Crack Preparation

Written by Nigel Brunsdon on . Posted in The Basics

Well I'm just back from the National Conference on Injecting Drug Use  and I can honestly say it was one of the best yet. The high point for me was the last session in which Jon Derricott presented a film on crack cocaine production and its preparation for injection, this film contained plenty of learning points for drugs workers and injectors alike ...

Production Stage

The film covered small scale (on the spoon) production of cocaine into crack using both the ammonia method and the bicarb method. Both of these appeared to require plenty of patience from the user, but the bicarb method seemed far more quick and simple. With ammonia the process seemed to take ages and the residue that would become crack had to be constantly teased from the edges of the spoon. Of course if you've ever done this yourself or even researched about it in books or online then this is nothing really new to you, the interesting bit was still to come....

Preparation Stage

There has been a lot of talk on the UKHRA discussion  list of the last few months about the right way to cook crack for injection, and whether or not some of the problems from crack blocking pins is due to wax being used by dealers to bulk out rocks.

The crack used for the cooking up was the crack that had been made in the previous part of the film. The first attempt involved the crack being heated in water with no citric, the crack melted and floated on the water but as soon as the heat was stopped this quickly became a solid again (in just 14 seconds) Jon suggested that this could be the source of the idea that wax is used. The interesting part was that no matter how much citric was added after this stage the crack would not become a solution again.

 The second attempt was using warm solution that heroin had just been cooked  in this of course already contained citric, the crack smeared onto the bottom of the spoon and again wouldn't easily go into a solution

The last attempt involved cooking the crack using no heat at all and just a small amount of citric, although this did take some time (which Jon admitted could have been shortened by pre-crushing the rock) it did become a clear solution. Once in solution they then added heroin and heated to check if there would be any issues with heating at this stage. No issues, and the solution stayed stable for days.

What this all means

It's pretty clear from this (and from a previous talk by Ross Coomber) that it's unlikely that anyone does add wax into the rocks they are selling and that the times people talk about getting crack with wax in then needle exchange workers should be talking with them over thier cooking process in detail.

Crack should be cold cooked for injection, although this does take time it is the only real way to ensure a good solution.

If mixing heroin and crack then the crack should be prepared first, this is of course slightly different to previous advice some of us have given about adding the crack in last.

I did talk to Jon after the presentation and the intention is to release this film as a DVD training aid, I for one look forward to seeing the finished product.

If you want to know more you can check Jon Derricott's abstract for the conference, and Ross Coomber's abstract on drug composition.


About a year after writing this I asked Jon when the film was going to be released, he said due to technically problems there's now no likelihood that this will be released.
Nigel BrunsdonNigel Brunsdon is the owner of Injecting He's been working in harm reduction since the 1990's, although he's previously a frontline needle programme worker he now spends most of his time developing online resources for drugs workers and users.
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