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Subst Use Misuse. 2001 Apr;36(5):573-88.

Different forms of heroin and their relationship to cook-up techniques: data on, and explanation of, use of lemon juice and other acids.

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  • 1National Addiction Centre, (The Maudsley/Institute of Psychiatry), London, UK.


Recent reports of the use of lemon juice in the preparation of heroin for injection have failed to recognize the importance of the different forms of heroin (in the form of the salt or the base) and the impact of this on the chemical manipulation required before injection. One hundred and four opiate addicts in London were interviewed about the forms of heroin (white, brown, etc) and their relationship to cook-up techniques (use of heat and acid). White heroin was typically prepared with water and heat; brown heroin was prepared with acid (citric acid or Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or lemon juice) and heat; pharmaceutical heroin was prepared with water only (i.e. neither acid nor heat). On the last occasion of heroin use, brown heroin had been the form most commonly used, with over 90% of the sample using citric acid or vitamin C. Lemon juice was rarely used, and heat was almost universally applied in conjunction with lemon juice.

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