Indiana University Indiana University IU

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)


Whip-its are small canisters of nitrous oxide that are manufactured for the intended use of refilling whipped cream chargers. However these canisters, which usually contain 8 grams of nitrous oxide, are often misused by people wanting a relatively instant and short-term high.

Although this inhalant drug may seem fairly harmless, it is actually more dangerous than one might guess. Whip-its, like tobacco and marijuana, are a gateway drug. Using whip-its can open the door to the use of other more harmful and addictive drugs that produce a longer lasting and more intense high which is accompanied by more detrimental effects on the brain and body of the user.

Another danger with whip-its is the effect nitrous oxide has on the body. When inhaled, it takes the place of oxygen in the bloodstream which allows it to reach the brain quickly and in turn affect heart rate and breathing as well as interrupt proper nervous system functions.

Whip-its are not illegal, which makes them easy to acquire. However, they are sold mainly in specialty cooking stores where many owners are aware of the alternate use for whipped cream charger refills. Because they are legal and misused as an inhalant drug, with many store owners have decided to keep the whip-its out of sight, some owners choosing to keep them in locked containers. Keeping the refills out of sight eliminates the number of refills that are shoplifted, since they are small enough to fit inside a pocket.

by Alyssa Jones, 5/21/2009