A kitchen item might be the last thing you’d expect to see in a store that sells drug paraphernalia, but that’s exactly what can be found on shelves at Wild Side Smoke Shop. 

Whip-its, containers of nitrous oxide, come in various forms, but the most popular is marketed for users to easily make whipped cream at home. The packaging contains decorating tools, but some consumers have found another way to use them. 

According to a 2015 study published in Practical Neurology — the journal of the Association of British Neurologists — once inhaled, the whip-it causes a small, euphoric high. Consuming nitrous oxide recreationally causes a dizzy feeling and can possibly result in fits of laughter. 

“It’s equivalent to inhaling a balloon, it’s just more intense,” said Bo Harman, a sales associate at Wild Side. “There’s a gas in the chamber and you use it as an inhaler and that creates a head high.” 

Harman said the high can last anywhere from two to five minutes. But, the high doesn’t come without side effects. 

According to wellness pamphlets distributed by the Florida State University Center for Health Advocacy & Wellness, loss of consciousness and a feeling of numbness are not uncommon when using a whip-it. Other possible side effects include damage to the mouth, throat, lips and tongue due to cold temperature of gas, lung scarring, heart attacks, brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, coma and death.

“It’s safe to use, but not safe to use every day,” Harman said. “My opinion is that you should use it once every month.”

The Smoke Shop in The Village, like Wild Side, sells the product as an erotic item. This sale is legal so long as either store is selling it for the product’s true intent and not for recreational purposes. 

Moe Hassan, an employee of The Smoke Shop, said the store sells an average of 10-15 whip-its a week.  

“It is strictly used to make whipped cream, nothing else,” Hassan said. 

While the sale of whip-its is legal, using them to get high is not. According to Indiana State Code, anyone who intentionally uses or distributes nitrous oxide with intent to cause a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction or dulling of the senses commits a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  

Contact Katie McDonald with comments at kmmcdonald5@bsu.edu or on Twitter at @Katiejour.