Fentanyl Identification

fentanyl identification hope for tomorrow

In 2021, 76% of all overdose deaths in West Virginia involved fentanyl. The unfortunate reality is many of those deaths were caused by the person not even knowing the fentanyl was there in the first place. Many substances are “cut” with fentanyl to make the supply last longer while increasing the profits of those who are selling them. Not only can this cause a stronger “high,” but fentanyl is also dangerous.

That’s why knowing how to identify fentanyl is so important. Hope for Tomorrow works with people with substance use disorders and physical health conditions, so we’re well-acquainted with the different forms of this substance and how they circulate in our communities. We’ll cover what you need to know about fentanyl identification in this blog.

What Does Fentanyl Look Like?

Fentanyl is an opioid medication that has a pharmaceutical purpose, despite often being used illicitly. Pharmaceutical fentanyl comes in tablets, oral drops, nasal sprays, injections, and patches that go on the skin. 

Illicit fentanyl also comes in many forms. It commonly comes as a white powder, visually identical to cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Many individuals who manufacture fentanyl illicitly will make it resemble other opioids, such as oxycodone. 

Fentanyl also can come in a pill form. The pills come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are sometimes even manufactured to have logos from popular culture on them to draw in young people. “Rainbow fentanyl,” which usually comes in the form of brightly colored pills, is also a concern, especially for the younger generation.

What Does Fentanyl Smell Like?

Fentanyl by itself has no odor. If it’s mixed with another substance, it may have a smell, but there’s no way to identify fentanyl by scent alone. Some say it smells like burnt popcorn when smoked, but there’s no scientific proof that that is true.

What Does Fentanyl Taste Like?

Fentanyl on its own is also tasteless, though once again, it might have a flavor if it’s combined with other substances. That would be the taste of the other substance, though, and not the fentanyl.

what does fentanyl look like

Different Types of Fentanyl: Official Brand Names and Street Names for Fentanyl

Because fentanyl is also a legal prescription opioid, it has brand names, as well as street names for illicit fentanyl.

Brand names of prescribed fentanyl are:

  • Actiq – comes in an oral lozenge, “lollipop” form
  • Fentora and Abstral – both are oral tablets
  • Subsys – -an oral spray
  • Lazanda – a nasal spray
  • Duragesic – a skin patch

It’s important to be aware of the street names for fentanyl, too, especially if you suspect a loved one may be taking fentanyl illicitly. Street names include Apache, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, and Murder 8.

Because illicit fentanyl distribution is often coordinated through text and online messages, it’s also helpful to familiarize yourself with emojis related to illicit substances.

How Can I Avoid Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is impossible to detect through sight, smell, or taste, but thankfully, fentanyl test strips offer a solution. These small bits of paper don’t cost much and can detect fentanyl in all of its different forms.

The most effective way to use a fentanyl test strip is by dissolving all of the substance you intend to use in water. MDMA, meth, and ecstasy will require one teaspoon for every 10 milligrams of powder you’re testing. Other substances require a half teaspoon of water. After that, you’ll put the wavy side of the strip down in the water, and wait for 15 seconds. Then, remove it, and leave it on a flat surface for two minutes. 

One pink line means your drug supply is positive for fentanyl. Two pink lines indicate a negative test. If you see a pink line right in the middle of the test strip, or no lines appear after two minutes, the test is invalid, and you’ll need to use another test strip. 

If the substance you intend to use includes fentanyl, it’s best to discard the supply altogether. About ten grains of salt worth of fentanyl is enough to cause an overdose in most adults, and it’s especially dangerous if you’re combining fentanyl with another substance. It’s not worth the risk.

Additionally, fentanyl is often manufactured to look like normal prescriptions. Remember to only get your medications from a medical professional. Buying medication, especially opioids, online or borrowing them from others isn’t safe.

The safest way to avoid fentanyl is to avoid illicit substance use altogether because even test strips are not 100% accurate. Of course, that’s easier said than done, and the most important thing is your and your loved ones’ survival, even if substances continue to be a part of your life. West Virginians can order fentanyl test strips here at no cost, and we encourage everyone to do so.

what does fentanyl taste like

Get Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction in West Virginia

Maybe you’ve been through this many times before. You’re tired of always fearing your substance of choice is contaminated by fentanyl, and testing it is a nerve-racking process. You want to quit using fentanyl, but it seems like an insurmountable task on your own. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through recovery alone. You can seek fentanyl addiction treatment and receive the support and encouragement you need to conquer your fentanyl use disorder.

Hope for Tomorrow is ready to walk alongside you in your recovery journey. Whether it starts at rock bottom or your life is just starting to slip out of control due to your fentanyl use, we can help. Everyone is welcome, and we’d love to meet you and hear your story. Give us a call at 877-679-8162 to get started.

Treatment today for a brighter tomorrow.


What tools are used to detect fentanyl?

Fentanyl test strips are the only reliable way to detect fentanyl, and even they are not 100% accurate.