What Does Meth Smell & Taste Like?

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 9, 2022
Fikret Terzic

Written by: Fikret Terzic MD, MS

Meth has a bitter and chemical-like smell and taste due to the chemicals involved in making meth. However, some say meth is also odorless.

Methamphetamine is a powerful and addictive stimulant drug which, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), takes the form of a white crystalline powder that tastes bitter and can range in smell depending on the chemicals used to make the drug. 

Known as crystal meth or simply meth, this drug is a highly addictive Schedule II controlled substance according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Methamphetamine is also available as a pill for those suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and for weight loss purposes for those who are considered severely obese. 

The drug works similar to amphetamines by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), although it is much more addictive.

With this form of drug use, a flood of dopamine is released, creating a euphoric rush a person experiences quickly. However, too much dopamine can be released and, due to possible unknown chemicals in the drug, adverse reactions can occur.

Meth use, whether a person is snorting or smoking meth, can lead to substance use disorder, serious health problems such as a heart attack or stroke, and an increased risk of a meth overdose.

What Does Meth Smell Like?

The smell of meth may be odorless to some, but others believe it to smell bitter or chemical-like. When meth is smoked, it can have a sweet smell. However, when meth is purchased from the illegal drug market, there is no quality control.

This means that the smell of meth may change depending on the chemicals used in the meth lab or the meth house where the drug is produced. 

Chemical Odors

If you smell strong chemicals coming from a neighbor’s home, consider contacting law enforcement as meth labs can be extremely dangerous.

Meth production may consist of using certain chemicals such as:

  • red phosphorus
  • sulfuric acid
  • lithium from lithium batteries
  • ammonia
  • acetone
  • hydrochloric acid

In addition to these chemicals, some who make meth use over-the-counter cold medicines which contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine. These ingredients can be extracted from cold medicine and the chemicals can be used which may change the smell.

Additional Odors

Because these chemicals are sometimes used when making meth, those participating in meth abuse or those working in a meth lab may experience a number of chemical smells that are similar to the following:

  • rotten eggs
  • cat urine
  • paint thinner
  • cleaning products such as drain cleaner
  • nail polish remover
  • anhydrous ammonia

When purchasing meth on the drug market, it’s possible to have cross-contamination which can not only be dangerous, but change the taste as well.

What Does Meth Taste Like?

NIDA also states that meth has a bitter taste, just as it can have a bitter smell. Those participating in meth abuse by smoking the substance may have a dry mouth which may worsen the bitter taste.

The chemicals not only affect the smell, but also the taste, so some may discover a taste similar to certain chemicals when they take this drug. The bitter taste may also change due to the way smoking meth is destructive to the mouth.

Some can develop broken teeth or gum decay, referred to as “meth mouth.” When dry mouth, a chemical or bitter taste, and decay in the mouth is present, there can be a wide range of tastes and side effects, including bad breath.

Meth Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one live with substance abuse issues, inpatient treatment centers throughout Ohio, including Ohio Recovery Center, can help.

During our treatment program, you have access to evidence-based treatment options such as behavioral therapy, medical detox, and ongoing aftercare. To learn more, please contact us today.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration — Methamphetamine https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/methamphetamine
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Methamphetamine https://medlineplus.gov/methamphetamine.html
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse — What is Methamphetamine? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Know the Risks of Meth https://www.samhsa.gov/meth
  5. United States Department of Justice — Meth Awareness https://www.justice.gov/archive/olp/methawareness/#made

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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