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THE METH EPIDEMIC: Cooking

April 4, 2013

The making of methamphetamine involves several harmful chemicals, including lighter fluid, drain cleaner and lithium batteries. The appearance of meth labs in the area has been a growing problem. Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott

Editor’s note: The following is the first of a multi-part series on the growing problem of methamphetamine.

COLUMBIA CITY — Ice. Glass. Crank. Crystal. Junk. Poop. Speed.

What could these words possibly have in common? They’re all nicknames for the same chemical — methamphetamine.

With the number of meth labs in the state of Indiana more than doubling in the last five years, many citizens have to ask themselves — are we safe?

Most meth-related injuries come from the making, or “cooking” of the drug.

While many people have seen all of the ingredients, including drain cleaner and lighter fluid, not many are familiar with the actual process.

All of the items pictured in the photo (right) are used to conduct one simple chemical reaction — removing one molecule of oxygen from pseudoephedrine, making it meth.

So what’s the danger in that?

It’s not as simple as it seems. In fact, it’s an intense chemistry project. The problem is — educated chemists typically aren’t the ones cooking it.

“They don’t have a clue what they’re doing,” Whitley County Drug Task Force Detective Bill Brice said. “They’re following a recipe. If someone is taught how to cook, they don’t know chemistry at all. All they know is what their teacher taught them.

“If someone tells them to use a Mountain Dew bottle, that’s all they’ll use. They won’t deviate from that because they know it’s dangerous.”

Brice said a meth cook may leave a store empty-handed, just because they couldn’t find the exact brand of lighter fluid that their teacher taught them to use.

To read the rest of this story, see the April 4 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook and twitter.

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