Meth labs are any apparatus or system used for producing illegal methamphetamine. They can occur anywhere: in houses, apartments, hotels, restaurants, barns, storage units, schools, and other buildings. Mobile meth labs can even show up in cars, public transit, and more.
Sometimes they consist of a system of instruments such as burners, rubber tubing, and coffee filters. Additionally, in a typical lab, you can expect to see stockpiled chemicals, propane tanks with fittings that have turned blue, or an unusual amount of trash. This will usually accompany foul-smelling odors as well.
However, with the introduction of the shake-and-bake method, a cook may include nothing more than discarded soda bottles, a few chemicals, and some pills. Unfortunately these types of ‘labs’ are extremely difficult to identify on first glance. And no matter the method or location, meth labs are dangerous.
After all, cooking meth is an explosive process that releases toxic fumes. It also requires a high number of flammable materials. In fact, many labs are discovered only after catching fire.
How to Recognize a Meth Lab
You might not spot a meth lab inside a building, initially, but there are still some noteworthy indicators. As we mentioned, cooking meth produces strong odors and toxic fumes. As a result, meth cookers may open windows in cold weather or install fans and blowers.
Next, a meth lab will usually involve some dumping of chemical waste. This will generally cause dead spots in vegetation.
Thirdly, watch for unusual security measures such as video cameras, ‘no trespassing’ or ‘keep out signs,’ and guard dogs.
Finally, note whether the occupants exhibit paranoid or unusual behavior. That may include staying inside for long periods, smoking outside frequently, and having many visitors at night.
You may also find stockpiles of certain chemical agents used in making meth. Some of these are: Acetone, Alcohol, Fertilizer, Bleach, Battery Acid, Drain Cleaner, Hydrogen Peroxide, Iodine, Pseudoephedrine, Salt, Sodium and Lithium metal, Starting Fluid, Swimming Pool Chemicals, and Gun Cleaning Solvent.
Other equipment used in making meth may include: Lithium Batteries, Aluminum Foil, Bed Sheets, Blenders, Bottles, Chemistry Glassware, Camping Stoves, Cheesecloth, Coffee Filters, Cotton Balls, Duct Tape, Electric Portable Hot Plates, Funnels, Garden Spray Jugs, Gas Cans, Jugs, PH Test Strips, Plastic Tubing, Pressure Cookers, Propane Tanks and Thermos, Pyrex Dishes, Rags, Rubber and Latex Gloves, Strainers, Thermometers, and Turkey Basting Wands.
Keep Yourself Safe
If you come across the signs of a meth lab, or any of the materials we listed – it’s best to have the property tested right away. We also suggest leaving decontamination to the professionals. Cooking meth is also a flammable and explosive process, so it’s better to put safety first and keep yourself out of harm’s way.
Similarly, please do not confront anyone you suspect of cooking meth. This is a mind-altering substance that can produce irrational and impulsive behaviors. Call your local law enforcement with your suspicions instead.
For decontamination of meth labs, however, or to have a site tested for methamphetamine residue – call a Certified Decontamination Specialist in your area. If you’re in Utah, call AEI Decon at (801) 888-6698.