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What Does Crack Look, Taste, and Smell Like?

Crack is a highly potent stimulant drug that is typically smoked. It is derived from cocaine and created by cooking the powdered cocaine with baking soda to make a hard, rock-like substance. This form of cocaine was created because it is thought to create a more potent high.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), 6,222,000 people have abused crack at some point in their lives.[1]

If you are worried that your loved one is smoking crack, you must know how to identify it. Abusing crack will lead to drug addiction, so knowing what it looks like, smells like, and tastes like will help you determine whether your loved one needs professional treatment. Crack cocaine usually looks like small crystalline rocks and smells like burning plastic or rubber when it is smoked.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What crack cocaine is
  • How to identify crack by its appearance, taste, and smell
  • What type of drug paraphernalia is associated with crack

What is Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from the coca plant in South America. Because it is sold on the streets in powder form, people usually snort it. If someone wants to smoke cocaine, they usually cook it to make crack.

To create crack rocks, powdered cocaine is mixed with baking soda or talcum powder, which is how it turns into a hardened rock substance.[2] The heating process cooks away most of the additives, resulting in a much more potent form of cocaine.

Crack rocks are placed into a straight glass pipe and then smoked using a pipe and torch lighter.

The effects of smoking crack might include:[3]

  • Feelings of euphoria and pleasure
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • Feeling excited or thrilled
  • Diminished appetite and need for sleep
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature and sweating
  • Feelings of anxiety or paranoia
  • Intense cravings for more crack

Crack cocaine addiction can develop rather quickly. The high only lasts a few minutes, which causes people to binge on it to keep the effects going. This type of substance abuse can lead to addiction in just a few days.

Identifying Crack

If you are worried that your loved one is using crack, you should look out for signs of crack abuse. For example, they might stay up for long hours, display paranoid behavior, and experience sudden weight loss.

If you notice those signs, they could be abusing crack. Maybe you have found an unknown substance in their room. If so, it’s important to understand what crack cocaine looks like.

What Does Crack Look Like?

Crack is in a solid, rock-like form that can vary in size and shape. Usually, crack is found in small rocks. They are unevenly textured, featuring sharp edges and rough pieces.

Crack rocks are usually white, off-white, or pale yellow. It can either be dull or shiny depending on how it is manufactured. Because of its appearance, you might hear your loved one use slang terms to refer to crack like “boulders,” pebbles,” or “rock candy.”

What Does Crack Taste Like?

You should never taste crack to identify it. Tasting an unidentified substance can lead to unwanted side effects and potential overdose.

Cocaine usually tastes like gasoline or ether, however, crack tastes different because these additives are cooked out of it. Crack tends to have a burnt rubber or plastic taste.

What Does Crack Smell Like?

Crack rocks will not smell like anything until they are smoked. If your loved one is smoking crack in your home, you might notice a smell similar to gas, paint, motor oil, or nail polish remover. Crack usually smells like chemicals, particularly burning rubber or plastic.

Even though crack smells bad, your loved one will continue to smoke it until they receive treatment for their addiction. Over time, addicts grow accustomed to the smell of crack, almost enjoying it because their brain associates it with pleasure.

What Paraphernalia Is Associated With Crack?

“Paraphernalia” is a term that refers to the tools used to abuse drugs. Someone smoking crack might have a variety of different tools that can prove they are struggling with addiction.

Common tools used to abuse crack include:

  • Glass pipes or water bongs
  • Makeshift smoking devices like light bulbs, aluminum foil, or soda cans
  • Screens used to smoke like wire mesh or steel wool
  • Torch lighters
  • Scales and measuring tools
  • Small plastic baggies

If you find these items in a loved one’s room, they probably need professional addiction treatment. Crack abuse can take a significant toll on one’s physical and mental health, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Find Help for Crack Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with crack addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. At the Mandala Healing Center, we offer evidence-based treatments, 24/7 support, and a compassionate approach to recovery.

Contact us today for more information about our crack addiction treatment programs.


  1. The Department of Justice (DOJ): Crack Cocaine Fast Facts
  2. Crack cocaine and cocaine hydrochloride. Are the differences myth or reality?
  3. Crack cocaine use: a review of prevalence and adverse effects