This section originates from pre UK Law change (May 2019). Most of the referred products cannot legally be purchased now in the UK. It remains for historic reasons and for those that purchasd kits before May 2019.
Firstly it must be said that this sort of testing is quite easy to do and reasonably quick, even with multiple test reagents. However, the less reagents you test with the more familiar you need to be with the process and the more thorough you need to be and notice all colour changes (some happen very quickly - first few seconds). Therefore unless you are very experienced and are working in an ideal environment then you will generally need a minimum of 4 reagents to test.
Note: When testing you can either test for a "preferred" substance, or you can test for adulterants. If you are testing for a preferred substance you will generally look for reagents that confirm the presence of that substance the easiest and clearest i.e. Gallic Acid for MDxx (MDMA, MDA, MDE, MDEA). This is normally achieved by purchasing the basic kits (4 Reagent kit)
If you are more interested in testing for adulterants then you will need to test with more reagents and ideally Mecke and Mandelin, Simon's/RobaTest (can distinguish between MDA and MDMA and test for presence of PMA (toxic) when mixed with MDMA.
The next thing to briefly explain is why do these kits produce colour changes? The colour changes occur due to the number of Carbon/Hydrogen/Nitrogen molecules present in the substances producing a shift from high visible wavelength 760 nm to low 380 nm, or vice versa. Higher wavelengths are associated with the Red colour region of the visual spectrum, whilst the Violet lower wavelengths. For the Visual Spectrum, think of a rainbow, the colours (the mnemonic helps recall the colours: Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain) i.e. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Indigo & Violet. Hence, a substance with a lower number of Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen molecules will appear more Violet then one which has more, hence appearing Green. Thereby assisting in the substance identification. Using different Reagents enables a better approximation to what the substance being tested is.
The test is performed by scraping off a small amount of the substance and grinding down to a fine powder (5, or 6, grains each the size of a grain of salt) and adding a drop of the test Reagent (Some Reagents are coloured some are clearish). The results are analysed by viewing the colour of the resulting mixture, and by the time taken for the change in colour to become apparent (Some reactions happen very quickly)
Therefore, for MDMA the following colour changes would be expected:
Expect colour result: Intense Green > Intense Blue or Green > Blue
Expect colour result: Purple > Blue - Black
Expect colour result: Blackish Purple or Blue > Violet > Black
Expect colour result: some initial browning > Green (going brown after 60 seconds (mark time) due to Safrole presence from synthesis)
Note the “>” symbol means there is a change moving from the initial colour to the final colour listed. Hence, you need to look for initial colour (if any) and then for colour changes that take place over the next 5 to 10 seconds at least. Then at 60 seconds (the Mark point) and possibly at 2 to 3 minutes if other adulterants are present like Sugar, which can cause a browning effect.
A big problem with the small glass ampoule test kits, or some small testing pots, are that you are required to “shake” the inserted test substance in the ampoule. However, a key aspect to some of these Reagent tests is the first 5 seconds and the colour changes that take place. If you are shaking the ampoule you cannot see the colour changes (also requires white background and suitable lighting to see colour changes clearly) and as you cannot see where the actual sample substance is in the ampoule you cannot focus on that location to see the result occurring.
Basically, the ampoule type only really gives an “after” result, and because the testing reagent is extremely small in liquid quantity, it can easily be “flooded” with test substance. Hence, colour changes become too dark too quickly, for some substances, for clear observation.
Hence, you would be asking yourself “is that a very dark brown or a deep purple, or is it just “dark” now. Also, the presence of the concentrated sulphuric acid in the Testers means the tested substance may go dark anyway thereby limiting your ability to assess what happened.
Using a reasonable sized drop (one/two drops) of a Reagent on a ceramic, non patterned, preferable white, plate/dish – Not plastic (most, really only HDPE is ok , however we have testes CD's and CD cases and they can be used but are not as good as white ceramics), or any thing else, as it may be damaged or be destroyed by the concentrated acid. This enables a clear background to see the colours as they form and change over the first 5 seconds, and then the following 25 seconds up to one minute in total – the accepted period for completion of test. Therefore the first 60 seconds is very important, but the first zero to 5 seconds is even more important for some substances, and hence ampoule based testers can be limited.
For example using our Test Result Tables for Mecke & Mandelin reagents, the following substance (Opium) would give the same/similar colour result for each in the initial reaction time windows i.e. Olive Black, but could also be any one of the other dark/olive substances, especially if viewed in a ampoule based Tester. Ideally, a “different” colour is required to confirm the “Substance”. Therefore using Marquis Reagent a Dark Greyish reddish Brown is produced which should confirm the substance as Opium.
In addition all 4, or 5, test Reagents allow the testing of a large number (over 500 according to Wikipedia Enix150 Reagent Tables) of standard chemicals as well as “Research Chemicals”, which are also now taken recreationally. These recreational research chemicals can also be “supplied adulterated”, or maybe being described as one substance but with a cheaper substitute.
Generally, if 3 or more tests indicate no real adulterants, and also show correct results for the desired substance, then it is more likely to be what it was sold as. Any additional, but different, test Reagent will further indicate what the substance possibly is. Some substances such as MDMA benefit from 4, or 5, different tests as the synthesis process can produce its own adulterants (MDP2P etc) which give positive MDMA test for some Reagents.
Results which tend to be dark can make it difficult to assess what has happened i.e Dark Purple, Dark Violet, Dark Brown, Black etc. These may all appear just dark or virtually black due to available light and other testing conditions. This is where the multiple testing assist by giving you a greater chance to get a different type of result for the same substance being tested. Ideally one reagent will give a lighter colour or possible no reaction which will then point towards a particular substance. Sometimes 5 or 6 Reagents may be required to achieve this. Also using the "tear drop" affect to thin the reagent + substance can assist by gently tilting the testing surface so the reagent slowly runs making colours easier to distinguish.
How much test substance:
Some reagents benefit form using more substance then others (just a few salt sized grains more), but what we have noticed is that if you get a darkish initial reaction around the substance that tends to thin out, then you may benefit from adding more test substance for the true colour to basically hold.
Whilst if you get too dark/intense a colour reaction (as can happen on EZ--Tests as there is very little test reagent) i.e. reagent overload, you are best to try again with less substance in EZ-Test case just a couple of salt grain sized grains – EZ-Test like the overload problem as the sell more kits. With dropper based kits you can regulate the drop size and grains as well as adjust lighting easier and create a “tear” to assist in colour recognition. Also EZ-Test indirectly restrict how you can view the test result as the glass ampoule is reflective to surrounding light producing glare; hence the colours can be more difficult to see. It would be better if they used a slightly defused glass to stop glare.
If the colour produced by one or more reagent appear murky, or different in tone then usual/described this could be because the reagent is detecting more than one substance and blending. An experienced tester could probably work out what the other substance is by the subtle colour differences. If a reagent test does appear different then expected, treat with caution and use other reagents to try and identify the other substance.
Sometimes fizzing or effervescence is experienced this is generally due to inert fillers and/or binding reagents (Calcium hydrogen phosphate, Magnesium oxide, Calcium carbonate) used in tablets/powders. . Some of these react with the sulphuric acid in the reagents to produce carbon dioxide (from calcium carbonate). Also many substances give off smoke due to the release of a small amount of hydrogen chloride gas. This is normal but has no real use in identifying the substance.
Crystal/powder substances are just as easy, if not easier, to give a false reaction particularly when using the Marquis Reagent as a test for MDMA and its derivatives. False positives can be given by Marquis, Mandelin and Mecke for MDMA, basically “dirty MDMA”, with a little tweaking of the crystal/powder, or poor synthesis process. Therefore, a purer MDMA test is required to confirm presence of actual MDXX (MDA, MDMA, MMDA or MDE ) this is why the Gallic Acid Reagent is used here as it gives a definite Green colour result if MDA, MDMA, MMDA or MDE (green > brown (particularly after Mark time)). More of the brown colour will occur toward the end on the 60 second mark time and is the Safrole element on the synthesis process which is being shown. As it is outside the mark time it is generally not stated/shown. There is a belief that the browning can give some sort of indication of purity i.e. if the sample turns brown too early it may be less pure. This has not been confirmed though.
Some brown may be visible before the mark time but the sample should be predominantly green for a positive test for MDMA & MMDA . An earlier brown colour (before 60 seconds (Mark Time)) will indicate possibly MDE or MDA - which can be produced as part of synthesis process if not done 100%.
Therefore a Gallic Acid test on MDMA (MDXX) will eventually go brown after the 60 second Mark Time. So do not despair thinking you have no MDMA or a lot of MDA, MDE (highly unlikely in the UK) it s just the Safrole element taking over the final aspect of the reaction. You are mostly only concerned with pre Mark Time time unless otherwise stated i.e. only the first 60 seconds.
Note: Because Gallic Acid does not react with a lot of other substances it is a cleaner test for MDxx presence and chemicals from its synthesis.
Generally each Reagent is used to test for the following:
Marquis Reagent - presumptive identification of Amphetamine-type compounds (Speed etc) including Methamphetamine, MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly), MDA, MDE, Opiates (Morphine, Codeine or Heroin), LSD, a general screening agent for other drugs e.g. Research Chemicals etc.
About 180 different substances as listed on Enix 150 Reagent Tables Wikipedia
Mecke Reagent - is generally used for the identification of heroin and other opiates (opium etc), LSD, Research Chemicals etc.
About 110 different substances as listed on Enix 150 Reagent Tables Wikipedia.
Mandelin Reagent - is generally used for the identification Amphetamines/ Methadone/ Cocaine/ Opium, Research Chemicals etc.
About 110 different substances as listed on Enix 150 Reagent Tables Wikipedia.
Gallic Acid Reagent - For the distinction of MDMA, MDA and MDEA, MDP2P, Safrole, opium etc
About 30 different substances as listed on Enix 150 Reagent Tables Wikipedia, but mainly specific to substance relating to MDMA
Froehde reagent - is used as a simple spot-test to presumptively identify alkaloids, especially opioids, as well as other compounds (Research Chemicals)
Can test for the presence of about 110 different substances in total
Liebermann Reagent - It is generally used to test for cocaine, morphine, PMA and PMMA, MDMA, certain substances from the 2C and other Research Chemicals etc. Used as a secondary test that tells the difference between methamphetamine and amphetamine, between MDMA and MDA or between methylone and MDPV.
Over 120 different substances as listed on Enix 150 Reagent Tables Wikipedia
Note: there is a lot of colour cross-over and hence the use of multiple testers enables a more accurate identification. Whilst the Reagents cannot give an indication of Purity, or Quantity of a Substance, they can only check for the Presence of a Substance. Some colours may be masked due to other substances present hence the benefit of different test Reagents.
When to test:
When change supplier/source
When things “look” different
When things “feel” different
When “batch” changes
When experiencing a different product
When you here that there are dangerous/contaminated batches being sold
Another reason to test can be seen from looking at https://www.ecstasydata.org/results.php page and you will see what the Pill/Powder is being sold as and what it actually contains. Whilst you may think Research Chemicals are "safer" it is surprising to see that even research Chemicals are being sold as one Chemical when the supplied chemical is actually different. Hence the benefit of some of the reagents having good Research Chemical results performance.
Also it is becoming increasingly common for street Dealers passing off anything from Paracetamol, Aspirin etc as Class A drugs and is know as Skanking.