There’s always going to be some inherent risk when using psychoactive substances — especially in today’s age of research chemicals.
Unless you’re using a raw plant for fungi — where you can visibly see the product you’re using, you’re going to need to test the sample to know whether the drug is what you think it is and if it’s safe.
Testing isn’t perfect, but it can dramatically lower your level of risk and identify common and dangerous adulterants in drugs like LSD, MDMA, ketamine, and more.
Anybody taking a psychoactive chemical should absolutely be testing a sample before they begin. This is one of the core components of responsible drug use.
Testing is cheap and very easy to do. You only need a tiny sample of your substance to be able to test it and a $30 or less testing kit.
This article will highlight the process for testing the following substances:
- LSD & DMT Testing
- MDMA & Ecstasy Testing
- Ketamine Testing
- Mescaline Testing
- 2C-B Testing
How to Test LSD
A tab of blotter paper is very small and only provides trace amounts of a psychoactive substance. The active ingredient is spread over a very thin layer on the surface of the paper.
There are only a few substances potent enough to provide psychoactive effects with such a small dose. Unfortunately, some of them can be very dangerous. Unethical drug manufacturers sell tabs of “acid” that contain potentially lethal compounds like NBOMEs because they’re cheaper and easier to make. Some of the raw materials needed to make LSD are hard to find.
What these tests are designed to do is determine whether the tab you’re holding in your hand is indeed LSD or a close derivative (such as AL-LAD). If the sample doesn’t detect indole alkaloids (LSD or derivatives), it should be assumed the active ingredient is something dangerous, and you should not take that tab of acid. NBOMEs are not safe to use.
Testing kits for LSD involve two test reagents — the Ehrlich reagent, and the Hoffmann reagent.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Prepare the Sample
You don’t need a full tab to run the test — only about an eighth of a tab. We’ll be doing two tests, so you’ll need to cut two small samples.
I like to cut a quarter wedge from my tab and then split this into halves.
Place each half onto separate ceramic plates. It’s best to use a white ceramic so you can see the color change more clearly. Avoid placing the sample onto metal, wood, or plastic to avoid cross-contamination with other elements or substances. Ceramic or glass are the best because they’re completely inert.
Step 2: Test the First Sample Using the Ehrlich Reagent
This is the primary test for LSD. It will react with any indole alkaloid, which includes LSD, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, 5-MeO-DIPT, Psilocybin, Psilocin, AL-LAD, and AMT.
Place a single drop of the reagent on the sample, and wait a few seconds. The liquid should immediately change to a dark pink or purple color — but it could take up to 3 minutes to fully change. Some compounds, such as 1P-LSD, can take 2–3 minutes to change color fully.
If the sample doesn’t change, your acid most likely doesn’t contain LSD or related indole alkaloids.
Step 3: Test the Second Sample Using the Hofmann Reagent
You should always do two tests whenever possible to confirm your findings and to rule out other potential chemicals in your sample.
The Hofmann reagent is the standard follow up test for LSD or other indole compounds. You can use it to test DMT and pure psilocybin as well.
If the test turns yellow, it contains DMT, if it turns green, you’ve got 5-MeO-DMT, and if it goes purple, it’s LSD.
No color change means there are no indole alkaloids on the tab.
What Are NBOMes?
The most common adulterant you’re likely to find in a tab of acid is NBOMe. There are several different types of NBOMe, but the most common, by far, is 25-I-NBOMe. These substances are some of the few compounds potent enough to provide a psychoactive dose on a single tab of blotter paper.
NBOMe is becoming more common every year despite widespread safety concerns. The effects of NBOMe are similar to LSD but with less introspective benefits. At the best of times, a dose of NBOMe produces an experience inferior to LSD. More commonly, the experience is uncomfortable — leading to side-effects where the user feels like their heart is going to beat out of their chest or that they’re going insane.
At the worst, NBOMe can kill you.
The risk to reward for these chemicals isn’t very enticing — so it’s better to avoid them at all costs. The main reason for testing LSD is to make sure you’re not accidentally consuming NBOMe. Many drug dealers are selling NBOMe tabs instead of LSD even without knowing it.
How to Test MDMA
MDMA is the active ingredient in ecstasy — however, most ecstasy tablets these days contain several different compounds. Some of the most concerning are PMA, PMMA, cathinones, fentanyl, or other opiates.
It’s impossible to know what’s in a tab of ecstasy without testing. You should always test a sample before you begin. It’s so cheap to do, and you don’t even need to “waste” a tab to do the test. Only a tiny fraction of a tablet or a few grains of powder are needed to do the test.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Prepare The Sample
To prepare the sample, you’ll want to find a white ceramic or glass surface to run the test on. You’re going to be adding reagents that will be changing color, so a white surface makes it easier to notice subtle changes in the color.
Avoid using a metal or plastic surface if you can because they can sometimes interfere with the test, and the color can make it difficult to notice subtle differences in color.
Prepare the substance by scraping a very small amount off a tablet or isolating some of the powder. You only need one grain of sand worth of the drug to run the test.
You’ll be doing three tests, so place three samples on a plate far enough away from each other that they won’t accidentally mix together.
Step 2: Test The First Sample With The Marquis Test
The first reagent is the Marquis reagent. This is used to determine if the sample contains amphetamines such as MDMA, MDA, MDE, methamphetamine, or other amphetamine substances.
Place a single drop of the Marquis reagent on your first sample.
If the sample contains amphetamines, it will immediately change to a dark black or purple color. If there is no change, it means there are no amphetamines in your sample, and you should discard it immediately.
Even if the color changes, it doesn’t rule out adulterants like cathinones, PMA or PMMA, piperazines, or fentanyl. All it tells you is that the substance does indeed contain amphetamines. The next tests are done to rule out some of the more dangerous adulterants.
Step 3: Test The Second Sample With the Mecke Test
The Mecke test reagent is used to further identify what compounds are in your sample.
Place a single drop on the second sample and watch for the color to change.
If your substance contains MDMA, MDA, or MDE, the liquid will change from green to a dark black or purple within a few seconds.
If there is no change or if the sample turns to more of a blue color, it means your sample is not MDMA, MDA, or MDE and should be discarded immediately.
Step 4: Test The Third Sample With The Simon’s Test
The Simon’s reagent is used to differentiate between MDMA and the closely-related compounds MDA.
Place a drop on the third sample and watch for a change. It should change immediately. If the sample consists of MDA, 5-APB, 6-APB, it won’t change color. If your sample consists of MDMA or MDE, it will turn to a blue color.
Only once your sample has passed all these tests can you assume it to be safe. Keep in mind, these tests won’t find other dangerous compounds and don’t tell you the quantity of the substances used. There could still be small amounts of opiates or other substances in the final product. All these tests tell you is that the substance does contain MDMA.
How to Test Ketamine
Ketamine itself isn’t considered to have a high level of risk — but because of its black-market nature, there’s a lot of unethical manufacturers and vendors selling other compounds like DXE, PCP, 2-FDCK, MXE, O-PCE, and any number of other potentially dangerous research chemicals.
You should always test your ketamine before you take it. The risk of adulteration with this substance is very high, and there’s no way of knowing if what you’re using is ketamine or not without testing.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Prepare Your Sample
The first step is to isolate your samples. You only need a tiny amount (the size of a grain of sand) to run the test. It doesn’t add any extra level of benefit to test a larger sample, so stick to the recommended sample size.
Place your sample into the included testing vial. You can also use a ceramic plate or glass surface. Just be aware, the reagent used for this test is caustic and can damage your skin and clothing. When working with this chemical, always wear gloves and keep some baking soda nearby to neutralize it if you accidentally get a drop on your skin or another surface.
The test kit above includes only one test reagent — the Mandelin reagent, so you’ll only need one sample.
Step 2: Test Your First Sample With The Mandelin Reagent
Place a single drop of the Mandelin reagent into the testing vial and give it a moment to change color.
If your sample is ketamine, it will turn a deep orange color. If it changes any other color or doesn’t react at all — it’s not ketamine and should be avoided completely.
This test will turn brown if the sample contains PMA or PMMA (toxic) or MDPV (synthetic cathinone). The sample will turn green if it consists of MXE (another dangerous ketamine alternative).
Step 3: (Optional) Follow Up The Test With The Marquis & Mecke Tests
It’s always a good idea to use other tests with your sample to rule out the presence of other dangerous compounds as well. The Marquis test is the bare minimum for testing ketamine. Adding the Mecke test is extra but provides a much higher confidence the substance you’re using is safe.
Check out this three in one testing kit, which includes all three reagents.
The Marquis test will turn yellow if the sample contains cathinones (bath salts) or purple if it’s MDMA, MDA, or MDE.
The Mecke test will turn yellow if the sample is DXM or bluish-green if it consists of opiate drugs instead.
How to Test Mescaline & 2C-B
The best way to use mescaline is to source the raw cactus (Peyote, San Pedro, or Peruvian Torch). However, these are hard to come by these days, and most people are using a synthetic or concentrated form of mescaline instead.
Raw mescaline comes in the form of a raw powder — which makes it impossible to know exactly what you’re using without testing it first.
Testing 2C-B follows the same process. This psychedelic was derived from mescaline, but reacts differently with the same reagents. The main concern you’re looking for when testing 2C-B is to make sure the sample you’re using doesn’t contain any opiate medications or NBOMe’s.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Prepare Your Sample
You only need a test sample the size of a grain of sand. Don’t use any extra than this, or the color could become too dark to accurately differentiate the color.
Place one or two samples (depending on how many tests you’re going to run) onto a plate, testing vial, or another white or clear surface.
Put some gloves on before handling the reagent and keep some baking soda nearby to neutralize the test when you’re finished.
Step 2: Test The First Sample With The Marquis Reagent
The main reagent for testing mescaline & 2C-B is the Marquis reagent. Add a drop of the reagent to your sample and give it a moment to change color.
If the sample contains mescaline, it will change to a bright red color.
If the color turns to a yellow-green color, it’s 2C-B.
If there is no change in color, or it turns red, purple, black — it’s something completely different.
Step 3: Test Your Second Sample With Either The Mecke or Froehde Reagent
It’s always a good idea to follow up with at least one other test to confirm. The usual secondary option for testing is either the Mecke or Froehde reagents.
For the Froehde reagent, mescaline will turn the liquid a yellowish-brown color — for the Mecke reagent; the liquid will change to a dark brown color.
If the Mecke reagent turns green or blue it means the sample has a high concentration of opiates.
Reagent Test Chemicals
The best way to test substances at home is to use reagent chemicals. These consist of various chemical substances that react and change color in the presence of certain compounds.
A reagent test liquid can only detect the presence of a compound — not its concentration. Tablets or powders that have a low purity or contain a variety of different ingredients can lead to false negatives or false positives. No reagent test is guaranteed — they merely offer a level of risk-reduction. They cannot guarantee that the substances you’re using are completely safe.
The chemicals in reagent liquids are often toxic. You should handle them with care and never allow the compound to contact the skin. Wear gloves and keep some baking soda nearby to neutralize the chemical if it gets onto your skin or another surface. You should also add baking soda to your test sample when you’re done before disposing of it.
Always put the lid on the reagent bottle immediately after you’re done. Mixing the caps can cause cross-reaction and ruin the testing chemical.
Some reagent testing calls for only one test — but it’s always better to do two or more tests with different reagents to be extra cautious and to help rule out other potential adulterants in your substances.
Here are the most common reagents used for testing psychoactive substances:
1. Marquis Reagent
The Marquis reagent is the primary test for assessing MDMA or ecstasy. It’s used to detect opiates (such as codeine, heroin, or fentanyl) and phenethylamines (2CB or mescaline). This reagent is a mixture of formaldehyde and concentrated sulfuric acid.
This reagent will darken during storage over time — but it will still work.
The Marquis reagent will identify the presence of compounds including mescaline, 4-ACO-DALT, 2C-P, 2C-D, 2C-E, 25D-NBOMe, TMA-6, DOC, 2C-B, 2C-C, 2C-B-FLY, DOB, BK-2C-B, proscaline, mescaline, 25iP-NBOMe, allylescaline, 25N-NBOMe, 25E-NBOMe, 25B-NBOMe, 25I-NBOME, 4-HO-MET, DOM, 5-MeO-AMT, 2C-I, AMT and more.
2. Simon’s Reagent
This reagent is used to differentiate MDMA from MDA. It consists of two parts (A and B). The two solutions are each dropped onto the testing sample to combine them together. Part A consists of sodium nitroprusside and acetaldehyde in water. Part B contains sodium carbonate in water.
3. Froehde Reagent
The Froehde reagent consists of a mixture of molybdic acid or a molybdate salt dissolved in hot, concentrated sulfuric acid. It’s used to determine the presence of many alkaloids — primarily opiates.
The Froehde reagent will identify the presence of 25B-NBOMe, 25iP-NBOMe, 25C-NBOMe, 25E-NBOMe, 2C-B, 2C-C, 2C-B-FLY, 2C-BZ, DOB, TMA-6, 4-AcO-DALT, 4-HO-MET, 4-HO-MIPT, mescaline, 25I-NBOMe, BK-2C-B, allylescaline, 2C-I, 25N-NBOMe, proscaline, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-AMT, and more.
4. Liebermann Reagent
This reagent is used to identify the presence of alkaloids in a sample. It’s composed of potassium nitrite and sulfuric acid. The most common applications of this test are to check for substances, including cocaine, morphine, PMA, and PMMA. It’s used to differentiate between a few different cathinones (bath salts) and to identify levamisole in cocaine.
Liebermann reagent will determine the presence of MDMA, MDA. MDE, amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylone, ethylone, 2CB, PMA, PMMA, ephedrine, ketamine, mescaline, DMT, heroin, levamisole, aspirin, and more.
5. Mandelin Reagent
The Mandelin reagent is used to differentiate or identify the presence of a variety of different alkaloids. It consists of a mixture of ammonium metavanadate and concentrated sulfuric acid. The main use of this reagent is to test for the presence of ketamine and PMA or PMMA.
The Mandelin reagent will determine the presence of ketamine, MDMA, MDA, MDE, PMA, PMMA, heroin, methylone, mescaline, oxycodone, codeine, 2CB, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDPV, Ritalin, aspirin, and more.
6. Mecke Reagent
The Mecke test is primarily used to check for the presence of opiates. It consists of a mixture of selenous acid and concentrated sulfuric acid. It’s sometimes used as an alternative to the Marquis reagent.
This reagent will darken during storage over several months or years — but it will still work.
The Mecke reagent will identify compounds including mescaline, 25C-NBOMe, 2C-B, 4-HO-MiPT, DOB, DOM25E-NBOMe, 2C-B-FLY, 4-AcO-DALT, 2C-C, 25D-NBOMe, 25iP-NBOME, BK-2C-B, TMA-6, 25I-NBOMe, 5-MeO-AMT, 25N-NBOMe, 25B-NBOMe, 2C-iP, 2C-P, allylescaline, 5-APB succinate, mescaline, 2C-D, 2C-I, 4-HO-MET, proscaline, 3C-E, 2C-E, and DOC
7. Ehrlich Reagent
Ehrlich’s reagent contains p-dimethylaminobenzaldehyde (DMAB). It’s used to detect indole alkaloids, which include common psychedelic compounds such as LSD, DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, 5-MeO-DIPT, psilocybin, psilocin, AL-LAD, and AMT. It can’t be used to differentiate between these compounds.
8. Hofmann Reagent
The Hofmann reagent is very similar to Ehrlich for determining the presence of indole alkaloids. It’s slightly different and reacts with different colors to various compounds. It’s primarily used to detect and differentiate DMT from other indole compounds like LSD or psilocybin. This reagent will even differentiate between 5-MeO-DMT and DMT (green vs. yellow, respectively).
Summary: How & Why You Should Test Your Substances
Testing your drugs before you start is a core aspect of responsible psychedelic or substance use. It’s especially important for synthetic psychedelics in which you can’t directly see the compound you’re taking in raw form (such as using psychoactive fungi, cacti, or plants).
You should never assume a substance is what you think it is until you’ve tested it. It’s common for people to order a substance thinking it’s LSD, MDMA, mescaline, or ketamine — when in reality, it’s some other research chemical.
The nature of buying these drugs on the black market brings an inherent level of risk. Unethical manufacturers often sell compounds like NBOMe in place of acid, MDX, or PCP in place of ketamine because they’re cheaper to produce. None of these adulterants are considered safe.
There are also hundreds of other, poorly understood research chemicals being sold around the world under the guise of more well-known substances.
Testing is the only way to identify the compound you intend to use. It’s cheap to do and only requires a small sample to run the test. There isn’t any reason not to test your drugs when the bar to doing it is so low, and there’s so much to gain from doing it.