fingers. MSM is stronger and harder to crush this way. So, if someone is crushing the meth to snort it, they should be able to tell if it has been cut with MSM because it will be more difficult to crush.
Users that smoke crystal meth can often tell if there is MSM cut into the drug because the process of heating the compound and then the compound re-solidifying is somewhat strange. When it is heated, as it melts, you will hear it making cracking and sizzling sounds. Then, it will become a runny liquid. When it re-crystalizes, it will take longer if there is MSM mixed into the drug. Additionally, when it does re-solidify, the patterns that are created will look different.
If that isn’t enough to alert users that the ice is cut with MSM, inhaling the vapors from the compound should make it easy to determine. While the unheated MSM is odorless, when it is melted to smoke, it has a strong aroma and unpleasant flavor. Some users will simply taste the ice to see if it has a pungent taste. If it does, then it’s likely cut with MSM.
One last method that is used to figure out if crystal meth is cut with MSM is simply feeling the ice with your fingers. Usually, MSM has a moist or wet texture that will stick to your fingers. As a result, MSM evaporates quicker when it’s burned in a pipe, leaving very little smoke behind. If the crystal meth is cut with MSM, it will have those same properties.
What Does MSM Taste Like?
MSM can taste different to different people. That’s because there is a genetic component that plays a part in taste, especially when it comes to tasting bitterness. Many users of MSM find that the compound is very bitter. However, other users may find that it doesn’t taste like anything at all. For the users who do find it bitter, some find that to be a barrier to using it.
MSM Crackback Pattern
As mentioned earlier, when MSM is combined with crystal meth and heated to smoke, it will leave a different looking pattern on the inside of the pipe when it cools and res-solidifies. The residue that becomes solid again inside the pipe is known as the “crackback.” The pattern that is created is different depending on how pure the meth is and what it is cut with.
Whatever the additive is though, it will take longer for the ice to return to a solid state than if there were no additives, just pure meth. Pure meth has a sort of fractal crackback pattern that originates from one point and shoots out. With MSM, the crackback pattern tends to be more geometric, like a series of tiny squares or circles that are stacked one on top of another. (See below, l to right, meth crackback, MSM crackback)
Crystal methamphetamine, no matter where you buy it, is almost assuredly not very pure. This can lead to higher levels of unpredictability, differing potencies of the meth, and consuming unknown substances. Using crystal meth is never a safe thing to do, it’s harmful to the body in any amount and may even be fatal. The practice of cutting meth with other additives, makes an already seriously dangerous behavior even riskier.
Additionally, meth, like other substances, can lead to addiction, which is detrimental to the user, as well as his or her friends and family. There are many physical, emotional, and relational problems that arise when addiction is involved that can destroy families and lives. The good news is that addiction is a treatable condition that can be managed for a lifetime.