A friend of a friend told me the best/most efficient way of harvesting poppies for opium without makin the whole process look suss is to wait till the poppies are fully matured, followed by choppin them at the base of the stalk, drying them out and extracting the gooey goodness out of them via a pot of boiling (simmering?) water and some filters...
Now I would like to hear from some AusDD BLers that have any knowledge on how the actual process works or and some first hand experiences. Im gettin mixed reports from the interwebz...
Would appreciate it if some wonderful person would post a step by step guide (or provide a link to one) on a method that works... Either way, I got a few questions:
At what stage of maturity should I chop the poppy at the base?
I use all of the 'poppy straw' (stalk, leaves and seed pod) in the process, yes?
I'm supposed to 'de-seed' the pods before I do the extraction aren't I? I want to keep all the seeds from my mammoth poppy for next season
Should I start the whole process with 'cold water' (about the temperature you would use for a CWE) before boiling/simmering/filtering on the stove?
Any tips on refining the finial product? Should I use the same method as one would with 'raw opium'? (derived from the latex)
That's all I can think of for now. Thanks in advance
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ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE OPIUM POPPY
The source of opium is the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, one of the few species of Papaver that produces opium. Through centuries of cultivation and breeding the poppy for its opium, a species of the plant evolved that is now known as somniferum. The genus, Papaver, is the Greek word for ?poppy.? The species, somniferum, is Latin for ?sleep-inducing.?
The psychological effects of opium may have been known to the ancient Sumerians (circa 4000 B.C.) whose symbol for the poppy was hul (joy) and gil (plant). The plant was known in Europe at least 4,000 years ago, as evidenced by fossil remains of poppy seed cake and poppy pods found in the Swiss lake dwellings of the Neolithic Age. Opium was probably consumed by the ancient Egyptians and was known to the Greeks as well. References to the poppy are found in Homer?s works The Iliad and The Odyssey. Hippocrates (460-357 B.C.), the Father of Medicine, recommended drinking the juice of the white poppy mixed with the seed of nettle.
The opium poppy probably reached China about the 7th century A.D. through the efforts of Arab traders who advocated its use for medicinal purposes. In Chinese literature, however, there are earlier references to its use. The noted Chinese surgeon Hua To of the Three Kingdoms (220-264 A.D.) used opium preparations and Cannabis indica for his patients to swallow before undergoing major surgery.
The beginning of widespread opium use in China has been associated by some historians with the introduction of tobacco into that country by the Dutch from Java in the 17th century. The Chinese were reported to mix opium with tobacco. The practice was adopted throughout the area and eventually resulted in increased opium smoking, both with and without tobacco.
In 1803, the German pharmacist F. W. Serturner isolated and described the principal alkaloid in opium, which he named morphium after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. The invention of the syringe and the discovery of other alkaloids of opium soon followed: codeine in 1832 and papaverine in 1848. By the 1850s, the medicinal use of pure alkaloids, rather than crude opium preparations, was common in Europe.
In the United States, opium preparations became widely available in the 19th century and morphine was used extensively as a painkiller for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. The inevitable result was opium addiction, contemporarily called ?the army disease? or ?soldier?s disease.? These opium and morphine abuse problems prompted a scientific search for potent, but nonaddictive, painkillers. In the 1870s, chemists developed an opium-based and supposedly nonaddictive substitute for morphine. The Bayer Pharmaceutical Company of Germany was the first to produce the new drug in large quantities under the brand name Heroin. This product was obtained by the acetylation of morphine. Soon thereafter studies showed heroin to have narcotic and addictive properties far exceeding those of morphine. Although heroin has been used in the United Kingdom in the treatment of the terminally ill, its ?medical value? is a subject of intense controversy.
THE OPIUM POPPY PLANT
The opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, is an annual plant, i.e., the plant matures one time, and does not regenerate itself. New seed must be planted each season. From a small seed, it grows, flowers, and bears fruit (a pod) only once. The entire growth cycle for most varieties of this plant takes about 120 days. The tiny seeds (like the seeds on a poppy seed roll) germinate quickly in warm air and sufficient soil moisture. In less than 6 weeks, the young plant emerges from the soil, grows a set of four leaves, and resembles a small cabbage in appearance. The lobed, dentate (jagged-edged) leaves are glaucous green with a dull gray or blue tint.
Within 2 months, the plant will grow from 1 to 2 feet in height, with one primary, long, smooth stem. The upper portion of this stem is without leaves and is called the ?peduncle.? One or more secondary stems, called ?tillers,? may grow from the main stem of the plant. Single poppy plants in Southeast Asia often have more than one tiller.
The main stem of a fully matured Papaver somniferum ranges between 2 and 5 feet in height. The green leaves are oblong, toothed and lobed and vary between 4 to 15 inches in length at maturity. The matured leaves have no commercial value except for use as animal fodder.
As the plant grows tall, the main stem and each tiller terminate in a flower bud. During the development of the bud, the peduncle portion of the stem elongates and forms a distinctive ?hook? that causes the bud to be turned upside down. As the flower develops, the peduncle straightens and the buds point upward. A day or two after the buds first point upward, the two outer segments of the bud, called ?sepals,? fall away, exposing the flower petals. At first, the exposed flower blossom is crushed and crinkled, but the petals soon expand and become smooth in the sun. Poppy flowers have four petals. The petals may be single or double and are either white, pink, reddish purple, crimson red, or variegated.
Opium poppies generally flower after about 90 days of growth and continue to flower for 2 to 3 weeks. The petals eventually drop to reveal a small, round, green pod which continues to develop. These pods (also called seed pods, capsules, bulbs, or poppy heads) are either oblate, elongated, or globular and mature to about the size of a chicken egg. The oblate-shaped pods are more common in Southeast Asia.
Only the pod portion of the plant can produce opium alkaloids. The skin of the poppy pod encloses the wall of the pod ovary. The ovary wall consists of three layers: the outer, middle and inner layers. The plant?s latex (raw opium gum) is produced within the ovary wall and drains into the middle layer through a system of vessels and tubes within the pod. The cells of the middle layer secrete more than 95 percent of the plant?s opium when the pod is scored and harvested.
Farmers harvest the opium from each pod while it remains on the plant by making vertical incisions with a specially designed homemade knife. After the opium is collected, the pods are allowed to dry on the stem. Once dry, the largest and most productive pods are cut from the stem, and the seeds are removed and dried in the sun before storing for the following year?s planting. An alternative method of collecting planting seeds is to collect them from intentionally unscored pods, because scoring may diminish the quality of the seeds. Aside from being used as planting seed, poppy seed may also be pressed to produce cooking oil. Poppy seed oil may also be used in the manufacture of paints and perfumes. Poppy seed oil is straw yellow in color, odorless, and has a pleasant, almond-like taste.
OPIUM POPPY GROWING AREAS
The opium poppy thrives in temperate, warm climates with low humidity, and requires only a moderate amount of water before and during the early stages of growth.
The opium poppy plant can be grown in a variety of soils?clay, sandy loam, sandy, and sandy clay?but it grows best in a sandy loam soil. This type of soil has good moisture-retentive and nutrient-retentive properties, is easily cultivated, and has a favorable structure for root development. Clay soil types are hard and difficult to pulverize into a good soil texture. The roots of a young poppy plant cannot readily penetrate clay soils, and growth is inhibited. Sand soil, by contrast, does not retain sufficient water or nutrients for proper growth of the plant.
Excessive moisture or extremely arid conditions will affect the poppy plant?s growth adversely thus reducing the alkaloid content. Poppy plants can become waterlogged and die after a heavy rainfall in poorly drained soil. Heavy rainfall in the second and third months of growth can leach alkaloids from the plant and spoil the harvest. Dull, rainy, or cloudy weather during this growth stage may reduce both the quantity and the quality of the alkaloid content.
The major legal opium production areas in the world today are in government-regulated opium farms in India, Turkey, and Tasmania (Australia). The major illegal growing areas are in Southwest Asia (Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran) and in the highlands of Mainland Southeast Asia (Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand) ?popularly known as the ?Golden Triangle.? Opium poppy is also grown in Colombia, Mexico, and Lebanon.
Opium poppies containing small amounts of opium alkaloids were, at one time, widely grown as an ornamental plant and for seeds in the United States. The possession of this plant was declared illegal by the Opium Poppy Control Act of 1942.
The highlands of Mainland Southeast Asia, at elevations of 800 meters or more above sea level, are prime poppy-growing areas. Generally speaking, these poppy-farming areas do not require irrigation, fertilizer, or insecticides for successful opium yields. Most of the opium poppies of Southeast Asia are found in Burma, specifically in the Wa and Kokang areas which are in the northeastern quadrant of the Shan State of Burma. Laos is the second-largest illicit opium producing country in Southeast Asia and third-largest in the world behind Afghanistan and Burma. In Laos poppy is cultivated extensively in Houaphan and Xiangkhoang Provinces, in addition to the six northern provinces of Bokeo, Louangnamtha, Louangphabang, Oudomxai, Phongsali, and Xaignabouli. Poppy is also grown in many of the remote, mountainous areas of northern Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Nan, and Tak Provinces. Successful eradication programs together with highland programs of agricultural development and crop substitution in Northern Thailand have reduced poppy cultivation to minimal levels.
Lai Chau Province, situated between China and Laos, is a major opium poppy cultivation area in Vietnam, as is Nghe An Province, in the areas bordering Laos. In China, small crops of opium poppies are cultivated by ethnic minority groups in the mountainous frontier regions of Yunnan Province, particularly along the border area with Burma?s Kokang area in the Shan State.
It is noteworthy that the dominant ethnic groups of Mainland Southeast Asia are not poppy cultivators. The Burmans and Shan of Burma, the Lao of Laos, the Thai of Thailand, the Han Chinese of Yunnan, China, and the Vietnamese of Vietnam are lowlanders and do not traditionally cultivate opium poppies. Rather, it is the ethnic minority highlander groups, such as the Wa, Pa-O, Palaung, Lahu, Lisu, Hmong, and Akha who grow poppies in the highlands of Mainland Southeast Asia.
A typical household of Mainland Southeast Asian highlanders averages between five and 10 persons, including two to five adults. Such a household of poppy farmers can cultivate and harvest about 1 acre of opium poppy per year. Most of the more fertile fields can support opium poppy cultivation for 10 years or more without fertilization or insecticides before the soil is depleted and new fields must be cleared.
FIELD SELECTION AND LAND CLEARING
Land Areas Standard Units of Measurement
U.S. football field
4,459 sq. meters
In choosing a field to grow opium poppies, soil quality, access to sunlight, and acidity are critical factors, so experienced poppy farmers choose their fields carefully. In Mainland Southeast Asia, westerly orientations are typically preferred to optimize sun exposure. Most fields are on mountain slopes at elevations of 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) or more above sea level. Slope gradients of between 20 to 40 degrees are considered best for drainage of rainwater.
In Mainland Southeast Asia, virgin land is prepared by cutting and piling all brush, vines, and small trees in the field during March, at the end of the dry season. After allowing the brush to dry in the hot sun for several days, the field is set afire. This method, called ?slash-and-burn? or ?swidden? agriculture, is commonly practiced by dry field farmers?both highland and lowland?throughout Mainland Southeast Asia in order to ready the land for a variety of field crops, including opium poppy. The ash in the burnt fields is a natural source of nutrients for the soil.
Before the rainy season in April, thousands of highland poppy fields all over the region are set ablaze. A fog-like yellow haze hangs over the area for weeks, reducing visibility for hundreds of miles. In the mountains, the density of haze can block out the sun and sting the eyes. Nearby provincial airports are occasionally closed due to poor visibility caused by burning fields.
Dry season in Mainland Southeast Asia
A typical highlander family will plant an area of 2 or 3 rai in opium poppy (2.53 rai is equivalent to 1 acre compared to the smaller size mu which is the standard land measurement used in China). In areas where drug financiers are active, larger plots are cultivated.
sq. meters hectare acres rai mu
hectare 10,000 1.00 2.46 6.23 15.0
acre 4,033 0.403 1.00 2.53 6.05
rai (lai) 1,600 0.160 0.397 1.00 2.40
mu 667 0.0667 0.165 0.417 1.0
LAND PREPARATION AND CULTIVATION METHODS
Toward the end of the rainy season in August or September, highland farmers in Mainland Southeast Asia prepare fields selected for opium poppy planting. By this time, the ash resulting from the burn-off of the previous dry season has settled into the soil, providing additional nutrients, especially potash. The soil is turned with long-handled hoes after it is softened by the rains. The farmers then break up the large clumps of soil. Weeds and stones are tossed aside and the ground is leveled off.
Traditionally, most highland and upland farmers in Mainland Southeast Asia do not use fertilizer, but in recent years poppy farmers have started using both natural and chemical fertilizers to increase yields. Chicken manure, human feces, or the region?s abundant natural supply of bat droppings are often mixed into the planting soil before the poppy seed is planted. The planting is usually completed by the end of October.
The opium poppy seed can be sown several ways: broadcast or tossed by hand; or fix-dropped by hand into shallow holes dug with a dibble stick, which is used to poke holes in the soil. About 1 kilogram of opium poppy seed is needed to sow 1 acre of land. Approximately 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of seed are used for each hectare (equivalant to 2.46 acres). The seeds may be white, yellow, coffee-colored, gray, black, or blue. Seed color is not related to the color of the flower petals. Beans, cabbages, cotton, parsley, spinach, squash, or tobacco are usually planted with opium poppy. These crops neither help nor hinder the cultivation of the opium poppy, but are planted solely for personal consumption or as a cash crop.
In the highlands of Mainland Southeast Asia, it is also common practice to plant maize and opium poppies in the same fields each year. The maize keeps down excessive weeds and provides feed for the farmer?s pigs and ponies. It is grown from April to August. After harvesting the maize, with the stalks still standing in the fields, the ground is weeded and pulverized. Just before the end of the rainy season, in successive sowings throughout September and October, the poppy seed is broadcast among the maize stalks. These stalks protect young opium poppy plants from heavy rains.
The opium poppy plants form leaves in the first growth stage, called the ?cabbage? or ?lettuce? stage. After a month of growth, when the opium poppy is about a foot high, some of the weaker plants are removed (called ?thinning?) to allow the other plants more room to grow. The optimum spacing between plants is between 20 and 40 centimeters, or about 8 to 12 plants per square meter. Some researchers in Northern Thailand have reported as many as 18 plants per square meter, but such crowding is believed to hinder plant growth.
During the first 2 months, the opium poppies may be damaged or stunted by nature because of the lack of adequate sunshine, excessive rainfall, insects, worms, hailstones, early frost, or trampling by animals. The third month of growth does not require as much care as the first 2 months. Between 3 and 4 months after planting?from late December to early February, the opium poppies are in full bloom. Mature plants range between 3 and 5 feet in height. Most opium poppy varieties in Southeast Asia produce three to five mature pods per plant.
A typical opium poppy field has 250,000 poppy plants per hectare, with a range of 300,000 to 500,000 opium-producing pods. The actual opium yield will depend largely on weather conditions and the precautions taken by individual farmers to safeguard the crop. The farmer and his family generally move into the field for the final 2 weeks, setting up a small field hut on the edge of the opium poppy field.
OPIUM HARVESTING METHODS
The scoring of the pods (also called lancing, incising, or tapping) begins about 2 weeks after the flower petals fall from the pods. The farmer may examine the pod and the tiny crown portion on the top of the pod very carefully before scoring. The grayish-green pod will become a dark green color as it matures and it will swell in size. Another indication of the pod?s readiness for tapping is if the points of the pod?s crown are standing straight out or are curved upward. If the crown?s points turn downward, the pod may not yet be fully matured. Not all the plants in a field will be ready for scoring at the same time. Each pod can be tapped from two to four times.
A set of three or four small blades of iron, glass, or glass splinters bound tightly together on a wooden handle is used to score two or three sides of the pod in a vertical direction. If the blades cut too deep into the wall of the pod, the opium (latex) will drain into the interior of the pod, rather than to the surface, where it can be collected. If the incisions are too shallow, the flow will be too slow and the opium will coagulate over the incisions and block the flow. A depth of about 1 millimeter is desired for the incision. Using a blade-tool designed to cut to that depth, scoring ideally starts in late afternoon so the white latex-like raw opium, which has a 60 percent water content, can ooze out and slowly dry on the surface of the pod overnight. If the scoring begins too early in the afternoon, the sun will cause the opium to dry and block the flow. The opium oxidizes, darkens, and thickens in the cool night air. Early the next morning, the sticky opium gum is scraped from the surface of the pods with a short-handled, crescent-shaped, flat, iron blade 3 to 4 inches wide. The opium gum is collected in a container which hangs from the farmer?s neck or waist.
Opium harvesters work their way backwards across the field to minimize brushing up against scored (wet) pods, so as not to spill the sticky ooze inadvertently. The lower, mature pods are usually scored before the taller pods. The pods will continue to secrete opium for several days. Farmers will return to these plants?sometimes up to three or four times?to gather additional opium until the gum content is depleted totally.
In Mainland Southeast Asia, the opium yield from a single pod varies greatly, ranging from 10 to 100 milligrams of opium gum per pod. (Opium gum yield per capsule correlates very closely with capsule volume.) The average yield of raw opium gum per pod is about 80 milligrams. The dried opium yield ranges between 8 and 20 kilograms per hectare in this region.
As the farmers gather the opium, the larger or more productive pods are sometimes tagged with colored string or yarn. These pods will later be cut from their stems, cut open, dried in the sun and their seeds will be used for the following year?s planting. An acre of poppy will produce at least 20 kilograms of seed, but only a portion is collected for future planting.
The wet opium gum collected from the pods contains a relatively high amount of water and needs to be dried for several days. High-quality raw opium will be brown (rather than black) in color and will retain its sticky texture. It will contain no more than 15 percent water. Experienced opium traders can determine quickly if the opium has been mixed with tree sap, sand, or other such materials.
Raw opium in Burma, Laos, and Thailand is usually sun-dried, weighed in a standard 1.6-kilogram quantity (called a viss in Burma; a choi in Laos and Thailand), wrapped in a banana leaf or plastic, and then stored until ready to sell, trade, or smoke. Some opium smoking is common among many adult opium poppy farmers to ward off hunger and cold. Heavy addiction generally is limited to older, male farmers and is used as an analgesic for chronic pain. Based on studies in Thailand, the average yearly consumption of cooked opium per smoker is estimated to be 1.6 kilograms.
A typical opium poppy farmer household in Southeast Asia will collect 2 to 5 choi or viss (3 to 9 kilograms) of opium from a year?s harvest of a one-acre field, although yields can vary widely due to a number of variables, such as weather and less than ideal field selection. That opium will be dried, wrapped, and placed on a shelf by February or March. If the opium has been properly dried, it can be stored indefinitely. Excessive moisture and heat can cause the opium to deteriorate slightly but, once dried, opium is relatively stable. In fact, as opium dries and becomes less pliable, its value increases, due to the decrease in water weight per kilogram.
Raw opium is placed in boiling water and cooked in large cooking vats or 55-gallon drums. After a short time, the opium alkaloids dissolve. The solution is then strained through cheesecloth to remove impurities such as twigs and plant scrapings. Then the liquid is reheated until the water has evaporated and a thick paste remains.
Before opium is smoked, it is usually cooked. Uncooked opium contains moisture, vegetable matter, and other impurities which detract from a smooth-smoking product. The raw opium which is collected from the pod is placed in an open pot of boiling water where the sticky glob of opium alkaloids quickly dissolves. The soil, twigs, and plant scrapings remain undissolved. The solution is strained through cheesecloth to remove these impurities. The clear brown liquid, sometimes called ?liquid opium,? is actually opium in solution. This liquid then is reheated over a low flame until the water turns to steam. When the water has evaporated, a thick paste remains. This paste is called ?prepared opium,? ?cooked opium,? or ?smoking opium? and it is dried in the sun until it has a putty-like consistency. The net weight of the cooked opium is generally about 20 percent less than than the original raw opium.
Cooked opium is suitable for smoking or eating by opium users. Traditionally, there is only one group of opium poppy farmers, the Hmong, who often do not cook their opium before smoking. Most other ethnic groups, including Chinese opium addicts, prefer smoking cooked opium.
Opium, either raw or cooked, will not degrade, or otherwise spoil, for an indefinite period of time, as long as it remains relatively dry and cool. These are the normal conditions in the highlands of Mainland Southeast Asia. There are cases of opium being stored on a shelf for 10 years without deterioration.
If the opium is to be sold to traders for use in morphine or heroin laboratories, it is not necessary to cook it first. The laboratory operators generally use 55-gallon oil drums or huge cooking vats to cook the raw opium in water before beginning the morphine extraction process.
EXTRACTION OF MORPHINE FROM OPIUM
Raw or cooked opium contains more than 35 different alkaloids, including morphine, codeine, and thebaine. In Mainland Southeast Asia, the morphine alkaloid alone accounts for approximately 10 percent of the total weight of opium. Heroin manufacturers must first extract the morphine from the opium, before converting the morphine to heroin. The extraction is a simple process, requiring only a few chemicals and a supply of water. Morphine sometimes is extracted from opium in small clandestine laboratories, which are typically set up near the opium poppy fields. Since the morphine base is about one-tenth the weight and volume of raw opium, it is desirable to reduce the opium to morphine before transporting the product from the field to a heroin laboratory.
The process of extracting morphine from opium involves dissolving opium in boiling water, adding lime (calcium oxide), or slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), or limestone (calcium carbonate) to precipitate non-morphine alkaloids, and then pouring off the morphine in solution. Ammonium chloride is then added to the solution to precipitate morphine from the solution. The chemicals used to process opium to morphine have a number of legitimate purposes and are widely available on the open market. An empty oil drum, some cooking pots, and filter cloths or filter paper are needed.
The following is a step-by-step description of morphine extraction in a typical Mainland Southeast Asian laboratory
An empty 55-gallon oil drum is placed on bricks about a foot above the ground and a fire is built under the drum. Thirty gallons of water are added to the drum and brought to a boil. Ten to 15 kilograms of raw opium are added to the boiling water.
With stirring, the raw opium eventually dissolves in the boiling water, while soil, leaves, twigs, and other non-soluble materials float in the solution. Most of these materials are scooped out of the clear, dark brown ?liquid opium? solution.
Slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) or, more often, a readily available chemical fertilizer with a high content of lime, is added to the solution. Lime will convert water- insoluble morphine alkaloid into water-soluble calcium morphenate. (Other opium alkaloids do not react with lime to form water-soluble calcium salts, as does morphine.) Codeine is an opium alkaloid that is slightly water-soluble and some codeine will be carried over with the calcium morphenate in the liquid. Otherwise, for the most part, the other alkaloids will become a part of the ?sludge.?
As the solution cools, the morphine solution is scooped from the drum and poured through a filter. Cloth rice sacks are often used as filters and can then be squeezed in a press to remove most of the solution from the wet sacks. Liquid saponated cresol (?lysol?) is commonly added to the solution to facilitate filtering. The morphine-rich solution is then poured into large cooking pots and reheated but, this time, not boiled.
Ammonium chloride (a powder) is added to the heated calcium morphenate solution to adjust the alkalinity to a pH of 8 to 9, and the solution is then allowed to cool. Within 1 or 2 hours, morphine base precipitates (?crashes?) out of the solution and settles to the bottom of the cooking pot.
The solution is then poured off through cloth filters. Any solid morphine base chunks in the solution will remain on the cloth. The morphine base is removed from both the cooking pot and from the filter cloths, wrapped and squeezed in cloth, and then dried in the sun. When dry, the crude morphine base is a coffee-colored coarse powder. This form of morphine is commonly known by the Chinese term pi-tzu in Mainland Southeast Asia.
If morphine base is to be stored or transported to another location, it may be pressed into blocks. Crude morphine base is generally 50 percent to 70 percent morphine, and is an intermediate product in the heroin process. (This morphine base is generally not used by addicts.)
This crude morphine base may be further purified (and changed to morphine hydrochloride) by dissolution in hot water and hydrochloric acid, then adding activated charcoal, reheating, and filtering. The solution is filtered several times before being allowed to cool. As the solution cools, morphine hydrochloride precipitates out of the solution and settles to the bottom. The precipitate is trapped (or ?captured?) by filtration.
If the morphine hydrochloride is to be stored or transported to another location, it may be pressed into bricks. Morphine hydrochloride (often tainted with codeine hydrochloride) is usually pressed into brick-sized blocks in a press and wrapped in paper or cloth. The most common block size is 2 inches by 4 inches by 5 inches, and weighs about 3 pounds (1.3 kilograms). It takes a full day to extract morphine from opium.
MORPHINE EXTRACTION PROCESS
Ten kilograms of opium are added to 30 gallons of hot water and dissolved.
Solid impurities are scooped off.
Non-morphine alkaloids of opium precipitate to the bottom of the barrel.
Morphine solution is scooped into other containers.
Approximately 13 kilograms of opium (from approximately one hectare of opium poppies) are needed to produce each morphine block of this size. The morphine blocks are then bundled and packed for transport to heroin laboratories by human couriers or by pack animals. Pack mules are able to carry 100-kilogram payloads over 200 miles of rugged mountain trails in less than three weeks.
(I would like to thank the anonymous author for this great write up)
Last edited by PsiloSubNaut; 13-10-2011 at 09:01.
That should entail everything that you need to know mate. You are best off using raw opium from scoring the seed pods but you can use the entire plant and extract the opium. Just make sure you have a decent strain if you are only going to use the raw opium. If it's high in thebaine alkaloids, you will be sick as all fuck...
I have edited out the conversion of morphine to diamorphine (heroin) because it is against the guidelines to post synthesis and the morphine extraction process listed above is already sitting on the fence of being disallowed on this forum.
All the best
- Join Date
- Jul 2005
That post must break a BL record Psilo
I definitely don't know everything about the opium poppy, I'll try help though. I've had personal experience with the poppy plant and opium/extracting/tea etc
I believe you're looking at making some 'cooked flake opium'...I've heard it go by different names. Basically a water based extraction of plant material, where you end up with the 'goodies' in a solution, right?
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to link to other forums? If not please delete this link, and I'll PM it to the OP - http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38937
That's the method I used. It turned out ok I guess, just left a very sticky and hard to remove film when I evaporated the water. You definitely lose some goodies in the process, but if you don't mind NOT getting the best bang for your buck, I'd say go for it.
If you mean a more complex extraction I can't really give you much advice. I've researched it, and might do it some day. Do you feel comfortable with making chloroform yourself?
Awesome post psilo, just sent it to my ipad for some bedtime reading.
For purification, look into chloroform. Most, if not all, opium alkaloids are soluble in it in their base form.
Keep in mind - if you're after morphine and don't have much starting material to work with, the end product is going to be very tiny. You'd want some good equipment and basic but solid skills.
You'll find a lot of varied advice on this subject. I've read up a fair bit and generally I've noticed a trend - Cooked flake opium tends to disappoint, unrefined opium tends to disappoint...depends what your expectations are, if you're not real experienced with opiates and feeling adventurous it'd definitely be worth it - as I said though be prepared to not get the most 'bang for your buck'
Poppy Pod Tea seems to satisfy most, it's what people will keep going back to after trying extractions/raw opium/etc. It's easy and effective - but maybe not as exciting as the other preparations? It's essentially just a simple water extraction, some people like to grind the pods into dust and ingest this material with the tea.
Smoking the raw opium latex was underwhelming for me...some of my friends enjoyed it though. Will try refining the opium one day but ATM it's too risky to have scored pods around.
I've found my favourite method to be eatting the raw pods I just bite into them, chew them up as best I can without gagging and swallow it down with some grapefruit juice. 2 pods is a good place to start if you're doing it this way. The best experience I had was with eating a decent sized ball of raw opium, the effects were noticeably different and more enjoyable but there's lots of work that go into making that one dose
Another good source of info is http://opium.poppies.org/ - this one is infinitely more helpful than the previous link I posted (in general the discussion is much higher quality)
Although I have rarely used it in recent years, I quite enjoy the opium high. The combination of morphine and codeine along with the other alkaloids makes for a well rounded high with hints of many different opiate/opiod highs all in one. I recommend taking antihistamines for higher doses, especially if the opium is high in thebaine (opium from the Tasmanian poppy fields is genetically modified to have high concentrations of thebaine, it is used as a precursor for oxycodone, it's pretty much useless and for this reason I suggest procuring your own seeds online).
If only acetic anhydride was readily available in this country... On second thoughts, I probably would be dead by now if it were available...
Australian Drug Discussion
- Join Date
- May 2011
- the heart of a dystopian sprawl
i've played with poppies a lot, tried a lot of things, and i would totally agree that extractions/smoking are unsatisfying, whereas oral preparations are probably some of the most beautiful, long-lasting opiate experiences imaginable.
unlike oxy or smack or morphine, poppy 'tea' (not literally tea, whatever you want to call it) contains dozens of opiate alkaloids. these can take a long time for the body to process, causing a pretty wonderful high and afterglow.
i've done a lot of experimentation over the years, and i have refined by method of ingestion to this:
take a small handful of pods (depending on size - from 2 or three pods up to maybe 8 to ten small ones...work your way up!), chuck them into a blender, buzz for a bit, then throw in some grapefruit or lemon juice (or just water) and blend for a bit more.
i then just strain it and drink it, no heating required. no point, man.
i usually get the grinds out of the sieve and wash them down too - sometimes an hour or so later for a little re-dose after i've seen how i'm feeling.
it's a wonderful thing - glad you've had some luck, pisspot.
just remember to respect it because it can seem subtle at first (just enjoy the warm belly that spreads into a euphoric buzz mmm mmm) but i've made myself VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY sick from overdoing it. very unpleasant and scary.
just respect it. enjoy
oh, and you can use the whole plant if you want - you might rather make tea out of the leaves, brew them up for a bit, or you could just make a "wheatgrass shot" sorta thing. my way of saving some for after the season is over is to dry out some pods (in a paper bag on a windowsill) and just do the same thing i mentioned above with the blender.
if you dry them properly they'll last for as long as you'd be able to keep them for and they taste really good.
have fun !
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
Totally agree with Spacejunk and Christ!
I think keeping it simple is the way to go both when growing and consuming poppies. They don't need to be fussed over when growing, and the less processing done to the pods before consumption the better.
I have in the past done a lot of reading of the sites that Christ linked to and got some good information, but I honestly can't say I ever found a tek that succeeded in producing a high quality/potency extract from pods - even when using a lot of them. That bloody cooked flake tek drove me ape shit. I tried it in a few different ways without ever getting anything better than just eating the damn pod straight up.
Exactly the same as Christ said above, the best results I ever got was from a decent amount of raw latex which I scraped off the pods. It takes a lot of time and a lot of plants to collect that stuff, though. But hey if you've got the garden space and privacy to grow, it's a lovely thing to follow them from tiny (and I mean tiny!) seeds to flowers
thanks so much guys for your input/advice.. much appreciated
by the looks of it, to get the most out of my small garden, making 'tea' (juice) the way SJ posted seems to be the go. Thanks for sharing your particular method
I probably wont even bother with lancing them.. mabey when I got my own place Ill give it a go but atm, Im lucky I am being allowed to grow these amazing flowers. Speaking of which, the first two poppies have had their first bloom, beautiful flowers. After doin a bit of research, it seems like there's a good possibility there tassies. They're a white flower with purple in the middle of the petals. Ill post pics in the cultivation thread when they start to bloom a bit more..
I got a couple of questions that I'm goin to post in this thread if it's alright, since it technically falls under the 'extraction' category; Should I de-seed the pods before making the 'tea'?
As I mentioned before, I'm gonna harvest my mammoth for its mature seeds for next season. When would be the best time to do this? when the 'crown' starts pointing upwards on the pod orrr???
and the last one; SJ, you mentioned drying out pods for later in the off season for making 'tea'. Does this mean I should/can use 'fresh' pods n poppy straw for my first lots of tea or should I dry them first?
Once again, many thanks for everyones input on the subject
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
Sounds like a Tasmanian. Hope it is for your sake - they are great flowers and are the most worthwhile to grow when space is limited (or even when it isn't).
Lancing pods is indeed time consuming and can potentially arouse suspicions. Do try it though when the time is right. You have to try fresh latex straight off the pod at least once in your life - both for its effect and to experience the unique taste (incredibly bitter and a little spicy - anyone else ever notice that with fresh Tassie pods? Like there's a couple of drops of tobasco in it?!).
Regarding keeping your prize pod for seed stock: unless you're in a hurry (need to vacate area/worried about presence of pod, etc), I think it's best to leave the pod on the stalk until it has dried out naturally. When the crown lifts up and exposes the seed vents you know that the seeds are well and truly ready to come out. Then you should be able to just tip and tap the pod over your hand and have seeds pouring out. One pod (even a small one) can produce a shit load of seeds.
It's possible to cut the pod of the stalk, dry it out a bit and then remove the seeds before the vents have opened, but there's always a risk of taking them out when they're premature.
Spring is here and with it come the pods! Enjoy!!
^ thanks for that
Ill deffenetly lance one or two pods for the fuck of it. Your right, I need to try opium atleast once
Lets just hope they are Tassies Ill just wait for the seed vents to open and the pod starts to dry out before cutting my cream of the crop..
Here's a picture of a Taz pisspot - http://opiumpoppies.co.nz/wp-content...an-300x231.jpg
Should I de-seed the pods before making the 'tea'?
You can let the pods dry on the plant, which is recommended. As long as there's not much rain because they'll go mouldy very quickly if the conditions are right. You can always let them finish off drying somewhere inside if rain or pests are a problem.
I've got problems with downy mildew in my area so I normally wait until they're ripe, then harvest them along with about 4 inches of the stem. As soon as I'm done collecting the pods I'll put them in freezer bags and straight into the freezer...they seem to stay fresh in the freezer for a long time. It's easier to make tea when they're dry but not worth the risks for me personally.
This is an awesome thread btw, great information dudes.
Australian Drug Discussion
- Join Date
- May 2011
- the heart of a dystopian sprawl
My (scientifically unsubstantiated) opinion is that drying pods on the plant only seems to make them weaker....
But no, what I was basically saying was that you can enjoy the 'tea' recipe I mentioned whether they're dry or fresh - makes no particular difference.
The only reason I like to dry them is I like to keep some pods for summer (and beyond...not that they last me that long hehe).
And yeah, agree that de-seeding is good when they're dry but too difficult when they're fresh.
As for keeping seed stocks for next year...sure, but if you planted grocery store poppy seeds in the first place, there's not much point, right?
I mean, if you have exotic strains, why not? But I reckon the store bought ones are pretty good, I don't know if the genetics of your backyard beauties are going to match up to those of commericial poppy farms, but I could be wrong about that.
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
^ good point about excessive rain causing issues. Definitely better to cut them and dry them under cover if it's raining a lot. A few days of torrential rain and humid atmosphere will make pods go mushy and/or mouldy, which is bad news.
I just remembered one tip which I thought was really practical and effective in regards to making tea from either fresh or dried pods... on another website (can't remember which one) a poster said he/she liked to put their ground up pod material into a thermos with warm water and then leave it there overnight. This prolonged soaking in temperature controlled water does a great job at pulling the alkaloids out of the material and the thermos can be hidden away somewhere (if keeping it on the down low is important). A few shakes, the liquid is strained (it will be quite dark and very bitter - if the material was good), and then consumed.
Good things about this method: you don't need to worry about destroying alkaloids by raising water temps too much as when putting it in a pot on the stove, and you don't need to worry about not extracting alkaloids effeciently enough as when using cold water.
Also, you can be confident about discarding the pod material after straining - there won't be much/anything left in it. Not consuming the pod material means less punishment to the stomach, which is good because eating pods can be a bit rough on the guts - especially if you're new to it (and double especially if you're new to opiates).
Spacejunk already mentioned this above, but it's worth reiterating: when consuming pods or drinking a tea of them, it's important to start with a small amount and work your way up if necessary. Good pods can pack a serious punch and it can be hard to predict how strong a batch of tea is going to be. Usually more dark and bitter means stronger, but even that isn't always a reliable indicator of strength.
Australian Drug Discussion
- Join Date
- May 2011
- the heart of a dystopian sprawl
agree with all you said there, halif.
one of the reasons i choose to consume the pods grinds and all, is that rather than being rough on the guts (maybe true for some, i guess i haven't experienced it) the fibre of the pods can help with the dreaded opiate constipation!
i've not tried the thermos method you mentioned, but i have had poppy pod and poppy seed tea go nasty fairly quickly when not refrigerated. i hate seeing good pods goo to waste...which i guess is why i use the method i do.
i used to boil/re-boil pods repeatedly, with decreasing returns each time, but i found it was hard to gauge when pods were truly 'spent'. even the third or fourth wash can have a bitter taste and cloudy colour to them, and i ended up getting bored and throwing some out. i like the idea of the rest being extracted by my ever-useful stomach.
either way, i'm sure you'll get some good kicks out of those babies, pisspot
edit - i've also read that when pods are left to dry on the plant, the alkaloids get flushed out of the root system with rains/watering. again, don't know if this is true or urban myth, but if this don't get 'em, the mould just may. as the temperature warms up, you should have plenty of days for drying some pods.
or, if you prefer, eating some pods.
Awesome thread, i'll never get as much good info from reading academic sources as I do peoples own experience. So, as for cutting the pods off, i'd reckon you'd do it around the same time you'd start scoring. If that's when the pod is at it's fattest and potent yeah?
And in regards to getting crook guts when ya eat the ground material along with the tea, i was reading another thread where someone said they got a bit of discomfort from drinking down the little pods in it. Deffinately some truth to it. Sorry I couldn't add much more info, but doubt it would be anything worthwhile if I could!
Do they ever use the high thebaine content poppies for the seeds you buy at the supermarket? That could be dangerous if you grew some of those up and consumed.
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
I have never heard of anyone becoming ill after consuming high thebaine variety poppies. I believe it says somewhere on the Tas government website that the seeds from those plants are destroyed and not made available as cooking stock.
- Join Date
- May 2009
Tried pod tea last night for the first time, started off with about 4 grams of dried pod (to be on the safe side), after just over an hour we had a rough idea of where we were gonna be at, so we had another 4 grams (So all up about 8 small-medium pods (although counting the pods for dose is stupid, dont do it), Felt like about 30mg of oxy but different, had it at 8:30pm, still feeling it a little now 1:45pm the next day
The high felt alot cleaner compared to poppy seed tea, felt alot more natural then oxy, alot more chilled.
I dont have much tollerance, popping 20mg of oxy would have me feeling pretty swish
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
Just found this on the Department of Justice Tasmania website:
"In Tasmania, the crop is grown for the production of morphine, codeine and thebaine. These alkaloids are extracted from the poppy straw and used in the manufacture of pain killing drugs and in cough mixtures.
The seed of the morphine plant can also be used in cooking and the Tasmanian variety can be recognised by its distinctive blue-grey colour.
Seed from thebaine-enhanced poppies is not sold for culinary purposes."
So I guess if you're growing from supermarket seed stock you should be OK.
The reason why they destroy them I'm not sure about, but I'd guess it's because the company who spent all the money creating the strain wouldn't want it to be widely available.
They also keep the fields of the thebaine and regular strains far apart so they don't cross pollinate. Pretty sure the processing plants are seperated also.
Still pays to be a bit cautious and start with a small amount as others mentioned. I guess it's not impossible for a Norman seed to somehow find its way into the regular ones, and since potency is so variable with all poppies it might save you getting sick if you got a particularly strong plant.
I wouldn't mind owning my own farm in Tasmania and growing poppies the farmers get paid on alkaloid content so I think it'd be fun to work towards getting them as potent as possible.
Last edited by Christ!; 15-10-2011 at 11:07.
Thanks for the replies guys. I have a really good idea what Im goin to do with the garden and Im now 99% sure their tassies!
^^thats really interesting about how they destroy the thebaine seeds. Thanks for digging that up
I'm really curious (and it would be very helpfull to know), has anyone ever weighed out a dry dose for making 'tea'? Obviously it would vary from strain to strain but it would be good to know to have a rough idea.. I read in a thread in other drugs that someone mentioned ~10grams?
Australian Drug Discussion
- Join Date
- May 2011
- the heart of a dystopian sprawl
haven't weighed it, but 1-2 tablespoons would be a good start. not particularly accurate, i know.
there is HEAPS of poppy talk at the forums of poppies.org
i've spent many, many hours reading the various perspectives and conversations in 'the tea room' and such.
never joined up because it's a bit US-centric, always talking about mail-order pods and guns and shit.
it's a very opium poppy specific harm reduction forum though, worth a look if you want some ideas.
also, i would recommend making the most of them while they're fresh. things can go wrong in the drying process (have for me, anyway) and you can't beat the green juicy goodness of some fresh pods and squeezed lemon on a warm spring day