Pill testing

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Pill testing is a process used to identify substances contained within a pill, usually illicit substances. With the increased prevalence of drugs being available in their pure forms, the terms "reagent testing" may also be used, with the reagents referred to in context simply as "reagent test kits"

Reagent testing kits[edit]

A test is done by taking a small scraping from a pill and placing it in the reagent testing liquid.[1] The liquid will change colour when reacting with different chemicals to indicate the presence of certain substances. Testing with a reagent kit does not indicate the pill is safe. While the testing process does show some particular substances are present, it may not show a harmful substance unaccounted for by the testing process. Testing kits are distributed on a not-for-profit basis by Dancesafe and commercially.

Reagent Test Reactions for Substances Present
Substance Mandelin Marquis Mecke Simon's Robadope's
MDMA dark purple dark purple dark purple blue no reaction
MDEA dark purple dark purple dark purple blue no reaction
MDA dark purple dark purple dark purple no reaction red
Methylone[2] yellow brown orange/brown blue no reaction
Methamphetamine (dark) green orange/brown no reaction blue no reaction
Amphetamine (dark) green orange/brown no reaction no reaction red
PMA green to brown no reaction no reaction no reaction red
Ketamine orange/brown no reaction no reaction no reaction no reaction
2C-B[2] no reaction green yellow/brown no reaction red
2C-I[2] no reaction yellow to green dark brown no reaction red
DXM no reaction grey with smoke yellow no reaction no reaction
Opiates no reaction pink/red/purple green no reaction no reaction
2C-T-xx no reaction no reaction yellow to purple no reaction no reaction
4-MEC unknown no reaction light green unknown unknown

[citation needed] It is advised to check the references for photos of reaction results.[2]

Reagent testers might show the colour of the desired substance while not showing a different colour for a more dangerous additive.[3]

Tests available[edit]

As reagent testing has become more popular, vendors have begun to offer a greater range of tests. This increases the likelihood that a substance might have a unique profile of results and makes the tests more useful.

Other reagents are discussed in scientific literature but limited applications mean they may not be sold for consumer testing. The zimmermann reagent for benzodiazepines is a good example - its use is limited to benzodiazepines, and when these are mis-sold it is usually by substitution of a different benzodiazepine, rendering the test unuseful for consumers.

The ehrlich reagent is an example of a single-application reagent which is used by consumers. It can only detect drugs with an indole moiety, but this is useful because drugs from the NBOMe class do not have an indole and are often sold as LSD which does. The ehrlich reagent has an additional benefit over other reagents in that it does not react with the paper on which LSD is often distributed.


  • 2014 documentary What's In My Baggie? deals with adulterants and additives in recreational drugs.[4]

See also[edit]