When people think about drug abuse, their first thoughts might be of illicit substances like cocaine or heroin. Many other substances are abused and can lead to addiction. Some of these addictive substances include prescription medicines, over-the-counter medications or even common household items. Sometimes the substances are inexpensive and easy to find, like cans of air duster. Any office supply store likely sells them, so they’re widely available making it easy to become addicted.

What Is Air Duster?

Air duster is also known as “canned air,” but ironically there is no air inside the can. Instead, canned air is made of compressed gases. These products are designed to be used to clean out dust from sensitive electronics when liquid cleaners can’t be used. Some of the gases found in canned air include difluoroethane, trifluoroethane, and butane. These gases can be used for different purposes, but they are dense gases primarily used as refrigerants.

To make air duster, the gases are compressed into a can that is similar to an aerosol container. Unfortunately, air duster misuse is very common. Misusing air duster can cause serious side effects or death. There is a misconception that getting high from air duster is not dangerous because it’s believed to be just compressed air. This misconception results in deaths caused by air duster misuse. Since air dusters are inexpensive, household items it is commonly abused by children and teens. There have been efforts in many states to make it more difficult to buy air duster and many stores don’t sell them to underage individuals. Despite those efforts, air duster misuse remains a problem.

How Do People Use Air Dusters to Get High?

Air duster is an inhalant. When someone inhales the gasses and chemicals in these products, the lungs absorb them and they travel to the brain. The gases move the oxygen that would typically be in the lungs to removes the carbon dioxide from the blood, which is why people feel high. An air duster high starts almost instantly as the brain starts to lack oxygen and last a few minutes until the brain can get the oxygen it needs. To stay high, users will often inhale repeatedly over a short time. This necessity is because air duster does not stay long in your system. However, inhaling repeatedly can be very dangerous and has led to deaths.

An air duster high is characterized by both short term and long term side effects and dangers.

How Addictive is Air Duster?

Abusing any drug can lead someone to develop a psychological addiction. Although air duster addiction is not common, it can happen in people who use air duster repeatedly. Stopping air duster can lead to mild withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Changes in mood
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Sweating

Air Duster Street Names and Common Misspellings

“Huffing” or “dusting” are the terms for using household aerosol products and inhalants to get high. The gas is inhaled directly or sprayed onto another piece of fabric and then sniffed or inhaled. Videos of people huffing air duster can be found on social media sites like YouTube, showing the immediate intoxicating effects and encouraging use by young adults.

Air Duster Addiction Statistics

Data from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 793,000 Americans ages 12 and up used inhalants for the first time within the past year. Almost 70 percent of these users were under the age of 18. Luckily, compared to data from the 1990s, inhalant use appears to be decreasing. It’s estimated that almost 10 percent of all Americans aged 12 and older have misused an inhalant, including air duster.

How to Find Help for Air Duster Addiction

With air duster and other household aerosol products readily available, it’s important to be aware of signs of aerosol abuse. The first obvious sign is the evidence left behind. Empty aerosol cans in garbage bins or left out are tell-tale signs that someone in your household may be abusing these products.

Other signs like inebriation, a sudden change in personal hygiene or awareness or other factors that seem out of the ordinary could be signs of an addiction. Inhaling air duster is not associated with physical dependence; however, that does not mean that treatment won’t be effective. In most cases, counseling and therapy can help to determine potential underlying issues that lead people to abuse drugs.

If you or a loved one struggle with an air duster or inhalant addiction, treatment is available.. The Recovery Village offers many different addiction treatment options to help you lead a healthier life. Reach out to us today for more information.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more


What is an Air Duster High?

An air duster high occurs when someone breathes in the gases contained in these canned products. When someone inhales an air duster, it moves the oxygen that would typically be in the lungs and removes the carbon dioxide from the blood, which is why people feel high in some cases.

Air Duster High & Short-Tern Side Effects

Air duster side effects can vary, and range from feelings of slight intoxication to a sense of intense euphoria. The air duster high effects depend on exactly what’s contained in the substance being inhaled, and also how much is being inhaled. Since the air duster high effects are short-lived, users will often do it over and over again in a short period of time.

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach Pains
  • Violence
  • Hallucinations
Air Duster High Long Tern Side Effects

There can be long-term air duster high effects possible as well including weight loss, depression, muscle spasms and changes in mood. Unfortunately, permanent damage can also occur when someone is inhaling air duster regularly.

For example, inhaling air duster can lead to permanent damage to the lungs, heart, liver, and brain.

Another possible outcome of inhaling air duster is suffocation. When someone inhales air duster, it causes a depression of oxygen levels as the fumes go into the lungs and then the central nervous system. This can make it impossible for the person to breath, therefore they suffocate.

Also possible is something called sudden sniffing death. When someone sniffs an air duster, it can cause changes in their heartbeat that then lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

What are the Risks of Huffing an Air Duster?

Huffing air duster can be referred to as dusting in slang terms, and it requires the use of a full can of air duster with as much as possible being inhaled. The objective is a euphoric high, although it’s very short-lived and also incredibly dangerous as huffing an air duster can potentially kill a user the first time they do it.

Why Do People Huff Air Dusters?

Huffing canned air is a particularly popular way to get high among younger teens because they can buy the products needed to produce the brief high inexpensively and without restrictions, although there has been some effort in recent years to make the public more aware of the risks of huffing canned air.

  • It’s inexpensive
  • It’s legal
  • Can be household items

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Inhalants.” Accessed March 30, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Are Inhalants Used?” Accessed March 30, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “DrugFacts: Inhalants.” February 2017. Accessed March 30, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is the scope of inhalant abuse?” July 2012. Accessed March 30, 2019.

Just Think Twice. “David Manlove.” Accessed March 30, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.