Why Perform a Cold Water Extraction?

Many opioids such as Vicodin and Percocet contain other harmful drugs. A cold water extraction is most commonly used to remove paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen and hereafter referred to as APAP. CWE also works with aspirin and, to a lesser extent, ibuprofen, which are all very toxic in high doses and overdoses may result in permanent damage to your liver. APAP toxicity is one of the most common causes of poisoning worldwide, and in the US and UK, the most common cause of acute liver failure which usually results in days of agony prior to death if the overdose is severe. Alcohol exacerbates the problem.

A cold water extraction, hereafter referred to as a CWE, helps remove APAP from prescription pills.  It is generally recommended that healthy adults take no more than 4 grams of APAP in a day, and not more than 1g APAP at once, but even lower doses can harm your liver.

Either way, we are glad you are here and hope these CWE steps are easy to follow. Stay safe and perform a CWE on your drugs!

How Extraction Works

The main idea is that APAP is hardly soluble in water. Most opioids however are very soluble in water.

APAP is soluble in methanol, ethanol, dimethyl-formamide, ethylene dichloride, acetone, ethyl acetate; slightly soluble in ether; very-slightly soluble in cold water, considerably more soluble in hot water. APAP is insoluble in petroleum ether, pentane, and benzene.

Preparing the extraction

The best temperature water to extract APAP or aspirin is roughly 10C/50F. Solubility is as follows:

Type Solubility (31C/88F water) Solubility (21C/70F water)
Aspirin 1g/ 100ml 1g/300ml
APAP 1g/ 70ml 1g/ 159ml
Codeine 1g/2.3ml 1g/0.7ml

As you can see, you can dissolve 20 tablets of APAP or aspirin in 50ml of warm water, then cool it to 10C/50F, filter the solution, and end up with roughly the same amount of codeine as the tables contained but only a fraction of the original amount of APAP and aspirin. Opioids are also very soluble in cold water. Extraction works because the the opioids will be dissolved into the cold water and leave the APAP, aspirin, or ibuprofen behind. Also, the aspirin will be able to be caught in your filter.

If you are using capsules, you will not need to crush your pills/tablets. Capsules are also easier to dissolve. If you don't have capsules, do crush your tablets/pills before performing the CWE.

Quick Step-By-Step CWE

This process is relatively quick aside from cooling the water. A CWE is as simple as crushing your tablets, dissolving them in water, and straining the mixture through a filter.

1. Crush the tablets into a fine powder. Minimize powder loss.

  • Tip: Put your tablets in a Ziplock bag so you don't lose any!

2. Dissolve the powder into warm water. Get hot water from the tap (NOT too hot!), as boiling water may destroy the opioid. Put the water in a container/bowl with a wide surface area, which allows the mixture to cool faster. Add the powder you crushed to about 1/2 cup water.

  • Tip: Its better to have too much water than not enough.

3. Let the mixture sit and cool to room temperature on the counter for about 10-20 minutes. Stir it every few minutes until it is completely dissolved.

  • Tip: Don't rush this! Go watch tv or something if you have nothing else to do but watch the mixture dissolve!

4. Put the container/mixture into the freezer until cold. No need for a lid on the container. Leave it sit until it is extremely cold to the touch. Do not let it freeze or ice up! This process might take 20-25 minutes.

5. Filter your mixture. Use a pre wet coffee filter, cheesecloth, or even an aeropress. A handkerchief might work as well if you don't have any of those. Put the filter over the top of a cup and secure it with a rubber band or tape. SLOWLY pour the mixture into the filtered cup. Do not pour in too much water or touch the filter, as you make break it and have to redo the filtering.

6. When it appears like the filter is done dripping into the cup and there is nothing left to filter, you will then have a dense, marshmallow-like substance. You may choose to squeeze the contents of the old filters through a new filter to save any remaining moisture. Careful not to spill! You may also add more water to the marshmallow mash and re-filter it, but this step isn't necessary. As the APAP/ibuprofen/aspirin begins to clog the filter ..even if is carefully decanted you might speed things up by doing two separate filtrations simultaneously.

7. Bottoms up! Drink your mixture and throw away the APAP/ibuprofen/aspirin; most should have been successfully removed. The remaining concoction might be really bitter, so try mixing it with something sweet.

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