Full list of impurities found in cocaine

A list of the chemicals, known as adulterants or cutting agents, used to dilute cocaine powder in the UK. Laboratory analysis was made on cocaine seized by police and customs officials.

Adulterant Legitimate use Possible reason for use as adulterant Samples found by HMRC (Customs) out of total of 214* Samples found by UK police out of a total of 459*
* Figures relate to seizures made from October to December 2008
Source: Serious Organised Crime Agency
Benzocaine Local anaesthetic used in creams, ointments and suntan lotions. Also reportedly used as a fish anaesthetic. Similar anaesthetic properties to cocaine. 2 271
Boric acid Used as an insecticide and as an antiseptic in medicinal and cosmetic products. Also used for weatherproofing and fireproofing fabric and timber. May enhance anaesthetic effects of cocaine but believed to be added because it looks like cocaine crystals. 0 33
Caffeine Mild stimulant used extensively in medicines and the food and drink industry. Being a stimulant, it has some of the properties of amphetamine and cocaine. 53 48
Creatine (usually as monohydrate) Naturally occurring compound found in the body. Used as a supplement by bodybuilders and freely available in health shops and gyms. May simply be seen as easily accessible, with the right appearance. 0 46
Diltiazem (probably as hydrochloride salt) Used in treatment of various heart conditions, including angina and high blood pressure. Reason for addition not fully understood, but amounts generally believed to be small. 28 52
Dimethylterephthalate Chemical used to make plastic films and sheets. Present at low levels and previously thought by some to have 'leeched' out of packaging materials. Now thought to added deliberately but for what reason is not known. 11 2
Hydroxyzine (probably in dihydrochloride salt form) Antihistamine that has also been used as a tranquiliser in veterinary medicine. Reason for addition not fully understood. 42 9
Lignocaine, also known as lidocaine (probably as hydrochloride salt) Local anaesthetic used mostly for surgery. Also used under medical supervision for the treatment of some heart disorders. Looks like cocaine and has similar anaesthetic properties. Recently seen in some heroin samples, possibly because the same people are also supplying cocaine. 18 78
Mannitol (mannose) Naturally occurring compound. Used in medicine as a diuretic and aid for testing kidneys. Used in the food industry as a free-flow agent, flavour enhancer and sweetener. Originally associated with cocaine because its anti-caking properties helped to keep the drug as a powder. Now more likely to be seen in heroin, although the reason why is not clear. 3 13
Paracetamol Painkiller, widely used. Found occasionally in cocaine, but principally in heroin samples. 3 8
Phenacetin Painkiller chemically related to paracetamol. No longer used in the UK because of its suspected cancer-causing properties. Looks like cocaine. Recently seen in some heroin samples, possibly because the same people are also supplying cocaine. 58 105
Procaine (probably as hydrochloride salt) Local anesthetic used in creams, ointments and suntan lotions. Similar anaesthetic properties to cocaine. Less common now than it was a few years ago. 22 14
Sugars (lactose, glucose, dextrose) and related substances (sorbitol, inositol) Widely used in medicines and the food and drink industry. Lactose in particular is used as a filler for many tablets. Readily available. Lactose – 9
Glucose – 3
Lactose – 27
Glucose – 11
Inositol – 3
Sorbitol – 1
Tetramisole hydrochloride Used to treat worms and parasitic infestations in animals. Has had trials for the treatment of certain cancers. Reason for addition not fully understood. Seems to be present in relatively small quantities. 94 133
Other adulterants N/A N/A Sodium bicarbonate – 15
Sodium chloride – 10
Benzoic Acid – 1
Potassium hydrogen tartrate – 6
Sodium chloride – 5

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific