Skip to content

Just as a matter of interest

The bars around here sell “balloons”. Which are nitrous oxide I think? A quick high etc.

A “balloon” looks to be a couple of litres.

A tank of 18,000 litres seems to be € 400 or so, mebbe €500. Dunno local prices and BOC might not be the cheapest etc.

A balloon is €5.

€45,000 revenue from a €500 tank?

No, I’ve got something wrong there. And it’s not just that most of it seems to be consumed by the staff.

I’ve got the wrong gas? Volumes are different? What? Because if this is right I’m thinking about a chain of mobile selling stations based upon a basic hot dog cart design…..

19 thoughts on “Just as a matter of interest”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’d guess the balloon took more than a couple of litres. One of my motorhome neighbours was topping up his water tank yesterday using a bag. I guessed it was 5l but when I asked him he said 10 litres.

    Also a quick search reveals

    The average breath is around 0.5l and the max capacity is 6l, so allow, say, 4l at least for a deep breath. How many breaths do they get from a balloon?

  2. I am such a wimp. My idea of a “quick high” is a bottle of 4.4% Pilsner Urquell a bit too fast after a run but before having eaten yet.

  3. A 20cm diameter balloon, assume spherical, has a volume of around 12 litres (4π * r cubed). It will also be above atmospheric pressure so say 20l to breathe. So 900 shots from the big tank. That’s still 4 grand from €500 invested.

    Note they won’t just deliver anywhere – they have to check you out.

  4. Also, 18,000 litres is indeed a big tank – that’s a lorry sized thing. 9m long x 1m diam cylinder. that sort of thing.

  5. Most of the cost must be in those little cartridges. So buy a SCUBA bottle, fill with NO, you’ll have about 3,600 litres. At say 8 litres per hit (two deep breaths) that’s 450 customers. Priced at 3 quid a hit? (No idea) After costs (including “security” that’s a nice earner at a rave or a Cornish beach.

  6. a chain of mobile selling stations based upon a basic hot dog cart design…..

    They used to have these at UK festivals a while back, probably not allowed these days.

  7. Ah! A chemical engineering question. Volume of 20 cm dia. balloon (assumed spherical)
    V = (4/3)(Pi)(r^3) = 4.2 litre. Overpressure developed by lungs ~2 psi. Fact: you can burst a balloon with your lungs. Volume at atm. pressure in balloon* = (4.2)(16.7/14.7) = 4.8 litre, say 5 litre. Volume quoted for cylinder 18,000 litres- at atm pressure (cylinder is at 44 bar/640 psi pressure). So, 18000/5 = 3,600 balloonsworth/cylinder at 500 Euro/cylinder = 14 c/balloon N2O cost. No brainer! Go for it!
    * atm pressure 14.7 psi, as we are using a ratio, it doesn’t matter that the units of measurement are mixed.

  8. An inflated balloon is under a bit more than atmospheric pressure, due to the elasticity of the thing.

    To calculate how much exactly when fully inflated… Depending on the balloon, and varying factors within margins as the balloon inflates, and…. Now *that’s* advanced math….

    Party balloons are usually around 1.2 atm. if i remember correctly, as they aren’t that sturdy to begin with.

  9. Tim Worstall September 11, 2020 at 10:50 am – “although as a gas it might be under greater than atmospheric pressure…..”

    It is also cold. Cold enough to damage your lungs.

    That is why the balloons are necessary. So if you do this, don’t let anyone inhale directly from the tank

  10. So you have then as well, Tim? The more disreputable dance-bars do here. Tried one one night. Did nothing whatsoever. Couldn’t see the point. On the other hand I could do a gram of charlie straight without noticing it. So that’s another thing I don’t waste money on. One of the advantages of one’s formative years being the late sixties/early ’70s. Phenomenal drug resistance.

  11. On the other hand I could do a gram of charlie straight without noticing it.

    Well I do not want to be rude, but another explanation gently wafts through my frontal cortex.

  12. SomeBlokeFromCambridge

    NB: The big tank will have N2O as liquid (same as in the little ones). Therefore the inhaled volume will be much much more (can’t be arsed to figure, but much much).

    Also, FWIW, having “dun NOZ” both as a 1970s kid and recently with the younger party going relatives, and monitored same recently with a pulse oximeter (yeh, I know, but I’m an engineer) IMO most of the hit comes from low ppO2 (not only that there is no O2 in the balloon but also the pp gradient being to remove O2 from the body).

    For them wot didn’t understand the above: Just remember – Drugs Kill 😉

  13. Allegedly large (scuba tank sized to nearly as tall as an average male human) nitrous oxide tanks are de rigeur in Russian house parties and some clubs.
    As mentioned above, the wholesale suppliers, in the UK, are not going to deliver to residential/commercial sites without a good reason, so in the UK it’s the small home cooks creamer supplies are used. One creamer refill per balloon.–medical-grade-141-101, £358, you cant buy it as an individual, or even as company without good reason.
    £8/24 balloons, £8/£120 in revenue

  14. You should be able to source smaller quantities of N2O through the drag racing community without much difficulty. “Fuelers” use nitrox injection to get a higher percentage of oxygen into the cylinders than atmospheric for more HP. The cylinders are usually quoted as being 10 lb, so presumably capacity?
    Rods usually run on a methanol mix but for dance-clubbing ethanol should serve.

    It’s usually said that anyone lived through the ’60s can’t remember them. Why, I can’t remember.

  15. Ballons are filled with Helium

    Adding to @SomeBlokeFromCambridge
    For highs what you want is a cylinder of N2O & O2 mix as useded in medical settings. It’s better if you don’t kill your customers

    @bis is correct on drag and boy racers and their “plumbing” would allow you to sell 2 second hits

  16. Pcar said:
    “For highs what you want is a cylinder of N2O & O2 mix as useded in medical settings”

    Had that once, in an ambulance. Odd stuff. Somewhere my brain knew I was still hurting, but I really didn’t care. Useful at the time. Not sure what the point would be recreationally though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *