Burns From Illegal Drug Manufacture: Case Series and Management

J Burn Care Rehabil. May-Jun 2004;25(3):314-8. doi: 10.1097/01.bcr.0000124788.38214.5f.


This case series presents our experience with burns sustained while manufacturing illegal drugs. All adult burn admissions in an 18-month period were retrospectively reviewed. All patients suspected of sustaining burns from illegal drug manufacture were contacted. Information regarding the burn mechanism was sought. Nine of the 64 adult burn admissions were caused by explosions during the manufacture of cannabis oil. Young males with hand and face burns were heavily represented. First-aid treatment was often ignored in favor of hiding incriminating evidence. Only two patients gave honest admission histories. Illegal drug manufacture is becoming more common as synthetic drugs become more consumer desirable. Burns sustained may be thermal and/or chemical. Dishonest patient histories negatively influence burn management. A high level of suspicion is required for diagnosing and treating burns from illegal drug manufacture. Public education is unlikely to be effective as the financial rewards outweigh the perceived risks.

MeSH terms

  • 2-Propanol / adverse effects
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Surface Area
  • Burns, Chemical / epidemiology*
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology
  • Cannabis
  • Explosions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Solvents / adverse effects*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Plant Oils
  • Solvents
  • 2-Propanol