The surprising history of hippy crack

Like milky water flowing in from the edges, over the mortar, between the cobble-stones of perception.

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Releasing all forms of perception.
No perception.
Into bliss.


Also in cars. The denaturant tends to be sulfur dioxide. It can be removed by a cascade of bubblers through a base (thought: could moist Drano pellets do the job?), which makes it both possible to inhale and less corrosive to metals when used as oxidizer. (Oh, old men in suits, why do you insist on making everything more complicated?)

I admit I am. But not without a “flight controller” to watch me, and a pulse oximeter to check blood oxygen level, and a decent regulator assembly with needle valves.

The regulators that would make this safer are of course a drug paraphernalia and therefore illegal. (Could there be a 3d-printed, at-least-somewhat-failsafe design, so easy to make to be effectively impossible to ban?)

A similar design, but with nitrogen instead of nitrous, could be used for cheap simulation of hypoxia, instead of the much more complex and expensive hypobaric chamber. Too many people are not intimately enough aware of its effects, and are prone to seriously underestimating how treacherous it can be. That applies to pilots (who can succumb to its sneaky effects when they climb too high), decompressed airplane passengers (who of course won’t remember to put on THEIR mask first), and to techs who work on inerted vessels. Such vessels regularly claim two or more lives at once, when somebody climbs in, gets overcome, and the next one climbs in to rescue him, with comparable results. A controlled experience of how fast one can faint (the recovery is quick when caught early) can be a quite eye-opening argument for giving nitrogen the respect it deserves.

Something for fun, a small aircraft pilot suffering from hypoxia (and recovering during descent); notice the slurred speech and the difficulties with maintaining alertness, and the fairly fast recovery:

Edit: At school, in one of the labs, we used to snort pure oxygen from a bottle. It was industrial-grade, not medical, but it did the job.

Nitrous is pretty fun, but I haven’t done a bulb in years. If you don’t have a whipped cream canister or a soda bottle… thing… you NEED to have balloons in my experience, as you want to breathe that shit in for at least 30 seconds or a minute and you’re merely gonna freeze your throat and lungs if you do it straight from a bulb (which is what we call them here).

In my experience you want to go into a dark space with some music you like, breathe into and out of the balloon repeatedly until you’re sufficiently high (you’ll know) and then sit back and spin out. The high is so short lived that it’s not something I’d purposefully seek out any more, but if someone handed me a balloon at a party I’d definitely hit that shit. Make sure you have the silver ones, not the green ones (cause they’re just carbon dioxide).


Hmmm, 1934:

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This laughing gas scene always cracks me up - classic Clouseau!

A forensic pathologist once told me there is a black market in old anaesthetic machines for just this purpose — and for a kind of autoerotic asphyxiation replacement without the hanging. But he’d done enough post-mortems on some who’d enjoyed the experience too much for too long …



For the uninitiated, whippets are an… interesting short-term high.

One that I will seek out in the future, not so much.

That Hypoxia video is so… disconcerting. The pilot sounds like his brain’s clock multiplier’s been divided by ten and he didn’t even notice it happening. Then when he descended it’s like 10 seconds and he’s fine.

You’d think if your brain slowed down like that your perception might noticeably speed up and you’d see that everything’s going way faster than normal. But I guess since we have such a wonderfully asynchronous consciousness which evolved to just sweep timing problems out of our perception all day, hypoxia is something you just don’t notice until it’s pretty much too late to act quickly.

Sounded like the effort to speak was so great he had to muster his strength before every word. I do not disagree about the multiplier though.

The really disconcerting thing is that it creeps up on you quietly until you’re too impaired to do anything about it. But at least it’s not a painful way to go.


It’s like that story in (I think it was) Life the Universe and Everything, where a meteor destroyed the computer in the ship that’s supposed to sense if the ship was hit by a meteor. The ship just keeps trundling along not noticing it’s been lobotomized, because the part that would notice was the part that’s gone now.

Perhaps in the US, but in the UK there was a public outcry after several deaths from contaminated N2O, and this started the switch to local anaesthetics. I remember it well because a neighbour was a senior manager at British Oxygen at the time (they made the gas), and he was deeply concerned and upset, even though he had nothing to do with that division.

That’s it.

And that’s EXACTLY why it is so insidious. And why the oxygen level alarm is the most important one when there are several going off at once. And also why it is so often ignored in favor of the seemingly more important ones.

Many aircraft crews big and small succumbed to this. A poster boy accident is this one.

That is actually an existing syndrome.


Gotta to do summat to obliterate the mind-numbing reality of living in the vast sociological and cultural wasteland that is Sunderland. I think the only reason SFC changed its moniker to the Black Cats was to sound edgier (and they couldn’t call themselves the Black Panthers).

I’ll now probably be deluged by hate mail from the dozens of Mack’ems who inhabit these fora.

Yes, I’ve been to Sunderland. I’ve travelled extensively up and down the North East. Only thing I learnt was that Newky rozzers are cunts.

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Would be a humane form of an execution.

Also, it creeps on you in case when the oxygen partial pressure falls gradually. If it falls fast, e.g. when you enter into an inerted vessel (or just stick your head in), it takes just few breaths; this further adds to the insidiousness.

See also a pretty good case study of the 1981 Columbia shuttle mishap.

You are of course correct, there was indeed an outcry. But that was a modern event, when anaesthesia was approaching as safe as it is now and several deaths are a tragedy.

The real worldwide spike in peri-operative mortalities happened long before anaesthesia and surgery was routine enough to be considered safe, when the hows and whys were being worked out by trial and error, in times when survival data was barely studied and mistakes could be quietly buried. The 100% nitrous “anaesthetic” was one of those things that was tried and found to be an error by some practitioners of a couple of generations back.

I’m guessing from the general tone of your post and your precise knowledge of the area that you are a lecturer in sociology or anthropology at the University of Newcastle.

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I’ve done air crew training a few times, I remember the videos on hypoxia, and Time of Useful Consciousness.

The scary thing is how quickly it drops off. If you’re in a private jet at altitude and it depressurizes, you really have only a few seconds to get that mask on…