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Prevalence of Nitrous Oxide Use and Practices
A Survey of Erowid.org Visitors
by Fire Erowid
v1.0 - Oct 1, 2009
In a series of four micro-surveys conducted on Erowid.org in mid-September 2009, Erowid visitors were asked about their recreational use of nitrous oxide. These surveys were done in preparation for an article in Erowid Extracts about contaminants in nitrous oxide chargers, which are sold for use in whipped cream makers. Over the period of a week, a total of approximately 25,000 responses were received to the four surveys. Visitors were asked about the number of times they had used nitrous oxide gas recreationally, whether they had ever used whipped cream chargers as a source of nitrous oxide, and if so, what method of inhalation they had used, the average number of chargers inhaled on a single occasion, and the maximum number of chargers used on a single occasion.

From this preliminary dataset, it appears that around two-thirds of Erowid survey-responding visitors have tried nitrous oxide recreationally and around half of those have used whipped cream chargers as their source at least once. Presumably the remaining half have either inhaled nitrous from commercial, pre-filled whipped cream cans or had tried it from a tank/cylinder of gas. Around half of those who had used a charger reported most often opening it with a cracker and half reported most often using a whipped cream maker.

Additional data shows that more than half of those who have ever used nitrous oxide have not used it over a year. On the other end of the spectrum, around 7% reported having used nitrous oxide more than twice in the last month.

The following results leave out those respondents who stated that they didn't know the answer to a question or preferred not to answer. All respondents were visitors to Erowid.org and completed a survey situated just below the website's header.

Number of Nitrous Oxide Use Occasions
Of 11,551 respondents, 65.0% reported having inhaled nitrous oxide recreationally and 34.1% said they had not. Of those respondents who had tried nitrous oxide recreationally, 48.5% reported having tried it 1-10 times, 26.5% had used it 11-50 times, 10.8% had used it 51-100 times, 6.0% had used it 101-250 times, and 8.3% reported having used nitrous on more than 250 occasions.

Prevalence of Whipped Cream Chargers as Source of Nitrous Oxide
53.0% of those who had used nitrous oxide reported having used whipped cream chargers as a source of nitrous. Of those who had used whipped cream chargers, 46.9% most often accessed the charger with a cracker and dispensed the nitrous oxide into a balloon from which they inhaled the gas. 34.4% most often opened the charger with a whipped cream maker and inhaled the gas directly from the whipped cream maker. 11.2% said they usually opened the charger with a whipped cream maker and dispensed the gas into a balloon from which they inhaled. 1.7% most often used a cracker and dispensed the gas into a bag rather than a balloon. 0.7% usually opened the charger with a whipped cream maker and dispensed the gas into a bag from which they inhaled. 5% most often used another unspecified method of nitrous oxide inhalation.

Average Number of Chargers Used in a Day of Use
Of those who reported having used whipped cream chargers as a source of nitrous oxide, 51.0% said they used an average of 1-6 chargers in a day of nitrous use. 15.1% reported an average of 7-12 chargers, 15.8% an average of 13-24 chargers, 11.7% an average of 25-48 chargers, and 6.0% reported an average of more than 48 chargers on a day they used nitrous oxide.

Largest Number of Chargers Used in a Day of Use
Of those who had used whipped cream chargers as a source of nitrous oxide, 32.8% reported that the maximum number they had used in a day of use was 1-6 chargers. 15.1% reported using a maximum of 7-12 chargers, 15.9% reported using a maximum of 13-24, 15.0% had used a maximum of 25-48 chargers, 9.9% had used a maximum of 49-96 chargers, and 11.1% reported using more than 96 chargers on a single occasion.