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Isolating Codeine From 222s

In the detox section of Heroin Helper is an article on detoxing with codeine. But this begs the question, "but where do I get the codeine?" This is a valid question given that codeine is a controlled substance--available in the U.S. only with a doctor's prescription.

Femaile chemistry cartoon. Luckily, countries other than the U.S. have a more reasonable policy towards codeine. Canada, for example, allows morphine's under-achieving brother to be bought over the counter. There is a wrinkle however: it is never sold in its pure form. It may be bought as part of a cough syrup (in very dilute form) or in a pill form, as long as it is combined with two other active ingredients. This most often takes the form as a kind of headache medicine with acetaminophen and caffeine. It is this pill (commonly called "222s") that you want to acquire because codeine can be isolated from it.

OTC Codeine

Any drugs that can be bought over the counter in another country may be carried into the U.S. by the user or may even be mail ordered. For more details on how to do this check out any of the books on "smart pills" or How to Buy Almost Any Drug Without a Prescription by James H. Johnson (Avon Books, New York, 1990).

The last thing you want to ingest is a bunch of acetaminophen, so this clearly needs to be filtered out of this concoction. In addition, while detoxing, you certainly don't want to be ingesting caffeine because it will keep you awake and dehydrate you--common withdrawal symptoms themselves. I am now going to give you a method of isolating the codeine in these pills using only water.

Testtube. Warning

The legal status of the following procedure is unclear. It almost certainly is illegal (in the U.S.) to do so for the purposes of getting high. For the purpose of detoxing yourself it may be legal. Consult an attorney if you have any questions.

The 222 tablets consist of 350 mg Acetaminophen, 15 mg Caffeine, and 8 mg of codeine. They have solubilities of 14.3 mg/ml, 21.7 mg/ml, and 434.8 mg/ml in 31 degree Celsius water. As you can see from this, Codeine is much more soluble than the other two.

If we could do so, we could dissolve 50 pills (roughly 435 mg of Codeine) in 1 ml of water. This would give us a lot of un-dissolved garbage and 435 mg Codeine, 22 mg Caffeine, and 14 mg Acetaminophen dissolved. That would be great--this is a small amount of Acetaminophen and Caffeine (about a fifth a cup of coffee) and a whole lot of Codeine (equivalent to about 20 mg of heroin--a street bag, perhaps). But this just can't be done from a practical standpoint because there is so much pill and so little water.

Procedure

What follows are steps for isolating Codeine from these pills. You will need water at 31 degrees Celsius (88 F) but if it is a little hotter or colder it won't make much difference. You will also need a few glasses, something with which to measure water accurately, a glass stir rod, a mortar and pestle, and an eye-dropper. Everything should be very clean to start.

  1. Take 100 pills and grind them to a very fine consistency with the mortar and pestle. There should be no "chunks" left. Transfer the crushed pills into one of the glasses.
  2. Add 500 ml of water to the glass with the pills and stir vigorously. When finished, let the mixture sit so that all of the non-dissolved particles settle to the bottom of the glass.
  3. Transfer the liquid from this glass and put it into the other. This may be done simply by pouring but you may wish to use the eye-dropper. Clean the remaining glass.
  4. Let this new solution sit in a dry area at 31 degrees. As the water, evaporates particulate matter will form at the bottom of the glass. When the water volume is down to one-fifth of its original, transfer the solution only to the other glass.
  5. Again, let this solution evaporate. When it is down to 10 ml, the solution will have 140 mg Acetaminophen, 220 mg Caffeine, and 800 mg of Codeine.

Clearly, there are an infinite number of procedures for getting the codeine out of these pills. The overall idea is the same: Codeine is more soluble than the other things in the pills and so by trying to dissolve the pills (but always with less water than necessary to dissolve the entire pill) you concentrate the Codeine.

Thanks to Jim Hogshire for providing the solubilities and clarifying the difference between Codeine and Codeine Phosphate.

by Dr. H © 2001


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