Breaking Bad | Season 4 | Episode 10 | “Salud”
Jesse’s Adventures in Mexico take a decidedly assertive turn, as he wows the Cartel with his cooking skills and then assists in their demise. Back in the USA, Saul’s instincts about Skylar’s use of the drug money prove correct. In this post, I’ll be talking briefly about the methods we see the Cartel’s cooks using.
Jesse is right to berate the Cartel’s chemists – the dirt and messiness in the lab is a disgrace. Whichever university the chief chemist went to (possibly a British one from his accent), its practical standards were woefully lacking.
The chief chemist dissolves some of Jesse’s product in a solvent, and then injects it into what is almost certainly a gas chromatograph. As we mentioned in Box Cutter, this separates the components of a chemical mixture and is the kind of machine that Gale wanted to check the purity of Walt’s product. The Cartel will only be investigating the ratio of methamphetamine to other components, which is why they don’t need to be very accurate when making up the test solution.
From the look of the computer screen, the gas chromatograph is connected to a mass spectrometer, so that components may be identified as they come off the column. However, the size of the machine is only about right for a gas chromatograph alone (even the smaller mass spectrometers tend to be about the size of four microwave ovens).
No GC-MS set-ups have a digital purity readout – when I saw the numbers climbing, I assumed that they represented the temperature inside the column (most GCs have this kind of temperature gradient). The purity (i.e. percentage of methamphetamine relative to other non-solvent products) would be displayed on the computer, or calculated later.
Elements in the credits
|StewArt A. Lyons||Argon|