Nitrous Oxide & "Whippits"

General Information

The word "whippits" (or "whippets") is slang for nitrous oxide whip cream chargers. Although the word whippits usually refers to whipped cream cartridges, there is also a brand of nitrous oxide called "Whip-Its." However, this is simply a brand of whipped cream charger, and is not unlike any other particular type of nitrous oxide cartridge.

Whippits are small, stainless steel cartridges that are filled with 8 grams of N2O and are approximately 6.5 cm long. Whippits should not be confused with CO2 soda chargers, which are the same in size but are filled with carbon dioxide, not nitrous oxide. A whippit almost always refers to a charger filled with N2O.

Whippits are occasionally used for mechanical or medicinal purposes, but are normally used for culinary applications with a whip cream dispenser.

Medical Information

Since at least the 19th century, nitrous oxide has been used as a pain killer and anesthetic in medical offices. These days, nitrous oxide is still one of the most useful and safest anesthetics in modern dentistry. Normally, medical-grade nitrous oxide is administered by a specialized machine which uses a mixture of oxygen (70%) and nitrous oxide (30%), which is carefully controlled by the physician.

The effects of nitrous oxide on the body are not fully known. However, nitrous oxide is still viewed as one of the most effective anesthetics for many types of surgeries due to the relatively mild effect it has on the neurotransmitters which eliminate pain. Nitrous oxide is unique in that it actually mimics the painkilling properties of powerful opiates, without the harsh addictive side effects.

Like any drug, whippits have the potential to be abused. Dependencies usually develop when the abuser forms strong emotional attachments to the drug. Like other abused substances, these dependencies have the potential to be very destructive.

Although the long-term effects of nitrous oxide on the human body are not known, nitrous oxide is usually considered less dangerous than most other inhalants. However, inhaling nitrous oxide has been shown to negatively affect the a person’s ability to maintain healthy levels of vitamin B12, due to the fact that nitrous oxide suppresses the body’s absorption of vitamin B12. This effect can be particularly dangerous to individuals with vitamin B12 deficiencies. When inhaled, nitrous oxide can also cause severe burns to the throat, face, nose, lips and tongue, due to the extremely cold temperatures of nitrous oxide gas. Although death from nitrous oxide use is rare, it most typically occurs in abusers who use bags or balloons to inhale, usually because the user suffocates due to a lack of oxygen.