| April 21, 2020 | Drug Testing
It’s a big question: how to pass a drug test? An estimated 8 in 10 employers use some kind of drug screening in their employment process, meaning that drug testing is a part of the reality of employment for most Americans, even in states where cannabis has been fully legalized.
The type of drug testing used varies from employer to employer, but the most common types of testing are urinalysis and mouth swabs. Other types include blood testing and the dreaded hair test, the most difficult to pass because of its long window of detection and very low detection threshold. It’s important to know which type of test you’ll be required to take, as that will determine how you go about ensuring you pass. Alternatively, there are natural ways to cleanse yourself of THC to pass each type of drug test, but without the luxury of time, you’ll need to start here.
Table of contents
Cannabis Drug Testing Basics
If you don’t have much time to clean out your system, don’t worry. You still have plenty of options to test clean on short notice, depending on the type of test you’ll be taking.
Abstinence, The Obvious Answer
Of course, abstinence from THC is the only surefire way to know that it won’t end up in your system to yield a positive result on a drug screen. On one hand, THC will be out of your saliva and blood in under 24 hours, making these the easiest tests to pass at short notice. However, urinalysis and hair testing can detect drug use for much longer, potentially months back. They therefore require much longer periods of abstinence, about 100 days for hair testing and over two months for heavy cannabis consumers.
How THC Is Stored In the Body
Before we begin, it’s important to lay out why a simple detox won’t do for ridding THC from your system in a short time frame. When you consume cannabis (through any mode, whether it’s smoking, edibles, or vaping), THC levels in the blood rise and the THC is metabolized into one of several inactive chemicals. The primary metabolite, or chemical byproduct, of THC, is tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid or THC-COOH for short. The THC itself produces your “high,” while the metabolites are simply the leftovers of the metabolism of THC by your body.
Here’s where it gets a little unfortunate for cannabis consumers: THC and its metabolites are lipid-soluble, meaning they aren’t dissolved in water but in fats. This means that, rather than getting flushed through your kidneys and exiting the body quickly, THC can linger in the fatty tissue of your body for months, depending on how frequently you consume cannabis. While many other, more potentially harmful drugs are out of your system in less than a week, THC is different, and no cleanse is going to clear your system of THC and its metabolites in a single day.
So what are you supposed to do if there’s no way to get clean in time? First of all, don’t panic! You still have several options, which we’ll discuss in detail. We’ve fully vetted each of the products we’re about to talk about, so trust us when we say that these options will help even the heaviest cannabis consumers.
Types of Drug Tests
Mouth Swab Test
While cannabis is legal in an increasing number of states, that doesn’t mean employers aren’t still testing for it. If anything, legalization has renewed interest in drug testing (largely to do with the alleged increase in people driving under the influence), particularly using mouth swabs. Mouth swabs are some of the most commonly used drug tests, and it benefits everyone to know how to pass one.
So how do mouth swabs differ from other types of drug testing, and how can you pass one easily? Here, we’ll discuss the science of mouth swabs, what they test for, how long THC stays in your saliva, and how you can accelerate the process of clearing it out to pass a drug screen.
Saliva tests differ from in the chemical compound they test for. Urinalysis screens for both THC and its primary metabolite, THC-COOH. Saliva tests, on the other hand, test only for activated THC, or delta-9 THC, the stuff that ends up on the inside of your mouth after taking a bong rip, a puff off a vape, or a bite of an edible.
In a way, this is good news: it means that, since THC doesn’t stick around long in your saliva, the ability of the test to detect cannabis consumption is pretty short-lived. It also means that the test won’t pick up lingering metabolites in your system. However, it still tests for the psychoactive, and thus illicit, delta-9 THC that lingers in your spit in the period following consumption.
While urine tests are an employers favorite type of drug test (being used over 75% of the time for drug screenings) the reality is, there are still many businesses that use the good old saliva drug test to get the job done. Saliva drug tests are easier to administer than most other drug tests, and because of this, employers will regularly save money by completing these in house.
Because of these reasons, smaller businesses and those that give tests on the fly are typically the ones that use mouth swab drug tests thanks to their simplicity.
We typically see the following verticals being the ones that are tested most for THC:
- Union Workers
- Federal Employees
Generally, drug testing is a common practice among those who handle jobs that deal with physical labor, protection, health, property, and safety. When it comes down to it, even using 100% legal marijuana can prevent you from securing or keeping your job. You always want to be prepared and aware of what type of drug test your employer plans on giving you if any.
When do Employers Use Mouth Swab Drug Tests?
Since the mouth swab drug test is so simple to use it’s prone to be administered before employment, random screenings, or after a work-related incident.
- Before Employment – It’s a common policy for employers to screen potential employees and applicants even before they are guaranteed employment. The reason that employers attempt to do this is that you are at your most vulnerable — you can’t appeal the drug test, you’re not a part of a union yet, you have no time off to avoid the situation. It’s the perfect time for an employer to undergo a drug test.
- Random Screenings – Randomized drug tests are typically given at regular intervals and without notice by employers in labor-intensive jobs. Be aware, that in some states, there are laws in place prohibiting your workplace from administering a drug test without adequate time. Educate yourself to know your rights! Additionally, if you suspect you’re being ‘picked on’ by your employer for not-so-random drug tests — be sure to also look into your discrimination laws.
- Post-Work-Related Incident – These drug tests occur after a work incident that has caused damages to property, injuries, or a very ‘near-miss’. Some workplaces have it in place so that if any ‘incident’ occurs, you automatically will have to take a drug test. In other cases, your direct superior will decide after the accident if you will need to take a drug test.
How Long Does THC Stay in My Saliva?
Fortunately for cannabis consumers, THC doesn’t hang out in your saliva for very long, and any THC metabolites on their way out of your system from your salivary glands aren’t going to show up on the test, because the test isn’t looking for them.
Technically, there’s nothing keeping THC in your saliva. It coats the entire surface of your mouth when you smoke or consume it, but it dissipates pretty quickly after that. Even if you, for instance, literally never brush your teeth (gross), THC would only remain detectable in your saliva for a week or less after you last consumed it. For most of us with good dental hygiene, the number is more like a day or two.
This means that, if you know the test is coming up, you can simply abstain from cannabis for a day or two, and perhaps be extra vigilant when you brush your teeth. If you need to speed up the process, however, there are things you can do to accelerate the clearing of THC from your saliva. Since you can purchase CBD legally online now, you can also try the abundant types of CBD concentrates and isolates out there. Canna Comforts offers organic, non-GMO hemp flower strains that look, smell, feel, and smoke just like their high-THC muses, and lower the risk of failing a drug test.
How To Pass A Mouth Swab Test
Mouth swabs are one of the most common types of drug testing, widely used because they’re cheap to purchase and non-invasive to administer. Mouth swabs only detect THC, not its main metabolite THC-COOH (which can stick around far longer than THC itself). While THC coats the inside of your mouth when you smoke or vape, it doesn’t stick around very long: less than 48 hours. You can speed things along by taking a few extra measures.
First, eat something high in fat. THC is lipid-soluble, meaning it bonds to fat molecules. Eating a fatty food can help draw lingering THC out of your mouth more quickly. It’s also a good idea to brush vigorously and use an alcohol-based mouthwash to draw out additional THC molecules, though alcohol should be avoided in the hours immediately before the mouth swab is to take place. Increase your fluid intake as well, and if you’re really pressed for time, use Toxin Rid Rescue Wash Mouthwash a few minutes before your test to ensure a deep clean in the nick of time.
Blood tests are very expensive to administer and test, and they only have a window of detection of a few hours. For this reason, they aren’t often used for employment, but may be used for liability purposes if you were involved in an accident on the job.
While blood tests aren’t effective for very long, there isn’t a reliable and safe way to beat one while the THC is coursing through your veins. However, if you have at least 24 hours to plan and clear out your system, a Toxin Rid Detox Program can help you get clean in time for your test. Available in a variety of strengths and program durations, there’s an option suitable for every level of cannabis usage.
Urinalysis is very common, as it’s cheap to administer and has a much longer window of detection, especially for THC. Urine screens can detect THC and its main metabolite, THC-COOH, for months after last consumption in heavy cannabis consumers because these compounds hang out in the body’s fatty tissue instead of being flushed out by the kidneys.
Science of Urine Substitution: Powdered vs. Premixed Kits
Another difference between kits you may notice is that some urine kits will come premixed, as a liquid, while others will be packaged as a powder meant to be mixed with water soon before your test. Sometimes “fetish kits” are sold premixed, which may serve as a hint when choosing a urine substitution kit: powdered is the way to go.
This is for a couple of reasons, the main one being that, essentially, there isn’t exactly an official regulation stipulating the expiration date of substitute urine in terms of how long it can legally sit on a shelf before being sold. The premixed urine kits lose some of their “freshness,” and therefore raise your risk of your test being flagged for tampering or a false positive.
From a consumer standpoint, this means that a premixed kit purchased at your local smoke shop may have been collecting dust for over a year before you bought it. During that time, compounds in the urine substitute have chemically changed, shifting the molecular profile of the sample and raising your risk of a false positive. This isn’t to say that it’s completely impossible to dupe a test with a premixed kit (depending on its starting composition, freshness, and other factors), but it does raise your risk of your sample being flagged for tampering — thereby failing you.
For this reason, we prefer to stick to powdered urine kits that you mix yourself shortly before taking your test. Since urine doesn’t stick around for days, weeks, or months inside your body, it just makes sense that you should mix your sample shortly before you take your test. So, now that we’ve gotten the major differences out of the way, there’s still one more to discuss: synthetic urine versus the real deal.
Which Urine is Better for a Drug Test? Human or Synthetic
If you’re trying to pass an upcoming urine drug test, you’ve probably seen plenty of urine substitution kits ranging from synthetic to the “real deal,” powdered and premixed human urine, with lifelike (though that may be a bit generous, given some of the kits we’ve seen) prosthetics or specialized dispensers for supervised tests. There are dozens of products available on the market, but which one will ensure a passing result 100% of the time (when used correctly, of course)?
While the differences between kits may not be immediately evident (or may not seem like a big deal in the face of substantial cost savings or a major time crunch), not all urine substitution kits are created equal. When you’re facing a drug test for something as significant as a new job or the outcome of a legal situation, there’s too much on the line to gamble with inferior products. So how do you, as a consumer, discern which products will help you pass and which to pass on?
Here, we’ll break down the science of urine substitution, discussing the general purpose of these products, the chemical differences between synthetic and human urines, and the risks and benefits of each type. We’ll finish with a brief discussion of our experience with TestClear Powdered Human Urine and why we prefer it to other substitution kits out there.
Composition of Synthetic Urine
Synthetic urine uses the chemicals usually present in human urine to create a sample that, while not of human origin, contains all the markers read by drug tests to indicate that the sample is legitimate (and clean!). This can be achieved in a number of ways (and each company has their own patented formula for doing so), so no two products will be exactly identical.
Generally, these products contain urea, creatinine, and potassium, magnesium, and calcium chlorides, along with sodium sulfate and ammonium phosphate and/or diphosphate. B vitamins or yellow dyes may be added for color, and chemicals called heat activators that bring the sample to temperature when water is added. A urine substitute formulated this way stands a good chance of helping you pass a drug test, but these ingredients are unlikely to be labeled, meaning there’s no knowing for sure what you’re getting.
To add to the uncertainty, a much simpler formula for substitute urine involves urea, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and sodium phosphate. The resulting liquid will look and smell very similar to urine (making it an adequate substitute for many experiments and, yes, fetish purposes), but won’t be convincing enough to fool even the most outdated of drug tests.
Composition of Human Urine
Human urine, by contrast, varies from person to person depending on diet, metabolism, and other factors. It’s a complex liquid that contains about 91-96% water and both organic and inorganic substances. The approximate ratio of organic to inorganic solutes (the technical term for stuff dissolved in a solvent — water in this case) is 7:5, or 7 organic molecules to every 5 inorganic molecules.
In this context, organic means simply that the compounds in question contain carbon molecules, while the inorganic particles do not. These chemicals are largely leftover traces from the foods and beverages we consume, but can also contain waste products from cellular metabolic processes. All these compounds combine to create a complex liquid that differs strongly from its synthetic cousins.
Since human urine comes directly from the source, it won’t be missing any of the key markers tests look for to determine the authenticity of the sample. It also won’t contain any “red flags” that might raise eyebrows at the testing site — with human urine, you don’t have to worry about the yellow dye or heat activator raising the alarm that your sample isn’t genuine. This adds a peace of mind to the testing process that no synthetic urine can offer.
Risks of Synthetic Urine in Drug Testing
So, can you use synthetic urine to pass a drug test? The short answer is: sometimes. This depends on a couple of factors, including the synthetic urine that you’re using and the rigor of the test you’re taking.
Through diligent research and thorough examination of the product (and perhaps even direct conversation with the company providing the synthetic urine replacement), you may be able to determine that a product contains all the necessary compounds required to pass a drug test without flagging the sample for tampering. However, that’s a serious amount of work for a regular person to undertake, and it may not fully guarantee a passing result.
This is because drug tests are advancing all the time, getting better and better at filtering out the fakes from the real deal. Drug test companies and the people trying to beat them are locked in a sort of arms race, with each side constantly inventing better products to try to get past the other.
With any synthetic urine substitute, there is always a non-zero chance (however remote) that the sample may be flagged for being fraudulent or having been tampered with. Such a result will trigger an automatic failing result for you, meaning you can kiss that dream job at your perfect company goodbye. While the risk may be numerically small, we feel that, with the stakes so high, it’s notable.
Benefits of Powdered Human Urine
When you use a powdered human urine like the urine substitution kit from TestClear, you can be confident that you will pass your test. We like the TestClear kit for its ease of use — simply add water to the powdered urine in the included plastic vial, then use one of the included warmers to bring the sample to the appropriate temperature for testing. When mixed about an hour before testing, the sample has plenty of time to reach its ideal temperature, and the slim vial is easy to store close to the body to avoid arousing suspicion on the way into the test.
The human urine powder within the kit will reconstitute to create a urine sample indistinguishable from other human urine by modern drug tests. Since the powder contained within the kit is of human origin, you don’t need to worry about the concentration of the compounds within. You can test with your head high, knowing that you will pass every time. Even against the most sensitive of drug testing apparati, TestClear human urine achieves a passing result 100% of the time.
While it is technically possible to pass a drug test using a synthetic urine substitute, choosing and using a product is fraught with unnecessary risks that can compromise your chance of passing. With the stakes of a drug test being so high, we prefer to use the powdered human urine kit from TestClear. Using clean urine of human origin ensures a passing result and grants peace of mind when testing.
Comparing Side by Side: TestClear vs. Xstream Synthetic Urine
Ultimately, we like TestClear’s kit over the Xstream urine for a number of reasons. For starters, the hard plastic vial is more user-friendly than the bag the Xstream comes in; it may not lay flat against the body like the bag, but we found warming, handling, and pouring the sample much easier with the vial.
Secondly, we feel more confident using a product we mixed ourselves an hour or so before our test than a product like Xstream, which comes premixed and has potentially been sitting on a shelf for a year or more. As drug tests continue to advance, we’re less willing to take a chance on a product that’s premixed — most of the current substitution products that work consistently are powdered urine products.
Finally, we prefer the TestClear kit because it is formulated according to the most current science available, helping keep you ahead of the drug testing technology curve. While this is less of a concern if you’re testing in a small town or at a local lab that may not have yet implemented the most advanced testing technology, it’s definitely something to be concerned with if you’re testing for a major company or a job with a lot of responsibility.
Option 1: Substitution
This is our favorite option, as it works for most drug screens and guarantees you’ll pass your test. The only exception is supervised drug screens, which we’ll talk about later. For the substitution method, you’ll need to obtain clean urine, either from someone you know or from a reputable source like TestClear. We like TestClear’s Powdered Urine Kit for a number of reasons: it’s convenient, it’s simple, and it works every time. Simply add water to the powder in the vial, which holds plenty of volume for your sample at 50 mL, about 45 minutes before your test. Then, use the air-activated heater to warm the specimen up to between 90 and 99 degrees—the high-quality, reusable temperature strip lets you know when you’re good to go. You can also purchase extra heaters at the time of purchase, that way you know you’re covered in the event of a delay.
This is the stuff they use to calibrate drug tests, so it’s guaranteed to pass every time. For this reason, it’s our exclusive recommendation for a completely foolproof result. If you’re taking an unsupervised drug test, the substitution method is going to be your best, most reliable option.
Option 2: Dilution
Let’s be clear: there is no anecdotal “system flushing” technique that is supported by science. The biggest problem with dilution is that testing facilities have caught on to the flushing strategy, and have procedures in place to flag samples that have been diluted beyond normal levels. This means that, in order to pass, you must ensure that the sample is diluted enough so as not to test positive while staying below the threshold for raising eyebrows at the testing facility. It should be noted that this method probably won’t work for heavy consumers, but if you only smoke once or twice a week, dilution may work for you.
So how do you dilute your urine? The first thing to do is abstain immediately, as soon as you are notified of the drug test. This may seem obvious, but continuing to consume certainly won’t do you any favors. In this vein, the longer you can abstain prior to the test, the better your chances of passing are. The aggregate levels of THC and its metabolites will continue to decrease the longer you abstain for.
It also helps to exercise in the time leading up to your test, though it only helps if you have enough time. This is because exercise increases the rate at which your body releases stored THC and its metabolites, which definitely isn’t helpful right before you’re scheduled to pee into a cup. For this reason, we suggest refraining from exercise in the few days before your test, but if you have a few weeks to plan, then hit the treadmill and sweat off some of those cannabinoids!
Make sure you’re eating healthy foods to keep your urine sample as close to normal as possible. Drink enough water and eat sensibly, supplementing with natural diuretics like coffee and cranberry juice if you desire. Then, about 24 hours before the test, take a vitamin B complex to help return the yellow color to your sample, making it appear less diluted. It’s also a good idea to substitute with creatine, as its absence serves as a red flag for dilution in particular.
Before the test, it’s a good idea to test yourself using an at-home marijuana drug testing kit. This will allow you to test yourself and find out if you’re testing clean or not. If it comes to be the day of the test and you still aren’t testing under the threshold for marijuana, you still have one more option: masking, or adulteration.
Option 3: Adulteration
If you’re down to a day or two before the test, you aren’t testing clean, and powdered urine is out of the question, you have one more option at your disposal. It’s not our favorite, but it works in a pinch: using detox products to adulterate your urine sample, allowing it to temporarily test clean.
We stick by what we said before: no product can completely cleanse your body of THC in a single day. However, these products work by masking THC and its metabolites in your urine, allowing them to fly under the radar on the test and helping you pass.
If you’re going to be watched while you pee, we like MegaClean Cleansing Drink because it works, it’s easy to use, and it’s surprisingly tasty. Take the entire contents of the bottle about 3 hours before your test, then wait 15 minutes and refill the bottle with water and consume that. Keep drinking water and be sure to urinate frequently in the hours leading up to your test. MegaClean’s effects are at their peak at 3 hours from ingestion, so timing is key. You’ll need to make sure that the specimen you provide isn’t your first pee after taking Mega Clean—go as often as you need to and continue to drink water in the hours leading up to your test. Mega Clean is effective for five hours after ingestion. So, while you’re best off timing it out to test at the three hour mark, you’ve got some wiggle room if the test gets delayed for some reason.
The MegaClean Cleansing Drink will help even the heaviest consumers pass a drug test on short notice. However, if you have more time, we suggest using the Toxin Rid product line from TestClear, which is available in 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10-day detox programs. All of the Toxin Rid products come with a Money Back Guarantee, meaning these products really work. We prefer ordering from TestClear because products can be shipped overnight—perfect for passing that last minute drug test.
Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to stick to your plan. If you aren’t using the powdered urine samples, then you’ll need to prepare for your test and make sure that you time your use of any adulterant products carefully for maximum effectiveness. Be sure to read all instructions and follow them closely, and test yourself beforehand if possible.
Ah, yes, the dreaded hair test. Notoriously hard to beat for its extremely long window of detection and its ultra-low detection threshold, the hair test is usually reserved for high-security positions but is growing in popularity. It’s more challenging to beat (and your hair won’t like it one bit), but it can be done!
First, you’ll need to get a cleansing shampoo like the Old Style Aloe Toxin Rid Shampoo or the Zydot Ultra Clean Shampoo. While both these products can be used separately, we find they’re most effective when used in conjunction with one another. Our preferred cleansing regimen is to wash with the Toxin Rid shampoo 10-15 times before the day of the test, supplementing with the Zydot every 3-5 washes. This is because of Zydot’s three-step cleansing system, which helps deep clean before adding some shine and strength back into the hair. The day of your test, wash once more with the Zydot for a final deep cleanse and conditioning benefits, then follow up with a good conditioner to help restore some of your hair’s health.
There are also home remedies you can use to supplement this routine, though we wouldn’t rely on them alone. You can soak your hair in white vinegar for 15 minutes before shampooing, then treat it with a salicylic acid acne treatment (yes, the kind you would usually use on pimples). Then, if you’re feeling really bold, wash your hair with some liquid detergent—it will seriously dry out your hair, but it will strip out all the oils and any THC molecules attached to them.
While it’s not for everyone, you can also bleach your hair, then dye it using a box dye with peroxide developer (avoid direct dyes, which lack the chemical cleaning effects of other dyes). In order for this to be effective on its own, however, you would need to do it several times, which could really fry your hair.
Nearly 8 in 10 US employers require some type of drug screening before hiring, with some continuing to use drug tests over the course of employment. About 7% of these employers use hair follicle testing, one of the hardest types to beat. Hair testing is often used for jobs in airports, casinos, and other higher-security positions. It’s also used by an estimated 10-15% of Fortune 500 companies—hair testing’s prevalence is growing, as it reliably detects regular drug use over a long period of time.
Since the hair follicle test shows use over a period of at least three months (and potentially much longer), it’s notoriously difficult to beat and, as with any drug testing method, abstinence is the best way to pass. That said, if you’re facing an impending hair follicle test, don’t panic! There are ways to beat the test and cleanse your hair of THC in time, without waiting months for it to clear naturally. Here, we’ll discuss the science of hair testing, then break down what works and how to cleanse properly.
What is Hair Follicle Drug Testing?
While many companies stick to the tried and true urine or blood drug tests to check for recent drug use, the hair test is able to detect THC in your system for a much longer time. A human hair stores a long history from when it sprouts, to the moment you decide to get a haircut. This history is also stored in all of your hair including arm and, you guessed it, pubic. This is one of the reasons why you should really think before shaving your head as your last result. More on that later.
A clinician will cut a small sample of your hair with the goal of collecting ~50 strands of hair. That sounds like a lot, but more often than not your administrator will be able to complete this in three very small snips. The sample is typically taken from the back of your head with respect to your classy hairstyle in mind. Again, if you’re bald or have opted to shave your head before your drug test, samples may be taken from other parts of your body.
How Does THC End Up In My Hair?
Your body processes THC and other cannabinoids in complex ways, causing cannabinoids and their various metabolic byproducts to end up scattered throughout the body’s different systems. THC initially finds its way to your hair, or more accurately your hair follicle, through your bloodstream in the blood vessels that supply those follicles.
Here’s where it gets a little bit interesting: THC doesn’t actually stay in your bloodstream that long. It typically only stays there for as long as you’re high (a few hours in most cases, though it can remain detectable in small amounts for up to two or three days in the heaviest consumers). So how does such a short-lived phenomenon yield such a durable record of your THC consumption.
The body breaks down cannabinoids in the blood quickly, but not quite quickly enough—some of the THC molecules find their way into the soft tissue surrounding the root of your hair (keep in mind, all the action is taking place beneath your scalp so far). Some of those THC molecules attach themselves to the cortex, or outer layer, of the hair strand itself, emerging from the scalp as a cannabis-infused hair about 5-10 days later.
How Long does THC Last in my Hair?
When it comes to drug testing, employers typically like to use hair drug tests for their benefits of going further back than urine drug tests and mouth swab drug tests. While technically there is no definitive time frame for how long THC remains in your body, it has been shown through several studies that THC lasts anywhere from one week to three months for THC to completely become undetectable from hair follicles.
This, of course, is reliant on how often you use THC products, how strong the weed or strain is, your metabolism/diet, your body fat percentage, how often you exercise, and how much you perspire. These tests were originally designed with their purpose being to catch heavy drug users. However, occasional and daily users are still prone to show up on these tests as they are very accurate. Do note that hair drug tests can determine drug use as far back as twelve months, but typically, will only reach back about the three.
The Science of Hair Follicle Testing
Consuming cannabis in any kind of real quantity (beyond a single puff at a party once in a blue moon) will be detected in a hair test. A hair test is estimated to be 6-10 times more accurate than body fluid testing for drugs, meaning it’s much more difficult to beat than a urine screen or cheek swab.
If you consume cannabis with any kind of regularity, your hair will reveal “bands” of THC indicating periods of usage, resulting in a positive reading. It takes just the tiniest amount of THC to trigger a positive result, too: one picogram per milligram. For those at home who don’t routinely measure on that side of the metric system, a picogram is 0.000000000001 grams.
The only way to beat a hair test is to cleanse the outer part of the hair shaft, a process which is definitely going to rough up the condition of your hair. You should realistically expect some damage before all this is over, though this can be remedied with a few deep-conditioning treatments and a keratin treatment if necessary. Save the restorative processes until after testing though, as waiting will allow you to strip out as much of the THC as possible with the cleansing shampoo.
Pass a Drug Test in 3 Hours
The unthinkable has happened: you’re being subjected to a urine drug screen with practically zero notice, and you’re panicking. You know that THC sticks around for ages in urine compared to other substances, and you’re scared of what will happen if you fail. How are you supposed to pass a urine drug test in 3 hours?
Take a deep breath, then another. All is not lost, and you can pass a drug test with very short notice beforehand. Here, we’ll cover two methods to help you pass a urine drug test within three hours: the substitution method and dilution/adulteration using a detox drink.
We should note that we’ve experienced success with the dilution/adulteration method for moderate THC consumption (meaning a bowl or two twice a week or so) using both Mega Clean and XXtra Clean detox drinks, available from TestClear. If you choose to use this method, it is imperative that you use a reliable detox drink — this is not the time to pick up the cheapest thing at the smoke shop and go!
We don’t mean to imply that a passing result is impossible with another product, but we do recommend making every effort to use a reliable, consistent, potent detox drink. We highly recommend Mega Clean or XXtra Clean (XXtra Clean is our favorite for more frequent consumers), and your results will depend on how closely you follow the instructions. Don’t get creative with your detox, and try to minimize your risk of failure wherever possible.
Since short-notice tests like this tend to be pretty high-stakes (like for employment, insurance, or legal purposes), it’s in your best interest to have a substitution or cleansing method on hand just in case. We recommend having at least a powdered urine kit on hand at all times, with a detox drink as well if you suspect you might be subjected to a supervised test (unlikely, but super stressful!).
This might sound a little excessive, but if you work for a company that routinely or randomly drug tests their employees (or in an environment where a workplace accident is more likely, such as a warehouse or distribution center), being prepared can really save your proverbial bacon. If you have the product you’re using to pass on hand, you won’t need to waste valuable time tracking down a bag of fake urine or a cleansing product — and if you’re using the dilution/adulteration method, time is of the essence.
In that spirit, we strongly recommend choosing the substitution method wherever possible, especially if you smoke, vape, and/or take edibles more than three times per week. Substitution with powdered human urine (as opposed to the synthetic stuff) is the most reliable way to ensure a passing result in every situation. If you can use the substitution method, we highly suggest you do so, as it’s the surest way to pass a urine drug test in 3 hours.
That said, all may not be lost if you have to take a supervised drug test. We’ve had good success with detoxing quickly — provided our use was light to moderate (for our purposes, generally 2 or fewer times per week). We don’t mean to imply that passing is impossible for heavier users with the dilution/adulteration method, but we do encourage you to be realistic about the capabilities of even the best detox products and plan for your drug test accordingly. If you smoke every other day or more, we strongly advise you to go for substitution over a detox attempt.
Gather Your Tools
First, you’ll need to get your hands on the materials you’ll need for your chosen method, and soon. If you’re using the substitution method, a powdered urine kit from TestClear will contain everything you’ll need to mix and use your substitute sample. This includes the powder itself, a vial to mix your sample in, adhesive warmers to bring the sample to body temperature and maintain its warmth, and a precise temperature strip that changes color to indicate when the sample is in the right range for testing.
If you’re using the dilution/adulteration method, get your detox of choice as quickly as possible. Hopefully, you have a bottle of Mega Clean or XXtra Clean on hand and ready to use, but if not, we suggest looking for a cleansing drink that contains plenty of fruit pectin, lots of B vitamins, trace minerals, and a hefty amount of creatine to give you the best chance possible. You might consider adding a dose of fruit pectin (available at the grocery store) to your detox if you have doubts about its efficacy.
Hour 1: Start the Process
During the first hour, you’ll want to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible if you’re planning to use your own urine. For discretion, you can either remove the label from your detox drink or place it in a bottle of your choosing, such as a large sports bottle or something with opaque or colorful sides. Adapting the container you use for your detox will help you blend in and avoid suspicion while cleansing.
When you’re ready, drink the entire bottle of your chosen detox drink in one go, aiming to finish the bottle within about 15 minutes of starting it. Once you’ve downed it all, refill the bottle with water and, again, try to get it all down within about 15 minutes.
After you’ve drunk the first bottle of water, go ahead and refill the bottle again with water, but drink this one at a bit more leisurely pace, finishing within 30 minutes of starting it. If you feel the urge to go, do it! The more you are able to urinate before your test, the better off you’ll be, since eliminating as frequently as possible before testing will help flush your system more effectively.
This strategy will help set you up for success if you’re using a detox product by hydrating your body in preparation for the diuretic effects of the cleansing drink. All that extra water will help flush residual THC from your system, providing you with a window during which you’ll test clean. If you’re using Mega Clean or XXtra Clean, you’ll be at your cleanest about 3 hours from testing — be sure to read the directions if you’re using a different product!
If you’re cleansing first thing in the morning, it’s okay to have a cup of (black, possibly sweetened but with no creamer) coffee or tea in addition to the detox drink and the water after. That said, don’t overload yourself with extra caffeine, which can combine with the diuretic effects of the detox to produce dehydration, discomfort, and potential health consequences. This is especially true if you’re sensitive to stimulants. When in doubt, reach for water over other drinks during this time.
If you’re using the substitution method, you can relax during this first hour. Make sure you have all your equipment and a bottle of water (we’ve used tap in a pinch with success, but we prefer something filtered for substitution purposes) to mix your sample with. We’ll put everything together and start preparing in earnest in the second hour.
Hour 2: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Your Detox Products
When using a detox product to produce a clean sample of your own urine, you’ll want to use this second hour to keep yourself hydrated, using the restroom whenever you feel the urge and rehydrating frequently. We recommend drinking about two of your detox bottles refilled with water during this time, but if you feel the desire to drink more, go for it.
Steer clear of coffee, tea, or energy drinks during this time; if you really need to have something other than water, try drinking some juice (we like apple or cranberry best for these purposes). Keep away from caffeine — after all, your kidneys are already working overtime, and putting them through extra stress with more diuretics than necessary just isn’t advisable.
If you’re substituting your urine, you’ll need to mix up your sample at this time. This is simple and pretty foolproof: add some of your bottled water to the powdered human urine in the vial, filling it up to the line, and shake well to dissolve all of the powder. If any clumps of powder remain, try rolling the vial to allow these particles to dissolve properly. You should be left with a vial of liquid that looks, feels, and smells indistinguishable from urine (because it is).
Next, you’ll need to apply the temperature strip and warmer to start bringing your sample to body temperature. Simply adhere the temperature strip along the side of the vial, then apply the warmer so that it envelops the bottle in a cozy little hug. Once everything is mixed and the warmer is applied, stash the vial in a pocket (make sure the lid is tightly sealed to avoid accidents!), checking the temperature every 15 minutes or so.
Hour 3: Preparing To Test
As the big moment draws closer, it’s time to finalize your preparations and get ready for the test itself. Regardless of which method you’ve chosen, this hour will mostly be spent in maintenance mode—keeping hydrated if you’re using your own urine, and holding your sample at temperature if you’re substituting it.
If you’re using your own urine, keep up with your water intake (about 12-16 ounces every 30 minutes or so) and continue to flush your system by eliminating whenever you feel the urge to go. If you’ll be supervised, it helps to have some urgency so that you don’t suffer from “stage fright,” so drink up!
If you’re substituting your sample, check to ensure that your sample is at or near body temperature (if it’s a little warm, you might remove the heater about 15-20 minutes before testing to allow it to cool a few degrees). It’s also a good idea to drink some water during this time, to ensure that you are able to urinate while pouring your sample into the specimen cup (not being able to go could draw suspicion).
When it comes time to test, you’ll be ready. If using your own urine, collect your sample from midstream (as opposed to at the beginning or end of the stream) to take the cleanest possible sample for testing. When substituting, pour your sample into the specimen cup while you are urinating to avoid arousing any suspicion. Then, you’re done! Hand off your sample cup (after cleaning up any splatter, of course — don’t be that guy!) and walk out of the testing center with your head held high.
While passing a urine drug test at extremely short notice is stressful and difficult, it isn’t impossible. A little preparedness can go a long way toward ensuring a passing result, so pick up a urine substitution kit and/or detox product to keep on hand in the event of a sudden test, especially if you work in an environment where workplace accidents are a semi-regular occurrence. When used correctly and appropriately, a detox product or substitution kit can help you pass your drug test, saving your job or your legal status.
How To Clear THC from Your Saliva
Since the window of detection for mouth swab tests is relatively short, it’s a good idea to simply hold off on smoking for a few days leading up to when you suspect the test. Edibles reduce the risk of detection a little bit, but it’s better to just abstain for a couple days rather than take the gamble. You might also consider an organic, non-GMO hemp flower strain or in the interim. Researchers are working on a test with lower ranges, so it’s a good idea not to put yourself at risk for a nasty surprise!
Sometimes, however, you don’t have an advance warning, requiring you to find a quick solution to help you pass the swab. For these time-sensitive instances (like a police checkpoint or a surprise test at work), there are two reliable ways to pass the test.
Pass A Mouth Swab Drug Test With A Few Hours Notice
As far as surprise drug screens go, the best-case scenario is that you’re going to be tested, say, at work, but you have a few hours before the swab. First, start drinking lots of fluids. Vigorously swish water around in your mouth, and use a non-alcoholic mouthwash if you have some on hand. If you can brush your teeth, absolutely do, and be thorough!
It’s also a very good idea to get a helping or two of some fatty food. Remember, THC is lipid-soluble, meaning it bonds to fat, so eating something with a high-fat content can help remove lingering THC from your mouth quickly and effectively.
Pass a Mouth Swab Drug Test With No Notice
In the worst-case scenario, you get pulled over and don’t have a moment to spare. Don’t freak out just yet: you’ll be prepared after reading this guide. It’s time for some adulteration!
You might have heard of the adulteration method if you’ve been researching how to pass a drug test: adulterants are chemicals that interfere with a drug test’s ability to read the sample, and there are new and improved ones coming out constantly. This is because there’s an arms race of sorts between drug testing companies and the people trying to beat them: an adulterant works and beats the test, only for a new test to come out that can detect the adulterant’s presence, and the process starts all over again.
For mouth swabs, the general adulterant of choice is hydrogen peroxide. You can swish some vigorously around in your mouth quickly and adulterate your saliva enough to fool the test. This trick only works for a short period of time, so you have to use it just minutes before you’re swabbed. For this reason, it’s not ideal, but it does work in a pinch.
We recommend keeping a bottle of Toxin Rid in the glove box for such instances, as it works quickly and reliably, and certainly tastes better than hydrogen peroxide (ick). Swish with one-third of the bottle at a time, spitting between, and pop in a couple of breath mints for good measure.
Pass a Drug Test in 24 Hours
We’ve all been there: you’re wrapping up the interview for your dream job, and it’s going perfectly. Until—record scratch—the interviewer says something like, “We’d like to extend the offer pending a required drug screen. Please report tomorrow for your drug test.” You smile confidently and agree, but on the inside—yikes! Fortunately, you have options available to you.
If you have longer than just 24 hours to pass a drug test than your options become a lot wider and more accessible with a little more time. For some methods we’ll discuss below, like how to pass a hair follicle drug test in 24 hours, are less damaging when you have a wider window for detoxification.
While it’s true that there’s no cleansing program that can totally cleanse all the fatty tissue of your body within 24 hours (the primary goal for passing a urinalysis, one of the most common drug screens), there are products available that can provide you with a small window of time during which you’ll test clean.
If you’re taking an unsupervised urinalysis, the solution is even simpler: use this kit to provide a guaranteed clean sample. There are even options for short-notice hair testing, which we’ll discuss in detail here. No matter what test you’re being subjected to, there’s a way to get clean in time!
Know What You’re Up Against
In order to effectively detox the part of your system being tested, you’ll need to know what kind of test you’ll be subjected to. After all, clearing your blood won’t help you pass a urine screen, and flushing your system won’t save you from a hair follicle test. You’ll need to know what type of screening you’re up against before you can cleanse your system properly.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what type of drug test your potential employer plans on having you take. The majority of major businesses use the tried and true standard piss test to determine if THC is lingering in your body. A urine drug test is typically administered for a new job 75% of the time. After that typically comes hair follicle drug tests, blood tests, and at the bottom of the list, saliva drug tests.
With any of the detox methods, we’ll discuss below, it’s important to stop consuming cannabis immediately. It may seem obvious, but you want to keep from introducing any more THC molecules to your system, which could recontaminate you and lead to a positive result.
How to Pass a Mouth Swab Drug Test In 24 Hours
A mouth swab is one of the easiest tests to pass, especially on short notice — some mouth swag tests don’t even test for THC! But, don’t ask your administrator what the specific mouth swab drug test you’re taking takes into consideration. That would seem a little suspicious, no?
Abstention for a day or two clears THC from saliva naturally and easily (provided you brush your teeth like normal!), but you can accelerate this process in a few ways: first, consume high-fat foods. THC is lipid-soluble, meaning it binds to fat molecules so fatty foods can help make THC make a quicker exit from your mouth.
Second, brush brush brush! You’ll want to combine good oral hygiene with vigorous mouthwashes (alcohol binds to THC as well, but be careful not to use an alcohol-based mouthwash right before the test!). To make sure you pass on short notice, use this mouthwash a few minutes before your swab for an extra layer of protection; it cleanses any lingering undesirable chemicals in time for a short-notice mouth swab.
How to Pass a Blood Drug Test In 24 Hours
Blood tests also have a fairly short window of detection, as THC usually only lasts for a few hours in the bloodstream. It’s also quite expensive and the sample needs to be sent off to a lab for testing, so for these reasons, it’s not a very popular drug test. That said, some companies do still use it (especially immediately following a workplace accident), and there’s a chance you could have to take one.
Using a 10 day program can help clear your system more quickly, though it helps if you have more than 24 hours to prepare. As long as you have a full 24 hours to abstain, your blood will likely test clean—blood tests take a “snapshot” of the last few hours, but they don’t indicate habitual cannabis consumption. However, if you’re subjected to a blood test, you might be asked to take a urinalysis in conjunction with it (read on).
How to Pass a Urine Drug Test In 24 Hours
A short-notice urinalysis is enough to rattle any cannabis consumer, and it’s easy to see why: urine drug screens test not just for THC, but also its main metabolite, THC-COOH, an inactive form of THC. Using an antibody designed to bond with THC and THC-COOH, the immunoassay detects the chemical that gets you high, as well as its main metabolic byproduct.
The bad news is, THC and THC-COOH can linger in the body’s fatty tissue (they’re lipid-soluble, remember?) for months in heavy cannabis consumers. This means that cleansing your tissue of all THC completely within 24 hours is, unfortunately, impossible. That said, there are two reliable ways to beat a urine screen with little to no notice. The first is the substitution method.
To use this method, purchase a urine kit (shown in image below) and keep it on hand for a surprise drug test. Then, the day of your test, mix the powdered urine with water and use the included heater to warm it up to body temperature. The reusable temperature strip will let you know when your sample is between 90 and 100 degrees. Then, use this sample when it comes time for your test! While this method only works for unsupervised drug tests, it is a surefire way to test clean every time.
If you have to take a supervised drug test, don’t fret: there’s still another option. You may not be able to totally cleanse your entire system, but you can give yourself a window of time during which you’ll test clean. Take a drink in its entirety about three hours before you’re scheduled to take the drug screen, then fill the empty bottle with water and drink that as well. If you have time the day before, take the included pre-cleanse pills with 16 oz of water each over six hours. However, avoid taking them within twelve hours of your test.
Keep drinking fluids in the hours leading up to the test (don’t overdo it, overly diluted samples are also a red flag, but do keep safely hydrated) and make sure the sample you provide for your test isn’t the first pee after drinking Mega Clean. Urinate as many times as you need to beforehand. It’s effective for five hours after consumption, with its peak effect after three hours, giving you a moderately flexible window during which you can test clean.
How to Pass a Hair Follicle Drug Test in 24 Hours
Since hair tests go back so far (the period tested is only about 90 days worth of hair, but it could theoretically be tested all the way to the ends of the hair shaft) and have such a low threshold for detection, they’re notoriously hard to beat. That said, you do have some options, though we should warn you that your hair will hate you for what we’re about to recommend.
First of all, you’ll need to get a cleansing shampoo like Toxin Rid or Zydot (we highly recommend the combination of both: Toxin Rid before, and Zydot to finish). The three-part cleansing system of Zydot makes for a good final deep clean before the test and restores some strength and shine to the hair, which will be quite dry after all is said and done.
We recommend washing your hair at least 10-15 times with the shampoo, perhaps supplementing with Zydot every 5 washes or so, before you’re due to test. It sounds extreme, but it works. You’ll need to let the shampoo sit on your scalp for about 15 minutes each time before vigorously scrubbing to remove oils and other molecules from the hair shaft. Focus on the scalp, where oils tend to remain.
You can also supplement with vinegar rinses, salicylic acid acne treatments, even detergent washes (your hair won’t like it at all, but it will help). You can also use a bleach or box dye that includes peroxide developer to help remove excess THC, though it would take multiple processes to remove everything through this method. It’s important to avoid re-contamination by contact with things like hair brushes, linens, and hats that were used on your un-cleansed head. Change all your linens, wash hats, and perhaps get a new hairbrush just for this purpose.
A Testing Arms Race
We need to note something about the drug testing industry and its relationship with cleansing companies. The two fields are locked in a sort of arms race with one another: as drug test cleansing companies create products that can fool the tests, more advanced tests are created. This spurs the creation of more advanced cleansing and substitution products, and so on in a self-sustaining cycle of enhanced precision and more detailed formulas.
In some ways, this is a good thing — all that competition between the two industries spurs advancements in both of them. Furthermore, research into the development of new products enhances our understanding of the science of drug testing, improving our access to empirical information on the subject. However, it puts consumers in a bit of a bind, making it so that the product that worked last year might not work next week. When choosing a cleansing or substitution product, it’s crucial to make your decision based on the most current information available.
CBD & Drug Testing
Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture: avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely. A single study (as yet unconfirmed) suggests that even isolate-based products may not be completely risk-free under certain circumstances.
If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.
At Home Drug Tests + Drug Store Tests
Drug tests are an unfortunate reality for many Americans—even in states where recreational use of cannabis is fully legal, many employers still hold a negative view of cannabis use and seek to screen out cannabis consumers from the pool of prospective employees. As many as 8 in 10 employers use some kind of drug screening in their hiring process, and an estimated 10-15% of Fortune 500 companies use hair follicle testing, the most rigorous and notoriously difficult to beat of the drug panels available.
Since drug testing is so prevalent, especially in the employment world, it can be helpful to know where you stand, especially if you’re facing a drug test in the near future. You’ve likely heard about home drug testing kits, perhaps with mixed reviews. While home drug tests are a great way to check your status before the big day, it’s important to get your testing kits from a reliable source and to make sure that they’re made with current technology. Here, we’ll break down the science of different types of at-home drug tests and recommend a few that we swear by.
Types of At-Home Drug Tests
The type of at-home drug test you’ll need depends on the type of testing you’ll be subjected to: after all, it does no good to test clean on a mouth swab only to be asked to pee in a cup! Different drug tests have different windows of detection, so it’s important to know what you’ll be asked to submit to.
Unless you’re taking a blood test, you have options for testing at home before the big day. From urine screens to mouth swabs to hair follicle tests, there’s an option for just about every need.
How Accurate are At-Home Drug Tests?
Drug tests that you can order online have advanced to be near as accurate as most laboratory tests. In some cases, you’ll even have to send in samples to an actual lab similar to how your chosen test facility would.
To get the best results, you’ll need to make sure your testing kits come from a reliable source: we like TestClear because they’re a reliable source to cover all of your drug testing needs. They offer a variety of drug testing and detox products, as well as express shipping for when you’re on a time crunch.
At-Home Urinalysis Drug Tests
An at-home urine drug screen will test for both THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis responsible for the high it produces, and THC-COOH, its main metabolite, or inactive metabolic byproduct. Since THC-COOH can hang around in your body’s fatty tissue, it can be excreted through urine for a long time, potentially months for long-term heavy consumers. We like the kit offered by TestClear (read our review OR just buy it) , as it’s 99% accurate and works by the same process as laboratory tests.
To use an at-home urine drug testing kit like the Marijuana Drug Test Kit from TestClear, you’ll need to collect a small sample of urine into a sterile cup. Then, remove the test from the pouch (make sure it’s at room temperature first) and take off the cap to reveal the test panel, essentially a little dipstick with arrows on it. Immerse the panel to about 50% of its length (don’t pass the arrows!) for 10-15 seconds, allowing the capillaries (tiny tubes) in the panel to soak up the urine and carry it deeper into the panel for testing.
After immersion, do not wipe the test panel. Set it on a flat, nonabsorbent surface and allow it to process for 5 minutes before reading. Timing is important: the results are invalid and therefore should not be read beyond ten minutes. The test will detect THC and its metabolites at a concentration of 50 ng/mL, a threshold comparable to the vast majority of laboratory urinalysis tests.
Now, a note about reading an at-home urinalysis: these drug panels work exactly the same as their laboratory cousins in that they test for the presence of THC and THC-COOH using a type of test called an immunoassay. This type of testing uses antibodies designed to bond with THC and THC-COOH, saturating the molecule (or taking up all the available bonding sites). This prevents a visible line from forming on the test panel because the antibody molecules are saturated with THC and THC-COOH molecules, and thus unable to form the line indicating a negative result.
Thus, you should look for two lines on a negative test: the control line, which confirms the validity of the test, and the test line, which indicates a negative result no matter how faint it is. If there’s a line there, you’re in the clear! A positive result will produce no line at all, and would trigger a confirmatory GC/MS test, a different type of testing that is more specific than the immunoassay, to confirm the presence of illicit substances. If there is no line in the control box, the results are invalid regardless of what they show.
At-Home Mouth Swab Drug Tests
At-home mouth swab drug tests are just as accurate as ones administered by professionals as they are publicly available for at-home use. Saliva drug tests are meant to detect the presence of THC, not its lingering metabolites, in your saliva. The window of detection for this test is thus much shorter, about 1-2 days for most of us, because there’s nothing really keeping THC in your saliva (unlike your fatty tissue or hair follicles, where it can linger for months).
The SalivaConfirm 6 Panel Oral Fluid Screening Kit works to detect the presence of illicit substances themselves in saliva, and tests for six different drugs: THC, methamphetamine, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. To use a mouth swab at home, introduce a saliva sample into the testing apparatus, then read the results in 8-10 minutes after allowing to process.
As with a urine screen, reading the test is simple: the lines will appear as expected in a negative result, and will fail to appear in a positive result. Make sure two lines appear to confirm a positive result: if the control line does not appear, then the results of the test are invalid and should be repeated with a new test.
At-Home Hair Follicle Drug Tests
This one is sort of a home-laboratory hybrid, as you collect the sample in the privacy of your own home and then mail it to a lab for analysis. Use the shipping label included with HairConfirm Regular Hair Drug Testing Kit and the lab will receive your sample the following business day, delivering results within two business days of sample receipt. Since you’re sending it to a laboratory, it is just as accurate as the real deal.
To use the HairConfirm test, take a sample of hair according to the instructions (about 90-120 hairs should do the trick) and cut it off as close to the scalp as possible. Then prepare it for shipment by putting the sample in the provided container and sealing it before sending it out to the lab. You’ll receive results in approximately 2-3 business days.
For THC in particular, this is one of the most sensitive tests available, detecting THC at levels as low as 1 picogram per milligram. For reference, a picogram is 0.000000000001 gram! Hair testing is remarkably sensitive, and the HairConfirm test performs comparably to other laboratory testing using the exact same methods—you can trust that if you test clean with it, you can pass that upcoming hair test. GC/MS testing will be performed to confirm any positive results at a threshold of 0.3 pg/mg.f
If you’ve recently been to a Walgreens, Wegmans, or even a Dollar Tree, you’ve likely seen small, marijuana-specific drug testing kits floating about on the shelves. Sometimes near the pregnancy tests and sometimes off in a section of their own, these kits claim to detect THC in urine. But do drugstore test kits work for marijuana?
You may have seen saliva drug tests, some for cannabis alone and others for the “big 5” of drug testing: cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids, and amphetamine salts (like Adderall, Vyvanse, and other commonly abused stimulant medications). How well do these cheap kits actually work? Are they reliable?
These inexpensive testing panels claim to offer consumers the ability to test themselves (or, in some instances, their loved ones) for illicit substances in the privacy of their own homes at an affordable price. Some keep the promises minimal, while others claim very low detection thresholds capable of catching even very occasional use. That’s all well and good, but do these products actually work?
Here, we’ll talk about the science of drug tests, how these inexpensive kits rose to popularity, and whether they actually work. We’ll discuss important drug testing criteria (including thresholds of detection) and help lay out how to choose the right drug test for your needs.
Urine vs. Saliva Testing: What’s the Difference?
While both urine and saliva tests can be used to accurately detect the presence of THC in humans, the two types of tests work in different ways and have different periods of detection. This makes a difference depending on what your purposes are: saliva tests are usually used to detect THC over short periods of time, usually 48 hours or less.
By contrast, THC remains detectable in urine for long periods of time, potentially weeks or even months in heavy consumers. This makes urine tests ideal for determining a person’s long-term consumption habits; where saliva tests only look at the past couple of days, a urine test can detect THC for much longer after the last use of cannabis.
As cannabis becomes legal in more and more states (Illinois recently legalized recreational cannabis, becoming the 11th US state to do so), companies who utilize pre-employment drug testing are less interested in testing for THC. Those that do continue with established testing programs are starting to shift toward saliva testing and away from urine screens.
This is because urine screens may show a positive result for someone who last consumed THC weeks ago, whereas a saliva test would show a negative result for the same person. Companies are starting to recognize that cannabis use doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from being good at their job, and policies are shifting accordingly — albeit slowly.
That said, urine drug screens remain the most commonly used tool for THC detection, both in pre-employment and legal situations. Unless you know for a fact that you’ll only be subjected to a saliva screen, it’s helpful to be prepared for a urine test. For information on how to ensure a passing result for either test, check out our article on how to pass a drug test.
Unsurprisingly, urine and saliva drug tests function very differently (after all, they are testing entirely different bodily fluids), but there are a couple of similarities between the two tests. Both detect THC in their respective testing media, and both are commonly used by prospective employers to screen potential hires and maintain a safe work environment.
However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Saliva testing is less invasive (a simple mouth swab, as opposed to peeing in a cup) and presents a clearer picture of current intoxication levels than urine screens. These tests detect the presence of THC and other substances in the saliva, which is generally a good indicator that the substance is also present in the subject’s bloodstream at the time of testing.
To do this, saliva screens take a swab of the subject’s saliva (either with a mouth swab, spitting into a cup, or allowing a swab to sit in the subject’s mouth for 2-3 minutes, as with the SalivaConfirm drug test from TestClear). The saliva is then placed into a container for testing; results may take up to 10 minutes to show, but some tests show results in as little as three minutes.
Because they show THC levels at the time of testing, saliva tests are most commonly used in situations where employers need to know if a person is under the influence while at work, such as after a workplace accident or for insurance purposes. Saliva screens may also be used when companies are not necessarily concerned with long-term occasional cannabis use, but do want to be sure that a prospective employee is not stoned during the interview.
Urine testing, on the other hand, does not paint a reliable picture of intoxication levels at the time of testing. This is because, unlike saliva tests, urine screens look for both THC and its main metabolite, THC-COOH. This is an important distinction because, while THC itself is broken down fairly quickly by the body, THC-COOH can linger in the body’s fatty tissues for months in heavy consumers.
For this reason, urine testing is very commonly used by both employers and the legal system to determine a person’s long-term cannabis use or abstinence from THC. Unlike saliva screens, which test a person’s immediate level of “contamination,” urine drug tests provide institutions with an idea of what a person’s consumption habits look like over a longer period of time.
Urine testing relies on a type of test called an immunoassay, which uses special molecules that attach themselves to THC and THC-COOH molecules when they are present in the sample. When these molecules bind to THC or THC-COOH, they prevent the color indicator from rising to the surface of the test (the particles that create the line indicating a passing result). As long as even a faint line is present, you will be considered passing. However, if the line fails to form, you will fail your test.
Drug store tests work using the same technology as their laboratory counterparts (in fact, many private label brands are made at the same facilities as higher-end tests, often with the same materials and components) and, for the most part, they’re pretty accurate. The only notable exception, which we’ll cover in more detail a bit later, is the threshold of detection, or the level of THC that needs to be present in order to yield a positive result.
Urine vs. Saliva Testing Kits: Which is Right for You?
When choosing an at-home testing kit from your local drugstore, it’s a good idea to have your goals in mind. Is this for personal use, or do you intend to “check yourself” before going in to take a supervised drug test? Are you seeking to determine your level of THC contamination before embarking on a cleansing regimen? Do you need to help test a loved one for THC?
Whatever your reasons, you’ll want to make your decision based on what you need. If you need to know whether you’ll test clean on a urine screen for a new job, then choose a urine test. If you need to know if someone is presently under the influence (or has been very recently), a saliva test is the right choice for you.
For most pre-employment tests, urine tests are the way to go: they’re affordable and give results in minutes without extensive laboratory testing, and they’ve long been considered the “gold standard” of drug testing. 8 times out of 10, if you’re being tested for employment or legal reasons, you’ll be taking a urine drug screen.
That said, there are a few notable exceptions. A few companies (Amazon among them) have started to use saliva screens over urine tests since they’re less invasive, increasingly affordable, and don’t penalize subjects for occasional use in the same way that urine tests can.
Furthermore, even if you took a urine drug test to be hired at your current job, a random drug screen or one that takes place after a workplace accident is more likely to be a saliva test than a urine test. This is because, for these types of tests, immediate intoxication is the most important detection need. Furthermore, saliva screens are easier to administer at random (we recommend keeping a bottle of Rescue Wash handy if you’re routinely subjected to random saliva tests).
While there are differences between drugstore testing kits and their laboratory cousins, there are far more similarities. A drug test you pick up at a CVS or Eckerd is likely to be made with much of the same technology as high-end brands, even down to the components within the tests. That said, if you suspect you’ll be taking a highly sensitive test, it’s worth it to skip the drugstore and order a high-quality, low-threshold drug test from TestClear.
Drugstore Kits vs. High-End Kits
The main difference between drugstore drug testing kits and their pricier counterparts is the threshold of detection, or the level of THC needed in a sample to be picked up by the test. As a general rule, higher price tags on a drug test indicate a lower threshold of detection, meaning they can find very low levels of THC in samples.
Cheaper drug tests are still just as effective for most people as high-end tests, and compete well with their most commonly-used counterparts. In some instances, the test at the drugstore may be remarkably similar to the one you take at your prospective employer’s office. That said, there are a few situations in which a drugstore test kit might not cut the proverbial mustard.
For example, you might run into an issue if you take a drugstore test and pass, only to take a cutting-edge test for your local fire department that has a slightly lower threshold of detection that just barely fails you. This is pretty unlikely to happen (most tests have a detection threshold somewhere between 20 and 50 ng/mL, a pretty narrow window), but it is a non-zero possibility.
If you know that you will be taking a test for a very strict company or for a legal entity, it might be a good idea to take extra precautions. We recommend using the substitution method for urine drug tests, though detoxes can also be effective for occasional to moderate consumers. It’s also a good idea to use a higher-quality test to prepare yourself for the big day, such as the at-home urine screen or SalivaConfirm panels, both available fromTestClear.
We prefer substitution over dilution and adulteration because it removes most of the risk associated with using your own urine for the test. For saliva screens, we rely on Rescue Wash; check out or review for more details (we smoked mere hours before testing and still passed with flying colors). Regardless, know that the drug tests available at your local drugstore are plenty effective for detecting THC, and should be suitable for most purposes.
Products to Help Pass a Drug Test
Drug testing, whether for employment or legal/insurance purposes, is an unfortunate fact of life for many of us. We at Key to Cannabis believe that THC and CBD use should not impact your career and want to help you make informed decisions about any cleansing or substitution products you choose.
In a crowded market of flashy packages on cleansing products that practically promise the moon, how do you find the things that live up to their labeling? Here, we’ll break down how to choose a drug test cleanse that actually works. We’ll outline the things you need to know choosing a product to help you pass your drug test, what to look for in a provider, and how to optimize your chances of passing.
Drug Test Programs
Just like the products they sell, not all drug testing product retailers are trustworthy. There are products that are available from Amazon, GNC, and other major retailers (often at bargain-basement prices), but these brands don’t stand by the products they sell—if it doesn’t work, you’re up a certain creek without a paddle.
Additionally, they won’t be able to tell you anything about how the product works or whether it will work for your particular situation. You might save money in the short term, but that savings won’t be of much help if you lose your job or miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime because you failed your drug test.
We prefer to use TestClear for our drug testing needs. Drug testing is TestClear’s entire business—they stand behind the products they carry, provide outstanding customer service, and can advise you on what product will best suit your needs and the test you’ll be taking. They provide guaranteed shipping to ensure that your order arrives when you need it, and all reviews on their website are from verified consumers.
Because drug testing is such a high-stakes issue, we feel that it’s important to choose the most advanced, reliable products available to help ensure you pass. We trust TestClear and their drug testing experts for our cleansing and substitution needs—we’ve had outstanding results with their products and their team of friendly, helpful drug testing pros can answer questions any time. Next to their competitors, TestClear stands apart; their customer-focused approach and attention to detail make them an exceptional source for your drug testing needs.
Drug test products marketed as “cleansing” are sort of right—but also sort of not. Because THC sticks around for so long in the body (it attaches to fat rather than water, making it very hard to flush out effectively), there isn’t a way to truly cleanse your body of THC quickly. The only way to do that is to abstain completely, often for months if you’ve been a heavy consumer for a long time.
So, if these products don’t truly cleanse your body, then what do they do? These products use ingredients like cayenne pepper, dandelion, and turmeric to purge surface cells of THC so that it can be flushed away by the kidneys. Second, diuretic ingredients like caffeine and cranberry extract are used to induce flushing of the system. Finally, masking ingredients like B vitamins are used to improve the chemical content of the urine and avoid diluting it too far to be tested.
Urine Substitution Kits
If you’ve spent any time researching urine kits, you’ve probably noticed something a bit, well, peculiar: the labeling of some products for fetish purposes. Some urine substitutes are marketed as being for the purpose of fetish fulfillment, largely to sidestep regulations that restrict advertising of a product to “cheat” a drug test. We’re not trying to kink-shame (different strokes and all), but a fetish urine kit is not necessarily going to help you pass a drug test.
In a way, this marketing can be helpful, as it can serve as a signal that this is not the right product for you. This is because urine substitutes marketed this way have a tendency to be less rigorously formulated than others. In a way, this makes sense; after all, they’re theoretically marketed towards human urine fetishists and not laboratory equipment, meaning they likely won’t help you pass your drug test.
With this in mind, in our experience it’s a good practice to skip these kits in favor of those formulated with the specific compounds tested for in urine drug tests (more on that in a moment). You need a kit intended to be read by modern drug tests as human urine, not flavored to taste like it.
When we need to pass a urine drug test, our go-to method is substitution. This method replaces your own urine sample with a small amount of clean urine, ensuring a passing result. There are plenty of synthetic urine options available on the market, like our favorite, the Powdered Urine Kit from TestClear.
A popular-but-risky way to pass a drug test on very short notice. We tend to prefer to use the substitution method to pass a urine drug screen, but this may not be an option for supervised testing. If this is your situation, a detox drink might be just what you need — but there are some important things you need to know before starting your cleanse.
We need to open with an important distinction: it is not possible to truly eliminate all THC and its metabolites from your body in a protracted period of time. The only way to cleanse your body of THC (in the strictest and truest sense of the word) is to detox naturally, which can take anywhere from a few short days to a period of months, depending on how frequently you use cannabis.
So, if these drinks aren’t zapping the THC from your cells, how do they help you pass a drug test using your own urine? We’ll cover the science momentarily, but the short answer is that detox drinks use a combination of chemical actions in your body to help you produce urine that will test clean during a certain window of time. After this period, you’ll test positive again — the cleansing effect isn’t lasting, but it will get you through your drug test unscathed.
Detox products work by a combination of a couple different mechanisms: first, they dilute your urine, and therefore any THC or its metabolites that might be present. Second, they adulterate your urine with compounds to help mask the presence of THC and give some of your dilute urine its color and chemical properties back.
Finally, many detox drinks contain compounds that are believed to encourage the flushing of THC from your cells, removing the molecules from the superficial layer of your internal tissues. Note that this only takes place at the surface — your deeper tissues will still harbor THC and THC-COOH for as long as you continue to consume cannabis. That said, it can help improve your chances of testing clean. The effectiveness of these substances is improved by frequent urination.
Ingredients to Look For
There are many different ingredients that are commonly used in detox drinks. Here, we’ve broken down the most effective and safest by category according to their purpose. The following ingredients are generally considered safe and effective for cleansing purposes when used as directed:
- Diuretics, or ingredients designed to cause you to urinate more frequently, serve to help dilute your urine while promoting the flushing of THC from surface tissues. These ingredients include compounds like:
- Caffeine, a well-known stimulant
- Ginseng, a naturally-derived supplement commonly used in energy drinks to boost focus — with the side effect of increased urination
- Guarana, another plant-derived stimulant
- Taurine, a compound extracted from the livers of cattle that’s been found to increase energy (and urination, lots of stimulants have that effect)
- Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is often used to dilate blood vessels, invigorate the body, and speed up the body’s metabolism. This is the molecule responsible for the “niacin flush,” or reddening of the skin, that accompanies energy drink consumption in some consumers, and may induce a type of short-lived “head rush” when taken very quickly in large doses.
- Cranberry extract. While it’s been shown to be ineffective at treating a UTI, cranberry may help cleanse the urinary tract of non-bacterial chemical elements and assist in flushing “surface” THC from the body
- Adulterants, or ingredients included to help replace vital compounds in your urine to compensate for dilution while masking the presence of any residual THC. Many of these compounds are contained within your urine naturally; these ingredients are intended to put back together the chemical profile that’s distorted through the dilution process.These may include:
- Creatine, a precursor to creatinine, a compound found in urine naturally and one of the most important markers for a testing lab that a sample is genuine and untampered with
- Vitamins B6 and B12 are often used to return color to diluted urine, as are folate, or vitamin B9, and thiamin, or vitamin B1
- Biotin, a compound necessary for healthy hair, skin, and nails
- Zinc, chromium, selenium, and manganese are trace minerals typically found in urine
A Cautionary Note About Herbal Extracts
While most herbal supplements are safe for consumption when used as directed, it is wise to be aware of the herbs included in your detox of choice and any interactions they could have with medications you take. For example, burdock root extract can be very helpful for flushing the kidneys, but could cause a reaction in people allergic to daisies or chrysanthemums. Milk thistle extract works well to protect the liver and soothe potential digestive discomfort resulting from using a detox drink rich in minerals, but could reduce the effectiveness of estrogen-based birth control pills.
As with anything else, it’s important to consider the potential risks an ingredient might carry for you before making an informed decision. There are entirely too many potential ingredients and corresponding interactions for us to list here, but we’d like to present a few general precautions to minimize any risk of a negative interaction.
Firstly, please exercise caution with detox drinks if you are currently taking any diuretics or blood pressure medications. This is because detox drinks are quite diuretic on their own and could cause dehydration when combined with a similar medication. Secondly, be cautious if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and considering a detox drink. Most ingredients are fine, especially for one-off use, but may cause problems for high-risk moms or those with sensitive systems.
We don’t mean to incite panic or scare you off of buying that detox, we just want to encourage you to be mindful of what you put into your body. The risk of adverse side effects is vanishingly small, but still non-zero; consequently, we feel we owe it to you to mention it as you consider the right detox drink for you.