You’ve heard people talk about DMT. You may know that ancient native cultures in South America have used it for generations as an aid in shamanistic rituals. Despite this, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What does DMT look like?” If someone walked up to you today and asked “Hey, want some DMT?” would you confidently be able to identify it as such?

Accepting unidentified psychedelics from random strangers is not a wise move to begin with. However, understanding what DMT looks like is a solid step toward psychedelic wisdom.

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT, is a psychoactive substance found all over the world. It has been used for over 1,000 years in the shamanic rituals of some South American tribes and has radically changed the perspectives of many who have taken it. But what does DMT look like and where can you find it?

Natural Occurrences of DMT

DMT gets around. Seriously. It exists all across the globe in plants, rats, and possibly human brains (though, that is the center of a contentious debate in the scientific community). Typically, you will find DMT in:

  • Chacruna/Chacrona (Psychotria viridis)– A perennial shrub with broad leaves and groups of red berries that grows naturally in the Amazon and is used as another source of DMT in the Ayahuasca brew
  • Colorado River Toad (Incilius alvarius)A large toad native to the United States that excretes a venom containing 5-MeO-DMT, a chemical structure strikingly similar to DMT and also offers similar psychedelic properties
  •  Stiff-Leaf Wattle (Acacia obtusifolia)– A thin-leaved perennial tree from South Eastern Australia that contains significant amounts of DMT in its dried bark
  • Yopo (Anadenanthera peregrina)– A perennial tree native to the Caribbean and South America that contains DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and Bufotenin, all of which act as psychoactive substances.

If you’re not up for hunting rare North American toads and hard-to-come-by plants, your choices of DMT-induced psychedelia actually become less limited. Since discovering the ayahuasca brew in pre-Colombian South America to synthesizing DMT in the lab for the first time in 1931, humans have become surprisingly effective at developing new techniques of extracting DMT from plant materials.

Extracting DMT from Natural Sources

DMT extraction methods vary. In general, all techniques share some commonalities: obtaining a source of DMT, separating the DMT molecules from the plant matter, converting the DMT molecules into its freebase form, then using a solvent to extract pure DMT crystals. The process also calls for a whole lot of waiting. Generally, once you get to the point of extracting the DMT crystals from the solvent, you’re looking at a 10 hour wait for the crystals to dry completely. The results are DMT crystals that come in different shapes, sizes, and colors depending on the extraction variables. Some of these variations include:

  • A pure white powder– When DMT has been extracted in a highly controlled environment by an expert that is aiming for the purest DMT crystal they can get, the result will likely be a fine, white crystalline powder. Under a microscope you’ll see that this powder is composed of millions of clear/milky DMT crystals.
  • A yellow or brown powder– Not every extraction is going to yield a perfectly pure result. Depending on preference and experience, you might get bits of plant matter, oxygen molecules, and other psychoactive alkaloids mixed up during the process. This results in colored DMT crystals that range from light yellow to dark brown. Typically, this is nothing to be alarmed by but it warrants a quick test in case any harmful chemicals were left behind in the process.
  • Big, fat DMT crystals ranging from a milky white to a darker yellow– DMT crystals end up this way due to variables in temperature and processes during the end stages of extraction. If ever in doubt, make sure to test your DMT before ingestion.
  • A yellow waxy substance– Typically a waxy substance results from issues with temperature during the extraction process. People still ingest the waxy DMT substance through vaping, but many prefer other forms of DMT crystals.

Once you have your extracted DMT crystals, and you’re ready to experience the interconnectedness of universal existence, take a quick smell test. The DMT crystals should have a sweet, rubbery smell (kind of like the soles of a brand new pair of shoes). If you catch a scent of chemicals, such as lighter fluid or lye, that’s because there is still solvent mixed in and the DMT crystals weren’t extracted well. In other words, don’t ingest!

When dealing with volatile chemicals and psychoactive plants, it is best to take as much care as possible. Be responsible, do your research, and never ingest anything you have second thoughts about.

By Will Mohaupt on

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