Crack and cocaine are both drugs created from the coca plant but have a different level of refinement.
Crack cocaine (often nicknamed crack after the sound made during its manufacture) is a lower-purity form of free-base cocaine and contains sodium bicarbonate as impurity. It is a solid, smokable form of cocaine. It is a freebase form of cocaine that can be made using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or sodium hydroxide, in a process to convert cocaine hydrochloride (powder cocaine) into methylbenzoylecgonine (freebase cocaine).
edit Difference between ingesting crack and cocaine
The common method of ingesting crack is smoking. It is refined by removing hydrochloride salt that is present in the street form of cocaine. It is said that crack makes a crackling sound when smoked.
Cocaine is usually inhaled in powder form through the nose. This is also called snorting, and may damage the mucus membranes. Another method of consuming this highly addictive drug is intravenous injection. Injection gives an instant and intense high but has inherent risks. Cocaine can also be smoked, swallowed or taken as a suppository.
edit Appearance and characteristics of crack vs cocaine
Cocaine in its purest form is a white, pearly product. Cocaine appearing in powder form is a salt, typically cocaine hydrochloride (CAS 53-21-4). Street market cocaine is frequently adulterated or “cut” with various powdery fillers (such as baking soda; sugars, such as lactose, dextrose, inositol, and mannitol; and local anesthetics, such as lidocaine or benzocaine) to increase its weight. Adulterated cocaine is often a white, off-white or pinkish powder.
The color of “crack” cocaine depends upon several factors including the origin of the cocaine used, the method of preparation – with ammonia or baking soda – and the presence of impurities, but will generally range from white to a yellowish cream to a light brown. Its texture will also depend on the adulterants, origin and processing of the powdered cocaine, and the method of converting the base. It ranges from a crumbly texture, sometimes extremely oily, to a hard, almost crystalline nature.
In purer forms, crack rocks appear as off-white nuggets with jagged edges, with a slightly higher density than candle wax. It resembles a hard brittle plastic, in crystalline form (snaps when broken). A crack rock acts as a local anesthetic, numbing the tongue or mouth only where directly placed. Purer forms of crack sink in water or melt at the edges when near a flame (crack vaporizes at 90 °C, 194 °F).