What Is Cocaine Cut With?

Whether smoked, injected or snorted, any batch of cocaine you encounter will most likely be cut with some type of additive material.

Additive materials can vary depending on how the drug will be used or ingested, which results in different textures and colorings and forms. Additives can also intensify cocaine’s effects and make it easier for the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier. The effects of any additives coupled with the addictive effects of cocaine make for a dangerous combination for people who have a long history of cocaine use.

Types of Cocaine

Cocaine in its purest form comes from the leaves of the coca plant.

This drug falls in the same category as other plant-based drugs, such as caffeine, nicotine and morphine. Once isolated and dried into an organic form, cocaine appears as a white, crystal-like powder, though it’s unlikely you’ll find pure, uncut cocaine on the street.

On the street, cocaine comes in one of two forms: a hydrochloride salt form and a base form. In order to manufacture the salt form, the drug has to be neutralized with an acid solvent. The final product appears in powder form (the hydrochloride salt), which makes it easy to snort as is, or dissolve in water for intravenous use. The base form of cocaine includes any manufacturing process that doesn’t use acid as a neutralizer.

Drug dealers or “distributors” usually cut a batch of cocaine with other additives. This helps to thin out the batch, which means a dealer has more of the drug to sell. Depending on the type of additive used, the final product can appear off-white or pinkish. The texture of the drug also changes depending on the type of additive used.

Cocaine Additives

Additives used with cocaine come in the form of adulterants and substitutes. Adulterants are typically used to stretch the amount of cocaine while substitutes work to mimic the effects of actual cocaine. According to the Medscape Reference site, additives used to cut cocaine may include a range of materials, some of which include:

Substitutes

  • Local anesthetics (e.g., procaine, tetracaine and lidocaine)

Adulterants

  • Laundry detergent
  • Laxatives
  • Boric acid

Freebase Cuts

Freebase cocaine is the drug at its base form that can be smoked, snorted or injected. Freebase cocaine is purer than the salt-based form, with most additives filtered out during the manufacturing process.

It’s also more addictive when smoked since the drug’s effects can reach the brain more quickly than through snorting or injections.

In its base form, cocaine can only be smoked, though its effects still work pretty fast. Instead of the acid neutralizer used to make salt-based cocaine, freebase involves the use of ammonia as a base agent and ether as a solvent. The mixture is then dried to a powder form. In some cases, the ether actually dries into the final powder product. When this happens, a person can develop burns along their throat and nasal passages. While there is a difference between the substances used to manufacture cocaine and the additives mixed in, both types of substances can add to the health complications that come from using cocaine.

Crack Cocaine Cuts

Crack is the most commonly used form of salt-based cocaine. The manufacturing process involves dissolving cocaine hydrochloride in water and then mixing it with baking soda or ammonia. The mixture is then heated until the hydrochloride chemical evaporates. Once dried, the drug becomes a rock-like form that “crackles” when smoked.

If you’ve used or seen crack on more than one occasion, you may have noticed how crack rocks can vary in color and texture. Crack rocks can appear in brownish or tan-like colors with either a crumbly or hard surface texture. Before appearing in rock form, a dealer will often cut the cocaine powder with a readily available additive or adulterant. While it’s preferable to use materials that cause little to no damage to the body, such as baking soda, powdered sugar or powdered milk, these substance can still cause bodily harm if used for injection purposes.

Long-term IV use can eventually result in skin and tissue infections around injection sites, arterial blockages and lung infections.