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Walt and Jesse's first batch of meth, using the typical pseudoephedrine method

Jesse: "This is glass grade. I mean, you got...Jesus, you got crystals in here 2 inches, 3 inches long. This is pure glass. You're a damn artist! This is art, Mr. White!"
Walter: "Actually it's just basic chemistry, but thank you, Jesse. I'm glad it's acceptable."
Jesse: "Acceptable? You're the goddamn Iron Chef! Every jibbhead from here to Timbuktu is going to want a taste!"
―Jesse commenting on the meth Walter cooked[src]

Methamphetamine or meth (C10H15N) is a psychostimulant of the phenethylamine and amphetamine class of psychoactive drugs. The molecular formula indicates that each molecule contains 10 carbon atoms, 15 hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen atom.

Properties

Methamphetamine is chiral, and thus occurs in two enantiomers [N-antiomer] (non-superimposable mirror images of each other): dextrorotary and levorotary. D-methamphetamine is a stronger psychostimulant, but l-methamphetamine has a longer half-life and is CNS-active with weaker (approx. one-tenth) effects on striatal dopamine and shorter psychodynamic effects. At high doses, both enantiomers of methamphetamine can induce stereotypy and psychosis, but levomethamphetamine is less desired by drug abusers because of its weaker pharmacodynamic profile.

Methamphetamine has a molecular weight of 149.233 g/mol, generally approximated at 149.24 g/mol. It has a melting point of 175 °C and a boiling point of 215 °C. Methamphetamine has a density of 0.9131 g/cm3 and a refraxive index of 1.5083. The IUPAC name of methamphetamine is 25-n-methyl-l-phenyl-propan-2-amine. The CAS number is 537-46-2. The Beilstein number is 2207147. The PubChem  Number is CID 1206. The ATC code is N06BA03.

Pharmacology

Ball-and-stick model of the methamphetamine molecule

A member of the family of phenethylamines, methamphetamine is chiral, with two isomers, levorotatory and dextrorotatory. The levorotatory form, called levomethamphetamine, is an over-the-counter drug used in inhalers for nasal decongestion. Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that affects neurochemical mechanisms responsible for regulating heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, appetite, attention, mood and emotional responses associated with alertness or alarming conditions.

The acute physical effects of the drug closely resemble the physiological and psychological effects of an epinephrine-provoked fight-or-flight response, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, vasoconstriction (constriction of the arterial walls), bronchodilation, and hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar). Users experience an increase in focus, increased mental alertness, and the elimination of fatigue, as well as a decrease in appetite. It is known to produce central effects similar to the other stimulants, but at smaller doses, with fewer peripheral effects. Methamphetamine's fat solubility also allows it to enter the brain faster than other stimulants, where it is more stable against degradation by monoamine oxidase (MAO).

Appearances

There are meth products and forms of meth featured in the show.

  • Blue Sky / Big Blue / Blue Magic — the signature formulation of Walt's, is 99.1% pure and light blue in color
  • Chili powder — the signature formulation sold by Captain Cook and cooked by Emilio Koyama, containing chili powder
  • Glass — slang for methamphetamine, typically used to refer to the white meth created by the pseudoephedrine method. 

Trivia

  • Pure methamphetamine (salt) is colorless, but in the show, Walt's version is blue. It's unclear what type of contaminant causes "Blue Sky" to have this color, as most trace impurities produced during organic reactions tend to be black, brown, red, orange or yellow, while other colors, such as blue, are extremely rare.
    • Possible source for the blue dye could be source of phenylacetic acid White used to make phenylacetone, which had a milky-white color, as opposed to the more typical yellow-orange color produced by decarboxylations, which was never explained in the show.
  • Although the meth produced by White is described as nearly pure, in reality, the methamphetamine produced by the P2P method is racemic (both enantiomers are present), and thus consists of 50% the less-desired l-methamphetamine isomer. No explanation is given how White was able to obtain only the d-meth enantiomer. This is lampshaded when Walt asks Victor, “If our reduction is not stereospecific, then how can our product be enantiomerically pure?”.
    • It's possible that Walter might have used some unknown enantioselective catalyst to yield only d-methamphetamine, which also explains his early obsessive fear of a foreign organism contaminating his batch in the episode "Fly".
  • During an interview with Howard Stern, Bryan Cranston revealed that DEA chemists showed him and Aaron Paul how to make crystal meth, but they never actually completed the process correctly.
  • Throughout the show, a big fuss it's made of the purity of meth. In reality, multiple recrystallizations are commonly used to increase the purity of any organic chemical compound.
  • After Breaking Bad,many meth manufacturers in real life dyed their product blue.

External links

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