Can Synthetic Pee Be Detected in a Lab?

Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller, Ph.D Pharmacology, Drug Testing Specialist

Last updated on 2024 Jul 13

Standard lab drug tests, such as the 10-panel and 5-panel tests used by the DOT, cannot detect synthetic urine.

However, there are tests specifically designed to identify synthetic urine, and I’ll explain those.

Regular lab drug tests use the immunoassay method. In simple terms, it contains antibodies that latch onto substances like THC and cocaine.

Antibodies are proteins used by our immune system to fight off invaders like viruses. In this test, they help catch THC molecules.

When the strip is dipped in urine, it uses capillary action to pull the liquid up. If THC is present, it will stick to the antibodies coated on the strip.

The THC binding to the antibodies causes a color change or a line to appear on the test strip. This is due to a reaction involving either an enzyme or a dye that interacts with the THC-antibody complex. This color change means THC is in the urine.

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However, this method does not check if the urine is synthetic. If you were to place a drug test strip in water, it would show a negative result for drugs, as water does not contain any drug metabolites.

In summary, a panel drug test cannot detect synthetic urine, but laboratories use other methods to identify synthetic samples.

Now, let me discuss those methods with you.

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How drug testing labs can detect synthetic urine

Here are the methods that can be used to detect synthetic urine.

LC-MS/MS Analysis of Endogenous Biomolecules

Liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) is a technique that separates and identifies molecules in a sample.

Labs use this method to find specific natural biomolecules in urine, like amino acids and other small molecules.

If these natural biomolecules are missing or appear in unusual amounts, it might indicate the sample is not real urine but synthetic.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37933588/

Enzymatic Detection of Uric Acid

This method uses an enzyme, a type of protein that speeds up chemical reactions, to detect uric acid in the urine.

Uric acid is a waste product found in urine. The presence and amount of uric acid help determine if the urine is genuine or synthetic because synthetic urine might not always have the correct levels of uric acid.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37933588/

Commercial Test Kits (e.g., Axiom Test True SU)

Commercial test kits are designed to check if a urine sample is synthetic by detecting certain chemicals that are usually added to synthetic urine to make it look real.

These kits can give a quick indication if the urine is possibly fake.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37933588/

Detection of Unique Polyglycole Patterns

This method involves looking for specific patterns of polyglycoles, which are compounds not typically found in natural urine. Detecting these can indicate that the urine is synthetic.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29956490/

Quantitative LC-MS/MS Assay for Caffeine, Cotinine, Theobromine, and Urobilin

This is a more specific type of LC-MS/MS test that targets certain compounds such as caffeine, cotinine (from nicotine), theobromine (found in chocolate), and urobilin (a breakdown product of bilirubin). If these compounds are absent or show abnormal levels, it suggests the urine sample might be synthetic.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31755779/

AdultaCheck and Synthetic UrineCheck Test Strips

These are strips that can detect certain chemicals added to synthetic urine to mimic the properties of natural urine. When dipped into the urine sample, these strips change color based on the presence of these adulterants.

Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30194711/

Summary

So, as you see – there are two methods used to detect synthetic urine. The first method is gas chromatography, and the second is test strips.

Both methods search for specific components found in synthetic urine or for substances present in natural urine but missing in synthetic urine.

Gas chromatography is a costly method and is typically used in rare situations, such as court-ordered tests or to confirm results when a drug test is positive.

On the other hand, test strips are more affordable and are widely used during drug tests to identify synthetic urine.

How to avoid detection of synthetic urine in a drug test

During a drug test, your urine will undergo several checks:

The initial step is a visual inspection. Here, the tester will look at the urine’s color and any signs that suggest it might be tampered with.

Next, they check the urine’s temperature, which is a common reason many fail when using synthetic urine because they submit it at an incorrect temperature. Following that, your sample is sent to a lab where it undergoes further tests.

At the lab, the urine is checked with test strips for adulteration.

These tests determine if the creatinine level, pH, specific gravity, and other natural urine parameters are within the normal range.

Then, it might be tested with strips that specifically identify synthetic urine, such as Adulteracheck strips. Only after these tests will it be checked for drug metabolites.

If you’re using synthetic urine, you must ensure it passes these checks. It should have a reliable heating method to maintain the correct temperature and be formulated perfectly to evade detection by tests like Adulteracheck.

Lastly, make sure your synthetic urine’s composition closely resembles real urine. This is crucial for passing all these checks.

I reviewed the best syntetic urine kits in this article: We Reviewed The Top Fake Urine Options For Passing A Drug Test In 2024

Conclusion

Five and ten panel drug tests cannot detect synthetic urine directly.

However, synthetic urine can be identified during the initial inspection through visual, temperature, and validity checks.

To pass all these checks, use high-quality synthetic urine with effective methods to keep it warm and discretely hide it on your body.