Bath Salts Chemistry

Facts About Baths Salts

This is the chemical structure of the primary ingredient in the drug called bath salts.
This is the chemical structure of the primary ingredient in the drug called "bath salts", MDPV or methylenedioxypyrovalerone. Harbin, public domain

The designer drug called bath salts contains a synthetic cathinone. Usually, this drug is 3, 4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) although sometimes a related drug called mephedrone is used. Less commonly, bath salts contain a synthetic stimulant called methylone. Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is a psychoactive stimulant that acts as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI).

Properties and Appearance

The chemical formula of pure MDPV is C16H21NO3. The pure hydrochloride salt is a very fine, hydroscopic crystalline powder ranging in color from pure white to yellow-tan. The powder somewhat resembles powdered sugar. It has a tendency to stick to itself and form small clumps. There is a slight odor, which is stronger with colored varieties.

Bath Salts Marketing

Bath Salts have been marketed as bath salts and labeled "not for human consumption", although the packaging often indicates the product is not really intended for use in the bath. Plus, the products tend to be carried by head shops, gas stations, and convenience stores rather than bath and body shops. Increasing public awareness of the product has led to Bath Salts being sold under the guise of jewelry cleaner or iPod screen cleaner.

Bath Salts typically are sold as tablets or as a powder. The drug may be swallowed, snorted or injected.

Bath Salts Effects

MDPV is a stimulant that produces similar effects to those produced by amphetamines, cocaine, and methylphenidate. However, Bath Salts tend not to be a pharmaceutical-grade drug, so other effects and side effects may be observed.

Psychological Effects

Bath salts are popular because of their desired psychological effects, which are associated with related stimulants, too:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased mental alertness
  • Increased wakefulness
  • Increased energy and motivation
  • Mental stimulation
  • Increased concentration
  • Increased sociability
  • Sexual stimulation
  • Empathogenic effects
  • Diminished perception of the need for sleep and food

Acute Physiological Effects

Effects are dependent on the dose. Overdose may result in rhabdomyolysis, kidney failure, seizures, metabolic acidosis, respiratory failure, liver failure, and death. Typical dose effects may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Vasoconstriction (narrowing blood vessels)
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Grinding teeth
  • Elevated body temperature (up to 107°F - 108°F, which may be life-threatening)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Kidney pain
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Overstimulation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Psychotic delusions
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts/actions

Street Names and Brand Names for Bath Salts

  • Red Dove
  • Blue Silk
  • Zoom
  • Bloom
  • Cloud Nine
  • Ocean Snow
  • Lunar Wave
  • Vanilla Sky
  • Ivory Wave
  • White Lightning
  • Scarface
  • Purple Wave
  • Blizzard
  • Stardust
  • Lovey Dovey
  • Snow Leopard
  • Aura
  • Hurricane Charlie
  • MDPV
  • MDPK
  • MTV
  • Maddie
  • Black Rob
  • Super Coke
  • PV
  • Peeve
  • Meph
  • Drone
  • MCAT
  • Meow Meow
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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Bath Salts Chemistry." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 25). Bath Salts Chemistry. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Bath Salts Chemistry." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 28, 2021).