Volume 35, Issue 3 (May 1990)
Lithium-Ammonia Reduction of Ephedrine to Methamphetamine: An Unusual Clandestine Synthesis
A suspected clandestine methamphetamine laboratory was seized in Vacaville, California. Ephedrine, a precursor for the manufacture of methamphetamine, was discovered at the site. However, the chemicals normally expected to be found at an ephedrine conversion laboratory were not recovered. Other chemicals found at the scene included tetrahydrofuran, ammonium chloride, lithium metal, and ammonia gas. Examination of the suspect's notes showed several different common synthesis routes to methamphetamine and a novel route utilizing a lithium/ammonia/ammonium chloride reduction. The reduction of ephedrine to methamphetamine using this dissolving metal procedure has not been reported in the literature. The authors reproduced the suspect's reaction scheme and found the lithium/ammonia/ammonium chloride reduction of ephedrine to be a viable synthesis for methamphetamine.