What is Crack Cocaine?

What is crack cocaine?  And how is crack different from powdered cocaine? Crack cocaine is refined cocaine and is highly addictive. Learn more.

When asking, "what is crack cocaine," we must first understand what cocaine is. Cocaine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system and typically produces an energetic and euphoric "high." Cocaine is typically found in powdered form. Crack cocaine is a purified form of cocaine. Crack cocaine is a hard substance that can be smoked and may be referred to as rock, base or just crack.

What is Crack Cocaine? How is Crack Cocaine Made?

Crack cocaine is made from powdered cocaine in a simple process involving sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). All that is needed to make crack cocaine is powdered cocaine, baking soda, water, a pin, flame and a spoon. Crack cocaine may be made from powdered cocaine by dealers, but is also commonly made by users due to its simple creation process.1

Crack cocaine looks like rocks with jagged edges. Crack cocaine is often cut with less expensive, often toxic, substances.

What is Crack Cocaine? How is Crack Cocaine Used?

Crack cocaine is often used in binges where the user does repeated "hits" of crack cocaine, possibly multiple times per hour, for days. The crack cocaine is put in a pipe and heated while the user inhales the crack cocaine vapor. The crack cocaine vapor is held in the lungs for several seconds before being exhaled.

What is Crack Cocaine? Who Uses Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is known typically as an inner-city drug. Poor addicts are likely to use crack cocaine as it's sold in small, inexpensive units and smoking crack cocaine delivers a large amount of drug quickly into the system. Those who smoke crack cocaine are at greater risk of crack addiction, overdose and injury to heart and lungs than those who snort cocaine.2

What is Crack Cocaine? How Does Crack Cocaine Work?

Smoking crack cocaine increases the speed the drug gets into the system and bypasses nose tissues making smoking crack similar to IV cocaine. Inhaled crack cocaine takes 7 seconds to take effect and reaches its peak high in about 1 - 5 minutes. This high only lasts about 20 minutes. This is compared to snorted cocaine which takes effect in 3 minutes, with a peak effect at 15 minutes with a high that lasts 45 - 90 minutes. The shorter durations in crack cocaine are one of the reasons it's highly addictive.


article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 15). What is Crack Cocaine?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: December 29, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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