Summer mythbusting

New Years’ Eve absolutely smashed it in terms of drug checking. Over 1,700 samples from four festivals* is an excellent turnout and we were completely bloody stoked to see how many people are being responsible with their drugs.

We got to meet a HEAP of folk and have some great yarns, but some of the things we heard were…um…let’s just say they were…truth adjacent. So we’ve collected the most popular myths from the teams that were out on New Years for a little mythbusting.

Myth 1: It looks like [insert drug name here], so it must be [insert drug name here]

The thing about drugs is that unless you’re looking at them through a spectrometer you can’t actually tell what a drug is for sure. Your eyes can tell you some things, but they are not very helpful.

How does a spectrometer work?

The FTIR spectrometers we use shoot infra-red light through your sample. Each of the ingredients in your sample has its own specific fingerprint. We match those fingerprints against the patterns we have in our library

While the human eye is pretty great at detecting light, it can’t see in the infra-red spectrum, which is where the vibration patterns happen.

The spectrometer can also see a number of ingredients within a sample. The human eye can’t. Humans look at a cake and see cake. AN FTIR spectrometer looks at a cake and sees eggs, flour, butter, and so on.

Which is which?

Below we’ve got some photos. Can you tell what each substance is just by looking? Answers at the bottom

One of these is MDMA, one is eutylone, and the other is n-ethylpentylone. Which is which?


One of these is ketamine, and the other is MSG. Which is which?


Last one. One of these is cocaine, the other is cornflour. Which is which?


The Crumb of Truth in this myth?

Although far from perfect, looking at a drug might tell you a couple of things about it.

We use visual analysis to check if a sample is uniform or made up of parts that are different enough to be seen with the naked eye. For example, if we see flecks of pepper in your salt we’re gonna be extra careful to check for mixtures and trace components.

We also know that some drugs are very uncommon in certain forms. So if, for example, someone brings us benzos on a blotter tab or stimulants in liquid, we’re going to know that it’s a bit suss.

So, yes, look at your drugs and you might learn something, but the spectrometer sees better than the eye-trometer.

Myth 2: I tested this at home and it’s fine

Ok, reagent testing is better than nothing at all if you can’t get to a drug checking clinic. Reagents can show you if your substance has been substituted completely for another substance, which is a good start for reducing harm.

It can’t show you if there’s something else in your substance in addition to your preferred ingredient. So if you reagent test your MDMA and it comes back with a result that’s consistent with the presence of MDMA, you’re not guaranteed that it’s just MDMA.

These are photos of the reagent tests we did during the eutylone flood of 2021. You can clearly see that the results for MDMA are identical to MDMA mixed with a cathinone.

Read the full post on how to use reagent tests at home

EZ Ketamine reagent test showing the yellow result signifying eutylone
EZ Ketamine Test (Cosmic) are similar to the Mandelin reagent from the Hemp Store kits and turn the same colour in the presence of eutylone.

Unless you run your sample through a spectrometer, you can’t know for sure there’s nothing else in your substance.

The Crumb of Truth in this myth?

Reagent tests are better than nothing but for most substances, they are far from certain. For some drugs like LSD and other indoles it’s the only way we can see if they are what they’re meant to be.

If you want to do reagent testing, we recommend getting a range of different reagents so you can get more precise results and test for a wider spectrum of drugs.

Myth 3: That means it’s pure, right?

If we were given a spectrometer every time someone said their gear was pure because we’d checked it, there’d be a global shortage of spectrometers because we’d have ALL of them.

We can’t test for purity of a substance. We can only test for whether a substance is present or not and we’re still unlikely to identify it if it is less than 10% of the total sample.

We can’t test for purity of a substance. We can only test for whether a substance is present or not.

We realise that we’ve said this twice, but it’s important enough to repeat. Pls stop trying to say your gear is pure after we’ve tested it, that’s not what we test for.

There are many substances that the spectrometer can’t see. We might test your gear and see nothing but MDMA but that doesn’t mean there is nothing else there. Some of the common fillers are like this.

There are some substances that the spec can see, if there’s enough of it but if there’s only a little then we won’t pick it up. Some of these substances are potent enough that even a little might be too much, like fentanyl. For those substances, we have other tests that we can use.

Myth 4: Rhino ket

We’ve been hearing of 2-fluoro deschloroketamine sold as ‘rhino ket’, we guess to give the impression that it is stronger than regular ketamine. It’s about the same but it does last longer in your body than normal ketamine.

So if you bump it as often as you would regular ketamine, you get a buildup in your system quicker than you usually would. This can lead to getting higher than you anticipated quicker than you anticipated, and runs the risk of accidental k-holing.

We recommend that you pace yourself with rhino ket and only bump every couple of hours.

Take note: 2-flouro deschloroketamine (2F-DCK) is different to Deschloroketamine (DCK). DCK is much more potent with 50mg has a heavy dose. DCK might hit more like a Rhino…

The Crumb of Truth in this myth?

2F-DCK taken in multiple doses will build up into a high-dose experience as it lasts longer, despite its lower potency.

*Massive shout out to the NZ Drug Foundation and ESR crew who took care of RnV as their first ever festival! Nice work!


First set: MDMA, n-ethylpentylone, eutylone
Second set: Ketamine, MSG
Third set: Cocaine, cornflour

Leave a Reply