Alkyl nitrates include amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite.
They come as a clear or straw-coloured liquid in a small bottle or tube (and used to be sold in glass capsules which made a popping noise when opened – leading to the name the name poppers.)

The vapour is inhaled through the mouth or nose.

Also known as:



Feelings of:
Effects are instantaneous and brief, but intense.

These effects are caused by a sudden surge of blood to the heart and brain.

Light-headedness, giddiness, heat flush or heightened sensual awareness may also result.

This is known as a head rush.

Some users may also experience the impression of time slowing down.

The effects fade two to five minutes after use.

Users are often left with a headache.


Amyl nitrite can only be issued by pharmacies under the Medicines Act. Possession is legal, but supply can be an offence.


Side effects of sniffing poppers (especially repeated sniffing) may include headaches, nausea, coughing, dizziness, and in serious instances users may completely pass out.

Regular use can cause skin problems around the mouth and nose.

If spilled, poppers can burn the skin.

Alkyl nitrites reduce blood pressure.

This makes it dangerous for people with anaemia, glaucoma, breathing or heart problems.

Poppers can be fatal if swallowed.

Drug Category


Other information

Mixing Viagra with alkyl nitrites is very dangerous as the combination could cause your blood pressure to drop dangerously low.

It can cause dizziness, fainting and heart problems, not to mention the possibility of coma, brain damage and possibly even death.