Simon’s Research Chemicals Guide

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There is a lot of talk about research chemicals, designer drugs  (a.k.a bath salts, chems  etc.) since the UK legal drug ban in 2016.

Legal highs is just simply an umbrella term, which encompasses all the different chemicals, plants, mixtures which are legal to use and will get you “high”.

But before we go any further, it’s important to clear the air, you must understand the difference between the two main groups of legal highs:

Research chemicals definition: Research chemicals (a.k.a designer drugs, synthetics, chems, bath salts etc..) are slightly altered forms of illegal narcotics or chemically altered forms of the main active ingredients of psychoactive plants. Research chemicals are untested, unsafe and their effects are largely unknown. The sole reason why these synthetic drugs were created is to overcome legislation and narcotics laws in an effort to make money. When legislations catch up, they just make a slight change in the chemical composition (,which can radically alter the effects of these drugs!).

The products are sold as incense, bath salts, potpourri and are strictly not meant for human consumption. Yet that’s why people buy them. Even people under 18 could easily get a hold of these products offline or online.

/Herbal incense (a.k.a herbal potpourri) belong in this category. These are herbal mixtures meant for smoking, which have no psychoactive properties on their own. They are sprinkled with an unknown mixture of research chemicals to get you high (or make you sick, as is often the case)./

Entheogens (a.k.a ethnobotanicals) definition: The legal highs in this category are natural plants and plant extracts. These herbal legal highs have been used ceremonially and recreationally by humans for thousands of years and are part of our collective cultural heritage. They have been rediscovered in the century and are sold online all over the the Western World. The best known entheogens are Marijuana, Salvia divinorum, Kratom, Ephedra, Kanna and Kava kava but there are many more.

Because these plants have been used for hundreds of years, their effects, their main active ingredients are well studied and understood. A safe dosage has been established, and the long term effects are known in most cases.

The media, and politicians don’t make this very important distinction between the two. The direct result of this was the UK legal high ban.


I’ve been purchasing legal highs online for 10 years, and I have been blogging about them for 4 years. I personally met the owners of two of the biggest legal high shops online. All this accumulated experience over the years has taught me to avoid synthetic legal highs and the people who sell them. For the following reasons:

  • people selling research chemicals are often criminals already known to the authorities (allegedly they often have organized crime connections as well, according to most online news sites)
  • research chemical vendors do not know what’s in the package they are selling, and they don’t care, they are in for the quick buck only (if you don’t believe me ask any online vendor selling pre-packaged legal highs next time)
  • the overwhelming majority of designer drugs come from Chinese laboratories (not known for their quality standards, many of these laboratories are not licensed)
  • 90% of the websites selling research chemicals online are a scam, they will rip you off (don’t believe me, check the comments in the blacklist section, all of the complaints are about research chemical vendors, some very serious, at least one person mentioned receiving death threats)
  • research chemicals are almost exclusively bought by the unsavoury elements of society: junkies, homeless people, poor people, addicts, uneducated people etc..
  • the short and long term effects of designer drugs, apart from a few internet testimonials (,which you can hardly trust) is not known

No wonder legal highs have such a bad reputation, if for most people they are synonymous with synthetic drugs and the people who sell them.
However, these do not apply to vendors selling natural legal highs!

Here are main differences between entheogens and designer drugs:

 Legal highs:  research chemicals vs. entheogens

Research chemicals Entheogens
Extensively tested:no, not tested before sellingyes, have been used for hundreds of years, effects are well understood
Safe dosage known:noyes
Can people under 18 buy it:yes, because it’s “not for human consumption” + many of them only accept anonymous payment methods online (Bitcoin, Dwolla, Western Union), which means anyone can buy itno, strictly only for people aged 18+, requires credit card and age verification online
Information available online:very little, research chemicals come and go quicklyyes, extensive
Quality control:no, made in shady labs in China, manufacturers are not knownyes, the production process is regulated, manufacturers, growers are known
Ingredients known:never in case of pre-packaged legal highs, you never know what’s exactly in it, ask the vendor next time, they don’t even knowyes, and can easily be tested without laboratory equipment
False advertising, unethical marketing:all the time, lying is common offline and online, scams are prevalentsome, but you can find reliable info online easily

In my opinion the biggest difference between the word of synthetics and psychoactive plants is the attitude of the buyers and vendors. It’s like they are the opposite side of the coin.

  • The synthetic crowd is uneducated, lacks the culture of responsible legal high use, they are only interested in how close these chems mimic the effects of illegal drugs, and many of them are actual ex-junkies. The vendors are only interested in making as much money as possible with no regard for human life. No wonder they give legal highs a bad name.
  • The natural legal high enthusiast are usually more educated, more responsible, more cautious and have much more experience with legal high in general. Shops selling entheogens often grow their own in greenhouses, they are very knowledgeable about their products and they are interested in the long-term satisfaction of buyers.

Obviously there are irresponsible people and scammers on both sides. But this is my understanding after 10+ years of exposure to the legal high community.

I only wish the media, the politicians and most importantly, the people would understand the huge difference between the world of synthetic legal highs and the entheogen scene. But this is  unlikely to happen as long as the so called “experts”, who are in charge of creating the legislations and regulations are so far removed from the actual legal high community.

But one thing’s for certain, avoid research chemicals! Avoid the people using them, and avoid the people selling them!

/Btw., because many of you have asked me: I do support the regulation and the total ban of untested, unsafe research chemicals in the UK, in 2016. I only wish they would have made natural psychoactive plants exempt from this ban. After all, it is entirely clear the reason for this ban were the brick & mortar head shops selling designer drugs, not herbal entheogens.

These measurements will certainly help to curb the use of dangerous designer drugs, which is definitely a good thing. However, many of the people now (for the reasons outlined above, especially the section just right under the table) many of the users will switch to illegal, dangerous narcotics, instead of switching to safer, natural alternatives, which are now also illegal./


Research chemicals, bath salts, designer drugs – FAQ


Because the people who purchase research chemicals online often attack me for my views, I collected the most common arguments used to refute my claims.

Effects are known, I’ve read about them in a forum.

Since when do we trust anonymous online testimonials? I can go on that forum and publish 10 trip reports entirely fabricated describing the exact opposite. Not to mention, how do you know it was not the manufacturer who is posting there. Don’t trust anonymous online reports.

Research chemicals are no more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, actually much more people die from alcohol.

It doesn’t matter how many people die from alcohol or cigarettes in total. You have to compare the deaths per 1000 people directly attributed to alcohol or tobacco with deaths attributed to designer drugs. However, due to the clandestine nature of research chemicals such data is not available. So, the entire discussion is pointless.

Not all online head shops selling research chemicals are a SCAM, my order arrived, exactly what I ordered and I was happy with it. 

First of all, I never said all of them are a SCAM, I said 90%. Also, I have no way of knowing, whether what you say is true or not. You might just be lucky and was not yet ripped off, or it’s a store, that belongs to the 10%. Either way, I’m not sure what this is supposed to prove.

You are only against research chemicals, because online shops selling entheogens advertise on your blog.

Exactly the opposite is true. I could easily triple the ad revenue of my website by letting research chemical vendors advertise on my blog. I get 2-3 offers per month, but I don’t allow them, because I’m against it. And this is why only shops selling ethnobotanicals are on the website.

Not all research chemical vendors sell packaged crap like “Black Mamba”, or “Scooby Snacks”. Sure, you don’t know what’s in those, the seller doesn’t know it either, and the buyers don’t care. I agree. However, many of the better shops let you choose the exact molecule you want to order.

I have to admit, this comment I received was the best so far. I agree, chem shops, which lets you exactly select the molecule you would like to order are usually the better ones, the 10%, the few legit shops. If I would order chems online again I would use them.

However, the problem is still there. You don’t know – without access to laboratory equipment – that what you get is what you ordered, or how pure it actually is. It comes down to trust, and if you trust research chemical vendors your trust is misplaced. Obviously IMO. If you want to risk it, it’s your life (and death…). I wouldn’t.

This is stupid. Everyone knows you can buy illegal drugs and the best chems on the darknet. Who is stupid enough to do it openly.

This is a legal high blog. We are not discussing illegal narcotics, or the online black market here. Sure, you can buy all those things on the darknet. But that is illegal, and we are not discussing illegal things here, at all.


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Last updated: 2016-08-20

Stay safe, always!

What you need to know about Research Chemicals, Designer Drugs and Bath Salts
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What you need to know about Research Chemicals, Designer Drugs and Bath Salts
Essential information and facts about research chemicals, designer drugs, bath salts to help people make the right choice.
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