Breaking Bad (Poppers)

I am tired of hunting for good poppers and playing cloak and dagger games around quality.  I am hoping to break the cycle of bad poppers, hence the name of the post.

So I have grown used to the poppers from US Pop Shop.  That’s too bad as they have nice stuff.  I read somewhere that it’s best to alternate between the popper chemistry.  The basic concept is that there are three alcohols that can be reacted to form a nitrite.  The nitrite acts as a powerful vasodilator with a short acting duration.

So let’s talk chemistry.  There are three types of poppers in broad brush:

Amyl Nitrite – This is a controlled substance in the US and requires a prescription.  It was reclassified in the late 1960s by people who didn’t like others having fun.

Isobutyl Nitrite – This is one of the formulations out there.

IsoPropyl Nitrite – this it the other common formulation.

Each of these is made by reacting an alcohol with nitric acid to perform a nitrition.  This is different from a Nitration, but still basic organic chemistry.  It’s worth noting that care must be exercised as Nitric Oxide is a by product which is toxic and causes delayed chemical pneumonia.  Translation it can kill or sicken you seriously.

Isopropyl alcohol, Isobutyl Alcohol, or Pentanol (aka Amyl-N Alcohol) can be used.  Each has slightly different evaporation and vaporization qualities.

There have also been CycloHexo Nitrite and other short lived chemicals that have similar impacts but less desirable side effects such as intense headaches.  It’s worth pointing out that some sources claim poppers cause vision deficits and headaches.  Yes, probably under some circumstances.  The primary affect is that they relax smooth muscles which is why they are vasodilators.  They lower blood pressure by enlarging the blood vessels.  Yes this could aggravate underlying physiological issues in the eyes or brain.  As with all items, different ones impact people differently.

As this is basic organic chemistry there are a variety of ways to cause the reaction.  The most economical appears to be this:

30 ml of distilled water, 30 mg of sodium nitrite (saturated sodium nitrite solution)

30 ml of alcohol of choice (which ever flavor you want to make)

chill to zero and titrate (drip) Sulfuric acid (battery acid) in while stirring vigorously.

What happens is the sulfuric acid attacks the sodium nitrite to form nitric acid…. which then attacks the alcohol to form X-nitrite where X is whatever alcohol you used.  The by products are heat, a nitrite and an unusable mixture of leftover chemicals.

It also produces some Nitric Oxide which is an orange toxic gas.  Toxic means it could kill you so it’s important to wear gloves a respirator/mask/eye protection and work with plenty of ventilation.

Now, it’s mostly frowned upon legally to make these for consumption as inhalants.  However, they are powerful solvents and are capable of removing most contaminants with no residue from electronic items such as video heads, circuit boards etc.  There are apparently also some uses in biochemistry for slide preparation involving the removal of water.  So from here on out we will be discussing Nitrites in the scope of using them to clean electronics and decontaminate grease from labware.  These industrial/technical uses remain legal in the United States.

Interestingly the compounds are reasonably unstable and should be stored in small bottles and kept cold for maximum preservation.  A deep freeze is an excellent place to keep them.  Small 5 ml bottles can be sourced from AliExpress for approximately 30 cents each.  This is an ideal size because a small amount of solvent can be consumed and discarded as needed for each session where it is needed.

A batch size as described above yields about 30ml of product.  This can then be cleaned with Glycerin which produces an ultra pure compound with no contaminants.  Commercially produced products often cut a corner here and use alcohol or kerosene both of which irritate the skin if contact happens to occur.

Batch costs, using materials sourced on eBay and or Amazon point to batches of approximately $3 to $5 which nets out to about 60 to 80 cents per 5ml container.  This cost analysis ignores the cost of labware and equipment such as graduated cylinders, beakers, stirrers, scales, and lab stands.  Allowing for extras in case you drop one, about $200 worth of labware is required to produce your own cleaners in-house.  It appears to be a very straight forward ROI against commercially obtained cleaners of varying quality and age.

My research pointed to there being one or two manufacturers who bottle the solvents in 500ml industrial containers which are then rebottled by various brands and sold for room odorizers and video head cleaners, etc.  US Pop shop claims to make their own and they probably do.

I still think it’s critically important for my expirements to have known quality solvents to clean my electronics with.

Once all the bits accumulate I will share what I learn.  Please keep in mind that it is illegal to sniff or otherwise consume these.  My article is not intended to encourage this activity.  I suspect that many of you who find this article are discerning videophiles, have specific scent preferences, or just want the best solvent to remove highly flouridated grease contamination.  All things that these solvents excel at.