How do fentanyl test strips work?

Fentanyl test strips are designed to reduce the risk of overdoses from drug use. Anyone can purchase and use fentanyl test strips to test for the presence of fentanyl in a drug. They use the same technology as an at-home pregnancy test and were originally developed to detect the presence of fentanyl in urine. Studies have shown that fentanyl test strips not only decrease overdose deaths, but in many cases prevent drug use altogether. When young people use fentanyl test strips and see for themself that their drug has fentanyl inside, they typically do not consume the drug and instead throw it away.


Fentanyl test strips are highly effective at detecting microscopic amounts of fentanyl in drugs. That’s important, because doses of fentanyl as low as 2mg - the size of a few grains of sand - can be lethal.

Like most things, the test strips are not 100% accurate in all cases. The test strips sometimes show a “false positive” when there is no fentanyl. There is little to no documented evidence of a “false negatives” occurring, where the results would incorrectly state that the substance contained no fentanyl when it truly did.

A redesigned type of fentanyl test strip, available from DanceSafe, may be less likely to produce false positives when used according to the instructions.


  • This fact sheet from the California Department of Public Health explains how the strips can be used effectively. For accurate results, it is critical to follow the instructions precisely.


  • If someone is using drugs without a fentanyl test strip, they can make sure to have Naloxone on hand and use “one person at a time” to make sure someone is sober and able to respond in case of overdose.


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