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A guide to what poppers are, the basic chemical composition of poppers, how to use poppers (including videos of poppers use), some effects of poppers and the answer to some poppers questions including are poppers safe and are poppers legal?

What are Poppers?

Poppers is a slang term for various alkyl nitrites inhaled for recreational purposes, particularly amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite. These are often inhaled with the goal of enhancing sexual pleasure. Poppers have also been part of the Rave scene in the 1980-90's and actually were around during the 1970's disco craze.

popular Rush 'Poppers'
Rush 'Poppers' from PWD

Cyclohexyl nitrite, butyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, and other light alkyl nitrites can be found as the primary ingredient in so-called 'poppers', 'room odorizers', 'video head cleaners', and 'leather cleaners'. Traditionally marketed in small glass bottles, they are, like amyl nitrite capsules, referred to as poppers. Nitrite-based odorizers are available in adult bookstores and shops such as over the Internet.

Chemical composition of Poppers

Alkyl nitrites can be synthesized from primary alcohols according to the following reaction process:

R-OH + NaNO2 + H2SO4 ==> R-ONO + NaHSO4 + H2O

It has been reported (US Patent 4,638,094) that alkyl nitrites are also a precursor for MDP2P, a phenylacetone used in the production of MDMA, more commonly known as "ecstasy." The basic reaction process is shown below:

MeONO in corresponding alcohol + safrole + PdCl2 [+ CuCl2 or amine ] ==> MDP2P

How to use Poppers:

a sleeve (18 bottles) of poppers
Poppers often sold in 'Sleeves' (18 Bottles)

Poppers are used by sniffing the vapors from an open bottle or allowing a confined space to fill with poppers aroma. Although it is not recommended that people sniff poppers directly from the bottle this is often the case.

Effects of Poppers:

The effects are felt within a few seconds and last for 1-2 minutes. Poppers cause muscles around blood vessels to relax, making your heart speed up to pump more blood. Oxygen-rich blood reaching the brain produces a "rush" sensation. Because poppers cause muscles in the anus and vagina to relax, they are often used during sex.

Videos of Poppers use:

Pats Sniffing Poppers:

Becky Does Poppers:

Poppers Party:

Are Poppers safe?

Many people are concerned about the safety of poppers. There is overwhelming evidence and knowledgeable opinions that poppers are safe for use. Please see the below statements regarding the use of poppers:

Merck & Co., Inc.: Where patients come first.

Volatile Nitrites/Poppers

"Amyl nitrite (poppers) may be inhaled to alter consciousness and enhance sexual pleasure. Use is particularly prominent among urban male homosexuals. Other nitrites (butyl, isobutyl)--eg, Locker Room and Rush--are in use. There is little evidence of significant hazard, although nitrites and nitrates produce vasodilation, with brief hypotension, dizziness, and flushing, followed by reflex tachycardia." Copyright © 1995-2006 Merck & Co., Inc.

Mark Novitch, M.D.

FDA Commissioner

In a letter to the White House said that, based on existing data, "...there is very little evidence of acute toxicity related to use of butyl nitrite."...relative to lifetime use by homosexuals, although some groups contend that the possibility exists that repeated use among homosexuals may produce adverse effects, there is virtually no direct evidence to support that." April 18, 1984

Radhey L. Singhal, Ph. D., Professor and Chairman Department of Pharmacology, University of Ottawa

In a letter to Canada's Product Safety Branch, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, says, "As stated in our report, we have concluded that occasional inhalation of isobutyl nitrite for its 'inebrient' effect in a recreational context is unlikely to pose a health hazard..." July 30,1979

Legalities of Poppers use:

Poppers are regulated by a variety of federal and local regulations and legal restrictions, though the status of cyclohexyl nitrite, technically not a member of the class of alkyl nitrites encompassed by the law, remains in question in the United States, as a result of the controversial Federal Analog Act.

Poppers Disclaimers:

PWD (Pac West Distributing), one of the more popular manufacturers of poppers uses the following disclaimer for poppers products:

pwd poppers brands

"All our nitrite based products are sold as room odorants, liquid incense, liquid aromas, or video head cleaner only. Although research indicates it is generally safe to do so, we do not encourage the misuse of our products as poppers. We are not responsible for the media claims that liquid aromas or poppers are said to be aphrodisiacs or sex drugs, and we do not endorse such claims. Our products do not contain amyl nitrite or butyl nitrite. They contain highly pure isobutyl nitrite, alkyl nitrites, cyclohexyl nitrite or hexyl nitrites only."

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