Check My

What Does Cocaine Look Like?

We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Get Help with Addiction Treatment

In 2020, 5.2 million people aged 12 and older used cocaine in the past 12 months. Cocaine users primarily administer cocaine by snorting the powder through the nostrils, which is absorbed through the bloodstream. Although the visual appearance of cocaine is widely known through television and movies, you may be surprised to learn that not all cocaine consists of white powder.

There are many different forms and variations of cocaine that Guardian Recovery will discuss. Cocaine is generally a fine white powder, while crack is most frequently found in a crystalized rock form. In addition, there are some differences in how each drug is taken. Cocaine can be snorted, gummed, smoked, or injected, and crack can only be smoked.

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug derived from the South American coca plant. In the 1850s, European scientists isolated the white powder from the plant, which was quickly used in medical procedures. It was first considered a “wonder drug,” but now one of the most addictive substances on Earth.

If you or someone you love has a cocaine use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and individualized medically monitored detox program. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.

Start Healing Today!

Choose recovery and take control of your life, it’s the path to a brighter future filled with health, happiness, and fulfillment.

Color & Texture of Cocaine Variations

There are various forms of cocaine, but all forms come from the coca plant found in South America.

Different Types of Cocaine:

  • Pure cocaine- a white crystallized powder made from coca leaves, uncut with other substances.
  • Crack cocaine-small rock chunks that contain cocaine and other substances. Intended to smoke.
  • Synthetic cocaine-a drug created from other substances that looks similar to cocaine, typically more of an amphetamine.
  • Pink cocaine-not technically cocaine, but a synthetic drug that looks like a pink powder. This drug should never be snorted and has lethal consequences regardless of how it is consumed.
  • Black cocaine-a chemically altered form of cocaine. Typically a mix of cocaine, charcoal, and other chemicals.
  • Fish scale cocaine-typically high-quality cocaine and uncut. This drug does not come in powder form but in small flakes.
  • Cocaine hydrochloride- a salt form of cocaine. This drug is often cut with lidocaine, talcum powder, sugar, or cornstarch.
  • Yellow cocaine-while fish scale may have a yellow or grey hue; quality cocaine is known to be white. Yellow cocaine is often sold as crack cocaine.
  • Brown cocaine-impure crack cocaine. There is a rare type of cocaine only found in Africa known as “brown-brown,” which is cocaine mixed with gunpowder.

Freebase Cocaine

Freebase cocaine is created by removing salt from the original form, or the cocaine “base.” This makes cocaine more pure, potent and easier to smoke. People create crack cocaine by combining cocaine with baking soda and water, but to make freebase cocaine, they must extract the base with ammonia.

After freebase cocaine has been created, it no longer contains hydrochloride. Therefore, it goes from being a powder to being cocaine sulfate. This means that the cocaine is now nearly 100% pure. Cocaine can not be smoked in its original form but as freebase cocaine. It cannot be injected because it cannot be dissolved in water. People choose to create freebase cocaine because freebase cocaine can be a much more potent product.

Liquid Cocaine

Liquid cocaine is created by dissolving cocaine in water and then injected into the bloodstream. A person immediately experiences a high by injecting cocaine as it directly enters the bloodstream. Additionally, people may transform cocaine into a liquid form to smuggle into the United States as it is easier to conceal and less likely to find if it is hidden as a liquid rather than the bricks of cocaine it typically comes in.

Crack Rocks

People may wonder what the difference is between crack and cocaine. Although crack and cocaine may look different to the naked eye, they are almost identical on a chemical level. Cocaine is generally a white powder, while crack is most frequently found in a crystalized rock form. In addition, there are some differences in how each drug is taken. Cocaine can be snorted, gummed, smoked, or injected, and crack can only be smoked. Because there are many forms of using cocaine, it is often more expensive than crack.

Cocaine Powder

Cocaine powder is made of the coca plant leaves found in South America.

The production of cocaine is made in remote jungle labs where several transformations occur. The first step is growing and harvesting the coca plant. Different strains of the plant contain different amounts of chemicals. The next step in this process is gathering and drying the coca leaves. Before the leaves are dried, they are soaked in gasoline.

After drying, the leaves are then soaked in a substance containing lime. A couple of different processes are used to help extract the cocaine from the dried leaves. Acid and potassium are then added to the mixture to further the process. Next, the mixture is dissolved in acetone and soaked in acid again. Finally, the mixture is strained, and the resulting paste is left to dry. That becomes the brick of cocaine.

Cocaine Additives & Appearance

Cocaine is dangerous on its own; however, buying cocaine from drug dealers can increase the risk as it is often cut with other agents to increase profits. Why is this dangerous? Because there is no ability to know what the drug is cut with, the consequences of using unknown substances can lead to overdose or sudden death.

Most cocaine purchased on the streets is cut with other drugs or substances. In 2017, the DEA reported the average purity level of seized cocaine was only 61.5%.

There are several different substances people use to cut cocaine. Examples include laxatives, caffeine, creatine, and laundry detergent. It is also possible drug dealers may decide to cut cocaine with other drugs such as marijuana, heroin, LSD, and PCP. This is dangerous as it can heighten cocaine’s effects or increase the likelihood of an overdose.

Complimentary Insurance Check
Find Out Today!

"*" indicates required fields


Can You Tell Visually If Cocaine Has Been Cut With Dangerous Agents?

There are fentanyl test strips available to test if a drug has been cut or laced with fentanyl. These are inexpensive and extremely important as fentanyl is nearly impossible to tell if it is laced in drugs as there is no detectable odor, taste, or visual appearance. Fentanyl is 50x more potent than heroin and 100x stronger than morphine. Finding a way to test for certain substances can be a matter of life or death.

More likely than not, street drugs will be cut with an unknown agent. This is extremely dangerous because there is no way to know what substances are added, there are no regulations for drug dealers to follow, and there ultimately will be harmful additives and interactions that occur.

There is no way of knowing what substances are added or cut with cocaine. According to the DEA, the average purity level of street cocaine was only 61.5%. Additionally, cocaine laced with levamisole may now be higher than 80%. Fentanyl overdoses involving cocaine continue to rise and contribute to the 16,000 overdose deaths related to cocaine in 2019.

The reality is that most of the time, cocaine is laced with highly toxic, addictive, potent drugs. Fentanyl is deadly. Levamisole is toxic. Cocaine all on its own is extremely dangerous, let alone mixing cocaine with unknown substances can cause extreme bodily interactions.

Signs of Overdose:

  • Small, pinpoint pupils.
  • Falling asleep, losing consciousness.
  • Slow, weak breathing.
  • Choking or gurgling sounds.
  • Limp body.
  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Discolored skin, lips, and nails.

Our Locations 

Our Facilities & Teams Transform Lives

Changing lives by providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation, empowering individuals to overcome addiction and regain control of their health and well-being.

Call to Learn More

At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of cocaine detox — one that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While we prioritize a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine which level of care is the most appropriate for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.


Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


Get Local Help

Helpful, Recovery

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

More About Author

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Contact Alumni Services Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing after coming to one of our facilities.

Your Name

Stay in touch ALUMNI

Join our alumni newsletter to get up to date information on events, news, and more.


Personalize Your Experience

Allow us to guide you to the information your looking for.

Begin HEALING Today
24/7 Help: (888) 693-1872