Cold Water Extraction: What is & How to do

Medication has always been vital to millions of lives. However, if taken in high doses, it would lead to drug overdose, which can execute permanent damage in the liver. Acetaminophen (referred to as APAP), generally known as Paracetamol, is one of the most frequent cause of poisoning around the world as well as acute liver failure in the US and UK. Cold Water Extraction (CWE) could save us from liver damage as it eliminates the APAP in prescription pills.

What is CWE?

What is Cold Water Extraction? The main goal would be extracting the opiate and taking away all the other harmful substances which may be obtained from any medication especially pain killers. Basically, pain killers, like codeine, contain opioids that are mixed with pain relievers like paracetamol and aspirin. Though it might sound like it is a complicated process, the procedure is actually very simple and easy to follow. Apparently, cold water is the reason behind this wonder. It works as opioids substances are soluble in water and the unwanted substances such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin are almost insoluble in water especially if it is cold.

How to perform Cold Water Extraction:

Though cold water extraction or CWE sounds intricate, it is actually not. Good news is that you can actually do this at home with a few things to remember and to consider. Please bear in minds that sanitation plays a very important role in utilizing the procedure. Before doing the step-by-step process, make sure everything is clean from our hands right unto the equipment which will be used as doing this untidily would just waste the entire course. Also, patience is also essential as this method may be handful but it is all worth it.

  1. Pulverize the tablets into a fine powder. Powder loss could be minimized if put in a Ziplock bag, enclosing it. Pill crusher may also be used in crushing the medication.2. In a lukewarm water, dissolve the powder. Keep in mind that hot water or boiling water is not advisable to be used as it could break down the opioids. It is also better if you use more water than the required amount as it will be more effective. Put ½ cup of water (150mL) in a wide-mouthed glass or container then the powder.
  2. After mixing them together, let it settle and chill to room temperature for about 10-20 minutes. Mix it with a stirrer once in a while until completely dissolved. Mixing it too quickly might lead to breaking down codeine inside, so you do not need hurry.
  3. By then, you will see some particles are settled at the bottom of the glass or container. Transfer the mixture into the freezer. Be cautious about cooling the mixture as you don’t want it to freeze. Do not cover the container. However, it must be watched or monitored properly to avoid turning it into ice. This part of the procedure might take 20-25 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture by using a pre-wet coffee filter or cheesecloths. If you do not have any filter, you may use a clean handkerchief as well. Position the filter on the top of another container and make sure that it is clean as well. Fasten your filter into the other container with a rubber band or a tape. Pour the cool mixture slowly to the other container but avoid breaking the filter. Once broken, you have to filter it again. So not pour too much water or even touch the filter.
  5. When the filter stops trickling, it means the filtering process is finished. But it is advisable to check for clogs first as it may also cause the dripping to stop. You may see that it would obtain a dense marshmallow-like matter. You may squeeze the filter into another container if you prefer. You can use this as a spare mixture.
  6. The mixture may be a little shady or, as much as possible, as clear as water. What’s important is that the harmful substances are mostly gone and safe to drink. It might be too bitter for most people’s taste. It may be blended into other beverages like juice or other sweet drinks. But some prefer to drink it straight and just endure the taste.


As drug overdose is becoming more common nowadays in different countries in the world, it is preferable to perform cold water extraction to people who are, of course, consuming such prescription medications. CWE is indeed a healthy routine for many aspects of taking meds. We may think that CWE is only applicable for medical purposes only, but it is also suitable for people who take pain killers frequently and those who are using it for recreational purposes. Pharmaceutical corporations tend to put in some toxic substances to the painkillers prescribed to patients. One reason is because of their anticipation that people may abuse the meds. Several hospitalization cases associated with this kind of prescription medications are those individuals who consume a high dosage of paracetamol, actually higher than the suggested, whether they have full knowledge of the risk of overdosing on this drug or not. In fact, this could even precipitate serious liver damage as paracetamol is hepatotoxic.

CWE significantly enhances the quality of a person’s life and avoids risks in taking painkillers. With the implementation of CWE, it would greatly decrease the risk of paracetamol overdose and toxicity, which is connected to numerous deaths and hospitalizations every year.