What is a testing kit?


Pill testing (aka drug checking) aims to identify the substances within recreational drugs that allow for more informed choices to be made around safety and health.

The reagent kits are intended to determine the contents of various drugs sold as ecstasy (MDMA), ketamine and other currently illegal drugs.  A lack of government regulation results in many illegal drugs containing unexpected substances, including dangerous novel active substances (synthetic drugs). Reagent testing is a blunter method of pill testing, however under current legal restrictions it is one of the options available. 

The Marquis reagent (‘Ecstasy’ kit) and Mandelin reagent (‘Ketamine’ kit) contain different chemicals, which when combined with a sample of a drug, can identify the presence of other psychoactive substances. These kits can be a useful first step in roughly recognising if your drugs contain the substances you expect. 


When using the kit, check, try to ensure the following:  

  • Adequate lighting (either sunlight or white light bulb) 
  • Controlled environment i.e. clear space, privacy 
  • Have baking soda nearby 
  • Wear chemical resistant gloves e.g. nitrile gloves
  • Use a white ceramic surface for reaction (Specialty dish or regular plate upside down)
  • Dispose of testing equipment properly (e.g. biohazard bins) 
  • If you’re not going to discard your drugs and decide to use, practice harm reduction, i.e. know your Set (your mind & body), Setting (physical environment), and Substance (seek credible info), and practice self-care


Reagent testing is unreliable at detecting fentanyl or other synthetic opioids.  While uncommon in Australia, there have been numerous overseas reports of fentanyl contamination in ketamine, cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs sold as stimulants.  Fentanyl is a dangerous drug which can be accurately detected through the use of fentanyl test strips. 

Someone who has overdosed or had an adverse reaction to fentanyl may be:

  • unconscious
  • unresponsive
  • awake, but unable to talk
  • vomiting
  • making choking sounds, or a snore-like gurgling noise


They may also have:

  • stopped breathing or have slow, shallow or erratic breathing
  • bluish purple skin (in lighter skinned people) or greyish or ashen skin (for darker skinned people)
  • a limp body
  • a pale or clammy face
  • blue or purplish black fingernails and lips
  • slow, erratic or no pulse (heartbeat)