Huffing or inhaling the fumes and vapors from air dusters can produce certain psychoactive effects. However, the high is hardly worth the potentially lethal side effects.

Canned air dusters and similar products typically contain gases. The fumes from these gases can lead to psychoactive effects, which is known as an air duster high.

Along with the well-known illicit drugs sold on the black market, there are many ways people can get high that you might not even think about. One way is by huffing an air duster. Using these products to get high is called huffing canned air or huffing compressed air.

An air duster, also known as a gas duster or canned air, is used to clean electronic devices and other items that could be damaged by cleaning them with water. When someone uses canned air or air duster, they press a trigger and then compressed air comes through the nozzle of the container. While it’s just called canned air, these products usually have gases that are compressed to become liquids. Because these canned air products contain gases, the fumes can lead to psychoactive effects, which is known as an air duster high.

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, the gases replace the oxygen that would typically be in the lungs.

An air duster high isn’t the only way to abuse inhalants. Inhalants are a broad class of substances that people use as a way to get high. People who use inhalants breathe in the fumes and vapors from these items to achieve a feeling of euphoria.

To achieve a high from an inhalant, users will often place a plastic bag over their mouth or breath from a rag that’s been soaked in a solvent with potentially psychoactive properties. Oftentimes, the solvents used to achieve an inhalant high are as simple as nail polish and hairspray. The effects of the chemicals found in these inhalants can range from mild intoxication to hallucinations.

What’s in Air Dusters That Gets You High?

Chemicals contained in air duster and other inhalants that cause an air duster high include:

  • Amyl nitrite
  • Benzene
  • Butyl nitrite
  • Butane
  • Freon
  • Hexane
  • Methylene chloride
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Propane
  • Toluene
  • Trichloroethylene

What Are the Risks of Huffing an Air Duster?

Huffing an 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.

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; however, there has been some effort in recent years to make the public more aware of the risks of huffing canned air.

Unfortunately, teens and others who are huffing compressed air often see it as a cheap thrill without understanding the true consequences.

Side Effects of Getting High on Air Dusters 

Air duster side effects can vary from feelings of slight intoxication to a sense of intense euphoria. The air duster high effects depend on what’s exactly contained in the substance being inhaled and 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.

The short-term air duster high effects can include: 

  • Delusions (false beliefs)
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria (high)
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting

There can be long-term effects from experiencing an air duster high 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 an 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 breathe; 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.

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Editor – Renee Deveney
As a contributor for Advanced Recovery Systems, Renee Deveney is passionate about helping people struggling with substance use disorder. With a family history of addiction, Renee is committed to opening up a proactive dialogue about substance use and mental health. Read more
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Editor – Abby Doty
Abby Doty graduated from Hamline University in 2021 with a Bachelor's in English and Psychology. She has written and edited creative and literary work as well as academic pieces focused primarily on psychology and mental health. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Elizabeth Cambria

Anderson, Carrie E. & Loomis, Glenn A. “Recognition and Prevention of Inhalant Abuse.” American Family Physician, September 1, 2003. Accessed September 22, 2022.

Baydala, L. “Inhalant Abuse.” Paediatrics Child Health, September 2010. Accessed September 22, 2022.

Cao, Shiliang A., et al. “Air Duster Inhalant Abuse Causing Non-ST[…]ocardial Infarction.” Cureus, June 2020. Accessed September 22, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Inhalant DrugFacts.” April 2020. Accessed September 22, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Inhalants Research Report: What are the […]s of inhalant abuse?” February 2011. Accessed September 22, 2022.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indi[…] Drug Use and Health.” Accessed September 22, 2022.

Villano, Janna. “Inhalant Abuse.” California Poison Control System, October 23, 2013. Accessed September 22, 2022.

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.