Demystifying Nangs: Are They CO2?

“Nangs,” “whippets,” or “laughing gas” are all terms used to describe small, pressurized canisters commonly associated with culinary and recreational use. These canisters are often used to add a light and airy texture to whipped cream and other culinary creations. However, a common question arises: are nangs CO2? In this article, we’ll explore the distinction between nangs and CO2, shedding light on the science behind these substances and their various applications.

Understanding Nangs

“Nangs” refer to small canisters filled with nitrous oxide (N2O), a colorless and odorless gas. Nitrous oxide has various applications, from medical use as a mild anesthetic to culinary use in whipped cream dispensers. The gas is known for its ability to dissolve into liquids and create tiny bubbles, resulting in a foamy or whipped texture.

The Chemistry Behind Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a chemical compound composed of two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Its molecular structure is different from that of carbon dioxide (CO2), which consists of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. The distinct composition of these gases contributes to their different properties and effects.

CO2 vs. N2O

Carbon Dioxide (CO2):

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a common gas found in the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s produced during processes like respiration, combustion, and fermentation. In the culinary world, CO2 is often used to carbonate beverages, such as soda and sparkling water, giving them a fizzy and refreshing quality.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O):

Nitrous oxide, on the other hand, is used for its unique properties in creating whipped textures. It is also used in medical settings as an anesthetic and analgesic. When nitrous oxide dissolves into a liquid, it expands and creates small bubbles, resulting in a light and airy texture that’s ideal for whipped cream and mousses.

Culinary Applications of Nangs

Nangs, or nitrous oxide canisters, have gained popularity in the culinary world for their ability to create whipped cream and other foamy textures. When a nang is discharged into a whipped cream dispenser, the nitrous oxide gas is forced into the cream, creating a creamy and light consistency that’s perfect for topping desserts and beverages. This technique has become a staple in both professional kitchens and home cooking.

Responsible Use and Safety

It’s important to note that while nitrous oxide canisters have culinary applications, they are also associated with recreational use. In some cases, nitrous oxide has been inhaled for its euphoric effects, which is not only potentially harmful but also illegal in many jurisdictions. Responsible and informed use of nitrous oxide is crucial to ensure the safety of individuals and prevent misuse.

Regulations and Guidelines

Due to the potential for misuse and safety concerns, regulations surrounding the sale and use of nitrous oxide can vary by region. In many places, it’s legal to purchase nitrous oxide canisters for culinary purposes, but restrictions may apply to prevent their misuse for recreational inhalation.

It’s important to follow the guidelines provided by manufacturers when using nitrous oxide canisters for culinary purposes. This includes using appropriate equipment, ensuring proper ventilation, and never inhaling the gas directly from the canisters.


In summary, nangs are not CO2; rather, they are small canisters filled with nitrous oxide (N2O), a gas with unique properties that lend themselves to culinary applications like creating whipped cream. Nitrous oxide’s ability to dissolve into liquids and create a light and airy texture makes it a valuable tool in the kitchen. While responsible use of nitrous oxide for culinary purposes is safe and legal, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential for misuse and adhere to guidelines to ensure both safety and enjoyment. Whether you’re adding a delightful touch to your desserts or experimenting with molecular gastronomy, understanding the distinction between nangs and CO2 is essential for informed and creative culinary exploration.

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