Tag Archive for: nitrous oxide

nitrous oxide laughing gas nangs music connoisseur

Welcome to day 23 PSYJuly! Today’s guest post is fun romp through the wonders of nitrous oxide from my long time friend Kieron Ramsay. I can personally attest that this is a man writing from personal experience of the subject. Without further ado, over to Kieron…

Mindful Use of Nitrous Oxide

C9s have the power to transform your reality inside out in the blink of an eye. In a short space of time, everything you know disappears. You surrender your connection to the real world to embark on a rocket ship that takes you to the brink of consciousness and back again.

You will not return empty-handed. You will have a gift, a souvenir, a revelation that you will feel compelled to share. However, when you try to talk about your new life-changing discovery, the words that feel like they are on the tip of your tongue desert you.

We call them C9s because they make you feel like you are floating on cloud 9.

It is a cruel trick of Nitrous Oxide (N2O); revelations do not come back from the other side with you. Stopped by the minds inability to express the abstract nature of the experience. When you attempt to describe it, the meaning gets lost like a hazy dream. In other words, it cannot be explained; it must be experienced first hand.

Welcome to the world of N2O

This is a celebration of the fun and fleeting world of Nitrous Oxide. I want to share with you some tricks and tips that have taken my laughing gas enjoyment to the next level. Over the years I have done my fair share of playful experiments, and hopefully, I can open your mind to the potential within those little canisters.

What is in those canisters?

Nitrous Oxide (N2O), also called Dinitrogen Monoxide, laughing gas, or nitrous, a colourless gas with a pleasant, sweetish odour and taste, which when inhaled produces insensibility to pain preceded by mild hysteria, sometimes laughter. (Because inhalation of small amounts provides a brief euphoric effect and nitrous oxide is not illegal to possess, the substance has been used as a recreational drug.)*


Nitrous oxide has a negative reputation for many people. The general view of N2O is that it is a childish endeavour, where the users are dangerously having a good time at the expense of the environment. I hold nothing against anybody that wants to have a good time, but it does break my heart to see these little metal canisters all around towns, cities and the country.

However, I would beg for you not to let the behaviour of those youngsters cast judgement on these little canisters. Likely, those young whippersnappers are also consuming alcohol with the same disregard.

Without being snobby, there are levels of appreciation and respect that we give to our drugs, poisons and drinks that we use to alter our minds. N2O has the ability to transform my reality and alter my perception of the universe. Therefore, I should be treating this psychoactive experience with my utmost.

Do you think a connoisseur of whiskey lets some spotty adolescent dictate how they drink? I don’t think so.

So why would you do the same when it comes to the N2O? Most people will try it a few times, feel a little dizzy and enjoy that feeling. I am here to tell you that there is way more to it than that.

Mindless vs. the connoisseur

People enjoy alcohol in different ways and the same goes for Nitrous. One way is a means to an end; mindlessly getting as drunk as possible, as quick as possible. It is similar to thoughts of someone huffing a balloon, surrounded by a group cheering them on.

Compare this to the refined whiskey drinker who sips their poison with a sense of purpose. They take time to savour the experience because they appreciate its value.

A connoisseur of C9s would have a private, comfortable space. Ideally, with friends and a pre-loaded piece of music to enjoy. They would be high enough that their mind is lucid and feeling relaxed. Once everyone has a swollen balloon to the tune of 2 canisters, they say cheers by bashing their balloons together with a knowing smile. The person who picked the music informs everyone of the optimum time to start inhaling. (Read below to find out why).

What happens when you inhale a gas

From my non-scientific, anecdotal knowledge, as you inhale the gas over and over again, it short term displaces a certain amount of oxygen and replaces it with N2O. This combines with the breathing in and out of a balloon which causes you to hyperventilate. It seems like there is then a moment where all reality is out the window.

This moment is fleeting and probably lasts no more than 30 seconds. That might seem short to the sober mind, but to someone who is under the spell of N2O, it is everything.

You are somewhere between a dream world and the conscious world. In this space, your mind is trying to interpret how you feel and what is going on around you (that is why music is so powerful in this scenario. Imagine if you could clear your thoughts and let the track of your choice dictate your mood).


If we are going to talk about how to get the most from your gassy enjoyment, then we need to talk about when you add listening to music at the same time.

I think music and N2O work so well together because music is a powerful tool that can work wonders on the mind.  Music has the power to stimulate many different areas of the brain, and while under the influence of nitrous they combine to produce an intense feeling that can teleport you into a different time and place.

It gives your mind an anchor from which you can build thoughts or emotions. When you consider that you are coming back from the brink of consciousness, it can have a powerful effect on your thoughts.

Different genres, rhythms, instruments all have their place and are worth experimenting with. However, one thing that is consistent, is volume. Best served loud; there is normal volume and then there is gas volume.

Having the music louder creates an immersive feeling. Although you must be mindful that it isn’t too loud. The last thing you want is to crank it up so loud that the neighbours are banging on the door asking you to turn it down. That is no way to come back to reality.

5 of my favourite gas tracks:

The Chain – Fleetwood Mac
Heroes And Villains – The Beach Boys
The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill -The Beatles
Ice Cream – Battles
Spanish Sahara – Foals

Something else to consider is that there may be some sections of a track that have more optimum time for tripping. If a track builds up to a particular crescendo, breakdown or satisfying bridge that you enjoy, you should start inhaling 30 seconds before that starts. E.g. The Chain, by Fleetwood Mac has a tempo change at 2:48 (when to start inhaling), which is roughly 30 seconds before the famous bassline brings the rest of the band into a solo.

a quick how-to

As a minimum, you will need a gas gun, a balloon (bigger the better as it is less likely to burst) and at least 1 N2O canister (my preference is having two canisters in one balloon). Place the balloon over the top of the nozzle, ensuring that you create an airtight seal with your hand. Once everything is in place, pull the trigger until the canister has emptied and the balloon is full.

Then lie back or make sure you are seated in a comfortable position. Once you are ready and the music is cranked up to gas volume, put the balloon to your lips (I like to pinch my nose to maximise the effect of the gas). Then start inhaling from the balloon, then exhale into the balloon (you can experiment with rhythm and different breathing techniques). Repeat this until you are done. How will you know if you are done? That’s easy – if you come round feeling that you have had your mind blown, it is safe to say that it worked.


I have found the C9s to be a mixer that every serious drug taker should consider having in their arsenal. Like Coca-Cola, it is tasty on its own. But you can also mix it with other delicious things to make a more interesting experience. It is the same with gas. Try it when you are stoned! Try it on acid!! Then try it stoned and on acid!!!

There is a whole world of endless possibilities ready for you to explore. Forrest Gump said, Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you are gonna get. If Forrest had found nitrous oxide, he probably would have said, Life is like a gas; you never know what you are gonna get, but I am glad I had a gas. Load the next one up.

I encourage you to try and experiment with different scenarios to see what works best for you. Play around and have fun with it, I guarantee it will leave you curious and thirsty for more. So go on and explore with a dash of finesse – the balloon is your oyster.


*Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Nitrous oxide”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 30 Aug. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/science/nitrous-oxide. Accessed 21 July 2021.


About Kieron

Kieron Ramsay is a writer, adventurer and explorer. Read more of his adventures at www.kiramusu.com or follow him on Instagram.

Nitrous oxide is very rarely mentioned in the psychedelic world and isn’t taken seriously in the way that say, psilocybin, MDMA or ketamine now are. I guess part of that is because its nickname, laughing gas, and how its commonly taken, by breathing it in through balloons – a party item – make it kind of a joke to begin with.

It has been used in dentistry for its analgesic and anxiolytic properties but not much is said of its hallucinogenic or mind expanding properties…

Historical Influence

What is interesting is that it has history and influence with serious thinkers and scholars, most notably the great American philosopher and Harvard psychologist William James, “the Father of American psychology”. James was particularly interested in mystical experiences, investigating them throughout his life, and he experimented with nitrous oxide, as well as others including the more classic psychedelic peyote.

James claimed that whilst under the influence of nitrous, he was finally able to understand the philosophy of the German philosopher Hegel. He went on to do important work in the philosophy of religion and provided a wide-ranging account of The Varieties of Religious Experience in a book of the same name that was based on his lectures.

In the earlier history of nitrous oxide is the British chemist and inventor Sir Humphrey Davy, who came upon it when investigating surgical gases. Davy gave it the name ‘laughing gas’, because of its effects on him, and was a huge fan, giving demos at the Royal Institution where he would take it himself or give it to others. He openly espoused its enjoyable qualities and introduced it to others, many of whom he converted, including the Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

“LIVING MADE EASY” A satirical print from 1830 depicting Humphry Davy administering a dose of laughing gas to a woman

Davy became addicted to nitrous and this does highlight its potential for addiction. The short-lasting nature and euphoric and relaxing effects lend itself to this, and its addictive tendencies have gotten it the nickname ‘hippy crack’.

My Experience

Personally, nitrous oxide has been host to some of my most intense and extreme but also revelatory experiences. I have seen scientific truths in incredible detail, seeing how particles form waves, and experienced firsthand Relativism, that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference and all concepts, like large and small, for example, are never objective, that they can only be used in relation to something else.

I have found nitrous oxide can be used as an aid in sessions to ‘blast’ through anxiety and ground, dropping into experience. It can also have this strange way of giving a moment of clarity and almost sobriety in the midst of an LSD trip, giving a frame of reference as to where and how deep you are in the journey.

Nitrous is a potent combinator and has a powerful multiplier and synergistic effect when combined with other psychedelics. When mixed with others, the experience is always more than the sum of its parts. Taking into account its combinations, the variety of experience is amazingly wide. Sometimes I compare it to being dropped into a multi-verse roulette; you jump, it will spin you around, and you have no idea where you will land. You might experience being another person in another part of history, before coming back to yourself. 

Short Lasting

When inhaled from a balloon, the effects are very short lasting. The peak rises quickly after about 10-20 seconds, and then the effects gradually fade, returning to baseline after 60 seconds. As with other short-acting psychedelics, its harder to really integrate these experiences and I do wonder about their lasting value, as compared to say psilocybin, or LSD, which are less like flashes and when you are submerged in an experience for hours.

Nitrous oxide can be a very unpredictable experience and can be fun, wild, chaotic, and also like a punch in the face. I have been left both blissful and shaken after experiences on both ends of the spectrum of harmony and disorder. Still, I would like to see some research done on it as I find it to be a fascinating substance with possibly untapped potential. I suspect its ability to dissolve reality and be dropped in to another could probably have some useful and pragmatic application.