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Laughing Gas (Nitrous Oxide)


Nitrous oxide is commonly known as laughing gas due to the euphoric effects experienced on inhaling it. It has the chemical formula N2O, and is a colourless, non-flammable gas at room temperature, with a slightly sweet odour and taste.

It is used for its anaesthetic effects and pain relief during surgery, dentistry and childbirth. Entonox® is the 50:50 mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, which is used by the ambulance service for pain relief in acute situations. It is also used as an oxidizer in the launching of rockets and in motor racing to increase the power output of engines.

Nitrous oxide is approved for use as a food additive and is used as an aerosol spray propellant in aerosol whipped cream canisters and cooking sprays. It is also used as an inert gas to displace oxygen when filling packages of potato crisps and other similar snack foods to inhibit bacterial growth. The gas is extremely soluble in fatty compounds and in aerosol whipped cream it is dissolved in the fatty cream until it leaves the can, when it becomes gaseous and creates foam.

The euphoric effects have led to its use as a recreational drug.



The gas is usually transferred from a pressurised container into a balloon, from which the gas is inhaled.

  • Fits of giggles /laughter
  • Relaxed and calm
  • Euphoria
  • Possible hallucinations
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death from lack of oxygen
  • Anaemia due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Nerve damage due to vitamin B deficiency
Laughing Gas Cannisters


Nitrous oxide molecular structure

Street Names

laughing gas, hippy crack, chargers

Legal Status

There is currently no legislation.