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What is nangs

What is nangs

Jan 20 , 2021
NANGS – What you need to know
Nangs, whip-its, chargers, bulbs, Nos, laughing gas – whatever you call Nitrous Oxide, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about this substance loved by dentists, pastry chefs and doofers alike. Nitrous is legally available to purchase, but it is illegal to use it to get high (although anecdotal reports suggest eating whipped cream can lead to feelings of euphoria, elation, and nausea...)

Perhaps you don’t know much about nangs at all – you might’ve just seen the empty steel cartridges littering a dance floor, heard a distinct screeching sound coming from someone’s tent, or naively thought that your fellow party-goers who seem to be blowing up a lot of balloons are just working on their campsite decorations.

Although in our circles it’s primarily known as a party drug, nitrous oxide has been used since the 1960s in race car engines, since the 1930s to make whipped cream, and the since the 1840s as a painkiller and anaesthetic in dentistry and surgery. But even further back in history, nitrous oxide was first used in the 1790s by the British upper class... where they’d huff bags full of it at “laughing gas parties”! That’s right – nitrous oxide was being used recreationally for more than 40 years before it was used for anything else!

While nitrous oxide is on the World Health Organisation’s List of Essential Medicines, which details the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system, recreational use is not necessarily safe. There are some potential harms which you should know about, to make sure that you’re looking after yourself while partying.

Crackers, Nanganators and Tanks
There are two ways that people can get nitrous oxide – in small ‘cream chargers’ or ‘bulbs’, and in larger medical gas cannisters (which look like a scuba tank).

Cream chargers are designed to be used with whipped cream dispensers, often referred to as ‘nanganators’, and can also be used in smaller hand-held ‘crackers’.

The gas cannisters are used by surgeons and dentists to administer nitrous oxide to patients, as a painkiller or to sedate them. The cannisters, when used recreationally, may have a breathing mask attached to them which you put over your mouth/nose, or more commonly are used to fill balloons with nitrous oxide.

What’s the go with balloons?
There are two main reasons why people release the nitrous oxide into balloons. Firstly, nitrous oxide is stored under pressure both in cream chargers and cannisters, meaning that when it is released, it will come out FAST and will be freezing cold. This can cause some serious damage to your lungs if you inhale it directly, so when using hand-held crackers and cannisters it’s always important to inflate a balloon with the nitrous first.

The second reason is that nitrous oxide isn’t processed (or ‘metabolised’) very well by our bodies - on average, less than 0.01% is metabolised every time you have a nang. This doesn’t mean you’re missing out on 99% of the high though – it just means that your body doesn't need to break it down for it to affect you. People often breathe the nitrous oxide in and out of a balloon to maximise the effects of doing it.

Because nanganators have a metal cylinder where the gas is cracked into, you can let it cool down in there and then slowly release it into your lungs without needing to use a balloon.

Breathe Easy
Because nitrous oxide is only minimally metabolised (processed), people often repeatedly breathe their hit in and out of a balloon to get the most out of it.

Obviously, none of us like the idea of drugs going to waste. However, if you are going to use a balloon to maximise the effects of the nang, you need to think about that other super important gas – oxygen.

Breathing in and out of a balloon on repeat means that you are going to be depriving yourself of oxygen, which can cause some serious damage. Oxygen deprivation, also known as hypoxia, can occur very quickly. Your reflex to breathe is triggered by a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs, not a lack of oxygen, so you might not realise you’re becoming oxygen deprived as you won’t necessarily have a build-up of carbon dioxide in your body telling you to breathe.

Oxygen deprivation can be serious! Some of the potential effects include problems with your memory, as well as loss of bodily control and organ damage. If you’re standing up while you have it, you could collapse.

If you’re going to be breathing nitrous in and out of a balloon, you should make sure that you’re still getting sufficient oxygen. Instead of simply breathing in and out, in and out, in and out until you can’t anymore, you should try get some oxygen in between breathes.

It should look a bit more like: Breath in the nitrous, hold for a few seconds, blow it back into the balloon, have a few breaths of fresh air, and repeat 2 or 3 times. If you find that this is too complicated for you, you’re probably already high enough.

Filter First
Most, if not all, brands of cream chargers contain a dark oily substance, which we think is grease left over from the manufacturing. If you use a nanganator, you can see this grease if you run your finger around the inside of it, or you might notice a yellow stain on the nozzle or inside the dispenser. This is another reason why people use balloons – some of it will end up on the inside of the balloons.

There are also reports of small particles of metal being released when nangs are cracked – these can be tiny and only felt when touching the grease but can be up to three millimetres long.

No one wants a 3mm shard of stainless steel in their lungs, so if you’re going to use nangs you should always try filter them. If inhaling directly from a nanganator, you should breathe in through a piece of fabric, like your shirt, a bandanna, or a handkerchief.

If you prefer to use a balloon, you are still able to filter your nangs with a piece of fabric fixed to your nanganator or cracker. Have a look at our step by step guide across the page.

Jelly Legs
Believe it or not, the most common injury that comes from using nangs is falling over! Nitrous oxide can lead to an immediate and complete loss of bodily control, and you may or may not pass out as well.

For this reason, you should only do nangs while sitting down. There have been countless injuries from people collapsing after inhaling nitrous oxide – there are even some reports of people dying as a result of collapsing (where they’ve fallen and hit their head).

Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, also known as cyanocobalamin, is an essential nutrient that is our bodies use to make red blood cells, repair body tissue, and keep our nerves healthy.

Using nitrous oxide can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency because it inactivates your body’s supplies of vitamin B12. However, because the B12 is still in your body, a test won’t show you have low levels. This is especially important if you are vegan or vegetarian, because your diet is already going to be low in B12.

B12 deficiency is serious and can lead to long-term problems – symptoms include extreme fatigue, or feeling tired all the time, pins and needles or numbness in the fingers and toes, and muscle weakness which can lead to problems with walking.  We advise regularly taking a B12 supplement if you’re doing nangs – you can get these over the counter as tablets, or might prefer getting a B12 injection from a GP.
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