How Ecstasy is Made: Facts About MDMA and its Synthesis

Addiction Resource > Addictive Substances: The Anatomy of Drug Addiction > Ecstasy Addiction: The Signs and Symptoms of MDMA Abuse > How Ecstasy is Made: Facts About MDMA and its Synthesis

Different-colors Ecstasy pills

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) is the main ingredient of ecstasy pills and is a derivative of amphetamine. The drug gained its popularity due to its mood-altering properties and recreational use at parties. The answer to the question how to make ecstasy is a complicated process that involves usage of a few toxic chemicals such as mercury, formaldehyde, and ammonium chloride. How does ecstasy make you feel? About half an hour after taking the pill (or consuming the drug in any other form) one will experience increased feelings of emotional warmth, energy, and enhanced sensory perceptions. That’s because MDMA stimulates activity in certain parts of the brain associated with these feelings.

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The History of Making Ecstasy

MDMA was first manufactured in 1912 by a German pharmaceutical company for medical purposes. Up until then, nobody knew how to make MDMA. The drug sparked interest among psychiatrists in the 70’s and early 80’s for its ability to enhance communication in patients who struggle with addressing their issues during psychotherapy. No one is allowed to make MDMA as the drug didn’t have any support of trials on human and hadn’t received the approval of the FDA.

Around that time, making ecstasy became more common and available on the streets and had become a craze among young party-goers. However, ecstasy was quickly banned and ever since 1985 (with a little exception of the period between 1987-1988) remained illegal. To this day, MDMA is a classed Schedule 1 substance with no medical uses and a high risk of abuse. When one tries to make pure MDMA, it should go without saying that the process is extremely illegal to conduct although it is still relatively easy to buy ecstasy on the street.

Psychoactive Ingredients and Effects of MDMA

MDMA stands for methylenedioxy-methylamphetamine. The drug belongs to the larger group of phenethylamines and is a close relative to the methamphetamine group, which means it exists in two enantiomeric forms – R and S.

Variety of MDMA pills colorsMaking MDMA involves a sophisticated, multistep approach. In its purest form, MDMA ingredients will not include anything but the compound itself. However, this is rarely the case as the drug often comes cut with other substances, such as speed, ketamine, aspirin, or caffeine. MDMA, as a free base is a colorless oil that is indissoluble in water. The compound’s most common salt is the hydrochloride salt, which appears as a slightly yellowish or off-white crystal.

Ecstasy triggers a release of three neurotransmitters that regulate positive mood and emotion: Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine. When ingested, the MDMA high produces the following effects approximately half an hour after consumption:

  • Greater Sense of Well-Being
  • Increased Extroversion
  • Boost of Emotional Warmth
  • Empathy Towards Others
  • Better Insight Into Emotionally-Charged Memories
  • Enhanced Sensory Perception

However, it is important to remember that high doses of ecstasy ingredients also bring increased risks of several adverse health conditions. Immediately after the drug kicks in, the user may experience jaw clenching, teeth grinding, and profound sweating. Panic attacks and disorientation have also been recorded.

These imminent ecstasy side effects, however, don’t even come close to the real threats unsafe usage of the drug poses. MDMA ingredients push up one’s body to the limits it hasn’t been used to. In the UK alone, a total of 123 people have died as a consequence of ecstasy consumption, either on its own or mixed with other drugs.

One of the most common problems with MDMA intake is the drug’s ability to regulate body temperature. This can result in a body temperature spike that can in some cases lead to kidney, heart, or liver failure, which are all health conditions with malignant potential. It is crucial that the user drinks plenty of water to regulate the body temperature, but not as much to cause overhydration. Other health effects that may appear include:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Blurred or doubled vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme body temperatures

The most powerful impacts of ecstasy start kicking in between 1.5 and 3 hours after consumption. After that, the blood concentration drops steadily and slowly to lower levels before finally being metabolized and excreted. The duration of effects usually lasts between 4 to 6 hours. After that time, the serotonin levels in the brain are depleted, and the comedown phase begins. If one consumes MDMA and alcohol together, the effects may vary.

Many users take the second dose once the effects of the first one start fading out. On a comedown, a period after using ecstasy when one’s neurotransmitters are naturally reabsorbed, one may experience the following ecstasy withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of Appetite
  • decreased interest in and pleasure from sexual activities

If you are concerned you or your loved one is abusing ecstasy and jeopardizing their own health, contact our hotline on (888)-459-5511. One of our professionals will provide you with more information on the treatment options available.

How to Make Ecstasy Pills

MDMA formula on a school blackboard.There are several ways of manufacturing ecstasy, but the following one is the simplest, most popular method which doesn’t put off nasty fumes or includes usage of suspicious chemicals. The procedure can be carried out over a series of weekends or a single, longer session. Here are the definitive steps on how to make MDMA.

Obtaining Pure Safrole by Natural Oil Distillation

Safrole is a chemical compound that is extracted from the sassafras oil. By distilling the oil from the plant, one can derive pure safrole. Be careful with setting up the distillation apparatus as exposure to safarol may have carcinogenic effects on humans, just like it has on animals.

Synthesis of Methylamine

The next step in making MDMA is producing methylamine hydrochloride. This chemical is produced in a reaction between ammonium chloride and formaldehyde. The distillation process is a 6-hour-long work with a 4-hour wait for the response in-between,

The Wacker Oxidation – Obtaining MDP2P

This reaction uses palladium (II) chloride as a catalyst in the oxidation of oxidation of ethylene to acetaldehyde. The whole reaction will take 7-8 hours and doesn’t require any action apart from the initial addition and slow stirring. This means one can set the alarm in due time and go to bed or somewhere else. MDP2P is a precursor to MDMA, which means it is a controlled substance.

Distilling the MDP2P Compound

After conducting the Wacker process, the resulting MDP2P isn’t in its purest form which means it has to be further refined to achieve optimal integrity.

Obtaining MDMA Oil

The next step in making MDMA includes inciting a reaction between MDP2P and aluminum amalgam. When mixed with MDP2P, aluminum amalgam will reduce to MDMA oil. One needs to be careful with the waste produced by this reaction which includes mercury. Exposure to mercury can result in severe chronic health conditions and some cases death.

Crystallizing the MDMA oil

The final step in the ‘how to make MDMA at home‘ procedure will include forming the oil in anhydrous conditions. The fine, white powder is then pressed into tablets by MDMA manufacturers.

Making MDMA is Unsafe and Illegal

Not only is the answer to the question ‘how to make ecstasy’ a set of complicated set of chemical reactions, it is also a dangerous procedure. One is not recommended to attempt in making MDMA at home as it could seriously threaten their health. There are preventive measures one can employ when using the drug to minimize its dangers but the safest one is to steer clear of it altogether.

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