What Does Crack Smell Like?

Authored by Matthew Idle

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Dr Ruth Arenas Matta

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How Does Crack Smell

If you have recently suspected that someone you love and care about has started using or abusing drugs — know that you are not alone. Many people who find out this sort of information feel overwhelmed and alone at first. You do not want to push your loved ones away but are also aware that they may need help.

So, where do you begin if you have noticed a shift in your loved one’s behaviors and habits? Well, knowing what specific drug you are dealing with first can be helpful to pinpoint what sort of help your loved one needs.

So, What does Crack Smell Like? What Does it Look Like?


Crack is often seen as a party drug or something that is done on a night out, club, or rave. Because cocaine is usually priced higher than crack cocaine, crack is what is more often discovered amongst new users. If you are not familiar with what any sort of drug looks like, it can be confusing to pinpoint what your loved one is using.

For starters, crack cocaine usually smells like a mix between something metallic and sweet. Some say it smells like a mix between chemicals and flowers. For those who are not familiar with the drug, it tends to smell more on the chemical side. This comes as no surprise considering the number of chemicals that are used to make the substance. When it is being smoked, the crack smell changes to be more like burnt rubber or plastic.

The crack version of cocaine comes in varying sizes of rocks. Regular cocaine comes in powder form. Crack tends to be beige, pink, or off-white. The color depends on the manufacturer and how that batch was specifically made.

How Do You Use Crack? What are Some Things to Look Out For?


The reason that crack tends to sell cheaper than cocaine is that the crack has to be smoked1Cregler, L. L. “Adverse Health Consequences of Cocaine Abuse. – PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2625905. Accessed 11 Oct. 2022.. Cocaine’s powdery form allows it to be consumed in several different ways. The taste while smoking is typically described as bitter and the more bitter, the more potent the drug.

If you are wondering if someone you know is using crack and how to pinpoint what sort of help your loved one needs, here are some things to look out for, as well as the lingering smell of crack:

  • Small, plastic bags. These baggies are tiny and are what the substance is usually sold and stored in. Sometimes, crack is also stored in small brown glass jars.
  • Crack has to be smoked, so look for smoking paraphernalia. This could be a metal cylinder with metal wool inside, aluminum foil, and lighters. Burnt pieces of foil can be a tell tale sign of a smoking crack.
  • There are also physical and behavioral changes in your loved one that could signify the use of the substance:
  • Dilated pupils
  • Crack smell
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Restlessness
  • Fast breathing rate
  • Burnt fingers
  • Cracked/blistered lips


If you have discovered any physical paraphernalia around or have noticed behavior changes in a loved one, there is help available for them. Crack has an exceedingly high addictive potential and the sooner you seek out help for your loved one, the better. The long-term effects are often permanent and irreversible. The road will not be easy, but it is well worth the effort.


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  • 1
    Cregler, L. L. “Adverse Health Consequences of Cocaine Abuse. – PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2625905. Accessed 11 Oct. 2022.
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