Testing substances is critical to ensuring a safe psychedelic experience. In this article, we teach you how and why to test LSD and its analogs.
Why Conduct Reagent Tests on LSD?
Drugs may be sold modified by adulterants or sold mimicked by other, cheaper drugs. LSD is rarely sold adulterated. Most other drugs’ effects cannot be felt when taken at the tiny amounts at which LSD is typically dosed 1. Instead, the greater risk to LSD users is that LSD may be sold mimicked by other research chemicals, some of which are dangerous.
In particular, drugs in the 2C and NBOMe family are often sold as LSD. These drugs also produce psychoactive effects, but unlike LSD, some of these drugs can be fatal at high doses. Chief among them is the drug 25I-NBOMe. Since its arrival on the recreational market in 2010, both non-fatal and fatal interactions with 25I-NBOMe have been reported in Australia, Belgium, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States 2. By neglecting to test your LSD, you put yourself at a higher risk of accidentally ingesting one of these substances at a fatal dose.
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Conducting a Reagent Test for LSD
Now that you understand why it’s important to test LSD, let’s walk through how it’s tested. For general information on conducting reagent tests, see our other article.
Test 1: Ehrlich Reagent
When testing LSD, it’s important to start by establishing that your substance is not something like 25I-NBOMe. This is done with an Ehrlich reagent test kit, which tests for a class of alkaloids called indole alkaloids. Since LSD and safe LSD analogs are the only substances where an indole alkaloid would be psychoactive in blotter paper-sized doses, you know your substance is in LSD’s alkaloid class and not an unsafe alternative if the Ehrlich reagent solution reacts by turning purple. 25I-NBOMe will have no color change under the Ehrlich test.
Test 2: Marquis Test
Once it’s been established that your substance is an indole (increasing its probability of being LSD), you’ll still need to confirm that it’s proper LSD. To do so, you can turn to the commonly used Marquis reagent test kit, the standard for distinguishing various alkaloids and compounds from each other.
When applying the Marquis reagent, you may find a reaction that is olive green to black in color. However, there is some debate about the color of the reaction, with Erowid arguing that it is more common for LSD to have no reaction to the Marquis test. 3
Test 3: Mecke Test
To double check your results, you could test your substance with a Mecke reagent test kit. This is another effective spot-test for determining alkaloids and other compounds. Similar to the Marquis reagent, if your substance is LSD, the reaction of the Mecke test will be an olive green-to-black color. A reaction of any other color is direct evidence that what you have is something other than LSD.
Differences Between Testing LSD and LSD Analogs
Procedurally, testing LSD and LSD Analogs is the same. If testing blotter paper, begin by cutting off a tiny corner of your tab with an x-acto knife. Set the cut piece—or a tiny amount of the substance if other than blotter paper—on a white surface. The bottom of a coffee mug makes for an excellent testing surface. Then place a few drops of the reagent on the solution and note the color it turns.
The differences between testing LSD and LSD analogs, as noted earlier, will lie in the color of the reagent’s reaction. By turning purple, the Ehrlich test determines that a substance is an indole alkaloid, therefore not ruling out all LSD analogs but eliminating the likelihood of those, such as 25I-NBOMe, that have been documented as dangerous at a similar dosage. By turning a shade of olive green to black, the Marquis and Mecke tests further guarantee that the substance you’ve obtained is LSD.
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“Psychedelics.” Students for Sensible Drug Policy, William and Mary Drug Resource Center, wmpeople.wm.edu/site/page/ssdp01/psychedelics. ↩
“25I-NBOMe Critical Review Report.” Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, World Health Organization, www.who.int/medicines/areas/quality_safety/4_19_review.pdf. ↩