The surprising history of hippy crack


1 Like

Nitrous oxide is also used in micro burners to produce a very hot flame without needing oxygen; the NO molecule is effectively 50% oxygen.
As a result, it can be dangerous if a significant amount of it gets mixed with a flammable gas and ignited.
There have also been cases where nitrous oxide was contaminated with nitrogen tetroxide - there were occasional fatalities at dentists, which is one reason dentists switched to local anaesthetics.

[edit] -Thanks for the correction below - yes of course nitrous oxide is N2O (dinitrogen monoxide). It’s just as well I don’t try to make the stuff.
…goes off to hide under a rock, all credibility completely lost.


Not exactly a nitrous oxide related post, but I just had a toenail permanently removed about 12 hours ago. It was done with local anesthetic.

The administration of the anesthetic was the most unpleasant part of getting a big piece of embedded keratin pulled out of my body, along with the nailbed being totally killed off.

In conclusion, anesthetics are freaking amazing, and I’m glad they caught on.


A way to touch the sublime indeed. A short glimpse of eternity.

My understanding is that some chemistry students have got the formula wrong and ended up inhaling nitric oxide instead. Turns out it’s bad for you.

This article brought up some not-so-fond memories of blistered hands.

And yet doctors want to inject it into people’s penises.

Anyone interested in free medical-grade nitrous oxide, should go to an ante-natal class. They passed the Entonox round several times during the one I went to. A workmate claims that his ante-natal class finished off a whole cylinder, but hey, that’s Sunderland for you.


I had gas and air (a 50 percent nitrous oxide, 50 percent oxygen gas) for the birth of my second son and it was bloody brilliant. It tasted like vanilla and went amazingly with my half-time Snickers bar. It didn’t exactly numb the pain of my contractions, but it did give me something fun to do during them! Highly recommend.


I had nitrous oxide (I think) when I was in second grade and had to have three baby teeth removed surgically. It was a trippy experience. I had visions of ballerinas and talking parrots, and was only vaguely aware of the dentist doing something. A few years ago when I had a wisdom tooth removed they gave me nitrous and it wasn’t nearly as much fun. It just numbed me. I’ve wondered why.


Davy would fill up a bag of gas, grab his notebook, and get high up on Avon Gorge

I’m assuming that’s the Avon that flows past Bristol, in which case people are still huffing nitrous round this way every year.
Personally I do enjoy it very much, although I stop when I start getting pins and needles in my extremities. shame the high only lasts a few seconds.

1 Like

There’s also Cracky Hip, which is what happens when you get old.


Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.

  • A Clerihew by E. Clerihew Bentley, age 16, in science class.

Some of the history mentioned in this piece was also written about by Mike Jay in his lovely “O, Excellent Air Bag”. But mainly you should go there for the fantastic images of 19th century folks partying on nitrous.

“Denatured” nitrous is also used in “hybrid” model rocket motors.

I know two people who asphyxiated on recreational nitrous. The son of a family friend, and a college friend.

I’m not tempted to try the stuff outside of a medical setting.

I was given nitrous oxide prior to having my wisdom teeth removed as a needle-phobic teen. Not enough to kill the pain totally, just enough to relax me for the local. At least that was the plan.

I never felt any effect from the N2O, but I was listening to a set of headphones plugged into the dental office’s multi-channel music service, which also happened to have a comedy channel.

I was giggling and snorting so much listening to Bill Cosby’s “Himself” album, which I had never heard before, that the dental staff must’ve thought I was ODing on the N2O, or having an extreme reaction to it.

They practically yanked that mask off my face.

The reason they were different is that every single time is different. No two balloons are alike. And like with most things, (weed, alchohol, acid etc.) it takes several attempts to learn how to drive it properly.
Oftentimes people feel the spinning, or hear the strange ‘whawhawha’ noises, or see the darkening of the peripheral and try to hold on or resist. The only thing to do is to truly let go and just let everything just slip away.

1 Like

Yeah. I had my wisdom teeth out when I was 18. I didn’t want to deal with seeing them hacking apart my jaw to get it done (the teeth hadn’t erupted yet), so I picked the Valium preflight with general anesthetic, because insurance paid for it. I don’t have memory of anything between checking in at the clinic, and about a day later. I’m perfectly happy not to remember the surgery at all. The most recent thing with the toe, I think could definitely have been improved with some Nitrous. It was okay, but it was very hard to stay relaxed and be a good patient with the feelings of pressure from the surgery. They said they’d give me a Valium next time to help with the nerves and staying relaxed and such.

They also offered me a few Percosets for the ride home for the toe thing. I turned them down. Opioids always give me a rash and constipation, and I don’t care to be hobbled and toilet-bound.

I did have nitrous once, to get a bad baby tooth out. All I remember from that was that it felt like my legs were flailing around everywhere, and I told the dentist I was worried about kicking him. He chuckled and turned up the nitrous.

Hippie, NOT Hippy. Get an editor or learn to write engrish…

That’s more a small print cause of historical dental chair mortalities related to nitrous oxide though. The front runner was probably the “Black Gas Technique”. Nitrous isn’t potent enough to actually anaesthetise at normal room pressure and temperature, you need to deliver it in a hyperbaric chamber —or eliminate the oxygen altogether … :frowning: Hence black gas, because if you get hypoxic enough that’s the colour you go if your anaesthetist doesn’t give you any oxygen. :fearful: But being hypoxic and thoroughly narked enough does give a fast dentist the opportunity to snatch out a few teeth, then you pink up again when oxygen is given. Hopefully. It usually worked, anyway … :sweat: :fearful:

Don’t worry, that’s from the history books, it doesn’t happen any more. Many of us (anaesthetists and anesthesiologists) don’t even use (as in simultaneously prescribe and administer, not self administer) nitrous oxide as part of our general anaesthetic gas mixtures any more, as the nausea and vomiting side effects can outweigh the advantages in a day surgery environment.

1 Like

Yeah, my sole experience of it was when I had 4 milk teeth out, and I vomited in the car on the way home after.

Mind, that was still better than being awake when I had a wisdom tooth pulled, which took forever and the stupid novocaine or whatever it was kept wearing off.