"poppers" are a kind of drug used by lots of gay guys and some str8s during sex. Poppers come in brown 1/2 or 1/4 oz bottles. The liquid inside is amyl nitrate, butyl nitrate or isobutyl nitrate, (you'll see references to all of these as nitrITEs too) plus another solvent. Amyl nitrate, generally considered the best, is illegal for sale in the US, but found in some poppers sold in Canada and Europe.

In June, 2013, Health Canada issued a warning about alkyl nitrate products – commonly known as poppers – the department has cracked down on sales nationwide, effectively pushing the market underground. The organization says that alkyl nitrates are classified as a drug under the Food and Drug Act and cannot be sold for human consumption without a licence. Poppers are inhaled as a narcotic to increase sexual pleasure but are often marketed as leather cleaners or room deodorizers. But the department says it is not aware of any non-recreational use.

In porn magazines, catalogs and XXX video rental stores you'll see the small brown vials being sold as "leather" or "VCR head" cleaners or "room odorizers."

You unscrew the black cap, hold the bottle to one nostril, close the other, and breathe in. In a second or two your blood pressure plummets and you get a rush that fades away over a minute or so.

If your partner bumps you and you accidentally sniff up some of the liquid, it burns like hell and will almost certainly destroy the mood.

Lots of people get wicked headaches from poppers, and for afficionados, it's fashionable to say that that only results from using the cheap kind. There are some people who consider sex while using poppers to be a particular fetish, and so you'll see a few people at any given time cruising and chatting on the IrcChannel #gaypoppersex. You used to smell poppers at GayBars where people were dancing, but more likely at a bath today.

Very early in the AIDS epidemic poppers were thought to be associated with the disease or particularly with KS. The AIDS linkage turned out to not be true; the jury's still out on the KS part. See http://www.sumeria.net/aids/john-l/poppers-ks.html for rather more detail.

They're always called "poppers" although there's only one thing. The name originates from when they came in fragile glass vials inside a tiny canvas pouch; you crushed or "popped" the neck of the vial and sniffed the resulting soaked canvas to get the solvent. Their medicinal use is for angina, similar to nitroglycerin pills.

Viagra Interaction

Since both inhaled nitrites and Viagra lower your blood pressure, if you use both at the same time there would appear to be a serious risk, but few, if any, incidences of death have been reported.


When not in use, screw the cap on tightly to minimize evaporation. Many people store them in the freezer for the same reason. Depending on the quality of the poppers, the active ingredient will be used up by the time the bottle is some fraction empty. So at the quarter, half, 3/4 mark, there's no more nitrate there, just the solvent.


Poppers are available in Halifax at:

X-Citement Video on Quinpool Rd.
September 2004 price list: Z-Best, Rush & Rochfort: $19.95. Jungle Juice & Man Scent: $24.95