One of the best ways to help pass a drug test for cannabis use is to dilute your urine. Here is how to do it right.
There is one thing that is universally agreed upon when it comes to beating a urine drug test for THC: you should always drink a lot of fluids right before the test. Every other method has its supporters and detractors, but nobody will deny this one works, and rightly so.
Beating a drug test is all about getting your urine THC metabolite levels below the concentration cutoff. Drinking more fluids increases urine output, but it does not increase excretion of THC metabolites. So doubling urine output cuts THC metabolite concentrations by half, quadrupling urine output cuts THC metabolites by 75%, etc.
This method works, so no one should be skipping it. However, advice on how to do this is all over the place. Here are some of the top problems that I see (all are real quotes from other sites):
- It is too vague: “Drink water non stop all day the day before the test, but not too much or else you will die from water intoxication.” Drink water, but stop before you die? Genius advice!
- It is not personalized: “3-4 hours before your test, start by drinking 2, 8oz. glasses of water. Then drink another 8oz. every 15 minutes for the next hour for a total of 6 glasses of water (48oz).” So a 300 pound man should drink the same amount as a 90 pound female? I don’t think so.
- It is not accurate: “Drug-testing contractors look for abnormally low creatine levels as an indicator that dilution tactics have been employed. Actually, they look for creatinine, a metabolite of creatine. How can you believe someone who can’t get the basics right?
- It is dangerous: “Wake up at least 4-5 hours before the test. Begin drinking water immediately; you will need to consume 2-3 gallons“. This could mean drinking almost 3 L of water per hour. This amount could lead to water intoxication for some people!
Confused yet? No worries, that is why I wrote this guide. I will show you how to dilute your urine to the maximum extent possible without triggering them to reject your sample.
How Drug Testing Companies Try to Stop You
Urine dilution sounds simple enough, but drug testing companies will check your urine sample to see if it is too dilute. If they determine it is diluted, this may lead either to a test failure or the opportunity to retake the test one more time (it depends on how diluted it is and how strict your employer is).
1. Visual Appearance
A clear urine color indicates dilution. The lab tech could flag your sample as diluted based on visual appearance alone.
Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism that is excreted into your urine. Urine creatinine is typically used to measure kidney function, but it is also another way that drug testing companies measure whether you have diluted your urine.
3. Specific Gravity
Specific gravity is a measure of density. The density of your urine is determined by the concentration of solutes in your urine. Any molecule that is in solution in your urine (for example, electrolytes) will increase its specific gravity.
Recommended Urine Dilution ProtocolThere is a famous quote: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” I believe that this applies to drug tests as well.
This protocol is a lot more complicated than most advice you receive. But as I pointed out at the beginning, most advice sucks, and is little better than drinking a bunch of water and keeping your fingers crossed. This protocol will thoroughly prepare you and give you confidence that you will pass!
So what is the best way to dilute your urine (without getting caught)? Here is what to do:
- THC test strips: This brand is great because it measures 5 different levels of THC metabolites – 15, 50, 100, 200, and 300 ng/mL. Most test strips only test one level, so you don’t really know how much is in your urine.
- Creatinine test strips: This brand differentiates between 5 levels of creatinine – 10, 50, 100, 200, and 300 mg/dL. It would be ideal if it measured 20 mg/dL, which is a common cutoff value for drug testing labs, but you can eyeball it. This test also differentiates between 7 different values of specific gravity.
- Vitamin B2: The exact brand doesn’t matter. “B complex” vitamins also work because they contain vitamin B2.
- Electrolyte powder: The exact brand and flavor doesn’t matter.
- Creatine supplement (optional): The exact brand doesn’t matter. This is optional since creatine doesn’t raise urine creatinine levels nearly as much as people think it does. This is for people who are worried they are cutting it close and want to do everything possible to ensure they pass. Not everyone needs it.
Perform a Trial Run
- Calculate your lean body mass (LBM).
- For 3 hours, drink the electrolyte solution at a rate of 4 mL per pound of LBM per hour. This is about 0.5 L per hour for the average male, for a total of 1.5 L over 3 hours. Drink the solution somewhat evenly, so that every 15 minutes you have finished about a quarter of the volume for that hour. You should pee a few times throughout this period.
- After the 3 hours is up, collect your next urination in a cup.
- Measure your urine THC metabolite level with the test strips.
- Measure your urine creatinine and urine specific gravity with the test strips.
Determine If New Hydration Rate Is Needed
- If THC metabolites are below 50 ng/mL (or even better, below 15 ng/mL) and creatinine is above 20 mg/dL, then you are golden. Relax and repeat the same protocol on test day.
- If THC metabolites are above 50 ng/mL and creatinine is sufficiently above 20 mg/dL, then you need to increase your hydration rate to dilute the urine more. Do a calculation to determine how much more dilution you need for THC metabolites and how much more dilution will result in a dilute sample. However, do not go above 16 mL/pound of LBM. Example: Your THC metabolite level is 100 ng/mL and your creatinine level is 50 mg/dL. Increase hydration rate by 2-fold to bring metabolite level to 50 ng/mL, but maintain creatinine level above 20 mg/dL.
- If THC metabolites are sufficiently below 50 ng/mL, but creatine is below 20 mg/dL, then you need to decrease your hydration rate. Example: Your THC metabolite level is below 15 ng/mL and your creatinine level is 10 mg/dL. Decrease hydration rate by 2-fold to bring creatinine level above 20 mg/dL, but maintain THC metabolites below 50 ng/mL.
- Repeat the trial run with the new hydration rate (if applicable).
- If THC metabolites are above 50 ng/mL and creatinine is below 20 mg/dL, then you are in a tricky situation. You need more dilution to reduce THC metabolites, but you are risking a diluted sample. Consider adding creatine supplementation. Read other articles on my site about how to clear THC metabolites. Delay taking the test if possible.
Note: The 50 ng/mL THC metabolite cutoff is more common, but some labs use a more strict 20 ng/mL cutoff! Verify which cutoff your lab will use if possible.
5 Days Before Test (Optional)
- Start creatine supplementation of 20 g/day. If you bought the 2.5 g capsules, you can take two of these 4 times per day.
- 3 hours before test: Start hydration with electrolyte solution as described in the trial run. Use the hydration rate you determined from previous trial runs.
- 1 hour before test: Take 200 mg dose of vitamin B2.
Rationale for Urine Dilution ProtocolHow did I come up with the above protocol? For those who want all the details, enjoy! Otherwise, feel free to skip this section.
Rationale for Hydration Rate and Timing
Why start hydrating 3 hours before? Some people recommend starting 6 hours before or even the day before, but I believe that this is excessive. You only need enough time to boost your urine output and urinate a few times before the test to clear out your old (more concentrated) urine.
I’m also assuming that you are starting from a reasonably hydrated state to begin with. If you found during your trial run that you didn’t urinate at least a few times in the 3 hours, then I would extend the hydration time to 4 hours.
Average urine output is about 50 mL/hour (but it can range from about 30-80 mL/hour). After 3 hours of drinking excess fluids, your urine output will be about equal to your hydration rate. So if you are drinking 0.5 L/hour, you will pee about 0.5 L/hour. Your kidneys typically can’t remove more than 1 L/hour of fluids anyways, so consuming more than this rate will cause you to accumulate water.
Some quick math: If you are producing 0.5 L/hour, your urine will be 10 times more dilute than at the average rate of 50 mL/hour!
Rationale for Vitamin B2A very clear looking specimen may arouse the suspicion of the collector and trigger additional testing. This is easily countered with vitamin B2. Vitamin B2 (also called riboflavin) is water soluble and excreted by your kidneys.
200 mg of Vitamin B2 will be enough to color your urine. I recommend taking this dose 1 hour before the test to allow adequate time for the B2 to be absorbed and start to be excreted into the urine. You can take higher doses (it is very safe), but there is no need to make the urine a bright neon yellow.
Rationale for Electrolyte Solution
Why use the electrolyte solution instead of water or any other drink? Two reasons: specific gravity and safety.
As mentioned above, if you don’t fail the creatinine test, the lab may not even measure specific gravity. However, if they do measure it, you better be sure that it is in the right range. If you consume only water, then your specific gravity will drop. However, consuming the electrolyte solution will add additional electrolytes that will be excreted by your kidneys and keep your urine specific gravity in a normal range.
The normal range of specific gravity is 1.005 to 1.030 (pure water has a specific gravity of exactly 1.000 at 4 degrees Celsius). A typical cutoff for low specific gravity is 1.003. You need to stay above this.
Consuming water can also be dangerous if you take too much. Consuming water faster than your kidneys can remove it (and they can only remove about 1 L per hour) will start to change your electrolyte balance. In extreme cases, this can lead to brain swelling and death. The electrolyte solution reduces this risk, since it contains the electrolytes that your body needs to function properly. You should still approach anything above 1L/hour with caution.
Rationale for Creatine
A normal urine creatinine range is 20-370 mg/dL in males and 20-320 mg/dL in females. The greater your muscle mass, the higher your urine creatinine is likely to be.
The DOT and SAMHSA guidelines (which many drug testing labs follow) have a cutoff of 20 mg/dL for urine creatinine. If your value is below this, then the sample is flagged and the lab may run additional validity tests, such as specific gravity. You may also be required to give another sample.
So you can see that if your creatinine levels are at the lower end of the normal range to begin with, it won’t take much urine dilution to drop it below the threshold. If you are at the higher end of the range to begin with, you don’t have as much to worry about. You could dilute your urine 10-fold and still be fine.What to do if you need further dilution to lower THC metabolites levels, but your creatinine is already too low? You need to raise your creatinine levels, but this isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Many people recommend to add a creatine supplement (creatine is a precursor to creatinine). However, creatine supplements don’t raise urine creatinine nearly as much as people think. Here are some actual scientific studies:
- 20 g/day for 5 days did not significantly change urine or blood creatinine in active young males
- 20 g/day for 5 days did not significantly change urine creatinine in well-trained students. Serum levels increased 18%
- 20 g/day for 5 days did not significantly change urine creatinine in young active men and women. Plasma levels increased by 22%
- 30 g/day for one week raised serum creatinine by 22% and urine creatinine levels by 47% (although the difference in urine wasn’t statistically significant)
- 0.1 g/kg lean body mass/day (6-8 g/day) for one week did not significantly change urine creatinine in male college athletes
Overall, there were consistent, but modest increases in serum or plasma creatinine. Although the differences in urine creatinine typically weren’t statistically significant, I do expect urine creatinine levels to increase proportionately to plasma or serum concentrations. Therefore, I think you can expect urine creatinine levels to increase by about 20% with 20 g/day creatinine supplementation for 5 days.
Because of this modest effect, I only recommend creatinine supplementation for people who are pushing dilution to its limits and want to do everything possible to raise creatinine levels.
There may be other ways to raise urine creatinine levels, but research is scant. I found one report that urine creatinine levels increase 50% during exercise. I still have not found solid data on what would happen if, for example, you worked out the night before. It is possible that urine creatinine levels could be higher the next day, but I am still not sure.
The most certain way to have higher urine creatinine levels is to have greater muscle mass to begin with. Weight lifters have a huge advantage here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Take a Diuretic to Increase Urine Output?
You can take a diuretic if you want, but there is really no need. Drinking a lot of fluids is enough to increase urine output to the proper level. Adding a diuretic on top of this won’t do much more.
Should I Avoid the First Urination of the Day?
Yes, you should avoid the first urination of the day. Your kidneys have been excreting THC metabolites into your urine all night, but you have not been drinking any fluids while you sleep. Your first pee is probably the most concentrated of the day. Make sure you wake up in time to follow this protocol!
Should I Only Use Mid-Stream Urine?
I have already assessed whether it makes sense to avoid collecting the beginning and end of your pee. My conclusion: collecting mid-stream urine is a myth.
Should I Be Worried About My Urine pH?
You do not need to worry about urine pH. Although drug testing labs may check urine pH, your urine will be within the normal range, even with heavy dilution.
[Featured image: Pixabay]
Last modified: October 4, 2017