If you're thinking masking agents may be a good way to beat a drug test, you may want to think again. Testing processes have improved a lot over the years, and many common ways of beating them are no longer effective.
Even so, do masking agents work to beat drug tests? What is a masking agent anyway? Are current detox products based on masking agents?
What is a masking agent?
By definition, a masking agent is a chemical reagent that reacts to interfere with the analysis when looking for particular forbidden substances. This is particularly relevant to drug screenings, because they normally use inexpensive immunoassay devices for the first round of testing, followed by a more expensive GC-MS test to confirm a positive result. These immunoassay devices are easily disrupted by foreign substances, and if you can get past these, you'll never be subjected to the more accurate GC-MS test.
For a urine test, a masking agent would normally be added to your urine sample before handing it in. This used to work, and there were many commercial urine additives developed specifically for this. Unfortunately, the testers got wise to them and introduced a separate adulterant test to catch cheaters.
This test looks for oxidants like pyridinium chlorochromate and nitrates that have been used in commercial masking agents to oxidize drug metabolites. It also looks for other oxidants like bleach and hydrogen peroxide, as well as glutaraldehyde, which disrupts the enzymes in immunoassay devices. None of these should be in normal urine, so their presence is a clear indication of attempted cheating.
In addition, the adulterant test checks for normal pH, creatinine, and specific gravity levels. If any of these deviate from what is deemed acceptable, it will be interpreted as potential cheating. For example, a low pH might indicate that an acid (e.g., vinegar) has been added to the sample.
Are masking agents for urine tests still available?
Most masking agents for urine drug tests have been withdrawn from the market, because they are too easy to detect these days. If you do see any for sale, they are probably old stock or a blatant con. Either way, they won't work, so avoid them at all costs.
What about detox drinks? Are these masking agents?
The commonly available detox drinks and detox pills are also sometimes referred to as masking agents, because they hide the presence of drugs from urine tests.
This is somewhat of an oversimplification, though, because they're not masking agents in the traditional sense. They do not introduce a reagent to neutralize drug metabolites or interfere with drug testing devices, so they don't include any chemicals that could be detected in an adulterant test.
Instead, these drinks usually use natural ingredients to trigger the urinary system to flush itself. None of these ingredients will cause any out-of-the-ordinary chemicals to appear in your urine, so they're practically undetectable. They also include additional ingredients to preserve the natural characteristics of your urine.