Poppers & BDSM play

All you ever needed to know

If you are considering introducing poppers to your kinky play, take a moment to read this before diving in. There’s some basics that can help you choose which type of poppers to use and how to use them safely. 

"with a strict message telling buyers NOT to inhale it - it’s understandable if you are a little confused "

What are poppers?

Often referred to as amyl, aromas, room odorisers and now even labelled as leather cleaner with a strict message telling buyers NOT to inhale it – it’s understandable if you are a little confused. That’s before we’ve even got on to the chemical classifications of alkyl nitrites, from which all our favourite “aromas” are derived.

This versatile little bottle of clear/yellowish liquid has been inhaled for decades. It was first marketed as a vasodilator to treat angina; blood vessels dilate – blood pressure is lowered, soft muscles around the heart relax. Though ironically, now it is linked to potential strokes and heart attacks which is why legally, it lands in a grey area.

Over the years, it has been rebranded many times over by pharmaceutical companies, who didn’t care what it was used for, as long as the money kept rolling in. It was even marketed it as a “battlefield pick me up” during the Vietnam War to soldiers who were notoriously taking anything and everything to block out what they were living through.

Through the disco era onto the gay scene, it has remained in constant demand. Never seeing a dip in that demand despite the attempts to demonise (blaming it for AIDS in the 80s) and criminalise it during the war-on-drugs. The BDSM community inevitably introduced it to dungeons and kink parties, to heighten sensations and push pain thresholds while also enhancing anal play. It can be inhaled directly from the bottle using a cloth/cotton wool, or using a specially designed dispensing unit with a tube and mask. 

Poppers Mistress

Remember: There are no safe drugs.

What are the effects?

This potent pot of liquid offers a short-term high that can elevate sexual receptivity and cause a temporary rush. Common physiological responses range from; flushed face, red eyes, feeling hot, spiked heart rate as well as nosebleeds and blurred vision. It is not addictive but can take a few days to leave your system entirely.

It is now famous for its ability to expand blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and dilating soft muscle tissue around the anus and vagina. 

Inhaling the fumes can lead to a drop in blood pressure and less blood going to the brain means there is a delay in messages reaching the brain, so don’t sniff and drive. Expect disorientation, nausea and afterwards, headaches seem to be a common side-effect. Depending on which type of poppers you choose, the effects will vary.

"elevate sexual receptivity and cause a temporary rush."

This potent pot of liquid offers a short-term high that can elevate sexual receptivity and cause a temporary rush. Common physiological responses range from; flushed face, red eyes, feeling hot, spiked heart rate as well as nosebleeds and blurred vision. It is not addictive but can take a few days to leave your system entirely.

It is now famous for its ability to expand blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and dilating soft muscle tissue around the anus and vagina. 

Inhaling the fumes can lead to a drop in blood pressure and less blood going to the brain means there is a delay in messages reaching the brain, so don’t sniff and drive. Expect disorientation, nausea and afterwards, headaches seem to be a common side-effect. Depending on which type of poppers you choose, the effects will vary.

The most common type of nitrites (poppers) available:

  • Amyl nitrite – Once the most common type found in the kink scene. The effects of amyl nitrite last longer than others. Found in products such as: Jungle Juice Gold, Everest Premium.
  • Pentyl nitrite – Instant and strong effect. Everest Black label, Jungle juice black label.
  • Propyl nitrites – Possibly the strongest on the market in products such as Iron Horse, Blackout.
  • Butyl nitrite – most efficient for dilation but, since 2017 it has been prohibited for sale within the EU as it has been deemed carcinogenic.

Warnings – Buzzkill incoming

There are no safe drugs. All of them come with a risk, it’s part of why we seek them out. But it is important that you do a little research before sniffing your first bottle. You have to take responsibility for your choices in BDSM and this should be part of that due diligence. Just because someone else has used it and is fine doesn’t mean you will be. Contributing factors mean we all react differently to any type of drug or medication, like our size, weight and overall health. Other things to consider:

  • Whether the person is used to taking it
  • Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • The amount being taken each time
  • The strength of the product – brands vary
  • Ventilation in the room as the poppers are being inhaled
 

This stuff is a chemical, and it can be easy to forget that it is a highly volatile and flammable liquid. Always avoid contact with skin; it will cause burns and should NEVER be ingested. Prolonged use can lead to sores around the mouth and nose, skin rashes, and lastly, don’t use stale poppers – this can make you feel sick. Once these little bottles have been opened, they don’t last long at all; the smell goes from sweet to unpleasant once they’ve lost their kick.

Using poppers with any other medications in your system can be very dangerous:

  • Do not use poppers with laughing gas, such as azote protoxyde.
  • Amyl nitrite AND Viagra or other erectile dysfunction medications: a high risk that the person will lose consciousness due to a sudden and extreme drop in blood pressure. This may require immediate medical attention and can lead to cardiac complications.
  • Amyl nitrite AND amphetamines: increased strain on the heart placing the body under additional stress, raising the risk of a fatal cardiac episode. 

Long-term effects

People who are anaemic, pregnant, have a heart condition, have high blood pressure, or have increased pressure within the skull (head injury or brain haemorrhage) should avoid using amyl nitrite as this can increase the risk of long-term damage. There is also a rare risk of maculopathy (loss of vision) most commonly associated with isopropyl nitrite. For people who have underlying glaucoma, there is a risk of fluid pressure build-up within the eye. 

Legalities

While Poppers are technically exempt from the Psychoactive Substances Act of 2016 (banning anything that “by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system… affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state”) they’re still restricted and have been a much-debated but misunderstood legal-high.

 Despite not being illegal, they aren’t quite legal either. Sellers cannot market them as “poppers”, which is why they have become known as “aromas” or “room odorisers” or “leather cleaner”. Sellers have even taken the step of saying these are not for inhalation, as it has been stated that legally this product is not for human consumption.  

It is a prohibited item on the UK Post Office list of controlled drug exclusions.

Amyl nitrite, however, is listed under the controlled medicines Act, so it can only be legally sold at chemists with stringent advice prior to dispensing.

 

But if I could offer you some anecdotal advice for poppers, it would be this: Don’t wait until you are balls deep before attempting to undo the lid. They wrap those bottles in such a way that you need teeth and a very steady hand to get into. Lubed fingers cannot grip this, and you risk getting so desperate to get it open that eventually, it spills all over the floor (god forbid onto a highly absorbent carpet). You will never get that smell out, and you will have an invisible, residual accelerant on your floor. Pre-open the lid and then screw it back on loosely within arm’s reach. Play safe people. 

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