"Blue Sky" (also known as Big Blue, Blue Magic, Fring's Blue, or simply Blue) is the street name which has been coined for the notoriously potent and 99.1% chemically pure crystal methamphetamine manufactured by Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Since its introduction to the market, there have been a few temporary accomplices who have helped Jesse and Walter cook with the blue meth formula: Gale Boetticher, and Todd Alquist.
Victor also apparently memorized the method to cook Blue Sky by watching Walt and Jesse, though he never finished the batch, and the purity was never measured.
The name comes from the distinctive light blue coloration of the meth crystals, a result of the chemical formula Walt devised to get around sales restrictions on pseudoephedrine.
After experiences in the meth trade with Krazy-8 and Emilio, Walter and Jesse eventually decide to expand their drug operation by selling their product to Tuco Salamanca, a powerful but psychopathic drug distributor. The two begin to expand their operations by stealing a large drum of methylamine, thereby allowing them to produce large quantities of meth for Tuco. The methylamine allows them to bypass the difficulty of acquiring pseudoephedrine, and the new method gives their product a blue color while continuing to be highly pure and chemically potent.
Following Tuco's death, Walt and Jesse decide to move their business into new territory. The blue meth was thus distributed solely in Albuquerque by Jesse's street dealers, but more problems arise as their enterprise expands with dealers working for them. Later, Walt becomes worried when he sees a bright white patch within the generally dark hues on the latest PET/CT scan of his lungs. With only $16,000 remaining of the meth money after the numerous setbacks, he and Jesse spend several days in the desert cooking 38 pounds of meth to sell off before Walt dies.
With Combo dead and their remaining dealers backing out, Walt and Jesse turn to Saul for help. Saul uses his connections to arrange a meeting at a fast food restaurant with Gustavo Fring, a discreet, cautious, yet successful drug distributor. Gus reluctantly offers to buy Walt's product for $1.2 million and offers him only one hour to deliver the drugs.
Gustavo Fring's empire
- Main article: Gus' Drug Empire
Later, Walt is initially hesitant to take up Gus on a lucrative offer to continue cooking meth in a high-tech "superlab" beneath an industrial laundromat, but later discovers that Jesse, out of rehab, has cooked a batch of the blue meth himself using Walt's techniques; Walt, furious, accepts Gus' offer to cook at least 200 pounds a week. At this time, Walter cooks with Gale Boetticher, a lab assistant provided by Gus. The blue meth spread across the Southwest due to the efforts of Fring, whose Los Pollos Hermanos franchise was used to distribute the meth to the surrounding states and establish a drug empire in the region.
The blue meth made its way south of the border into the country of Mexico, attracting the attention of the local drug cartels in the area, particularly, the Juárez Cartel. When Gus successfully blocks the Cartel's drug trade, he offers Walt a larger sum to continue to cook, an offer not extended to Jesse. Jesse skims a small portion of the meth to sell on his own, an action that both Gus and Walt are aware of but do not discuss. After agreeing to an ultimatum given by the cartel, Gus takes Mike and Jesse down with him to Mexico, where they have Jesse teach the cartel scientists (lead by Benicio Fuentes) how to cook the blue meth. Gus returns from Mexico and his relationship with Walt unravels, causing Walt to murder Gus and put an end to Gus's distribution of the blue meth.
Walt's Drug Empire
- Main article: Walt's Drug Empire
Mike Ehrmantraut joins Walter and Jesse in their new three-way partnership to begin distributing meth again, while not trusting Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, an executive with Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, the parent company of Gus' Los Pollos Hermanos. They then begin plans for meth manufacturing but Saul Goodman cannot locate satisfactory sites, save for one — a pest control company known as Vamonos Pest. Walter and Jesse use the business's fumigation tent on random houses as a mobile laboratory.
Meanwhile, the methylamine flow is disrupted, forcing Walter, Jesse, and Mike to rob a train carrying a large shipment. As the DEA begins to track Mike, and with the recent death of the child, both Jesse and Mike design a permanent exit for themselves from the business. They plan to sell their shares of the methylamine for $5 million each to Declan, a major regional meth producer and distributor. Walt derails Jesse and Mike's scheme when he refuses to sell his share of the methylamine and uses his Heisenberg persona's infamy to cut a distribution deal with Declan and negotiate the $5 million severance for Mike. Jesse is determined to leave the business, irrespective of his financial cut, so Walter enlists Todd as his assistant cook.
In exchange for her safety, Lydia arranges for Walt's product to be shipped to the Czech Republic using Madrigal's more obscure branches. Over the next few months, this nets Walt an extraordinary amount of money - so much that, after some pleading from Skyler, he finally decides to retire, he left the last of the methlyamine to Declan so he could continue, and dropped off the $5 million he owed to Jesse at his door.
Lydia's Drug Empire
After Walt's exit from the drug trade, Lydia, was intent on keeping the business going without him, which she believed would be simple, however, Todd couldn't match the standard, set by his predecessor, and to make matters, worse, he started a fire in the meth lab, which resulted in Declan using his own cook, which yielded an even lower quality, and dissatisfied customers going elsewhere. Horrified, Lydia went to enlist Walt's help, begging him to come back, or at the very least, teach Declan's cook. Walt refused, and Lydia was later scared off by Skylar.
Lydia enlisted the help of Jack's Gang, intending on taking Declan's operation by force if he wouldn't allow Todd to return as cook. Declan refused, and Declan's crew were all killed. Jack's gang seized all the supplies for the meth lab, and took it back to their compound. Todd continued to cook meth, though was never able to match the quality, set by Walt, and even "burned" the meth, destroying it's signature blue color.
Dissatisfied with the consistent disappointment, Lydia, decided to try and cut her losses, and exit the business. Todd, however informed her of the rise in quality, and the blue color. Lydia questioned whether Walt was working with him, though Todd, informed, them that they had Jesse held captive. Having no problem's with this, as long as the meth was up to par, Lydia, continued to use Todd, while also manipulating his feelings for her to do what she wanted.
Jesse attempted to break out, however, they decided to punish him by having Todd kill Jesse's ex-girlfriend, Andrea Cantillo. This combined, with the continued physical and emotional abuse he sustained from Jack's gang, as well as the added threat of them going after Andrea's son, Brock, whom he was very fond. Lead to Jesse's compliance, and acceptance of his situation,
After the heat around Madrigal died down, Lydia was able to occasionally loose a barrel of methlyamine, to Todd, so he could keep making the meth. The continued success of the business, caught the attention of the fugitive Walt, who believed that Jesse had bartered a deal with Jack for his life. Enraged, Walt returned to Albuquerque in order to put an end to their business, and rectify his mistakes.
Knowing Lydia would keep to her schedule, he arrived at the café he used to meet with Lydia, to find her meeting with Todd. He interrupted them, to pitch a new method of distilling the meth, for a price of $1 Million Dollars, which he claimed to need to stay ahead of the cops. Walt slyly placed a pack of Stevia, spiked with Ricin, at her table. Lydia feigns interest, and Walt leaves. Lydia orders Todd to have Walt killed, as he is a loose end, believing that once he is gone, she will never be able to be implicated in the meth empire, and thinks nothing off adding the spiked Stevia to her tea.
Walt heads to the compound that night, with the intent, of killing Jesse, however, Kenny pulls a gun, and demands, that Jack owe him for partnering up with Jesse. Insulted, Jack orders Jesse to be brought to him, and then stating he would kill Walt himself. Seeing the poor state Jesse is in, and realizing, that it is his fault, Walt tackles him to the floor, much to the amusement of the gang though, Walt triggers the automated M60 turret that he rigged in his trunk, which tears through the walls of the building, killing all the gang members, except for Jack and Todd, Walt is critically hit, taking a bullet for Jesse. Todd horrified, looks out the window to see what happened, allowing Jesses to strangle him with his handcuffs, killing him in retaliation for Andrea, and Drew Sharp's deaths, and his own imprisonment, while Walt confronts Jack, who was also critically hit, and bleeding. Jack attempts to bargain for his life, though Walt hears none of it, and shots him in the head at point blank range.
Lydia, who has begun to suffer from the effects of the Ricin, calls Todd to confirm Walt's death. Walt answers the phone, and tells her that Todd and the rest of the gang are dead, and then proceeds to mock her due to her sickness, confessing that he poisoned her, and that she would soon be dead, before a rather callous good-bye. Jesse escapes in Todd's car, and Walt dies goes to the hangar where the Meth Lab was, and dies with the equipment, where he felt most alive.
The supply of Blue Sky ceased, as everyone who knew how to cook and distribute it was dead, with the exception of Jesse who wanted nothing more to do with the product that had caused him and others so much misery. Blue Sky was extremely popular while it lasted, but odds are, true Blue Sky was never manufactured again after Walter White's death.
Methamphetamine is chiral, and thus occurs in two enantiomers: dextrorotary and levorotary. Dextromethamphetamine (d-methamphetamine) is a stronger psychostimulant, whereas levomethamphetamine (l-methamphetamine) is CNS-active with weaker (approx. one-tenth) effects on striatal dopamine and shorter psychodynamic effects. At high doses, both enantiomers of methamphetamine can induce stereotypy and psychosis, but l-methamphetamine is less desired by drug abusers because of its weaker pharmacodynamic profile.
The synthesis of methamphetamine is typically done through the reduction of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, using either hydroiodic acid and red phosphorus or lithium metal dissolved in anhydrous ammonia. This method - the reduction of pseudoephedrine - produces only the d-methamphetamine isomer, which is preferred by drug dealers over l-methamphetamine. This method is portrayed twice in the Pilot episode: first when Walt's DEA agent brother in law, Hank Schrader, and his DEA pals raid Jessie's lab while Walt rides along, and then again during the Winnebago cook scene.
- Walter: "We're not going to need pseudoephedrine. We're going to make phenylacetone in a tube furnace, then we're going to use reductive amination to yield methamphetamine. Four pounds."
- Jesse: "So no pseudo?"
- Walter: "No pseudo."
- Jesse: "So you do have a plan! Yeah Mr. White! Yeah science!"
- — Walt reveals to Jesse their new process for making meth.[src]
By "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal", obtaining pseudoephedrine for the large-scale production that Walt desires becomes an issue. To circumvent this, Walt decides on an alternate synthesis — reductive amination of phenyl-2-propanone (pehnylacetone or P2P) with methylamine. Obtaining methylamine required for this reaction — which is on the DEA watch list, a list of chemicals the DEA has classified as having use in drug manufacture — becomes a major plot line throughout the seasons. While working in the superlab, the methylamine is supplied by Golden Moth Chemical. Walt obtains his P2P from phenylacetic acid and acetic anhydride. The P2P is created in a tube furnace charged with a thorium oxide catalyst. The reductive amination of P2P takes place in the presence of aluminum amalgam.
From the 1960s to the mid-1980s, reductive amination was the method of choice for clandestine methamphetamine production. Enterprising biker gangs who dominated the trade at this time mostly ran these operations. (The slang term “crank” for methamphetamine allegedly originated from Biker’s transporting meth in the crankshafts of their bikes.) Reductive amination is less common today. Reference to this occurs in “Seven Thirty-Seven” when Hank shows his surprise after being shown the video of the methylamine heist. He says, “P2P––they’re cooking old school biker meth.”
Purity and chirality
The blue meth produced by Walter is famous for being highly pure and chemically potent. However, in reality, the methamphetamine produced by the P2P method is racemic (both enantiomers are present), and thus consists partly of the less-desired l-methamphetamine isomer. D-methamphetamine induces classic stimulant effects, whereas l-methamphetamine is only a weak stimulant but an excellent decongestant, which is sold over-the-counter in Vicks inhalers. In other words, if you make methamphetamine from P2P by reductive amination, you end up with an undesirable product that is now half-drug and half-decongestant.
However, despite using reductive amination, Walt implies his product is enantiomerically pure in “Box Cutter”. He asks Victor, “If our reduction is not stereospecific, then how can our product be enantiomerically pure?” In other words, Walt is asking "If our reduction generates both enantiomers, how does our product contain only one?" Unfortunately, we don’t know if Walt is just bluffing to try and save his and Jesse’s life. If Walt’s product is nearly 100% pure d-methamphetamine, we can assume he devised some technique to make the the P2P process chirally selective, even though the reductive is usually not stereospecific. Walter’s end customers and the DEA seem impressed with the potency of his product, and Walt himself seems almost unnaturally proud of his formula, one possible way Walt could have made his reduction stereo specific is the use of ω-Transminase which can be used to convert Amines into their (R) forms (Right Handed Forms) which are the preferred version of Methamphetamine.
Walt's methamphetamine becomes blue when he switches from pseudoephedrine reduction to reductive amination. The blue color is apparently a plot device, introduced by the show's writers to make Walt's product visually identifiable. Although blue methamphetamine, sometimes called "smurf dope," exists in the real world, 100% pure methamphetamine would appear as colorless/white crystals. The blue color might result from impurities formed during the reaction, but despite its light blue coloration, Walt's product is highly pure. The episode "Box Cutter" opens with flashback to Gale giddily setting up equipment in the laundromat super-lab. He tells Gus that he has the sample he asked him to analyze saying it is “quite good.” He then lets us know it was Walt’s product: “I can not as of yet account for the blue color.” Gale goes on to guarantee Gus a purity of 96 percent for his own product. Walt’s sample was 99 percent pure and “maybe even a touch beyond that.”
- Walter White can cook a 99.1% pure meth
- Jesse Pinkman can cook a 96.2% pure meth
- Gale Boetticher can cook a 96% pure meth
- Todd Alquist can cook a 76% pure meth
- Declan's Cook can cook a 68% pure meth
- Victor never finished his batch, and the purity was never measured
- Blue Sky makes a brief cameo appearance in the AMC series The Walking Dead, in the episode titled "Bloodletting". It can briefly be seen in Merle Dixon's drug stash which contains crystal meth among other drugs.
- Blue Sky makes a brief cameo appearance in the CW series Arrow, in the episode titled "Keep Your Enemies Closer". Diggle is "caught" with a bag fully contained with blue crystal meth.
- Blue Sky props consist of crystallized sugar and are essentially pieces of blue rock candy manufactured by the candy store "The Candy Lady" of Albuquerque. Lots of it was kept on the set at any given time and Aaron Paul claims to have eaten lots of it between takes.
- "Blue Sky" is also the name of a soda company founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It remains a popular soda in New Mexico. In the episode "Better Call Saul" it can be seen next to Badger on the bench when he gets arrested. Also in "Green Light", the police officer at the gas station buys a can.