What Are Poppers

Poppers are a common name for alkyl nitrites, such as amyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite, pentyl nitrite, and others. These compounds are liquid at room temperature and inhalation of their vapors cause blood vessels to widen and muscles to relax.

From 1867 till today, amyl nitrite is prescribed for conditions including anxiety, angina, and heart disease. Doses of the medicine are placed in thin glass ampoules wrapped in cloth. Through the cloth, the patient would crush the glass with their thumb and forefinger, making a popping noise, and then inhale its fumes. The liquid is never consumed by drinking or touching, only inhalation. While the other alkyl nitrites were documented as having the same general effects as amyl nitrite they were never used clinically. In addition to medicine, alkyl nitrites are used in cleaning products, perfumes, and other others.

The compounds are also popular in the gay community where it is inhaled during sex to loosen the throat and anus. The inhalation also causes a head rush and a loosening of inhibitions. Due to the widening of blood vessels, poppers should never be used simultaneously with Viagra, which lowers blood pressure. The extreme drop in blood pressure from the combined use of poppers and Viagra can be fatal. Never drink the liquid and be aware that fumes can cause some minor irritation for some people.

In the United States, amyl nitrite was available by prescription until 1937, when, due to its low risk of harm in healthy adults, made available over-the-counter. However, in 1960 it was remade prescription only due to its recreational use in the gay community. This restriction made amyl nitrite a controlled substance but had no impact on the other alkyl nitrites. Even today, poppers continue to be sold in 10ml and 30ml nostril sized bottles under the names Rush, Super Rush, Jungle Juice, Jungle Juice Black, Locker Room, Quick Silver, Hardware, Iron Horse, Bolt, Amsterdam, Blue Boy, Pig Sweat, Red, Power Pellet, Rochefort, Mr Chaps, Mr Wonderful, Crypt Tonight, Nitro, Brown Bottle, English, and others.

Due to its popularity in the gay sex scene, researchers in the early 1980s investigated poppers as a potential cause of a mysterious gay cancer later called AIDS. Not until 1984 was a virus identified as a potential, now confirmed, cause of the disease. It was during this time that Title 15 US Code Section 2057 was added to federal law to restrict the other alkyl nitrites. However, due to their importance, the law only restricted the specific use of "inhaling or otherwise introducing volatile alkyl nitrites into the human body for euphoric or physical effects".

As "poppers" implied recreational use as an inhalant, stores started to dissuade customers from using that term. Instead, stores had customers refer to the product by brand name, as leather cleaner, circuit board cleaner, room deodorizers, or VCR head cleaner. All of which are legitimate uses of this product.

Users should be aware that as the liquid quickly evaporates and breaks down at room temperature, even in unopened bottles. Bottles may be kept safely in the freezer or refrigerator, but should be allowed to come to room temperature before use. Also be aware that due to its semi-underground legitimacy, counterfeit products of various quality and old inventory being sold is extremely common.