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Relax – Here’s an LC-MS Analysis for Bath Salts!

21 Jun 2011

graphical user interface, timeline
Jack posted a blog on June 16th that mentions a Pennsylvania ban on both ‘bath salts’ and ‘spice’. Since I already have a couple of blogs on spice, I figured this time I’d blog a little bit about the work we’ve been doing on bath salts here in the Innovations Lab. The work is still in progress, but so far we’ve developed both a GC-MS and an LC-MS method for a few of the most common bath salt compounds. I’ll talk about the LC method in this post and the GC method in a future post. When we developed our method, for the bath salts, we thought it would be useful to be able to screen for the bath salt compounds (a.k.a. cathinones) at the same time as amphetamines, since structurally the two compound classes are so similar.

With our analysis well in-hand, we paid a visit to our local headshop and picked up a few bath salt products to try with our new method. We only bought three samples to begin with, but we found that two out of the three samples contained methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), while the third sample contained mephedrone. We also did a quick one-point quantitation on the samples to determine a ballpark purity, and based on the results we got, the purity for these products can vary greatly.

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Based on news reports from the states banning bath salts, it looks like MDPV is under the largest amount of scrutiny from lawmakers, and based on the small set of results we got here in our lab, as well as some word-of-mouth from customers, it seems like MDPV is currently the additive of choice for bath salts.

As always, I’d love to hear from readers who have any questions or comments on this or any other post, but this time I have a question for my readers: What components are added as cutting agents for the bath salts? When we were preparing the salts for analysis, we observed that the sample would not completely dissolve in a 60:40 MeOH:H2O solution. We ended up dissolving the samples in pure water instead.