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We're not gonna need pseudoephedrine. We're gonna make phenylacetone in a tube furnace. We're gonna use reductive amination to yield methamphetamine, four pounds.
Walter White to Jesse Pinkman[src]

Phenylacetone is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH2C(=O)CH3. It is a colorless oil that is soluble in organic solvents, but not water. This substance is used in the manufacture of amphetamine substances, such as methamphetamine, where it is commonly known as P2P. As such it is a a schedule II controlled substance in the United States (and most of the world), and cannot be acquired freely.

History[]

Season 1[]

Walt and Jesse are seen producing P2P in the latter's house basement, by heating phenylacetic acid with glacial acetic acid or acetic anhydride in a 70 mm tube furnace at 425 °C for several hours, in the presence of thorium oxide catalyst.("A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal")

Season 2[]

When out in the desert, Walt and Jesse produce enough P2P to cook 42 pounds of meth.("4 Days Out")

Chemistry[]

Reductive amination of P2P yields amphetamine.

Reaction of P2P with bleach will yield chloroform and phenylacetic acid.

If NaOH and iodine is used instead of bleach, the yellow iodoform will be formed. This reaction can be used as a qualitative test for methyl ketones.

Trivia[]

  • In the show, the crude P2P obtained by Walt directly from the tube furnace is milky-white, which would mean it's impure, usually contaminated with water. However, by all accounts from literature and other sources, the crude P2P distillate obtained from this route is always yellowish or orange, due to the various traces of other aromatic compounds formed as side products (similar to how the crude benzene distillate obtained from the decarboxylation of sodium benzoate is orange). Pure P2P has to be distilled again, at reduced pressure, to prevent the contaminants from distilling over, then dried with anh. CaSO4 or MgSO4.
    • While not shown, since the tube furnace was blocking the view, it's possible that Walt passed the crude distillate through activated charcoal to remove the side products, then performed an azeotropic distillation of the wet milky P2P with benzene to dry it.

External links[]

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