Popper’s Place’s New Contributing Writer Gives Us the Low-Down on the A-Z’s of Poppers!

Hey everyone! With this post I’d like to introduce a new contributing writer to Popper’s Place. He’s been in the business, knows the chemistry and the history of poppers. He’ll be contributing to the site fairly regularly and I’m excited to finally be able to post his first entry (as I am sure all of you will be as well!). If you didn’t know much about poppers now, read on and get to learnin’!



Greetings, Friends:
My name is Steve B, and I have been graciously invited by PopperDude to share my knowledge and experiences regarding poppers. I was involved with the business of manufacturing, packaging and distribution of poppers when their popularity was at their peak – from the mid-1970s to the late-1980s. I worked for Joe Miller during this time when he operated the PWD/Great-Lakes packaging plant on Harding Street in Indianapolis (Directly across the street from Bush Stadium).
Joe Miller passed away in August 2010. There are conflicting reports regarding the actual cause of his death, but the point is that he was the sole proprietor of The Pacific West Distributing Company and Rush Brands Inc, and he did not intend that his business should continue after his demise.
In January of this year, his brother Charles transferred all interest in all the PWD trademarks to an attorney in Phoenix, AZ.  It is unlikely that these once-famous brands will ever be seen again. Even if they are resurrected in the future, it will probably be too late – the brands and image will have already been ravaged by copy-cats and scavengers, and newer quality brands will have made the old classic names irrelevant.  It’s the end of an era.
I have some good memories of the business and though I could probably write a whole book about the poppers industry, the audience for such a story would obviously be quite limited. That’s where this blog comes in – I am able to speak to a large group of people who might find the topic interesting. And yet the audience is not so large, that I couldn’t respond to individual members who might express individual interest.
For the purposes of our discussion, I think it’s important that we all agree on the basic definition of “poppers”. Using poppers IS NOT IN ANY WAY SIMILAR to ‘sniffing glue’, inhaling solvents, nitrous-oxide, gasoline, methyl-ether or any other substance for which there is extensive documentation to illustrate the harmful effects and devastation brought by these volatile chemicals.
Nitrites used to be prescribed in ampules that a person
would break and inhale (thus the “pop” in poppers).
Nitrites, on the other hand, have a long history of safe usage, both medicinally and recreationally. Alkyl Nitrites were originally used to treat the symptoms of angina pectoris (heart pain) –
Why would doctors feel safe in prescribing amyl nitrite for use by patients who were most at risk of suffering a sudden heart attack? – Because it had a long track record of safe and effective use!!
IsoButyl Nitrite (and its weaker cousins – IsoAmyl, IsoPropyl, IsoPentyl, etc) is a simple compound consisting primarily of alcohol which has been saturated with a salt (usually sodium nitrite) and shocked with an organic acid (usually sulfuric acid).  Any type of alcohol can be used to produce poppers, but  IsoButyl has been preferred, because it provides the best balance of smoothness and strength, it is volatilized quickly, yet holds it’s ‘freshness’ longer, and it is much slower to acquire a nasty odor after repeated exposure to the air.
Some people believe that Amyl Nitrite is a superior product. Their bias is probably based more in nostalgia than in any real qualitative assessment. It is true that Amyl Nitrite was the original “poppers” (due to their early availability as pre-packaged ampoules, produced by ‘professional’ labs), but there is nothing especially noble about amyl alcohol, as it relates to any other type of alcohol.
When a fresh bottle of poppers is opened, many have said
it has the scent of tropical fruit.

When a fresh bottle of pure Amyl Nitrite is first opened, a very sweet, pleasant aroma is noticed – it smells like fresh bananas and tropical fruit. The rush comes on quickly and smoothly, sustains for a long time, and finishes with a pleasant landing, without headache or irritation. It’s beautiful.

But after just a couple hits, the quality rapidly degrades, the odor  becomes sour, and you are left with a full bottle of liquid that will make your face flush, your head pound, and your throat and lungs protest.  Not the kind of rush you’re looking for. If you had access to a large supply of single-use glass ampoules (that actually “pop” – as in “poppers”) you would have it made.  But for the average person, these are very difficult and expensive to acquire, and so the much more stable IsoButyl Nitrite is the preferred ‘bottled’ product.
What causes poppers to go “stale” is the repeated opening of the bottle.  Every time the bottle is opened, ambient air is introduced, which naturally contains water vapor.  Water will rapidly decompose the poppers, so that by the time the liquid reaches the half-way point in the bottle, it’s going to get nasty very quickly – use it or lose it.
This process can be slowed, to a degree, when a desiccant is added. The purpose of the desiccant is to absorb water molecules, thereby prolonging the freshness a little longer.  The desiccant usually consists of Activated Alumina.  Some producers purchase it as a pellet (ie ‘the Power-Pak Pellet”), or it can be purchased in granular form (which will appear as salt crystals at the bottom of the bottle). Still other producers add Aluminum Chlorohydrate (the active ingredient in under-arm antiperspirant), which will appear as oily-looking globules floating in the liquid. They all work, to a degree.  But once you have opened your poppers, you should plan to use them up within a week, or you will be experiencing diminishing returns.
Poppers are fatal when combined with ED meds like
Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.
Before I wrap-up this week’s entry, I want to touch on the subject of popper safety.  I have been using poppers regularly for nearly forty years, without any problem.  A recent medical examination shows that my heart and blood pressure are perfectly normal; there is no sign of cancer or anything else that would indicate that I should change my lifestyle. But I am not a doctor – and I don’t know what your response to any substance might be.  Therefore, I will not be able to answer questions relating to the health implications of using poppers.  I can only point you to relevant sources, so that you can make your own conclusions.
If you just happen to be a laboratory rat, being forced to inhale high concentrations isobutyl-nitrite, 24 hours per day, for several months, you might experience issues.  But my personal opinion is that poppers are safe when used in the ways that most people use them – so long as
they are never combined with medications intended to treat erectile dysfunction.
I’ll be offering more of my insights in the coming weeks.  It would be helpful to know which aspects of poppers topic would most appeal to you, the reader.  For that reason, I would be most grateful for any comments or feedback, which will help me in my effort to present the most relevant content.
Best Wishes & Play Safe !!!!
Steve B.
This entry was posted in alkyl nitrites, amyl nitrite, aromas, butyl nitrite, chemistry, cyclohexyl nitrite, isoamyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, isopentyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite, joe miller, Pac West Distributing, safety. Bookmark the permalink.

38 thoughts on “Popper’s Place’s New Contributing Writer Gives Us the Low-Down on the A-Z’s of Poppers!

  1. Found a Google listed, detailed patent for making nitrites. Number is US20030149292A1 and was listed in 2003(first 4 numbers) Procedure sounds fairly complex. It talks about the advantage of collecting the nitrite as soon as it forms, washing it with water to remove acid and drying it with potassium hydroxide immediately to help preserve it. Both the acid and water decompose nitrites.

  2. “My next article will demonstrate two methods for long-term preservation of poppers, including instructions for building a small device, from materials you probably already have in your house, which will guarantee a steady supply of the freshest poppers, regardless of the temperature.”

    Could Steve or somebody simply give us a headsup on this, please?

    Sounds VERY interesting!

  3. I know I keep saying this – but he’s been very busy and will be submitting another post soon! Thank you for your patience!


  4. I went to an online chemical site and received a ton of offers to sell me isobutyl nitrite, 95% pure and better – only downside is they are all in China. Not taking a chance there. PA, USA was risky enough. Still have a pending order with Sigma. Not sure they will sell to me – still waiting. It would be nice to find a maker who practices quality control.