The Signs of a Clandestine Drug Lab

Would you recognize a drug lab if you walked by it every day?

The sad truth is that most meth labs hide in plain sight. And that is because the average person doesn’t know how to recognize the tell-tale signs of what has been going on there. What are the signs of a clandestine drug lab? Keep reading to discover the answers!

Unusual Ingredients In Large Amounts

As you may already know, it takes special ingredients to create meth. Common ingredients include cold medicine tablets, drain cleaner, and acetone. Sometimes, paint thinner, freon, and battery acid may be used. Obviously, most of these ingredients may be found in homes all across the country. So you don’t need to call the police just because your friend has some cold tablets in their medicine cabinets.

However, making meth requires a large amount of these ingredients. If it looks like someone is stockpiling any or all of these supplies, their home may secretly be a drug lab. And because some meth ingredients can be very dangerous, it’s important to hire a professional to clean it up.

Propane Tanks

You may have heard the phrase “cook meth” before, even if it was just on an episode of Breaking Bad. This phrase is accurate, though, which is why propane tanks can be a sign of a meth lab. As with the ingredients mentioned above, the simple appearance of propane tanks doesn’t mean someone is running a meth lab. It may just mean they need to use propane for heating and other common needs.

However, propane tanks that have been used to create meth will eventually develop corrosion around the brass valve. This corrosion is bluish-green in color and serves as a very likely indicator someone is cooking meth.

Weird Odor

So far, we have focused on signs of drug labs that are visual in nature. But in some cases, all you need is your nose in order to detect a lab! The act of making meth produces a very strong chemical odor. And because drug labs require ventilation (more on this later), you may be able to detect the smell simply from walking by the house.

This odor typically smells strongly of ammonia. If you don’t already know, ammonia smells like urine or sweat. So unless the homeowners have been relieving themselves in the yard, a urine or strong sweat smell may be a strong indicator of a meth lab.

Frying Pans And/Or Glass Cookware

Now you know that “cooking meth” usually involves propane tanks. But do you know what meth makers are actually cooking with? In many cases, individuals will use glass cookware or frying pans to cook meth. However, as with the common meth ingredients, the simple presence of glass cookware or frying pans doesn’t mean you have a meth lab on your hands.

However, the act of cooking meth often leaves a powdery residue stuck to the cookware or pans. If you see such residue, along with bottles covered with rubber tubing, then the owners of a home are very likely making meth.

Surprising Ventilation

As we touched on earlier, the act of cooking meth produces strong and unpleasant odors. On top of that, it produces fumes that will be toxic to anyone inside the house. Because of this, anyone inside a drug lab is going to do their best to ventilate the odors and fumes. If you see someone employing surprising ventilation techniques, this may be a sign they are making drugs. For example, if someone is opening windows during the winter, they may be cooking meth inside. The same goes for anyone installing fans or blowers when the weather is not very hot outside.

Dead or Burned Grass On the Lawn

The act of cooking meth produces toxic chemicals. This is where those toxic fumes come from. And after someone has cooked up a batch of meth, they need to find a place to dispose of the chemicals. To save time, many people simply dump these chemicals outside. But doing so will cause burns or dead spots that are visible in the grass and vegetation. Basically, if the ground looks like someone has built a fire there but you haven’t seen such a fire, this may be a sign of a meth lab. In most cases, the inhabitants of the house are simply dumping the toxic chemicals out in the middle of the night.

Extreme Security Measures

It goes without saying that anyone cooking meth is breaking the law. Because of this, the occupants of a drug lab may go to extreme measures to keep people from noticing what they are doing. Such measures may range from “no trespassing” signs to video cameras or guard dogs. However, it is worth bearing in mind that these same measures may be used by anyone who is overly concerned with home security. Because of that, you should only consider the security measures in conjunction with other signs. For example, security measures combined with their garbage having obvious meth ingredients and/or equipment means there will be little confusion over what they are doing.

Strange Behavior

So far, we have focused on drug lab signs concerning the residence and the things inside of it. However, some of your most powerful clues may come from those who are living there. For example, those making drugs in a home will typically spend long hours inside to the point that you rarely see them. And when you do see them, they may be exhibiting very paranoid behavior.

It often takes a small team to effectively cook meth. Because of this, you may see strange people coming by the residence, especially late at night. One of the more obvious signs is when the residents move their garbage to another location to be picked up. This usually means they are worried about what someone will discover if they sift through their trash and discover their meth ingredients and equipment!

Identifying A Drug Lab: What Next?

Now you know how to detect a drug lab used for making meth. But do you know who can help safely and efficiently clean an area used for making drugs? At Spaulding Decon, we specialize in cleaning drug labs, restoring water damage, and removing mold. To see what we can do for you, come find our nearest location today!

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