Your Guide to Poppers: What Are Poppers and How Do You Use Them?

While global attitudes to cannabis are changing, other recreational substances are coming under greater scrutiny, both in the UK and abroad.

In 2016, the UK Government banned many ‘legal highs’ such as spice, laughing gas and mephedrone. As a result, there was a lot of discussion about what other recreational drugs would be covered in the ban, including a substance known as ‘poppers’.

Various media outlets were unsure whether poppers would be part of the ban, while many members of the public were unsure as to what poppers even were.

Despite poppers receiving some media interest at that time, there is still a lot of misconception surrounding their use, legality and safety.

If you’ve never used poppers before, it’s likely you have lots of questions about them. To help you out, we’re here with all the answers in this ultimate guide to understanding poppers.

What Are Poppers?

Poppers are liquid substances in the group of chemicals called alkyl nitrates. In the past, poppers were amyl nitrates, but now isopropyl nitrate and butyl nitrate are more common.

They were first available in the 1800s as amyl nitrates and were for treating angina (chest pains). Poppers used to be sold in glass vials which made a popping noise when crushed. This is where the name ‘poppers’ comes from.

Nowadays, poppers are available online in the UK in small 10-30 ml bottles and are typically sniffed or inhaled for use as a recreational drug. Because of their distinctive aroma, poppers are marketed as room deodorizers, room aromas and air fresheners.

What Do Poppers Do?

When inhaled, poppers relax the smooth muscles in your body. These include the sphincter muscles in your anus, causing you to loosen up after inhalation. Because of this effect, poppers have been popular in the gay community for decades.

Smooth muscles surround the body’s blood vessels, so when they relax, your blood vessels dilate. This then causes an increase in heart rate and blood flow throughout the body. As a result, users experience a feeling of euphoria, often described as a ‘head rush’ or ‘high’, not dissimilar to the feeling of ‘coming up’ after taking MDMA.

Many users also report experiencing tingling sensations throughout the body, as well as reduced inhibitions. Poppers can also increase sexual pleasure when used before and during sex. And some users claim that they help increase libido and prolong erections.

Who Uses Poppers?

Because of the way poppers relax the body’s smooth muscles, they are often used in preparation for sex. These muscle-relaxing effects help to facilitate both anal and vaginal sex. For this reason, the use of poppers has long been linked to the LGBT community.

But poppers have also been used as a recreational substance in clubs for many years. In the ’70s and ’80s, many gay men would inhale poppers at gay clubs as a way to enhance the music and get high. And during the ’90s, poppers were common throughout the growing rave scene.

But nowadays, poppers are popular with a variety of different groups. As such, many straight people use poppers as a recreational substance, both during sex and as a way to enhance enjoyment on nights out.

Research supports that people of all sexual orientations, races and ages use poppers. One study involving British medical students found that 10 percent of participants had used poppers at least once.

And a French study showed that the use of poppers increased dramatically between 2000 and 2010. Poppers ranked second only to cannabis and were popular among both adults and teenagers.

How to Use Poppers

If you’ve never seen or experienced them then you might be wondering how to use poppers.

Although we’ve explained how many people use them by inhaling them directly from the bottle, you should not use poppers in this way. Instead, you should open the bottle and leave the poppers to stand. This allows the aromas to develop for inhalation within the room as a way to deliver their effects.

Our Recommendations

All our different types of poppers produce an intense effect that you’re sure to love as much as our regular customers.

But if you’re new to poppers then we want to ensure that you get the best first experience possible. So, here are some of our recommendations when it comes to choosing the best of our selection for your specific desires:

– For Relaxation and Liberation

If you’re looking for poppers that help you loosen up and feel free, then Amsterdam Gold is for you.

Just like the city, this bottled Amsterdam will inspire friendship, tolerance and love. From the first use, you’ll feel liberated from all tensions and ready for a good time.

This is a great choice for enjoying at casual house parties as another way to enhance the fun you and your friends are having. Of course, if you had another kind of party in mind, the liberating effect these poppers provide also makes for a great sexual experience.

– For an Intense Sexual Experience

Men and women looking to intensify their sexual experience love Berlin XXX. Just as X-rated as Berlin itself, this will strengthen and extend your orgasm with mind-blowing results.

This powerful room aroma is ideal for couples who want to experiment and reach new levels of pleasure. After all, we could all use some XXX-tra excitement in our lives!

– For Maximum Effect

Our most premium bottle of poppers is, without a doubt, Potent Blue.

This high-quality formula is our strongest aroma available and one of our most popular products. Potent Blue includes a power pellet which you activate by shaking the bottle.

The power pellet helps to activate the formula to new extremes for some serious XXX strength. First time or not, try Potent Blue and we promise you will not be disappointed.

Are Poppers Legal in the UK?

Although the legal status of poppers came into question following a ban on certain substances in 2016, poppers are legal in the UK.

The Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into force in the UK in April 2016, made it illegal to supply drugs that have a direct effect on mental processes, unless that particular drug is declared exempt.

While many different ‘legal highs’ were banned as a result of the bill, there were exemptions for food, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. But the Government initially thought that poppers would be included in the ban.

Conservative MP Crispin Blunt reacted to this speculation by openly talking about using poppers himself, declaring that banning supply would be “fantastically stupid”. He added that a ban would astonish the gay community while also driving the supply underground.

In the end, poppers were not included in the ban. This is because it was decided that they have a ‘peripheral’ effect on the brain rather than a direct effect.

To have been included, poppers would have had to be found capable of creating a psychoactive effect. But the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said poppers, “do not fall within the scope of the current definition of a psychoactive substance”.

Are Poppers Safe?

There are some potential negative side effects from using poppers, although these are often mild or very rare.

Side Effects of Poppers

The most common short-term side effects are headaches and feeling lightheaded. And in some cases, inhaling poppers directly from the bottle can cause users to feel dizzy or faint.

Using poppers over an extended period of time can cause eye damage, although this is rare and may be reversible so more research is needed. Intense inhaling may also result in crusty skin around your nose or skin lesions.

High doses of poppers can also cause the fatal condition methemoglobinemia. This condition causes blood to stop carrying oxygen around the body, similar to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. But methemoglobinemia is more likely to be as a result of ingesting poppers than inhaling their aroma.

As well as the risk of methemoglobinemia, ingesting poppers can cause blindness, brain damage, organ failure and/or death. You should never ingest poppers and doing so is not safe under any circumstances. It might seem obvious, but some people have done this, although this is often by accident.


Poppers pose minimal risks for healthy individuals. But there are certain groups of people who should not use poppers.

For example, you should not use poppers if you have a heart condition or abnormal blood pressure. This is because poppers lower blood pressure and increase heart rate, which could be dangerous.

And, there may be added risks involved with taking poppers for people with glaucoma or anemia.

It can also be dangerous to use poppers in combination with some medications, including Viagra. This is because both Viagra and poppers cause a drop in blood pressure. The combination can result in a stroke, heart attack or even death.

Other Dangers Associated with Poppers

While poppers are safe when used as intended, incorrect use or experimentation with poppers can be dangerous.

Due to the solvents they contain, poppers can cause chemical burns on the skin. If you get liquid from a bottle of poppers on your skin you should wash it off as fast as possible.

Likewise, if you get poppers in your eye, you should flush out the liquid with plenty of water straight away. If the discomfort continues, seek medical advice.

Poppers are also highly flammable, so you should be very careful when using poppers around open flames and lit cigarettes.

Some people choose to dip an unlit cigarette into a bottle of poppers and then inhale the liquid through the cigarette. You should discard these cigarettes after use. Mistakenly lighting a cigarette soaked in poppers could result in getting burned.

This method of inhalation also carries the added risk of aspiration, where the liquid is sucked into the lungs. If you have inhaled poppers through a cigarette and feel a burning or choking sensation afterward, get medical help as soon as possible.

How Long will Poppers Stay in my System?

The immediate effect of poppers tends to last between two and five minutes after inhalation.

That said, how long the effects last and how long poppers stay in your system depends on other factors. These include how much you’ve taken, whether you’ve eaten or not, your size, and other drugs (including alcohol and cigarettes) you may have taken.

For example, continuous use of poppers during a short space of time can cause you to feel lightheaded or ‘spaced out’ for longer. This is especially the case if you are also drinking alcohol, smoking or have taken other drugs.

In terms of the pharmacology of poppers, as a nitrate, their half-life is around one to two hours. But if you are due to take a drug test, you should avoid using poppers for at least 72 hours before the test.

Where Can I Buy Poppers?

The most common places you can buy poppers are in sex shops, ‘head shops’, and from online stores.

But you may also find them for sale in clubs, tobacconists, music stores, joke shops, market stalls and clothes shops. Prices start from around £4 for one bottle, although it is often cheaper to buy several bottles in bulk. Or, if you’re new to poppers, you might like to try a mixed multi-pack to experiment with different aromas.

Your Guide to Poppers

Thanks to this comprehensive guide, you should now feel fully informed about what poppers do and how to use them.

And, whether you’re looking to try poppers for the first time or you’re an experienced user looking to re-stock, the most important thing is that you’ve come to the right place.

For more information on poppers, feel free to contact us with any questions or queries.

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