Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas, is a colorless gas that earned it’s nickname due to the euphoric effects felt upon inhalation. Commonly used as an anesthetic in dentists office, and as a recreational drug. It is perfectly safe if used properly.
Although many states and countries have made nitrous oxide illegal to use recreationally, it is still sold US-wide and elsewhere in the form of “whippets,” which are small canisters filled with nitrous that are meant to be used in whipped cream makers. Below are the state laws pertaining to nitrous, followed by other countries policies.
California: California state law prohibits the possession of nitrous oxide with the intent to use it as a psychoactive unless it is administered by medical personnel. See California penal code 381b : “381b. Any person who possesses nitrous oxide or any substance containing nitrous oxide, with the intent to breathe, inhale, or ingest for the purpose of causing a condition of intoxication,elation, euphoria, dizziness, stupefaction, or dulling of the senses or for the purpose of, in any manner, changing, distorting, or disturbing the audio, visual, or mental processes, or who knowingly and with the intent to do so is under the influence of nitrous oxide or any material containing nitrous oxide is guilty of a misdemeanor. This section shall not apply to any person who is under the influence of nitrous oxide or any material containing nitrous oxide pursuant to an administration for the purpose of medical, surgical, or dental care by a person duly licensed to administer such an agent.”
Florida: A new 2005 law in Florida makes possession and use of nitrous oxide for inhaling purposes a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail and a $500.00 fine. Selling, purchasing, transferring, or possessing more than 16 grams of nitrous oxide for the purpose of inhaling is now a third-degree felony punishable by five (5) years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. Florida also closed a loophole that allowed nitrous oxide and nitrous oxide paraphernalia (used to store, transfer, or inhale nitrous oxide) to be sold in tobacco shops. Now the use or possession with intent to use such nitrous oxide paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by one (1) year in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.
Oregon : Oregon controls Nitrous Oxide as an inhalant. It makes the possession of inhalants illegal “for the purpose of inducing intoxication”.
Australia: As of July 1, 2004, Australia now adds a number of police powers for searching and detaining individuals under 18 and seizing “volatile inhalants” from them. Australian rules now are that police may search and detain (not arrest) anyone under 18 who they suspect of using inhalants. The police are to free the young person once they are no longer a danger to themselves or others. It is not entirely clear if this rule includes Nitrous Oxide, but this seems to be the assumption.
Brazil: Nitrous is legal for medical use only, but is available for purchase over the internet.
Canada: Nitrous chargers widely available over-the-counter. We have been told that many stores will only sell to people 25 and older.
Netherlands: Nitrous chargers are widely available over-the-counter. The use of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is legal (not prohibited). Nitrous oxide is legally sold to the general public for food use, though it is technically illegal to sell for recreational use (it is considered a prescription medicine when inhaled). Many stores regularly sell to people under 18.
New Zealand: In April, 2005, the New Zealand Ministry of Health reviewed the use of Nitrous Oxide and declared that much of the importation, sale, and possession was for “misuse” and in violation of the Medicines Act of 1981. Nitrous Oxide whip cream chargers have become difficult to buy over-the-counter as of May 1, 2005.
U.K.: Nitrous Oxide is widely available in the United Kingdom. In the UK possession of nitrous for non-inhalant use is not controlled and is legal. It is illegal to sell or provide nitrous oxide to someone under 18 years old “if he knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the substance is, or its fumes are, likely to be inhaled by the person under the age of eighteen for the purpose of causing intoxication.”.
- increased giggling and laughing
- mood lift, euphoria, exhilaration
- sound distortion
- dream-like state
- minor to strong hallucinations & visualizations
- reduction of external stimuli
- clumsiness, loss of dexterity, loss of balance
- ‘buzzing’ sensation in perhipheral nerves
Nitrous is an intense but short acting drug, with the effects usually going away within five minutes.
A typical dose is inhaling one n2O canister, which is about as much as can fit into a normal size ballon. However, experienced users may inhale anywhere from 2-5x this amount at once.
To open up a nitrous canister (less than 20 a case on Amazon here), you either need a small “cracker” which releases the gas inside an n2O canister individually, or a whipped cream maker. A cracker is inexpensive, usually around $5 and can be found online here. A whipped cream maker is more expensive at around $20, however is easier to use and can be found here. I’ve never used a dispenser myself, as a cracker has been good enough for me.
A cracker is a cylinder that screws together and pierces the charger, releasing it into the balloon. Crackers can be made of anything from plastic to brass. Brass will last forever, plastic will break or become unusable fairly easily. Aluminum will last a long time and is generally pretty cheap. Then you need balloons. Larger balloons are obviously more efficient and easier to use.
Open up the charger and there should be a metal spike on one end. That’s the end that the n20 comes out. Put the mouth of the balloon on that end and make sure it won’t slip. Then put the charger so that the rounded end is in the side of the charger that doesn’t have the spike. Screw the charger together until you hear a popping sound (maybe a hiss too). Then slowly unscrew the charger and it’ll fill the balloon with n20. Watch your fingers, it’ll get really cold. Then tightly pinch the balloons neck and detach it from the cracker. Let it sit a second so the n2o doesn’t freeze your lungs when you inhale. Then put the balloon up to your lips and inhale deeply. Hold it for a few seconds, then exhale. Take another hit, hold it and exhale. Take a quick normal breath, and repeat until you use the whole balloon. Some people recycle a hit by exhaling back into the balloon. If you do it too many times it becomes pointless, however once or twice increases the effect.