NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin - Inhalants
Types of Inhalants

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Volatile Solvents

Volatile solvents are liquids that vaporize at room temperature. They are found in:

  • paint thinners and removers, dry cleaning fluids, degreasers, and gasoline
  • glues, correction fluids, felt-tip marker fluids, and electronic contact cleaners


Gases include household or commercial products such as:

  • butane (from lighters), propane (gas grills), and cooling system fluids
  • medical anesthetic gases, such as ether, chloroform, halothane, and nitrous oxide


Aerosols are sprays that contain propellants and solvents. Some common aerosols include:

  • spray paint, hair and deodorant sprays, whipped cream dispensers, fabric protector sprays, and vegetable oil cooking sprays


Nitrites are a special class of inhalants. While other inhalants are used to alter mood, organic nitrites are used primarily as sexual enhancers. Organic nitrites include amyl, butyl, and cyclohexyl nitrites and other related compounds, and are commonly known as "poppers." Amyl nitrite was used in the past to alleviate chest pain and is sometimes used today for diagnostic purposes in heart examinations. Most poppers contain isobutyl nitrite or butyl nitrite. These nitrites are often sold in small brown bottles and labeled as "video head cleaner," "room odorizer," "leather cleaner," or "liquid aroma."