Extractions and reactions

The material herein is presented strictly for research purposes only

Warning signCodeine Information does not condone any illegal behaviour. Actual performance of the below described extractions and chemical reactions without an appropriate authorisation may be illegal in your country. If you wish to read the articles on this page, you agree that you will not use the information from this site for purposes other than research (academic or personal), and you will not attempt any of the chemical reactions presented on this site if you don't have an appropriate authorisation or licence.

If you intend to use the information on this site for any illegal purposes (according to your local law) you must leave now.

The methods described on this page apply to codeine, dihydrocodeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Remember that ingestion of any reaction products on this page can be fatal.

Related information: Opiates facts

Cold water extraction

The purpose of this experiment is to extract an opiate/opioid substance from combination tablets.

The cold water method presented below relies on fact that opiates are generally very soluble in cold water, while paracetamol, aspirin, and ibuprofen are only very slightly soluble.

Note: Pseudoephedrine and caffeine are relatively soluble in water, and will be present in the final product.

Don't use dispersible tablets because it's very hard to extract secondary substances from them.

Coffee filtersEquipment needed:

The term secondary substance refers to paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen.


  1. Crush thoroughly the tablets and carefully dissolve in cold (ca 20 C) water. Use approximately 2ml of water per 1 tablet, eg 100ml of water for 50 tablets. You may add more water if you can't dissolve the tablets easily. If you want to evaporate the liquid, it's better to use distilled water instead of tap water.

    Warning: Boiling and hot water may destroy codeine.

  2. Cool the solution down to approximately 5 C (41 F) stirring occasionally. Very low temperatures make the secondary substances even less soluble.

  3. Leave the solution in a cool place for about 20 minutes to let the secondary substances settle on the bottom of the container.

  4. Wet the filter(s) with very cold water to prevent it from absorbing the solution and put it in the glass. Stick an elastic/rubber band around the container to keep the filter in place.

  5. Coffee filterPour the solution through the filter to filter out the secondary substance from codeine.

  6. Discard used filters with secondary substance solids left.

Note: Even if you think you have eliminated the secondary substances from the liquid, don't attempt to ingest the product (it is illegal to do so if you don't have appropriate doctor's prescription).

If you want to minimise the amount of secondary substance, you can attempt to evaporate some liquid and repeat the filtering.

Some of the chemical reactions and/or substances mentioned below are very dangerous. In order to minimise the risk of skin/eye burns, please employ at least basic precautions:
  • Wear protective glasses at all times

  • When handling chemicals that can produce toxic fumes (eg some non-polar solvents) wear a certified organic vapour mask (not a particle masks from hardware stores). Work in well ventilated environment and use fume cabinet when necessary. Fumes of some solvents may quickly produce permanent brain damage.

  • Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) is a highly corrosive substance. Always wear safety glasses and hand gloves.Wear protective gloves and laboratory coat when handling corrosive chemicals (eg strong bases such as sodium hydroxide)

  • Make sure you use reagent grade chemicals. They're much more expensive than industrial grade chemicals (eg from hardware stores) but they guarantee ~99.99% purity. Some industrial grade chemicals may include secondary substances, such as toxic heavy metals, etc. If in doubt, consult the material safety data sheet (hazard sheet) of a given chemical or contact manufacturer's representative.

  • Always double-check and verify the reactions you perform.

Following the above instructions may save your health and time spent in hospital or prison.

Improved codeine extraction

From: OI812
Newsgroups: alt.drugs.hard
Subject: Improved codeine Extraction
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 1999 04:25:07 -0600

Before I get flamed for not posting this to ADC (I will), I am posting in ADH since so many of you have asked about extracting codeine from APAP in this group. Having tried the cold water method and finding the yield intolerable, I set out to find a better way of extracting codeine from your basic T3's. I think I've hit on a better method with a lot better yield (>90%)

To do this, you will need some chloroform or other solvent in which codeine base will dissolve, APAP won't. Merck says that chloroform works best, although I suspect that methylene chloride will work just as well. Ether will work, but it's just too dangerous for my taste. You will also need some dry sodium carbonate. (bicarb might work here, although I haven't tried it.) DO NOT USE SODIUM HYDROXIDE, IT REACTS WITH THE APAP TO FORM SOME SORT OF EVIL LOOKING BLUE GOOP. Na(CO3)2 WILL RAISE THE pH JUST FINE. Lastly, you will need a large pyrex lasagna pan in which to evaporate your product to dryness.

First, place uncrushed T3's or other APAP/codeine product in a small glass or beaker and cover with enough distilled water so that the pills will break down into a thin paste. For 30 T3's, I use about 30-35 ml of H20. Let the pills soak until completely broken down into paste. Next add about 5-8 grams of dry sodium carbonate to reduce the codeine phosphate to codeine base. The paste will thicken somewhat and bubbles of CO2 will form in the paste as the codeine phosphate is reduced. Add enough distilled water so that the mixture is about the consistency of thin pancake batter and stir the mixture thoroughly with a wooden or glass rod. The pH of the mixture should be about 11 or greater. If it isn't, add more Na(CO3)2 until it is.

Next, pour the mixture into the pyrex pan and rinse the beaker with a few ml of distilled water and add the rinse water to the mix in the pan. Use the stir rod to spread the grayish mixture around the pan so that the layer is as thin as possible. Let the mix dry overnight. You can pop the pan into an oven set to warm, (no hotter), if you want to speed things up.

After the mixture has completely dried, use a single-edge razor blade to scrape the mixture from the pan. It should just flake off in slabs. Now, wrap the dried material in a coffee filter and crush it so that the pieces are about the size of grains of rice. It isn't necessary to grind the stuff any finer, since it would probably clog the filter in the last step anyhow. Pour the dry crushed mixture into a glass bottle with a screw-on top and pour in enough chloroform to completely cover the "gravel" in the bottle. Seal the bottle and shake for a few minutes. Let the contents settle for a minute or two while you set up a gravity filtering apparatus. This can be a coffee filter in a metal strainer, or if you have it, a piece of filter paper in a glass filter funnel. You can't use plastic because the chloroform will attack it and ruin your product. Clean and dry the pyrex pan and set it under the filter to catch the filtered chloroform. Shake the chloroform/"gravel" mixture and pour it into the filter, letting the chloroform/codeine mixture run into the glass pan. Let the chloroform evaporate while you put the wet gravel back into the bottle and shake with a fresh portion of chloroform. It isn't necessary to use as much as you did the first time. Again pour the chloroform/gravel mix into the filter paper.

After the second portion of chloroform has run through the filter, you can drip a few ml of clean chloroform onto the filter paper and wet gravel to get the last bit of codeine from the APAP and chalk. You should set the glass pan with the chloroform outside to evaporate to dryness. Do not place it into an oven to force dry it. While chloroform is not very flamable, I found out the hard way that chloroform vapor is broken down on contact with the heating elements of the stove to form deadly phosgene gas.

Be patient, soon enough you will have nearly pure codeine base in the bottom of the glass pan. After the codeine has evaporated, you might notice that the codeine is sticky. This is because evaporating chloroform gets very cold and room humidity will condense into the mixture. If this happens, you can oven warm the codeine, but only after you can no longer smell the chloroform in it. You can now use the razor blade to scrape up the crude product. The codeine base will not weigh as much as an equivalent amount of codeine phosphate, because you have stripped the phosphate ions and left behind the pure alkaloid. Fear not, it is still potent orally, just remember to adjust your dose downward. codeine base weighs only 75.3% as much as an equimolar amount of codeine phosphate. If you want to re-salt it, you can use the following proces:

Into 20 ml of acetone add 2 ml of phosphoric acid and set this mixture aside. Dissolve your crude codeine base into enough acetone so that it just dissolves. You might have to warm up the acetone to get it to dissolve completely. If you want to clean up any insoluble contaminants at this point, take a pasteur pipet and pack a small wad of cotton into the point where the pipet narrows. Using another pipet, drip the codeine/acetone mixture through the cotton. Follow this with a ml or two of clean acetone to get all the codeine from the pipet filter. Next, mix the acetone/phosphoric acid solution into the acetone/codeine base solution in a 50/50 ratio. As you stir the resultant misture, you will see the codeine phosphate quickly precipitate from the acetone as a sticky gummy mass. As you stir the solution, the final product should form a bolus on the stirring rod and look like a wad of chewing gum. Rinse the bolus in a small amount of fresh acetone and then smear it on a glass plate to dry. As the acetone evaporates, the codeine phosphate (CP) will appear to melt. This is because the CP is highly hygroscopic and is absorbing water from the air. Gently warm the CP in an oven to drive off the last of the acetone and then use a pipet or syringe to first drip water onto the CP, and then suck up the CP solution. You may now drink your product, or you can again reduce it to codeine base and extract it with chloroform if you prefer a much purer, powdered product.

Even after two acid-base extractions, I have gotten up to 93% of the available codeine from T3's with absolutely zero APAP in the finished product. If you choose codeine base as your final product, you can now easily turn it into even yummier alkaloids, but that is for another posting.

Sorry about the long cross-posting, but I believe in sharing information which will result in a purer (read: safer) final product.

B.B. Welch

The above descriptions were included in this document without permissions of their authors. The articles can be freely accessed at many places including Google Discussion Groups.

Other methods

Chromic's Coldwater Codeine Extraction - simple procedure for eliminating caffeine

Masking the bitter taste

Codeine and other opiates have a very bitter taste. Try adding some icing sugar or cordial to make the opiate a bit more edible.

Testing for paracetamol

The amount of paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen you get in the finished product depends on many factors including temperature and amount of water used to dissolve tablets, and quality of the filters used. Just make sure you use reasonable amount of water per tablet (I recommend max. 3ml/1 tablet) and very fine paper filters.

Sodium Hydroxide method

An excerpt from Dextromethorphan FAQ written by William E. White briefly explains how to test for presence of paracetamol:

"Acetaminophen (paracetamol) turns a purplish-brown color on reaction with sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This is a fairly rapid reaction, which you can try out yourself by dissolving an acetaminophen tablet in water and adding some of this solution to a sodium hydroxide solution. It does not appear that ammonia (NH4OH solution - Bongoman) will work instead of sodium hydroxide. However, since you aren't going to be ingesting the final product, feel free to use lye instead of reagent grade sodium hydroxide. So let's say you have a solution which you think may contain acetaminophen. Call it Solution A. Prepare a concentrated sodium hydroxide solution (Solution B) by dissolving as much sodium hydroxide as you can in a small amount (say, 50mL) of water. Be careful and wear your safety glasses! Now, take a dropper, and add a little bit of Solution A into Solution B. If you see a purple or brown color form, you can bet that there's acetaminophen in your Solution A. The problem is, if you don't see any color, that doesn't necessarily mean the acetaminophen (or some byproduct of it from the extraction) isn't there. Now, it may be that this is an effective test for detecting the presence and absence of acetaminophen, but I'm not sure yet. So consider this a point for further research, and nothing more."

Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH) can be purchased OTC in most chemical supply stores.

Simple method

Put 3-4 tablets of paracetamol tablets in the same amount of water as you've used to extract the codeine, and compare the clarity of the two solutions. If the liquid with paracetamol only is more 'cloudy' than liquid with codeine, it means you have less paracetamol in the codeine liquid than in the tablets you've just dissolved. Remember that codeine solution also includes binders, fillers and other substances used in manufacture of the tablets thus the codeine liquid will always be more 'cloudy'.

Opiate powder

Codeine freebase :)To obtain codeine in powder, you need to evaporate the water. At home, you can use at least three different methods:

Note: Codeine is very sensitive to heat; it may lose its potency or decompose when heated. Avoid exposing codeine to temperatures greater than 60C.

Once the liquid evaporates you can scrap the codeine off. If there was any fillers or binders left with codeine, the powder can stick to the container.


There is no point repeating information already available on the web. Check out the following sites for information on freebasing opiates: