Appearance of Heroin and Associated Paraphernalia

Heroin powder can exist in many different forms, from fine white powder, through to dark brown, granular lumps. The material may contain solvent from the manufacturing processes and larger samples typically smell of a mixture of acetic anhydride and acetic acid (like vinegar) due to the occluded solvent. The presence of the solvent may make the powder appear darker than its true colour, and this effect can be used as a 'tell-tale' sign that the sample might be heroin. In addition, the occluded solvents can be used to determine relationships between samples (summarized in Cole [3]).

Paraphernalia associated with the use of heroin may also be encountered. These items include metal spoons, materials used in the process of dissolution and heating heroin (candles, foil, etc.), materials used to filter the dissolved samples, such as cotton wool, and items used for the injection of the solubilized product. All such materials should be treated with care due to the problems associated with needle-borne diseases.

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