Nangs is a rather interesting slang word for nitrous oxide, a highly volatile anesthetic which has been in use for over 100 years now. Most folks probably know it by another name: laughing gas. Nitrous oxide is used in the auto industry to enhance engine function, sold in groceries for around A$10 per canister, and in the diesel fuel industry as a lubricant for the combustion chamber. However, today’s technology sees this product used in a whole host of different capacities, from inhalation to ingestion. Its current popularity comes largely from its ability to both regulate air flow in a vehicle (an important factor in internal combustion engines) and to give off a fun and relaxing ‘smelling’ gas during driving.

One of the reasons why nangs are so popular is because of the way they’re used. Nitrous oxide is administered in a similar fashion to a regular medication – through the nose. Inhaled, or ‘inhaled’, drugs pass through the lungs and are distributed throughout the air. This process causes the release of a ‘dirty’ gas, commonly known as ‘drip’ gas, out of the nose. This air/drip gas is then absorbed by the body and delivered to various organs, depending on the drug in question.

Inhaled or ‘administered’ drugs go directly to the bloodstream by being put into a plastic balloon. The oxygen in the balloon reacts with amino acids in blood proteins and generates heat which changes the color of the gas to a lighter-yellow tint. The change in colour is caused by the fact that the amino acids in the balloon lighten up the oxygen molecules, which in turn increases the speed and strength of the molecules’ electrical signals, allowing them to travel through the blood and out of the lungs. A little like how a fan works, the speed of the electrical signals increases as the bubbles get bigger.

While many of the specifics of the way the nang is made and used varies across different regions and cultures, the basic manufacturing process remains largely the same. Nangs are either made from ready-made strips of gums (gumball machines) or can be produced by pressing individual gums into soft dices. A typical and will contain around six to ten individual bubbles. Some of these may be larger and thicker than others, depending on the manufacturing process used and the preferences of the person making the nang. The variety of shapes that these nangs can take also makes them very fun to play with – some gumball machines will allow players to roll dices shaped like boats, tridents, bottles and mushrooms for example.

Once a person has successfully taken one of these balloons with a nitrous oxide drug, they will need to try to keep the balloon in their mouth for the required amount of time. Most people who attempt to do this within five minutes find that they become sleepy and/or dizzy. This is because the effects of inhalation of a balloon can quickly fade once it gets into the air. However, those who take longer to feel the effects of inhalation tend to become extremely alert and focused after the balloon has settled in and is comfortably resting in the mouth.

Although many people use canisters to smoke pipes, it’s not uncommon for many people to also use canister nangs. These are usually available at high end stores in Australia and can usually be had in gumball shape. When using canister nangs, the gum is pressed down inside the canister itself is then inserted into the mouth. A straw is then used to hold the canister in place.