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What Is Cocaine Cut With?

What Substances Are Used as Cocaine Cutting Agents?
The substances used to cut cocaine are broken down into adulterants and substitutes. Adulterants such as laundry detergent and baking soda are used to get more cocaine from a batch, while additives such as procaine and lidocaine produce similar effects to cocaine at a lower cost. Freebase cocaine is made with ammonia and ether, and crack cocaine is made by dissolving it with water and then mixing it with baking soda or ammonia.

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

Additive materials may vary depending on how and where the drug is manufactured and, later, how it is further prepared for its various methods of use.

The cumulative effects of many toxic additives – coupled with the ravages, over time, of cocaine addiction itself – make for a dangerous combination for people who have a long history of cocaine abuse.

These variables result in there often being multiple textures, colorings and forms of cocaine available on the street.

The extra materials aren’t just cosmetic, either, as some additives can also intensify cocaine’s effects and make it easier for the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier.

In less than five minutes, see if your loved one—or you—is addicted to cocaine. Take our online confidential survey.

Types of Cocaine

coca plant for saleCocaine in its purest form derives from the leaves of the coca plant.

This drug is a member of a large general category of other plant-based alkaloid 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). This form may be either snorted – as is – or dissolved 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 forms of adulterants and substitutes. Adulterants are typically used to stretch the amount of cocaine while substitutes work to mimic some of the effects of actual cocaine (at a cheaper cost than cocaine itself). Additives used to cut cocaine may include a range of materials, some of which may include:


  • Laundry detergent.
  • Laxatives.
  • Boric acid.


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

Freebase Cocaine Cuts

Unlike the salt form of cocaine, freebase cocaine is a drug with a base form that can be smoked, snorted or injected.

Instead of the acid neutralizer used to make salt-based cocaine, freebase cocaine involves the use of:

  1. Ammonia as a base agent.
  2. Ether as a solvent.

The mixture is then dried to a powder form. In some cases, the ether actually dries into the final powdered cocaine product. When this happens, the cocaine user can develop burns along the throat and nasal passages.

Freebase cocaine is:

  • More pure than the salt-based form of cocaine, as most additives are filtered out during the manufacturing process.
  • More addictive when smoked since the drug can reach the brain more quickly than through snorting or injections, resulting in a more rapid onset of its stimulant effects.
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 cocaine is the most commonly used form of freebase cocaine.

How Is Cocaine Made?

cocaine in bag next to razorThe manufacturing process for crack cocaine involves dissolving cocaine hydrochloride in water and then mixing it with baking soda or ammonia.

Before the mixture develops into 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 solid particulates can still wreak havoc if circulated throughout the body via injection.

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.

Dangers of Cocaine Abuse

The dangers of abusing cocaine are not anything to be taken lightly. Cocaine abuse can have a number of short-term and long-term harmful effects on your body, and the risk of deadly overdose only increases the longer you use cocaine.

Short-term effects of cocaine abuse can include:

  • Extreme mood changes.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Involuntary movement disorders.
  • Heart attacks, seizures, strokes.
  • Overdose and sudden death.1

Long-term effects of cocaine abuse can include:

  • Persistent cognitive impairment.
  • Higher risk of infection.
  • Mental health issues, including depression with suicidal ideation.
  • Damage to multiple organs.2

Long-term needle use (intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous administration) may also result in skin and tissue infections around injection sites, arterial blockages, septic emboli and lung infections.

Luxury amenities matter

Changes in Treatment Preferences Before and After TreatmentIn 2016, Recovery Brands conducted a survey that asked patients who were leaving a treatment facility what program facets they viewed as valuable aspects to look for when examining treatment. The top-rated priority was the center’s financial options, for example financial support, insurance accepted, and payment options. They also appreciated the facility’s offerings (recreational activities, food, quality of housing, etc.) much more after graduating from treatment. Individuals considering treatment will want to look at a program’s monetary policies as well as the clinic’s offerings to help them make their final facility decision. Read more

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

There are many cocaine addiction treatment options to choose from. Generally speaking, most rehabilitation programs will assist you through an initial drug detox period – followed by some combination of individual and group therapy. The following are a few of the specific types of treatment centers that you would be able to choose from, depending on your unique preferences and circumstances:

  • Luxury rehab centers offer residential rehab treatment that is accompanied by a wide range of high-end, resort-like amenities designed to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
  • Executive rehab facilities also offer residential rehab treatment with many of the same luxurious qualities that luxury rehabs offer – with the primary difference being that executive facilities cater to busy business professionals who needs to remain actively involved in their work during the course of their treatment.
  • Standard or traditional rehab may be sought on either an inpatient (residential) or outpatient (non-residential) basis. The more standard rehab offerings are often available at a relatively lower price since they tend to forego the same range of plush amenities that both luxury and executive treatment facilities provide.

Get Help to Find the Right Treatment for You

Would you like to learn more about your treatment options for getting out of an addiction? Call 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers? to ask whatever questions you still have on your mind. One of our recovery advisors would be happy to help walk you through your options so you can get the help you need.


  1. What are the short-term effects of cocaine use? National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  2. What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? National Institute on Drug Abuse.