You can make nitrous oxide or laughing gas quite easily in the lab or at home. However, there are reasons why you might want to forego the preparation unless you have chem lab experience.
What Is Nitrous Oxide or Laughing Gas?Nitrous oxide (N2O) is also known as laughing gas. It is a colorless sweet-smelling and sweet-tasting gas that is used in dentistry and surgery because inhaling the gas produces analgesic and anesthetic effects. The gas is also used to produce the engine output of automotive vehicles and as an oxidizer in rocketry. Nitrous oxide gets the name "laughing gas" because inhaling it produces euphoria.
How to Make Nitrous Oxide or Laughing GasJoseph Priestley first synthesized nitrous oxide in 1772 by collecting the gas produced from sprinkling nitric acid over iron filings, however, nitrous oxide usually is produced using Humphry Davy's method of gently heating ammonium nitrate to decompose it into nitrous oxide and water vapor:
NH4NO3 (s) → 2 H2O (g) + N2O (g)
The key here is gently heating the ammonium nitrate to between 170°C and 240°C, because higher temperatures may cause the ammonium nitrate to detonate. People have been doing this without incident for over 150 years, so they key is to be careful. Next, the hot gases are cooled to condense the water. The best way to do this is using a pneumatic trough, which involves a tube leading from the ammonium nitrate container that bubbles the gases up through water into a collection jar. This removes the water from the reaction as well as smoke from impurities in the ammonium nitrate. The gas in the collection jar is your nitrous oxide or laughing gas, plus lesser amounts of other nitrogen oxides, including nitric oxide or nitrogen monoxide. Nitric oxide is oxidized to nitrous oxide upon exposure to oxygen, although acid and base treatments are used to remove impurities for commercial-scale production of nitrous oxide.
June 9, 2011 at 10:19 am
(1) Lanthanum says:
How can nitric oxide be oxidized to nitrous oxide? That is a reduction reaction.
June 9, 2011 at 10:27 am
(2) Anne says:
My understanding is that nitric oxide reacts with oxygen to form the peroxide which then reacts to form nitrous oxide.
June 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm
(3) noah says:
dont know but sounds fun
July 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm
(4) Nareshreddy says:
Dis was a gud experiance………..thnk u
July 29, 2011 at 12:29 am
(5) kanna(nakkapalli says:
its help s to know about laughing gas
January 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm
(6) Tom Vosper says:
Nitric Oxide disappears in the body via the interraction of the Body’s (manufactured) First line of defense “SOD” or SuperOxide Dismutase, which plays a role in converting Nitric Oxide into Hydrogen Peroxide. An overabundance of Nitric Oxide in the body can be a concern, because if the body does not have enough SOD (best supplemented form: gliadin), then the remaining Nitric Oxide can convert to Peroxynitrate, which is the precursor to all forms of cancer. So…the message for all of you people who are taking L-Arginine and L-Ornithine to increase NO2 in the body (because NO2 is also very good as a “carrier”, increasing the delivery of Nutrients, etc throughout the body), or all of you “huffers” out there who whiff cans of whatever to get high, you could be opening the door to getting cancer in 10-20 years. There is no clinical research that has been done on this subject, but the 1998 Nobel Prize was for the discovery of NO2. So what is the answer if you have MORE NO2 than your body than normal? Supplement SOD Gliadin, found in GNC and online. Good Tip. FYI TV
January 28, 2012 at 3:25 am
(7) annie says:
March 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm
(8) Roy says:
Very nice article. Love to know more about Nitric Acid. Great work!
April 3, 2012 at 4:41 am
(9) ninninon says:
Where in the world do you get numonnium nitrate from!
April 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm
(10) JoeT says:
Ammonium nitrate is what’s in your instant cold packets.
The cold created by the pack is a reaction between ammonium nitrate and water.
Buy it in any pharmacy, and CAREFULLY cut the outer bag open without breaking into the water bag inside and you’ll see small white pellets inside, which are ammonium nitrate.
April 24, 2012 at 11:24 am
(11) Rob (scientist) says:
This article is dangerous as are some of the comments.
The gas produced from PURE ammonium nitrate is likely to be a mix of mostly nitrous oxide and a little nitrogen plus higher oxides.
Commercial ammonium nitrate in cool packs and fertilisers has calcium hydroxide or carbonate added – the gas coming off this when heated is ammonia! It is to prevent accidental detonation of the nitrate.
When heating ammonium nitrate to the temperature required it becomes very sensitve to spontaneous detonation.
Nitric oxide is oxidised to dinitrogen tetroxide – the later is brown and highly toxic – do not breath in nitric oxide or the latter.
If you want to nitrous oxide – whipped cream gas is the answer.
There are safer ways of producing nitrous oxide.
May 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm
(12) Toju boyo says:
Well,any time i say laughing gas, i laugh,is tat alrite.
June 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm
(13) David says:
how do you condense it to a luiquid or will it take a lot of pressure to do that ?
June 20, 2012 at 3:46 am
(14) jack says:
how can you test for nitric oxide in the air?
September 7, 2012 at 9:28 pm
(15) dingo says:
“The key here is gently heating the ammonium nitrate to between 170°C and 240°C”
isn’t ammonium nitrate’s boiling / flash point ~ 210°C?
September 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm
(16) Daniel says:
Would placing the bottom of the test tube in near boiling water be sufficient enough to heat the ammonium nitrate?
September 25, 2012 at 10:29 am
(17) Bills the chemist says:
You are WAY underqualified to perform this experiment if you don’t understand latent heat.
December 27, 2012 at 4:17 am
(18) Nitrous Oxide Cream says:
Nitrous Oxide N2O is Laughing Gas but we can use nitrous oxide to develop nitrous oxide cream.
December 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm
(19) kell says:
guys!!!why mixing and heating ammonium?while we can get nitrous oxide from some where ???gota find if this nitous oxide is being sold or another way to get it without lab and ammonium experiment? hefta tell u guys not everyone is born alchemist and with a lab
January 5, 2013 at 12:06 pm
(20) eddie says:
…………yeah…..go to E-bay and I’m sure u’ll find what ya need…please, tho
take heed of the warnings etc. that you’ve read, as there is real danger if not done correctly, wether from exploding/burning ur “lab”…to nuropathy from lack of oxygen,….be careful!…………….
February 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm
(21) Kala says:
Don’t make your own laughing gas and use it I know this one girl who at a party had to much laughing gas and she died
February 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm
(22) Nick says:
I think this is probably the best agent for suicide – easily available, painless (enjoyable, even) and reasonably fast acting.
February 19, 2013 at 5:11 am
(23) venkat says:
i cannot understand
March 23, 2013 at 9:59 am
(24) ric lawes says:
The weird and the wild!
I am an anaesthesiologist and use this stuff all day every day (on patients, not myself).
It is essentially a poison that acts on your narcotic receptors to produce analgesia. This is not anaesthesia and anaesthesia cannot be achieved unless nitrous oxygen is given in concentrations of 105% +_ , not possible at atmospheric pressure. The guys who like sums will instantly realise that 100% N2O leaves no place for essential oxygen, resulting in cardiac arrest in as little as 2 mins (death) through suffocation and irreversible brain damage (death) in a max of 8 mins, more commonly 5 mins. Modern anaesthetic machines cannot deliver more than 75% N2O for that reason.
As it works like a narcotic it also makes you puke, furthermore if used for more than 4 hours it interferes with your B12 causing an anaemia over the long term.
Unfortunately, like other narcotics it is addictive. Carrying a 20kg cylinder about with you is unsubtle unless you hide it in your pants and your friends think you are really excited to see you.
Making it yourself is possible if you dont mind drowning in your sputum, produced as your lungs dissolve under the influence of nitric acid, as mentioned above.
If you want to fool around with a substance that carries the real risk that you will kill yourself the same effect can be achieved in the same time by feeding yourself through a pencil sharpener. Bye
March 30, 2013 at 10:39 am
(25) bob says:
Wrong ric lawes. Anaesthesia can be acheived through constant administration of the gas via a large balloon, precision valve (to only allow a small amount through) and a fixture to the surface of what you are laying on. Its not the pressure of the gas that gives it the effect its the pressure that allows it to be continuously applied after the patient looses consciousness and would then stop voluntarily inhaling the gas.
It is not a poison, in fact it has a metabolic rate of nearly nothing. It is as far from poison as you can get. It momentarily bonds to benzodiazepam receptors and GABA^2 receptors in the prefrontal cortex and is excreted via the respratory system without being changed or metabolized. It is probably the least poisonous drug you can use…
It does not work as a narcotic, that statement doesnt even make sense, narcotic is a legal definition. “A drug or other substance affecting mood or behavior and sold for nonmedical purposes, esp. an illegal one.” So it acts as an illegal drug on the…brain? just the brain? thats specific… good god man, what alley do you work in as an anesthesiologist
I get sick of people saying a drug is poisonous or “bad” because it can suffocate you if you are too stupid to not breath (or do it automatically and unsupervised.) That doesnt mean nitrous is poisonous, it means oxygen is necessary to live, Christ.
Ive lost weight laughing this whole time at the term “narcotics receptors”. I am a very amateur chemist and you sir are a moron.
June 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm
(26) A Reel Chemist says:
Yeah Ric Lawes could not have given more misleading advice. You sir are the reason my best friend still won’t try pot or mushrooms. Fear mongering on misinformation. The fact that you’re confident enough in that spewed bullshit that you actually post it as verifiable fact and levy your anesthesiologist position as proof? You’re either a lying bag or you’ve been so far misled that you simply act as an outlet for verbal diarrhea.
August 8, 2013 at 10:05 am
(27) Will Yablome says:
August 12, 2013 at 8:07 am
(28) Dhanie says:
now i know!!!!! yeah rightz😜👍
October 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm
(29) Tristan says:
Ric is right about the N2O concentrations on an anesthetic machine though. They cant flow higher than 75% as O2 is restricted to only go as low as 25%…
Not sure what to think about the other stuff he said. ahahah
November 16, 2013 at 5:28 am
(30) Pritam says:
How nitrous oxide make us laugh?
November 20, 2013 at 8:17 am
(31) dharahasini says:
its very funny and it is dangerous if we spray much quantity on anyone
November 29, 2013 at 12:56 pm
(32) sabah says:
Nitrogen oxide is formed in the air during lightning and it reaches the soil through the rainfall. So, is nitrous oxide the same nitrogen oxide formed in the air?
December 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm
(33) shey says:
we already discussed about laughing gas and i learn more about it…..
……..specially the proper use of it….
and our teacher says that its like a marijuana ,,,,,…………..
if you take it, you will become crazy…..
January 19, 2014 at 5:56 am
(34) Vishnupriya says:
A great information I came to know which I had never heard about it.Thank you
January 19, 2014 at 12:08 pm
(35) raghu says:
guys can anyone tell me how to prepare a perfect nitrous oxide which wont lead to crazy incidents like suffocating to death??
February 14, 2014 at 5:50 am
(36) zahir muhammd tgt says:
i could not understood its method of preparation
February 19, 2014 at 6:00 pm
(37) PJ says:
The individuals that are trying to make this nitrous oxide have to be children. Why else would you be so ignorant about making it at home to get high. The human brain isn’t fully developed until a person is 25 years of age. I would hope that this is the reason why anybody would choose to use and abuse nitrous oxide. If and when it finally kills you and/or your brain. The same brain that’s not working to great already……obviously. Instead of trying to get high on this stuff, try thinking about your loved ones at your funeral.
March 4, 2014 at 1:03 pm
(38) Curtis says:
Here is a twist/challenge for you to answer
In smoking meats a pink ‘Smoke Ring” appears just under the surface when slow cooking with fire or charcoal
When using an electric smoker to heat the wood- the temps are lower and the smoke ring does not appear
Its now been said that the smoke ring is the result of NO from the fire or charcoal coming in contact with the meat- this NO is not produced because of the low temps of the electric smokers
How can someone with an electric smoker introduce NO into the cooking process to induce this ‘smoke Ring” into the finished meats?
Thanks if you try to answer-its a question MANY with electric smokers have
March 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm
(39) Shu Ting says:
THAT IS NOT HOW NITROUS OXIDE IS MADE YOU B+ AMETEUR STUDENT!!!! MY FATHER WOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOU. ONE MUST PUT THE OSMOTIC PARTICLES OF THE OXYGEN INTO THE PERMABLE MEMBRANE OF THE SKIN CELL OF THE ENDOPLASTIC RECTICULUM IN ORDER TO PENETRATE THROUGH THE UTERUS IN WHICH THE PERPENDICULAR PARABOLA INCREASES IN NITROUS AMOUNT! I TOOK HONORS ADVANCED AP CHEMISTRY IN 2ND GRADE AND IN MY JUNIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE AT HARVARD YOU NOOB! NOT EVEN A+! AGAIN, MY FATHER WOULD BE ASHAMED! HE WOULD HAVE DISOWNED YOU! <3
Love, Shu Ting
P.S. Look me up on google. I like to write poems in my free time.
March 14, 2014 at 1:59 am
(40) SYED HUSSAIN says:
owesome very well………………
March 25, 2014 at 6:17 am
(41) zulqarnain says:
what is laughing gas,,,,
April 18, 2014 at 4:15 am
(42) gari says:
After reading al above comments still people like me ho r always new to this would like the answer in the form the ..
Is it bad fir little enjoyement after age of 25*
The safe and unsafe use of the gas in %
IIf my parrents r fighting, and I would like to stop or diverting the fight to any happier movement….
Else I have to search any other way..
April 21, 2014 at 9:36 am
(43) Akash Deka says:
Mame can u plz tell me why PbCl2 is white while PBI2 is yellow???
May 14, 2014 at 9:23 am
(44) krishan bhandari says:
it is quite cool gas. i dont know but it sounds good. It is helpful cause use in auto mechanis