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Systematic name Krokodil
Chemical formula C17H21NO2
Molecular mass 271.354 g/mol
Density 1.31g/cm33
Melting point Melting point::189°C (462.15 K)
Boiling point Boiling point::between 140 and 170°C (413.15-443.15 K)
CAS number [427-00-9][1]
Disclaimer and references

Krokodil is the street name for an opioid derivative of codeine that is also known as Desomorphine. It is highly addictive and causes extensive bodily harm. Krokodil is presumed to contain desomorphine, but due to home made versions some do not even contain desomorphine at all. It has cooking process similar to methamphetamine.Homemade synthesis includes solvents such as gasoline, paint thinner, lighter fluid, iodine, hyrdrochlroic acid and red phosphorus scraped from the strike pad of matches. In homemade versions these dangerous chemicals are not always fully cooked out of the concoction. Injecting these caustic ingredients causes the skin to become gangrenous, and look scaly like the skin of a crocodile. [2]


Codeine Tablets, one of the ingredients used in Krokodil

Krokodil was first created chemically in the U.S. in 1932 and patented on November 13, 1934. About ten years ago, maybe more, in Siberian and Russian east hospitals Russian doctors had begun to notice some odd wounds and scars on some drug addicts. The flesh had begun to rot, turning scaly and dark, like the skin of a crocodile. They soon discovered the cause of these wounds- these junkies had been injecting krokodil, a new drug with a fitting name. It became popular with Russian addicts quickly, in the peak of krokodil in 2011, reaching around 1 million Russians krokodil addicts. On June 1, 2012 a ban was placed on codeine from over the counter, this helped the number decline but many users or cooks purchase this important ingredient from the black market. Although krokodil may have been most prominent in Russia it has been reported in the United States in a 30 year old whose skin started to rot after injecting krokodil. [3]

Uses, Effects and Synthesis

One of the many side effects of Krokodil is gangrene

Krokodil can be produced or cooked at home with materials easily bought. Krokodil starts with headache pills purchased over the counter at a local pharmacy. It can be cooked on a stove at home taking about thirty minutes to make a batch providing a ninety minute high, usually trapping addicts in a daily cycle of making batches and shooting up causing the addict to do not much else other than feed the addiction. Krokodil corrodes the body and causes extensive damage, the chemicals introduced to the bloodstream directly are toxic, causing limbs to be gangrenous as seen in the photo to the left. The skin rots and turns scaly like that of a crocodile- hence the name, krokodil. The gangrene and rotting flesh is often coupled with infection. The side effects include:

  • Blood vessel damage
  • Open ulcers, gangrene, phlebitis or vein inflammation
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Limb amputations
  • Pneumonia
  • Blood poisoning
  • Meningitis
  • Rotting gums/tooth loss
  • Blood-borne virus transmission (HIV/HCV due to needle sharing)
  • Bone infections (osteomyelitis)
  • Speech and motor skills impairment
  • Memory loss and impaired concentration
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Overdose and Death

Heroin is an epidemic in Russia, but when the addict can no longer afford his fix, easy solutions arise. Krokodil costs around a tenth of the price of heroin, but the drug demands a different price. The life expectancy of a heroin addict in Russia ranges from four to seven years, while a krokodil addict only lives up to two years. [4]This makes it one of the most deadly drugs and one of the most addictive drugs in the world. Although it is possible to come clean from krokodil doctors say it has the strongest level of addiction and the hardest to cure, granted the chances are slim often having long term consequences of a speech impediment, erratic movements and a vacant gaze. [5]


Synthesis of Desomorphine from Codeine
The the chemical formula for Desomorphine, or Krokodil is C17H21NO2 and has a molecular weight of 271.35 g/mol. The melting point is 189 degrees celsius. When It is heated Toxic nitrogen oxide fumes emerge from the drug.[6] Desomorphine reaches its boiling point at 140-170 degrees Celsius. It is soluble in water 1425 mg/L at 25 degrees Celsius approximately.


Viewer discretion advised! An informative video about the Krokodil drug and the epidemic it has caused.


  1. Desomorphine PubChem. Web. last-modified November 26, 2017. Author unknown
  2. 2.0 2.1 Krocodil Web. Medically reviewed: October 21, 2014 Author unknown.
  3. Shuster, Simon. The World’s Deadliest Drug: Inside a Krokodil Cookhouse ' Web. publication December 5, 2013.
  4. Author unknown. Krokodil Narconon. Web. Accessed November 10, 2017.
  5. Krokodil Narconon. Web. Accessed November 10, 2017.Author unknown.
  6. Desomorphine Toxnet. Web. Accessed November 17, 2017. Author unknown