Are there different forms of methamphetamine?

There are several different forms of methamphetamine. They are generally distinguished by their appearance and perceived purity, and include:   

  • Powder: A white or off-white powder generally known as ‘speed’. Powder is the least potent form of methamphetamine, and is often mixed with other substances such as glucose. It can be snorted, injected, or swallowed. Powder is also sometimes pressed into pills.
  • Base: A damp or oily substance with a white, yellow, or brown colour. Base has a higher potency and purity than powder. It can vary greatly in appearance and is known by various terms, including ‘pure’, ‘paste’, and ‘wax’. Base is typically injected and sometimes swallowed. 
  • Crystal (‘ice’): A crystalline substance of translucent to white appearance. Crystal methamphetamine is the most potent form of methamphetamine, and is usually smoked or injected. 

The drug ‘ecstasy’ (methylenedioxymethamphetamine - MDMA) is sometimes included as a type of methamphetamine. However, while ecstasy is a derivative of methamphetamine, it has a different chemical structure and effect. It is therefore not included in the information and statistics presented in this section of the NADK. 

For more information about methamphetamine visit DrugInfo.

Source: Adapted from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre’s Methamphetamine Factsheet (2015).