Drug Test Reagents (Ultimate Guide)

Want to learn whether a family member has fallen into the trap of substance abuse? Want to pass a pre-employment examination with flying colors, or are you just curious about what sort of mundane chemicals you dump into your body? A home drug test kit is the best solution to all those needs and more. It enables you to both identify the substance that’s in front of you, as well as make sure (to a certain degree) it contains no impurities.

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Drug testing (and especially the conclusion derived from it) is a private issue. Thus, performing a test in the privacy of your home is the only sensible way to satisfy your chemically-tinged curiosity.

What can you use to this end though, and how do you actually perform a test with the home drug test kits that are commercially available?

Let us take it one step at a time, and navigate our way through the multitude of options in a methodical manner.

Which Reagent to Use by Tested Drug

Basic Tests

Advanced Tests

  • Distinguishing between MDMA, MDA, and MDE – Folin’s
  • Distinguishing between piperazines, such as TFMPP and BZP – Folin’s

Marquis reagent drug test

The Marquis reagent is your best bet to detect “ecstasy” (MDMA), “speed” (amphetamine/methamphetamine), and a number of other substances.

Marquis drug test kits come with a vial of testing fluid, a color chart to help with the interpretation of results, and a reusable vial for actual testing. You can also use a white ceramic plate instead of the provided testing vial. That way, you will find the results easier to interpret.

You have to bear in mind that drug testing is not an exact science. It can in fact be quite messy and the results can be influenced by sample impurities and a number of other factors.

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How do you use a home drug testing kit?

These instructions are valid for Marquis, but also for most of the other reagents listed below.

  1. Get a tiny amount of your sample (does not have to cover more surface than a tiny dot), into your testing vial, or a clean white ceramic plate.
  2. Get a couple of droplets of reagent on your sample. Make sure the nozzle of the reagent bottle does not touch your sample, lest the whole bottle should get contaminated.
  3. Keep the color chart provided in the test kit close by. In some cases, it only takes a few seconds for the reaction to occur and the relevant color to appear. You want to be able to identify it immediately.
  4. Make your comparison. Be aware that in some cases, you will need to do further testing with different types of reagents to be able to pinpoint the nature of the chemical in your sample.
  5. Make sure you do not switch bottle caps on your reagents. This will contaminate/render them useless.
  6. After the completion of your test, thoroughly clean your testing receptacle.

With methodology out of the way, let us see exactly how Marquis spits out its results.

The kit is designed primarily for the spotting of MDMA, MDE, and MDA, as well as speed (amphetamine). For the first three substances, the reagent turns deep purple and then black within 5 seconds.

For speed, it is light orange-brown to dark reddish-brown within 5 seconds.

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DXM reactions take longer and are more spectacular. It takes the reagent some 20 seconds to go from grey all the way to black while releasing some smoke.

While cocaine does not react with Marquis, bath salts do. If substances such as MDPV, butylone, and methylone are present, the reagent turns bright yellow within 5 seconds.

Aspirin and sugar take the longest time to produce proper results color-wise. Both reactions take longer than 5 minutes. With aspirin, Marquis goes pink very slowly. With sugar, it turns brown just as slowly.

Morphine and heroin go purplish relatively quickly, but the color they produce is quite similar, therefore further testing with other reagents is recommended in their case.

Bear in mind that if your tested sample contains more than one of the above-listed chemicals, Marquis will react with them all, and the test will yield a blended color, that you will most likely find impossible to interpret.

Mecke reagent drug test

For opiates, the Mecke test is the best possible choice. There may be drug test kits sold under different names for this class of chemicals, but most of them do indeed contain the Mecke reagent.

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With Mecke, you are primarily targeting codeine, heroin, and morphine. MDMA can also be detected with it, but for that, Marquis makes a better choice.

Like the Marquis test, Mecke comes with a vial of reagent, a color chart with instructions, and a reusable test vial. Please note that unless kept in the freezer, the Mecke reagent will turn darker over time. This does not affect its ability to detect chemicals, however.

The testing methodology is the same one described above.

If opiates (codeine, heroin, morphine) are present in your sample, Mecke will turn greenish and then dark bluish relatively quickly.

This reagent does not react with cocaine or amphetamines.

For ecstasy (MDMA/MDE/MDA) the reaction is very quick. The color of the reagent goes from greenish to bluish to dark blue and then black within a couple of seconds.

Oxycodone yields a yellowish-brownish color, quite similar to mescaline. In fact, the two cannot really be distinguished from one another.

DXM, on the other hand, goes from light yellow to darker yellow and then back to light yellow.

Sugar very slowly turns the test mixture from clear to light yellow.

DXM is often sold as fake ecstasy. Because it reacts so differently with real ecstasy and DXM, Mecke can be used to spot “fake” ecstasy. You need to remember however that no such test is 100% reliable. It can however give you a general idea regarding the chemical composition of your sample, which you can then further refine by using multiple reagents.

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Mandelin reagent drug test

The Mandelin reagent is primarily used for determining the presence of ketamine. It works well for PMA/PMMA, ecstasy, heroin, and methylone too.

While the Marquis and Mecke reagents do not react with ketamine at all, Mandelin produces a light orange to dark brown color with the substance.

Methoxetamine is used as a “substitute” for ketamine by sneaky dealers. With the Mandelin test, the two are easy to tell apart: MXE generates a greenish color.

The methodology of the Mandelin test is the same as detailed in the Marquis section. Care needs to be exercised to keep samples and regents as pure as possible through the process. Always keep the color chart provided in the test right next to your test receptacle, so you can compare colors immediately.

As mentioned, Mandelin yields an orange-brown color with ketamine.

Ecstasy (MDMA/MDA/MDE) creates a dark-purple color that turns into black quickly.

Mandelin does not react with DXM.

Heroin produces a rather uniform, brown color.

Aspirin simply turns grey while Ritalin takes the reagent from a spectacularly vivid light yellow to orange and then light brown.

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Folin’s reagent drug test

Folin’s reagent is a sort of higher-level testing solution. Unlike the other popular reagents, it can differentiate between MDMA, MDA, and MDE. It can also reliably spot piperazines, such as TFMPP and BZP.

Also unlike the solutions already presented, Folin contains two types of reagents Folin A and Folin B. Both reagents need to be added to all samples, first, the A version and then B. Folin A does not produce any color with any of the samples by itself.

How to test for MDMA, MDA, and MDE with Folin?

Before Folin, the presence of the substance needs to be proven through Marquis, Mecke, or Mandelin (or all three).

Once you know that you have either MDMA, MDA, or MDE in your sample, use Folin to find out exactly which one it is.

For MDMA, the test mixture turns salmon-pinkish.

For MDA, the sample turns light brown.

Folin does not react with MDE, so the sample yields no color at all.

For piperazines, multiple tests are also needed. First off, the sample needs to yield no color whatsoever with Marquis, Mecke, and Mandelin. Then, with Folin, it needs to turn pinkish-orange into red for BZP, and bright pink for TFMPP.

Folin can also be used for methamphetamines and amphetamines, as well as MPA and PMMA, but in all cases, the colors it produces are quite similar: pinkish-salmon and light brown.

With the above in mind, it is clear that the bare essential home drug test kit should include Marquis, Mecke, and Mandelin. Folin is a sort of add-on layer to the big three, one that is extremely useful for refining test results, however.

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Simon’s reagent drug test

Simon’s reagent is a lot like Folin, in the sense that it is also used for secondary tests in the wake of the “big three (Marquis, Mecke, and Mandelin)”. Like Folin, it also consists of two reagents, tagged “A” and “B”.

You should only look for a color change reaction after reagent B is added to the mix. Reagent A may bear a slight orange color, but this does not mean anything reaction-wise.

Simon’s reagent is also used to tell the difference between MDMA and MDA and between methamphetamine and amphetamine. It also identifies methylone and MDPV.

This is how it should work, assuming Marquis, Mecke, and Mandelin tests have been completed beforehand.

If the “big three” identify an ecstasy-like chemical, Simon’s reagent will produce a color reaction if the said substance is MDMA or MDE. If it is MDA, no color reaction will result.

If the Marquis reagent identifies a speed-like substance, which – after further testing with Simon’s – produces a color reaction, you are dealing with methamphetamine. If no color reaction results with Simon’s, you have amphetamine.

If Marquis and/or Mecke indicate a cathinone substance, a color reaction from a subsequent Simon’s test means that methylone or butylone is the name of said substance. The lack of a color reaction points to the presence of MDPV.

Please bear in mind that you should only use Simon’s reagent after testing with Marquis, Mecke, and/or Mandelin. It should never be used as the first testing step.

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Ehrlich’s reagent drug test

Ehrlich will further expand your home drug testing capabilities, in the direction of LSD and indoles in general.

Unlike Folin, this test is a fairly generic one. It contains a reagent, a test vial as well as a color chart. Ehrlich’s color chart is as simple as it could possibly get though: there’s a single entry on it.

Another peculiarity of the test is that it is not suited for the testing of large gelatin squares or cookies/sugar cubes laced with LSD. The amount of foreign material present in such “delivery vehicles” invalidates the test. Small gel tabs can be tested, however.

The testing methodology is similar to the Marquis test described above. The kit will detect indoles like LSD, DMT, AMT, and others. The reaction will however be a slow one: it takes 30 seconds to 3 minutes for the desired purple color to be achieved.

This is doubly true for 1P-LSD. This chemical may take as long as 3 hours to produce the desired reaction with the Ehrlich reagent.

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Why do you need to test for LSD? The chemicals required to synthesize this drug are not easy to come by, therefore dealers often cut costs by lacing their blotters with various psychedelic amphetamines instead. These chemicals tend to be much more dangerous than LSD though.

In addition to the above-detailed synthetic drugs, psilocybin mushrooms can also be tested with Ehrlich.

Testing both the cap and the stem is highly recommended, as psilocybin concentrations can vary widely in these constituents, from one species to another.

Reaction times with mushrooms are very long as well: it can take up to 30 minutes for the telltale pink-purplish color to appear.

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Froehde reagent drug test

Most of the home drug testing solutions presented are corrosive and dangerous on some level. With the Froehde reagent, however, we’re treading new ground in this regard.

Froehde is mostly sulfuric acid, with some sodium molybdate. It is well capable of burning through cloth and damaging skin.

Like Simon’s reagent and Folin, Froehde is a secondary test solution. It is capable of spotting 5-APB and 6-APB, which are often used in synthetic drugs, in MDMA’s stead. These compounds are extremely difficult to identify any other way.

Here is how Froehde works:

With MDMA (or any other MDs), it turns black.

The presence of 5-APB and 6-APB will trigger a purple color reaction.

Methylone creates a yellow reaction, while methamphetamine and amphetamine do not react with Froehde.

PMMA and PMA create a light green color.

If you need to get rid of this reagent for whatever reason, flush it down the sink with plenty of water, while adding baking soda to neutralize the acid.

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Robadope reagent drug test

Robadope reagent is another two-component testing system, which – much like Folin and Simon’s – is used for advanced compound identification.

The primary role of Robadope is to identify compounds such as MDA, PMA, amphetamine, and a number of other such chemicals. It is also useful in distinguishing between MDMA and MDA, PMMA and PMA as well as methamphetamine and amphetamine.

How does it work?

The testing methodology is the same as detailed in the Marquis section.

Robadope produces a faint brownish color with MDMA.

Amphetamine presence results in a distinct pink color. The mix of MDMA and amphetamine is – quite predictably – a mix of pink and grainy brown.

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EZ Test Scott White drug test

EZ Test produces a number of user-friendly home drug test kits, covering just about every one of the mentioned substances/compounds.

The EZ Test Scott White test is one of the simplest, quickest, and safest ways to test for the presence of cocaine, crack cocaine, and a number of other related substances, such as MDPV and 5-MeO-MiPT.

It is available in single-test or multi-test formats. The single-test one contains an ampoule with the reagent, and that’s about it. Since this is a single-use solution, the ampoule serves as the test vial, with the reagent already in it.

All the user needs to do is break open the ampoule, insert the sample and observe the resulting color reaction.

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For cocaine, crack cocaine, as well as for MDPV and 5-MeO-MiPT, the resulting color is light blue.

Cocaine dealers like to cut their merchandise to improve their profit margins. EZ Test sells a number of kits capable of spotting some of these cutting agents as well.

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Fentanyl test

Talking about cutting agents, we simply cannot look past fentanyl. One of the most dangerous substances in the world, this synthetic opioid trumps morphine 100x potency-wise.

What is creepier about it still is that it is indeed used as a cutting agent, in heroin or other drugs. If there is something worth testing for, fentanyl is certainly it.

The Fentanyl Test Kit is a handy solution in this regard. It contains 5 tests and it works with liquids, powders as well as surface residue.

It is a test-strip solution, which delivers its results in a pregnancy test-like manner.

The presence of a well-defined stripe on the right side of the test area indicates a positive result. The presence of two well-defined, or one faint and one better-defined stripe in the same area, is a negative result.

No stripes or the presence of one stripe on the left side of the test area point to an invalid test.

Besides actual fentanyl, the test also detects a number of analogs, such as acetylfentanyl, carfentanil, furanylfentanyl etc.

The test package contains 5 test stripes, 5 bottles of extraction fluid, 5 swabs, and 5 test tubes, as well as instructions.

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The legality of home drug test kits and reagents

Home drug tests may contain certain dangerous chemicals, but they are no more hazardous from a practical perspective than a simple chemistry set. Their sale/use seems to be safe the world over. The same obviously cannot be said about the substances that may be tested with these kits, but the kits themselves are not directly connected with these illegal substances in any shape or form.

Furthermore, many of the dangerous substances you can test for using a home drug test kit, are legally available in the form of various medications etc.

That said, under some jurisdictions, such testing kits qualify as “drug paraphernalia,” according to the Drug Paraphernalia Control Act.

According to, for example, the law in Illinois (720 ILCS 600/), “testing equipment intended to be used unlawfully in a private home for identifying or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness or purity of cannabis or controlled substances;” is drug paraphernalia, and therefore illegal, its possession a criminal offense.

One could argue that none of the above-described products are meant to assess effectiveness, purity, or strength, but that is a really thin ice to walk on. All tests can in fact be used to determine purity (to a certain degree), the presence of dangerous cutting agents, and therefore quality/effectiveness.

Run some research and make sure you fully understand the legal implications of possessing such equipment in the jurisdiction where you reside.

Whether or not you can use such tests to screen existing or future employees is again a different question.

The legal implications of the practice are complex and far-reaching. And this is not the place to delve into such issues.

What is certain is that obtaining a test sample from an employee without his/her consent is illegal.

Due to the inherently private nature of the issue, many sellers offer complete stealth and privacy in delivery.

Home Drug Test Kits

It is important to bear in mind that none of the above home drug testing solutions are 100% reliable. Furthermore, they only indicate the presence of a certain substance, not its purity/quality.

For these reasons, sellers only recommend them for forensic use. If you happen to use them for other purposes, only take their results as an indication of a possible fact. Follow them up with proper tests in proper laboratories, and wait patiently for the results.

Regardless of what you find through the use of these drug testing kits, know that no drug consumption is safe, in any quantity and under any circumstances.

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  1. Guy

    Thank you for the correction.

  2. C Dreue

    This law:
    “According to the said law (720 ILCS 600/), “testing equipment intended to be used unlawfully in a private home for identifying or in analyzing the strength, effectiveness or purity of cannabis or controlled substances;” is drug paraphernalia, and therefore illegal, its possession a criminal offense.”

    is only relevant in Illinois.

    This is the law in Colorado for example:
    “In addition, prosecutors can no longer charge people with drug possession for having a piece of drug paraphernalia — a syringe or pipe, for example — that contains drug residue. The law also eliminates felony possession of marijuana entirely from Colorado statutes, with possession of more than 6 ounces to be considered a “level one drug misdemeanor.”

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