Black Tar Heroin
Black Tar Heroin: Black tar heroin is a form of heroin that is sticky like tar or hard like coal. Its dark color is the result of crude processing methods that leave behind impurities. Despite its name, black tar heroin can also be dark orange or dark brown in appearance.
Black tar heroin is impure diamorphine. Other forms of heroin require additional steps of purification post acetylation. With black tar, the product’s processing stops immediately after acetylation. Its unique consistency however is due to acetylation without a reflux apparatus. As in home bake heroin in Australia and New Zealand the crude acetylation results in a gooey mass.
Black tar as a type holds a variable admixture of morphine derivatives—predominantly 6-MAM (6-monoacetylmorphine), which is another result of crude acetylation. The lack of proper reflux during acetylation fails to remove much of the moisture retained in the acetylating agent, glacial acetic acid.
Black tar heroin is often produced in Latin America, and is most commonly found in the western and southern parts of the United States, while also being occasionally found in Western Africa. It has a varying consistency depending on manufacturing methods, cutting agents, and moisture levels, from tarry goo in unrefined form to a uniform, light-brown powder when further processed and cut with lactose.
Pure morphine and heroin are both fine powders. Tar’s unique appearance and texture is due to its acetylation without benefit of the usual reflux apparatus. The assumption that tar has fewer adulterants and diluents is a misconception. The most common adulterant is lactose, which is added to tar via dissolving of both substances in a liquid medium, reheating and filtering, and then recrystallizing. This process is very simple and can be accomplished in any kitchen with no level of expertise needed. The price per kilogram of black tar heroin has increased from one-tenth that of South American powder heroin in the mid-1990s to between one-half and three-quarters in 2003 due to increased distributional acumen combined with increased demand in black tar’s traditional realm of distribution. Black tar heroin distribution has steadily risen in recent years, while that of U.S. East Coast powder varieties has dropped; heroin production in Colombia has decreased as U.S.-funded efforts to eradicate Colombian poppy fields continue.