The Use of Laughing Gas in Entertainment | Is It Safe?

Table of Contents

Party-goers have probably come across balloons filled with nitrous oxide or laughing gas. The popularity of this incredible fad and its euphoric effects are increasing in entertainment. But, before you join the party. Do you know what the gas is and its effects? That’s why we created this content. To help you learn the use of laughing gas in entertainment.

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What is Laughing Gas?

It is a more common term for a sweetish, colorless gas called nitrous oxide. It is called laughing gas because it produces feelings of happiness when inhaled.

Video sourced from Dentists of Ivanhoe

Chemical Composition

Laughing gas is a chemical compound that’s made up of an oxide of nitrogen with the formula N2O. Although a chemical compound of oxygen and nitrogen, laughing gas supports combustion.

Medical Uses

Laughing gas or nitrous oxide is a safe, mild drug that is widely used in medical applications and the food service industry.

The gas gives patients a pleasant feeling that helps them relax. A dentist administers laughing gas through a mask on the nose. All the patient has to do is breathe the combination of laughing gas and oxygen. Then it creates a great euphoric effect and reduces any sensation of pain a patient might have.

The effects of laughing gas are short-lived. They end a few moments after a patient stops inhaling the gas. The gas is relatively safe as long as it is administered correctly. A dentist always ensures that a patient leaves the office with no residual side effects.

The Rise of Laughing Gas

Laughing gas, sold in small and large canisters, has become increasingly popular at parties, nightclubs, and festivals. The rising popularity is mainly attributed to its ability to make people euphoric and happy.

Historical Background

The pioneer of laughing gas was Joseph Priestly who discovered it in 1772. He managed to create the gas when heating nitric acid-dampened iron filings. He documented and published his discovery in a book. Several years later, another chemist called Humphry Davy conducted more experiments on the gas. Humphry discovered that laughing gas had analgesic qualities that could be helpful in surgical operations. It’s Humphry who first referred to N2O as a laughing gas.

Entertainment Industry

More and more young people inhale laughing gas to feel euphoric and get high. If you ask anyone who has been to festivals and carnivals, they will tell you that the use of laughing in the entertainment industry has increased over the years.

Lots of nitrous oxide cartridges and tanks that are designed for whipping cream are now bought for recreational purposes. Some people have transformed balloon-selling into a business in some parts of the world. They are commonly seen at parties and carnivals selling balloons filled with laughing gas.

So, is it illegal for balloon sellers to retail laughing gas? The laws are not clear but it is certainly not legal for people to sell laughing gas directly from N2O canisters. That’s why balloon sellers use a wide variety of balloons to retail laughing gas in specific amounts.

Laughing Gas in Comedy

Historically, laughing gas has been associated with entertainment and comedy. This is due to its euphoric properties when inhaled. It became a popular drug in the late eighteenth and ninetieth centuries.

Comedic Performance

Laughing gas makes people act funny. The euphoric and happy feelings can make people say something funny. This is usually the case when a patient is exposed to laughing gas at the dentist’s office.

The unique effects of laughing gas led to its use in comedic performances. It helps make comedies more humorous and audiences more entertained. Some stand-up comedians have involved hippy crack in their performances. They create laughter by narrating their experiences with laughing gas in the form of jokes or anecdotes.

Clowns have also mastered the use of laughing gas in their comedic performances. They may pretend to inhale hippy crack and burst into uncontrollable laughter.

TV Shows and Movies

There is no shortage of movies and TV shows that feature the use of laughing gas. It is used to depict humorous storylines. In most TV shows and movies, laughing gas is introduced when certain characters go to the dentist. The following are some of the most popular examples.

The Simpsons

The 17th episode of the 4th season of The Simpsons features five characters at the dentist laughing after the doctor left the gas on. They were cracking jokes about not seeing new braces and laughing uncontrollably due to the effects of laughing gas.


In the Dentist episode of the Seinfeld TV show, Jerry gets a dose of laughing gas through a face mask. Then he gets euphoric and laughs nonstop. As he laughs, he narrates to the dentist all his awkward moments. This TV show episode depicts the happy effects of laughing gas.

Laughing Gas in Theme Parks

Did you know that laughing gas exists in theme parks? Small cartridges emptied of laughing gas or nitrous oxide have been found littering play parks.

Fun Rides and Attractions

Vendors of balloons containing laughing gas are likely to be found around fun rides and attractions. They usually sell to young people. As we mentioned, empty small canisters of nitrous oxide have been spotted in such places.

Safety Precautions

Laughing gas is typically inhaled via balloons. People use Nos crackers or whipped cream dispensers to fill balloons with laughing gas. These are the same techniques used by balloon sellers to retail laughing gas to young people at entertainment places.

Recreational users expect to experience a euphoric effect after inhaling laughing gas. The onset of the effects is immediate, lasting up to a minute or two depending on the dose. But it’s recommended to take safety precautions to avoid the potential side effects of laughing gas.

Here are some of the most important safety precautions to consider:

Inhale via Balloons

As a recreational user, you don’t have access to the sophisticated system dentists use to administer laughing gas to patients. So, it’s recommended to only use balloons to avoid accidents. Laughing gas is stored under constant pressure in an N2O cartridge or tank. So, the high pressure can easily rupture the lungs of a recreational user when inhaled from a nitrous oxide cartridge or tank. Balloons also help normalize the pressure of laughing gas as well as warm it before inhaling.

Use the Buddy System

The effects of laughing gas may be short-lived but you never know when you might face an emergency. With the buddy system, you and your colleague look out for each other when inhaling laughing gas.

Inhale in a Well-Ventilated Area

The reason why dentists mix laughing gas with oxygen is to prevent suffocation. So, the same rules apply to recreational users. They have to use laughing gas in a well-ventilated area to avoid oxygen deprivation. Also, inhale enough air before inhaling laughing gas from a balloon.

Laughing Gas and Parties

In parks, carnivals, and parties, laughing gas is a common party drug. People have grown fond of its unique properties that provide feelings of euphoria and happiness.

Private Events

The most common private events where young people use laughing gas recreationally are parties, festivals, and carnivals. This drug has been featured in private events since 1799. Back then recreational users refer to the events as laughing gas parties.

The popularity of laughing gas in private events has grown significantly in the 21st century. In some countries, it is considered to be a recreational drug as long as it is administered correctly. The overwhelming proof that laughing gas is popular at private events is streets or parks littered with different sizes of laughing gas cylinders.

In some countries, officers of the law have reported coming across large piles of laughing gas canisters the morning after a private event.

Legal Considerations

There are legal considerations to take into account for those who want to use laughing gas recreationally. The following are the most common ones.

It’s a Controlled Substance

Many countries consider laughing gas to be a controlled substance when used medically. It is supposed to be administered by licensed professionals (such as a dentist) using specialized equipment. As we discussed earlier, dentists use laughing gas to calm patients during dental procedures.

Recreational Use is Subject to Legal Restrictions

The rising number of patients suffering the adverse effects of laughing gas are a big concern for the authorities. In most places, it may not be against the law to buy laughing gas in the form of food-grade nitrous oxide cartridges or tanks. But it may be illegal to inhale laughing gas, especially from an N2O canister or tank. Not to mention that misuse or abuse of laughing gas is considered illegal in most places.

Buying Laughing Gas May Be Legal

It is legal to buy laughing gas or nitrous oxide canisters for food preparation in most places. But recreational use of nitrous oxide may be restricted in some places of the world.

Age Restrictions

In most cases, it is illegal for people younger than 18 years to buy, sell, or use nitrous oxide canisters. Most online retailers would ask buyers to confirm that they are 18 years or older before they can order laughing gas cartridges or tanks. Even N2O balloon vendors don’t sell to people under a certain age at private events.

The Controversy Surrounding Laughing Gas

The past, present, and future of laughing gas are surrounded by controversy. Research and people alike state all kinds of claims. Some associate the recreational use of laughing gas with serious consequences, whereas others claim it is a relatively safe drug when used responsibly.

One thing we know for sure is that the controversy keeps growing because of the unclear laws governing the sale and use of laughing gas in different countries.

Evidence of the potential dangers of misusing laughing gas recreationally is found online. Yet some people have not shied away from the use of laughing gas. This is so because the drug is easy and cheap to obtain online or through laughing gas balloon vendors. Also, some young people are not aware of the serious risks they are exposing themselves to when they inhale laughing gas irresponsibly.

Health Risks

How dangerous is laughing gas? It depends on the usage. Most people who inhale laughing gas responsibly rarely experience any dangerous side effects. The same cannot be said of people who abuse or misuse laughing gas. With that said, here are some potential risks people should be aware of:

Oxygen Deprivation

Inhaling a high amount of laughing gas can lead to oxygen deprivation. When inhaled in large amounts, laughing gas displaces oxygen in the lungs. If this happens, supply of oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body decreases. This may lead to dizziness and loss of consciousness.

Loss of Coordination

When inhaled excessively or misused, laughing gas can lead to poor coordination and poor balance. This puts a recreational user at increased risk of falling and injuries.

B12 Deficiency

Long-term misuse of laughing gas can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B12 in the body. This is likely to interfere with the normal functioning of the nervous system. Dangers that can arise due to B12 deficiency include anemia and nerve damage.

Ethical Concerns

It’s one thing to inhale laughing gas to get high and it’s a whole different story to knowingly misuse nitrous oxide. This raises issues about personal responsibility and self-care. Some young people may not be aware of the potential risks of using laughing gas irresponsibly. But those who sell laughing gas to them are probably older people who are very much aware of the consequences of inhaling hippy crack. Such cases raise ethical concerns. Not to mention that the law advises people to only use food-grade N2O for food preparation. But people ignore such advice and inhale laughing gas anyway.


Laughing gas has been used in entertainment for decades. People inhale nitrous oxide for its euphoric and happy feelings. Although some people consider laughing gas to be a relatively safe drug when used responsibly, there are potential risks they should be aware of. This article has covered useful facts about the use of laughing gas in entertainment. So, it’s up to recreational users to practice personal responsibility and self-care.

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