Bath Salts

Overview

Bath Salts these days refer more to designer drugs instead of SPA treatment. These hallucinogenic powdery substances come in many different colors and are openly sold in smoke shops, gas stations, head shops, and convenience stores. They are also available online.

Bath Salts are relatively new entrants into the drug abuse scene which means there is limited information available about their exact chemical composition; their short and long term effects; and the health risks that users and abusers face. What limited information there is however is enough to set off alarm bells within the drug and law enforcement agencies and society in general.

What do we know so far? We know that bath salts contain different amphetamine-like substances like MDPV or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, pyrovalerone and mephedrone. Mephedrone poses the highest risk for overdose. These drugs are stimulants and are often touted as cheap substitutes for cocaine. Bath salts are highly addictive. They set off intense cravings likened to those experienced by methamphetamine users. Not surprisingly, these drugs present a high risk for a host of adverse medical conditions. Beyond their known psychoactive ingredients, the rest of their contents are largely unknown, making their use and abuse especially dangerous.

Screening Cut-off and Detection Time

In drug screening, the cut-off level is that point which separates a negative and a positive test result. Screening cut-off levels are established where drug detection is optimized with the least probability for false positives. It is important to remember that a negative sample does not necessarily mean that it is drug-free, only that it contains a drug at a concentration that is below the established cut-off.

Synthetic Cathinone Urine GC/MS Cut-off Level Saliva LC/MS/MS Cut-off Level
Butylone 25 ng/ml
Cathinone 25 ng/ml
Ethylone 25 ng/ml
MDPV 25 ng/ml 1 ng/ml
Mephedrone 25 ng/ml 1 ng/ml
Methcathinone 25 ng/ml 1 ng/ml
Methylone 25 ng/ml 1 ng/ml

DEA Drug Class

Bath Salts are classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act which lists drugs, substances or chemicals that:

  • have a high potential for abuse;
  • have no currently accepted medical/therapeutic use in the U.S.;
  • lack an accepted “safe-to-use” under medical supervision.

Drugs under this class are considered dangerous and no prescriptions may be written for them as they are not readily available for clinical use. Other examples of drugs that fall under Schedule I include:

  • Ecstasy (MDMA or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
  • GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid)
  • Heroin (diacetylmorphine)
  • Khat (Cathinone)
  • LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Marijuana (cannabis, THC)
  • MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine or “ecstasy”)
  • Mescaline (Peyote)
  • Methaqualone (Quaalude)
  • Psilocybin

Drug Type

Bath salts are stimulants or “uppers”. Stimulants are substances that increase a person’s alertness, energy and attention. They also elevate a person’s heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate. Historically, stimulant drugs were used for treating obesity, asthma, various other respiratory ailments and neurological disorders. When their potential for misuse and abuse began to be noticed, stimulants were used less and less for medical purposes and today are mostly used only for a few conditions like occasional depression, narcolepsy and ADHD – and only for those who have not improved from other treatments.3

Forms and Routes of Administration

Bath Salts come in fine or crumbly, pure white to light brown and sometimes pinkish crystalline water soluble powder with a slight odor. They are sold in small 200mg, 250mg or 500mg packets labeled “not for human consumption”. A 500mg packet usually goes for around $30.4

The methods of ingestion are as follows:

  • Oral – Oral ingestion is done simply by swallowing the powder and chasing it down with water, dissolving the powder in some water or juice first or by gingival delivery or rubbing on the gums. There is also what is called “bombing” which is wrapping the powder in rolling paper and swallowing it.5 Oral ingestion delays the effects from being felt by about an hour or one hour and a half depending on whether the person has eaten or doing it on an empty stomach. The “high” can last for up to 4 hours.6
  • Snorting – This is also called nasal insufflation or sniffing and is the most common ingestion method for bath salts. Unfortunately, this ingestion method delivers the drug directly to the brain via the nasal membrane. The effects are rendered faster and more powerful, building tolerance in a shorter period of time.
  • Smoking (Inhalation) – Smoking or inhaling is done by inhaling the vapors from heating the crystalline powder using pipes or aluminum foil or small glass tubes. The effects from smoking are felt much faster compared to when the drug is orally ingested. This is not a popular method of ingestion.
  • Injection – Administering bath salts by injection delivers 100% of the drug into the blood stream, a very dangerous situation considering there is very little known about the exact contents of these little packets.
  • Rectal – Rectal_administration is also called “booty bombing”. This method allows the drug to be absorbed by the blood vessels in the rectum and circulated throughout the body.

Brand Names

  • Arctic Blast
  • Aura
  • Avalanche
  • Bayou Ivory Flower
  • Bliss
  • Blizzard
  • Bloom
  • Bolivian Bath
  • Blue Magic
  • Bonsai Winter
  • Blue Silk
  • Boost
  • Bubbles
  • Charge Plus
  • C Original
  • Cloud 9
  • Cloud 10
  • Cloud 10 Ultra
  • Cotton Cloud
  • Crazy Train
  • Drone
  • Dynamite
  • Dynamite Plus
  • Energizing Aroma Therapy Powder
  • Energy-1
  • Eight Ballz
  • Euphoria
  • Flakka
  • Glow Stick
  • Gold Rush
  • Hagigat
  • Hurricane Charlie
  • Ivory Fresh
  • Ivory Snow
  • Ivory Wave
  • Ivory Wave Ultra
  • Lady Bubbles
  • Lunar Wave
  • Meow Meow
  • Mexxy
  • Mind Charge
  • Monkey Dust
  • Mr. Nice Guy
  • Mystic
  • Natural Energy Powder
  • Ocean Burst
  • Pure Ivory
  • Purple Sky
  • Purple Wave
  • Recharge
  • Red Dawn
  • Red Dove
  • Quick Silver
  • Rock On
  • Rocky Mountain High
  • Route 69
  • Sandman Party Powder
  • Scarface
  • Sextasy
  • Shock Wave
  • Snow Day
  • Snow Leopard
  • Speed Freak Miracle
  • Stardust
  • Super Coke
  • Tranquility
  • UP Energizing
  • UP Supercharged
  • Vanilla Sky
  • White Burn
  • White China
  • White Dove
  • White Horse
  • White Knight
  • White Lightning
  • White Rush
  • White Sands
  • White Slut
  • Wicked X
  • Wicked XX
  • Zoom

Uses of Amphetamines

Being Schedule I drugs, bath salts have no accepted medical or therapeutic uses. They are illegal recreational drugs known for producing a “high” not unlike that from methamphetamines. Bath salts are also sometimes called “legal cocaine”,9 and people use them because they are readily accessible and quite cheap.

While the effects are inconsistent, considering no one knows exactly what they’re getting in those little packets that bath salts are sold in, people still get them in pursuit of certain short-term “highs”:

  • Enhanced empathy
  • Enhanced social skills
  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • Increased sex drive
  • Intensified sensory experiences
  • Reduced appetite

Street Names

  • Bath Salts
  • Bonsai Fertilizer
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Hookah Pipe Cleaner
  • Insect Repellant
  • Jewelry Cleaner
  • Phone Screen Cleaner
  • Plant Food
  • Pond Scum Cleaner

Effects

Bath Salts have been implicated in many psychotic, violent and life threatening cases over the last few years, but with limited knowledge as to the exact composition of these drugs, the extent of the danger is also not known.

Effects of Bath Salts on the Mind

  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Self-harm
  • Severe agitation
  • Suicide or suicidal thoughts
  • Uncontrollable craving for the drug
  • Violent behavior

Effects of bath Salts on the Body

  • Blurred vision
  • Body odor
  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive teeth grinding
  • Heart attack
  • Herniated brainstem
  • High fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nosebleed
  • Numbness/tingling
  • Pain at back of mouth
  • Rapid eye twitching
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Seizures
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin Rash
  • Skin-crawling sensation

Dependence

A study in 2013 found that MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) could possibly be more addictive than meth, which is long considered one of the most addictive substances out there. MDPV is one of key components of bath salts.

Dependence to bath salts can happen soon after beginning to use it and the health consequences can be long-term and permanent. These include:

  • Brain death
  • Brain swelling
  • Death
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Faster heart rate
  • Kidney damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver damage
  • Skeletal muscle tissue breakdown

History

Bath Salts originally came from France. They are any of a group of drugs that were first synthesized in the late 1920s. Some of them were intended for their potential uses in medicine but most were found to cause severe side effects. They also proved to be addictive.

By the 1930s and 1940s, these drugs were being abused in the former Soviet Union, where they were widely used as anti-depressants. Bath Salts were called “Cat” and/or “Jeff” in the United States in the 1990s.1

The internet was a major contributing factor to the sudden surge in popularity of Bath Salts . These drugs escaped the world’s notice for a while until some underground chemist rediscovered them and published on the net the recipe for making them. This website “Hive” was eventually torn down in 2004 for its predominantly illegal-drugs-related content. But the damage was done, the information was out, and they became all the rage in Europe.

In Israel from 2004 – 2008, bath salts were very prevalent and sold under the name “Hagigat” until the government made its key ingredient illegal.2 In 2009, it was discovered in the Netherlands that over half of the Ecstasy pills being sold there contained drugs found in Bath Salts and not the actual ingredients for Ecstasy.

In the United States, it wasn’t until 2012 that two key drugs that were used in the manufacture of Bath Salts were finally made illegal. The problem however is that underground chemists crank up slightly altered variations faster than the government can stop them from being used, that the market is practically flooded with products that are openly sold as “bath salts” or labeled as “plant food” or “glass cleaner” etc. and stamped “not for human consumption”, effectively skirting around the law.