Volume 49, Issue 1 (January 2004)
The Extraction and Infrared Identification of Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB) from Aqueous Solutions
The chemical analysis of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) in most forensic laboratories is complicated by the highly polar nature of the GHB molecule, which makes it unsuitable for direct analysis by gas chromatography (GC). Consequently, a popular analytical approach is to convert GHB into the corresponding lactone or a derivative compound that is then identified by mass spectrometry employed in conjunction with GC (GC/MS). An alternative approach is presented here where GHB may be isolated as a free acid specie from complex aqueous solutions employing a liquid-liquid extraction technique. This approach can yield a relatively pure residue of GHB that presents an infrared transmission spectrum that is sufficiently distinct for identification purposes. Infrared spectroscopy (IR) is a very popular technique that is available to most crime laboratories. The liquid-liquid extraction behavior of GHB is examined in detail and the uniqueness of the infrared spectrum is discussed.