Pharmaceutisch Weekblad

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 203–211 | Cite as

Analytical studies on illicit heroin

V. Efficacy of volatilization during heroin smoking
  • Henk Huizer
Original Articles


The recovery of heroin in fumes was investigated. In the Netherlands the common mode of heroin smoking is the ‘chasing the dragon’ procedure: heroin is heated on an aluminium foil by a lighter and the fumes are inhaled. The efficiency of the volatilization of heroin using this procedure was studied under laboratory conditions using thin layer chromatography, gas chromatography and high pressure liquid chromatography. A considerable influence of the form (salt or base) of the heroin was found as well as strong influences of other substances that may be present in illicit heroin samples as diluents. The danger of the inhalation of fumes containing unknown pyrolysis products is mentioned and a hypothesis is given for the phenomenon of ‘heroin’-leucoencephalopathy that was observed in heroin smokers in Amsterdam in 1981. The types of heroin encountered in the Netherlands are discussed with regard to their suitability for smoking.

Key words

Barbital Caffeine Chromatography Diacetylmorphine Narcotics Procaine Pyrolysis Strychnine Toxicology Volatilization 


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Previous papers in these series are:

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Copyright information

© Royal Dutch Association for Advancement of Pharmacy 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henk Huizer
    • 1
  1. 1.Forensic Science LaboratoryMinistry of JusticeGD RijswijkThe Netherlands

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