What Are Nangs? History of Nangs in Australia and the World - King Whip

What Are Nangs? History of Nangs in Australia and the World

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Have you ever wondered about those little metal canisters often used to make whipped cream? While these nifty devices, known as nangs or whippets, are a staple in the culinary world for creating perfect whipped cream, their use extends far beyond the kitchen.

Key Takeaways

  • Nangs are small metal canisters filled with nitrous oxide (N₂O), primarily used in the culinary industry to create whipped cream.
  • When released from nang into a cream whipper, nitrous oxide aerates the cream, creating a light, fluffy texture perfect for desserts.
  • Inhaling nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is illegal and poses significant health risks.
  • Discovered by English chemist Joseph Priestley in 1772, nitrous oxide was initially explored for its unique properties.
  • Horace Wells pioneered its use as an anesthetic in 1844, revolutionizing surgical and dental practices.
  • Over the past few decades, nangs have become popular in Australia for culinary purposes, particularly in making whipped cream.
  • King Whip promotes the safe and responsible use of nangs for culinary purposes only.

Read on to learn about Nangs, from their origins and evolution in Australia to their global presence, regulations, and essential safety practices.

What are Nangs?

Nangs might seem like simple kitchen tools, but there’s much more to them than meets the eye.

Definition of Nangs

Nangs are small metal canisters filled with nitrous oxide (N₂O). Primarily designed for use in the culinary industry, they are essential tools for whipping cream.

When the gas is released from the canister into a cream whipper, it aerates the cream, creating a light, fluffy texture perfect for topping desserts. These canisters are a staple in professional kitchens and home cooking, ensuring consistent quality in whipped cream and other aerated culinary creations.

Their practical application in the kitchen makes them indispensable for chefs and cooking enthusiasts.

What is a Nang in Australia?

In Australia, “nangs” is the colloquial term for nitrous oxide canisters used primarily in the culinary industry. These canisters are essential tools for creating whipped cream, offering a convenient and efficient way to achieve a light, fluffy texture that is perfect for topping desserts.

What is the Science Behind Nangs?

In culinary applications, nitrous oxide (N₂O) primarily aerates cream. Released from nang into a cream whipper, the gas dissolves under pressure. It creates tiny bubbles upon dispensing, producing a light, fluffy texture perfect for topping desserts.

This ensures consistent, high-quality whipped cream, making nangs indispensable in professional kitchens and home baking.

Scientific Insights into Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide is also widely used in medical settings, though it is not referred to as “nangs” in this context. Known commonly as “laughing gas,” it is administered by medical professionals for its anesthetic and analgesic properties during dental procedures and minor surgeries. The controlled use in medical settings ensures patient safety and minimizes risks.

A study published by the National Library of Medicine, “Analysis of brain connectivity during nitrous oxide sedation using graph theory,” reveals significant effects of nitrous oxide on brain network connectivity.

The study found that nitrous oxide affects the interconnection between brain regions during sedation, particularly in the alpha1 and alpha2 frequency bands. These changes suggest that nitrous oxide interferes with the efficiency of information integration in the brain, possibly contributing to its sedative effects.

This interference highlights the importance of using nitrous oxide responsibly and solely for its intended purposes to avoid potential health risks. By focusing on nangs’ culinary applications, we can ensure their safe and effective use in creating high-quality whipped cream and other aerated culinary delights.

Are Nangs Dangerous?

Understanding the various uses of nangs and the associated safety considerations is crucial. Let’s explore their safety in culinary, medical, and recreational contexts.

  • Culinary Use: Nangs are entirely safe and effective for their intended culinary purposes. In professional kitchens and home cooking, following the proper procedures for using cream whippers ensures that nangs provide a convenient and reliable way to create high-quality whipped cream without any health risks. Proper handling and adherence to safety guidelines make nangs indispensable in culinary applications.
  • Medical Use: Nitrous oxide is used safely in medical settings under the supervision of licensed and trained health professionals. It has a long history of use as an anesthetic and analgesic, providing pain relief during dental procedures and minor surgeries. Medical professionals are trained to administer nitrous oxide in controlled doses, ensuring patient safety and minimizing risks. Nitrous oxide in medicine is highly regulated, and its benefits are well-documented, making it a valuable tool in healthcare.
  • Recreational Use: Inhaling nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is both illegal and dangerous. Misusing nangs can cause harm to the brain and body both temporarily and permanently. Recreational use of nitrous oxide is prohibited under the Drugs, Poisons, and Controlled Substances Act 1981 in Victoria, with strict regulations in place to prevent misuse and ensure public safety.

What is the History of Nangs Globally?

History of Nangs

Nitrous oxide has a rich history. It has successfully transitioned from a scientific curiosity to a crucial medical tool and eventually to a popular recreational substance.

Joseph Priestly

Joseph Priestley‘s discovery of nitrous oxide is a fascinating story highlighting his significant contributions to chemistry. Born in 1733, Priestley was a prolific English clergyman and scientist whose experiments with gases laid the foundation for modern chemistry. His work identified several gases, including oxygen, which he discovered in 1774.

In 1772, Priestley first identified nitrous oxide (N₂O) during his experiments. He was experimenting with different gases to understand their properties and potential uses.

He produced a colorless gas by heating ammonium nitrate, which he collected and studied. Although Priestley documented the properties of nitrous oxide, it was not until later that its full range of applications and effects became apparent.

Humphry Davy

Humphry Davy was an English chemist and inventor born in 1778 in Penzance, Cornwall. He significantly expanded on Joseph Priestley’s discovery of nitrous oxide in the late 18th century.

At the Pneumatic Institution, Davy was tasked with investigating the medicinal properties of various gases. In 1799, he focused on nitrous oxide, a gas Priestley had identified but not extensively studied for its physiological effects. Davy was intrigued by the potential therapeutic uses of gases and embarked on a series of experiments.

He began by inhaling small amounts of nitrous oxide and meticulously recorded his observations. He noted the gas’s euphoric effects, describing feelings of giddiness, intense pleasure, and a sense of well-being. Davy observed that inhaling nitrous oxide induces exhilaration and laughter, hence the nickname “laughing gas.”

In 1800, he published his findings in a seminal book titled “Researches, Chemical and Philosophical: Chiefly Concerning Nitrous Oxide or Dephlogisticated Nitrous Air, and its Respiration.” This work detailed the physical and psychological effects of nitrous oxide and proposed its use as an anesthetic.

Davy’s findings inspired subsequent scientists and physicians to explore the medical uses of nitrous oxide, eventually leading to its adoption in dental and surgical procedures in the mid-19th century.

Horace Wells

Horace Wells was a pioneering dentist born on January 21, 1815, in Hartford, Vermont. In 1836, Wells set up his dental practice in Hartford, Connecticut, where he quickly became known for his innovative techniques and commitment to patient comfort.

In December 1844, Wells attended a public demonstration by Gardner Quincy Colton, who was showing the effects of nitrous oxide on volunteers at a Hartford exhibition. During the demonstration, a participant under the influence of nitrous oxide injured his leg but seemed to feel no pain. This observation sparked Wells’ interest.

He soon arranged for a fellow dentist, John M. Riggs, to extract one of Wells’ teeth while under the influence of nitrous oxide administered by Colton. Remarkably, Wells experienced no pain during the extraction. This successful experiment convinced Wells of the potential of nitrous oxide as an anesthetic.

Eager to share his discovery with the medical community, Wells demonstrated the use of nitrous oxide in several dental procedures. He then traveled to Boston in 1845 to present his findings at Massachusetts General Hospital. Unfortunately, the demonstration did not go as planned. The patient experienced pain during the procedure, leading to skepticism and ridicule from the medical professionals in attendance.

Despite this setback, Wells continued to use nitrous oxide in his dental practice and remained convinced of its efficacy. However, the lack of immediate acceptance from the broader medical community was disheartening.

After his initial failure to gain acceptance, Wells’ professional and personal life suffered. He continued to advocate for the use of nitrous oxide but struggled to achieve recognition during his lifetime. In 1847, Wells moved to New York City to promote his discovery further but faced ongoing challenges.

Tragically, Wells’ life ended prematurely. On January 24, 1848, suffering from depression and the effects of self-experimentation with chloroform, Wells took his own life. Despite his untimely death, his contributions to anesthesia were eventually recognized.

The Past and The Present Medical Use of Nangs

In the years following Horace Wells’ death, the medical community gradually came to acknowledge the significance of his work. Colleagues such as William T. G. Morton and Charles Thomas Jackson, who had also explored using ether as an anesthetic, contributed to the broader acceptance of inhalation anesthesia.

As the 19th century progressed, nitrous oxide became increasingly popular in medical settings. It was used as an anesthetic for minor surgical procedures and in dental practices.

Nitrous oxide’s ability to relieve pain while keeping patients conscious made it a valuable tool for doctors and dentists. By the late 1800s, it had cemented its place as a critical component of anesthetic practices, often combined with other substances to enhance its effectiveness.

Where did Nangs Come From?

The integration of nitrous oxide into the culinary world, particularly for making whipped cream, started around the mid-20th century. This was driven by the need for a consistent and efficient method to aerate cream.

Nitrous oxide in whipped cream dispensers became popular due to its ability to dissolve under pressure and release gas into the cream, creating a light, fluffy texture.

By the 1950s, nitrous oxide whipped cream dispensers became widely available and were adopted by professional chefs and home cooks. Their convenience and reliability made them a staple in the culinary world.

Recreational Use of Nangs Through the Decades

The recreational use of nitrous oxide has a long history, beginning with jazz musicians in the 1930s who discovered that inhaling the gas produced a euphoric high. They believed this enhanced their musical creativity and performance, spreading it within the jazz community.

The counterculture movements of the 1960s and 70s further popularized nitrous oxide as a recreational substance. Alongside other psychedelics, nitrous oxide became part of the era’s experimental drug scene.

It was commonly used at gatherings and festivals, where people sought its brief but intense high. The gas was often referred to as “hippie crack” due to its popularity among the counterculture crowd.

However, it is crucial to recognize the significant health risks associated with the recreational use of nitrous oxide. A study published by the Journal of Forensic Sciences highlights that chronic misuse of nitrous oxide can result in subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord, a severe condition associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.

Furthermore, this study documented several cases of death due to asphyxia caused by nitrous oxide displacing oxygen in a closed space. This stresses the severe neurological consequences and fatal risks of prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide.

What is the History of Nangs in Australia?

Nitrous oxide, or nangs, has a unique place in Australian culture. It is primarily used as a culinary tool for creating whipped cream. Its popularity reflects broader social and regulatory trends in the country.

Over the past few decades, the use of nangs has significantly increased in popularity across Australia. Initially confined to the culinary arts, where they were essential for creating whipped cream, their use has grown due to their convenience and effectiveness in professional and home kitchens.

Nangs are readily available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and online platforms. It’s common to find them sold alongside kitchen supplies in major retail chains.

The rise of nangs’ online delivery services has further boosted their accessibility, with some companies offering late-night or 24/7 delivery options. This convenience has significantly contributed to widespread use in urban and rural Australia.

The increasing number of cafes, restaurants, and bakeries in Australia has also driven the demand for nangs. According to Statista, the number of cafes and restaurants in Australia has risen steadily, with over 44,000 establishments in operation in 2021.

Additionally, the Bakery Product Manufacturing industry is expected to grow to $5.1 billion by 2028, highlighting the expanding culinary scene and the importance of high-quality kitchen tools like nangs.

Nang Regulations in Australia

While nitrous oxide is legal in Australia, its sale and possession are subject to specific regulations aimed at mitigating potential misuse. The current legal status allows for selling nitrous oxide canisters marketed and used for legitimate culinary purposes, such as whipping cream.

However, the recreational use of nangs falls into a grey area that has prompted increasing regulatory scrutiny.

Here’s a detailed overview of the regulations and penalties regarding nitrous oxide (N2O) or nangs in various Australian states and territories, focusing on both culinary and recreational use:

Nang Regulations in Australia
New South Wales (NSW)
  • Culinary Use: Nitrous oxide, such as whipped cream chargers, can be sold in New South Wales for culinary purposes.
  • Recreational Use: The sale of nitrous oxide for recreational use is prohibited in New South Wales. Penalties include fines and potential imprisonment for selling nitrous oxide for non-legitimate purposes. As of May 12, 2024, the NSW government is set to introduce stricter regulations on the sale of nangs following incidents where children as young as 13 were hospitalized after misusing these canisters to achieve a euphoric high. In these new conditions, retailers must keep canisters out of public view, limit the quantity and size of canisters sold, and prohibit nighttime and same-day deliveries to curb easy access and misuse.
Northern Territory (NT)
  • Culinary Use: Selling nitrous oxide in the Northern Territory is permitted under specific guidelines for food preparation.
  • Recreational Use: The sale of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes is strictly regulated, and violations can result in penalties. Specifically, possessing, using, producing, manufacturing, or importing nitrous oxide in contravention of the Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Act is considered an offense, carrying a penalty of $10,000 or up to 5 years imprisonment.
Queensland (QLD)
  • Culinary Use: Selling nitrous oxide in Queensland is allowed for legitimate culinary purposes.
  • Recreational Use: While possessing nitrous oxide in small canisters is legal in Queensland due to its legitimate culinary uses, authorities can investigate retailers if they are suspected of selling it in large quantities for recreational use. Under the Summary Offences Act 2005, it is an offense to sell potentially harmful substances, such as nitrous oxide, to minors or to individuals who are likely to misuse them. The penalties for a first offense can reach up to 25 penalty units or three months of imprisonment. For subsequent offenses, up to 50 penalty units or one year in prison.
South Australia (SA)
  • Culinary Use: Selling Nangs in South Australia is allowed under the Controlled Substances Act 1984.
  • Recreational Use: The Controlled Substances Variation Regulations 2019 make selling nitrous oxide in South Australia illegal for recreational purposes. It is an offense to sell or supply nangs to individuals under the age of 18, and between the hours of 10 pm and 5 am is prohibited. Retailers must also ensure that nitrous oxide is not visible or accessible to the public in stores and must display a notice informing customers about the offense of selling nitrous oxide to minors. Vendors can be fined up to $5,000 for selling nitrous oxide during restricted hours and fines of up to $5,000 if the product is not stored out of sight and inaccessible to the public. Additionally, failing to display the required notice about the offense of selling to minors can result in an on-the-spot expiation of $315 or a fine up to $2,500.
Tasmania (TAS)
  • Culinary Use: The sale of Nangs in Tasmania is permitted when used appropriately in food preparation.
  • Recreational Use: The Poisons Regulations 2018 classify nitrous oxide as a Schedule 4 substance, meaning it is a prescription-only medicine. Retailers must adhere to stringent rules for its sale and storage. Selling nitrous oxide to minors is prohibited, and it must be stored securely, out of sight, and inaccessible to the public. Non-compliance can result in fines of up to 10 penalty units.
Victoria (VIC)
  • Culinary Use: Selling Nangs in Victoria is permissible for culinary purposes.
  • Recreational Use: In Victoria, nitrous oxide sales for non-therapeutic use are regulated under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981. Retailers must comply with the labeling, container, and storage requirements of the Poisons Standard. Selling nitrous oxide to anyone who intends to misuse it or to minors is prohibited. The penalties for non-compliance include fines and possible imprisonment. Retailers must ensure that nitrous oxide is stored securely, out of public view, and display signs about the responsible sale of solvents and their right to refuse sales.
Western Australia (WA)
  • Culinary Use: Nangs are allowed in culinary settings only.
  • Recreational Use: In Western Australia, the sale of nitrous oxide for recreational use is strictly regulated, with new laws taking effect in the second half of 2024. Only registered food businesses and select licensed businesses can purchase small 10-gram nitrous oxide canisters. The sale of large nitrous oxide canisters is prohibited due to their lack of legitimate food use. People must provide evidence of their registered business to buy nangs, and suppliers must retain this evidence for regulatory checks. Non-compliance can result in substantial fines and imprisonment.

Global Perspective on Nangs

Nangs have established a significant presence in Australia and around the globe. As a crucial component in the culinary industry, nitrous oxide canisters are essential for creating high-quality whipped cream and other aerated foods. However, their use and regulation vary significantly across different regions.

Nitrous oxide’s primary use in culinary applications is universal. Yet, each region has developed cultural nuances and slang terms for this versatile gas.

Here’s an overview of how nangs are viewed and regulated globally, along with examples of local foods where they are used:

United Kingdom
  • Slang Terms: Whippets, Hippy Crack
  • Culinary Use: In the UK, nitrous oxide is widely used in professional kitchens and home baking to create whipped cream for desserts such as Eton Mess and pavlova. It’s also used in modernist cuisine techniques to develop foams and espumas.
Thailand and Vietnam
  • Slang Terms: Funky Balls
  • Culinary Use: In Southeast Asia, nitrous oxide is used in culinary settings to enhance food presentations and textures, particularly in high-end restaurants and bakeries. For example, it creates whipped cream toppings for Thai iced tea and various Vietnamese pastries.
China
  • Slang Terms: No specific widely used slang term
  • Culinary Use: In China, nitrous oxide is used in the food industry for culinary purposes, such as making whipped cream for traditional Chinese desserts like mango pomelo sago and modern adaptations of classic treats.
United States
  • Slang Terms: Laughing Gas, Whippets
  • Culinary Use: In the US, nitrous oxide is commonly used in the culinary industry to produce whipped cream for various desserts, including pumpkin pie, sundaes, and artisanal coffee drinks. It’s also used in molecular gastronomy to create innovative dishes.

Nitrous Oxide’s Regulatory Approaches Worldwide

The regulation of nitrous oxide varies significantly from country to country, reflecting different societal attitudes and public health priorities.

  • United Kingdom: The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 made it illegal to supply nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects in the United Kingdom. This legislation aims to curb recreational use while allowing legitimate medical and culinary applications. The UK’s approach has significantly reduced the visibility of nitrous oxide in public settings, although private use persists.
  • Netherlands: The Netherlands has recently taken a challenging move, banning the sale of nitrous oxide for recreational use from January 2023. This decision was influenced by increasing concerns over health risks and the gas’s impact on public safety. The Dutch government aims to mitigate these risks by restricting access and promoting safer practices.
  • Sweden: While recreational use of nitrous oxide isn’t explicitly illegal in Sweden, its sale is regulated. Most retailers impose voluntary age restrictions, typically only selling to individuals over 18. At larger events like festivals, sales are often stopped entirely to manage public health risks and environmental concerns associated with discarded canisters​.
  • Australia: As established earlier, the sale of nangs is regulated primarily through age restrictions and limitations on the quantity that can be purchased in Australia. While the gas is legal for culinary use, there is ongoing debate and potential for tighter regulations to address its recreational misuse.

Effects and Risks of Using Nangs for Recreational Purposes

If used for recreational purposes, nitrous oxide offers a brief, euphoric high that has made it popular in medical and recreational contexts. However, it’s essential to understand the potential short—and long-term effects and risks associated with its use.

Short-Term Effects of Nitrous Oxide

When inhaled, nitrous oxide induces a range of immediate effects that can be both pleasurable and disorienting.

  • Euphoria, Lightheadedness, and Dissociation: The most commonly sought-after effect of nangs is euphoria. Users often report feelings of intense happiness and relaxation. This euphoric state is accompanied by lightheadedness and a sense of dissociation from one’s surroundings, providing a temporary escape from reality​.
  • Potential for Dizziness, Impaired Motor Function, and Brief Hallucinations: Alongside euphoria, users may experience dizziness and impaired motor function. These effects can make it challenging to maintain balance and coordination, increasing the risk of accidents and falls. Brief hallucinations and altered perceptions of time and space are also possible, adding to the disorienting experience​​.

Long-Term Health Risks of Nitrous Oxide

While the immediate effects of nangs are short-lived, chronic use can lead to severe long-term health issues.

  • Vitamin B12 Depletion and Associated Neurological Damage: One of the most significant risks of long-term nitrous oxide use is vitamin B12 depletion. Nitrous oxide inactivates vitamin B12, a vital nutrient for nerve health. Prolonged depletion can lead to neurological damage, manifesting as numbness, tingling in the hands and feet, and even difficulty walking. Severe cases may result in permanent nerve damage and cognitive impairments​​.
  • Risks of Hypoxia, Frostbite, and Addiction: Inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister can cause hypoxia or oxygen deprivation, leading to potential brain damage or death. The gas is stored under high pressure, making it extremely cold when released. Direct contact with the skin or lips can cause frostbite. Additionally, the brief but intense high from nitrous oxide can be addictive, leading users to seek repeated doses and potentially develop a dependency​​.

Reducing Harm and Promoting Safety

While nangs are safe and effective when used responsibly in culinary applications, adopting harm reduction strategies and addressing environmental concerns is crucial to ensure user safety and environmental protection.

Harm Reduction Strategies

Understanding and implementing harm reduction strategies can significantly minimize the risks of using nangs.


Safe Use Practices
  • Proper Handling: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using nangs in culinary applications. Ensure the cream whipper is securely sealed and operated according to guidelines to prevent accidents.
  • Controlled Environments: To prevent potential hazards, use nangs in well-ventilated areas away from open flames or high places.

Importance of Not Using Nangs Recreationally
  • Legal and Health Risks: Recreational use of nitrous oxide is illegal and can cause significant health issues, including dizziness, impaired motor function, and long-term neurological damage. Always use nangs strictly for their intended culinary purposes.
  • Avoiding Misuse: Never inhale nitrous oxide directly from the canister. This practice is dangerous and can lead to severe injuries, including frostbite and asphyxiation.

Supplementing with Vitamin B12
  • Health Considerations: For individuals exposed to nitrous oxide frequently in a professional kitchen setting, monitoring vitamin B12 levels and consulting healthcare professionals about appropriate supplementation to prevent neurological damage is advisable.

Environmental Concerns

In addition to personal safety, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of nitrous oxide canisters.


Disposal and Recycling of Nitrous Oxide Canisters
  • Proper Disposal: Used nitrous oxide canisters are made of metal and are recyclable. However, due to their pressurized nature, they cannot be disposed of in regular recycling bins. Check with local recycling or scrap metal facilities to ensure they accept pressurized materials.
  • Recycling Programs: Some areas offer specific collection points for these canisters to ensure they are processed safely. Always follow local guidelines for disposal and recycling.

Encouraging Responsible Use and Proper Waste Management
  • Avoid Littering: To avoid environmental pollution, dispose of used canisters responsibly. Event organizers and businesses should provide adequate disposal bins for nangs and educate users on the importance of proper waste management.
  • Promoting Recycling: To encourage the recycling of nitrous oxide canisters, provide information on local recycling programs and the environmental benefits of proper disposal.

The Legacy and Future of Nangs

Nangs, or nitrous oxide canisters, have a rich history and vital role in culinary applications. These versatile tools have been essential in creating whipped cream and other aerated delights, offering consistency and quality in professional kitchens and home baking.

Understanding the background, effects, and importance of responsible use is crucial for ensuring safety. At King Whip, we are dedicated to providing high-quality nangs in Melbourne while promoting informed and safe practices. We focus on the safe and responsible culinary use of nitrous oxide, ensuring it enhances your culinary creations without compromising safety or legality.

Embrace the unique benefits of nangs with confidence, care, and respect for their intended purpose. Prioritize safety and environmental responsibility to enjoy the best these canisters offer in your culinary endeavors.

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