methods of methamphetamine manufacture
Sunday, March 26, 2006
This is the aluminum amalgam method. Here, phenyl 2-propanone (benzyl methyl ketone) is reductively aminated with methylamine. It is an older method than ephedrine/HI/red phosphorous, which supplanted it c. 1985. SWIM tried it and got hardly any product, about 5 grams, but it was good product. The product is racemic, a racemic modification, meaning that the substance in question is modified from practically ever being pure by being contaminated with its mirror image, each enantiomer of the two possible mirror images being present in a 50-50 mixture. This is caused by the lack of asymmetry of the starting material. A ketone with a double bond to oxygen is reduced to two single bonds, one to a proton, the other to a methylamine moiety. The double bond can react on either side just as well as the other.
In the late Seventies P2P became impossible to buy and needs to be made itself. Same story with methylamine. This method assumes that this has already been done. The form that SWIM had them in was methylamine HCl crystals, and the yellow, fragrant liquid P2P. The P2P was used as is, but should have been distilled first. You would set up distillation with a thermometer and only collect the fraction which boiled at the correct temperature. Also, if P2P steam distills, all the water present would have to be absorbed by a drying agent (a solid like MgSO4) put into the bottle of P2P and the P2P decanted off.
SWIM had a larger flask than the amount of P2P, so he built up the volume with ethanol. I don’t believe water presents a problem in this reaction. The reaction starts with a lot of aluminum foil cut into one-inch squares, enough to fill the flask half-full. A pea-sized piece of “corrosive sublimate”, HgCl2, mercuric bichloride, is dissolved in water and all the Al foil in the flask is wet with it. The foil starts sizzling and dissolving, and the reaction is performed before it all dissolves away. Al amalgam, the reducing agent, is an alloy of Al and Hg. the flask is set up for reflux and the heat turned on and refluxed until all the Al foil visible is gone, in around an hour. The workup is complicated by the presence of hydrated Al salts, which are like mud. The reaction mixture is based over with caustic soda and the insoluble Al salts drop out, too. The mixture is extracted with diethyl ether. I guess it could be steam-distilled. Then it is carried out like in my other post, recipe #1, “How to Make Methamphetamine”. This method smells so much it is easy to get caught. In fact, P2P or its precursor, phenylacetic acid, if spilled, will never come out and always smell, and this smell is characteristic to anyone who knows it. It will even smell in storage.
posted by SEB @ 8:59 PM