Nitrous Oxide

Laughing Gas


Nitrous Oxide also known as “Laughing gas” is a colorless gas, with a sweetish odor. Its molecular formula is N2O and it is normally used in dentistry and surgery as an anesthetic. Nitrous Oxide was first discovered in 1772 by an English Scientist and Clergyman Joseph Priestley. Priestley made N2O by heating ammonium nitrate in the presence of iron fillings. He then passed the gas through water to remove toxic byproduct. After this trial, Priestley thought that N2O could be used as a preserving agent, but he was wrong. Humphry Davy from the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol, England followed Priestley’s discovery and experimented with the physiological properties of the gas, such as its effects on respiration. Davy even gave the gas to visitors of the institute, and after being amused by the effects it had on the people who inhaled it, came up with the term ‘laughing gas’. Davy also noted the anesthetic effects of the gas, he thought that the since the nitrous oxide in his experiment appeared capable of destroying physical pain, it probably can be used as an advantage during surgeries in which no great outflow of blood takes place. Despite his observations, for the next 40 years the primary use of N2O was public shows and recreational enjoyment. Many traveling medicine shows and carnivals took place, where the public would pay a small price to inhale a minute’s worth of the gas. The people would laugh and act silly until the effect of the Nitrous Oxide came to an abrupt end, then they would stand about in confusion. In the 1840s Nitrous Oxide found a more scientific use as an anesthetic in clinical dentistry and medicine. Quincy Colton, a medical school dropout, went around the country putting on Nitrous Oxide exhibitions. In 1844 he put on a demonstration in Hartford Connecticut, and in the audience that day was a local dentist by the name of Horace Wells. Dr. Wells watched as one of the volunteers, Samuel Cooley, inhaled the gas. While Samuel was under the effects of the laughing gas, he injured his leg when he fell into some nearby benches. When he went back to his seat next to Dr. Wells, he appeared unaware of his injury until the effect of the N2O wore off. Dr. Wells immediately realized that N2O might carry painkilling qualities, so after the demonstration, Dr. Wells approached Colton and invited him to be part of an experiment the next day. Colton agreed, he gave the Nitrous Oxide to Dr. Wells while another dentist removed one of Wells’ molars. During the procedure, Dr. Wells experienced no pain and so, the birth of N2O as a medical and dental painkiller arrived

Color Key

5 facts about Nitrous Oxide

Nitrous Oxide is used for boosting race car performance.Nitrous Oxide reaches the brain within 20 seconds and its painkilling properties start within 2-3 minutes.The exact mechanism of Nitrous Oxide is still unknown.Laughing gas is completly colorless.It has a sweet odor.

Bible Integration

One way I see that Nitrous Oxide Integrates with the Bible is that when used in medical reasons, the Nitrous Oxide is able to remove physical pain, and in when were in heaven, we know that there will be no more pain and no more sadness.

Where is it found in our World?

. Nitrous Oxide can be found in many places in our world, as you know, in dental and medical places. But Nitrous Oxide is also naturally present it the atmosphere as part of earth’s nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen Oxide is also emitted when people add nitrogen to the soils through synthetic fertilizers. In transportation, nitrogen Oxide is emitted when transportation fuels are burned. Nitrous Oxide is also emitted through the production of adipic acid, which is used to make fibers, like nylon, and other synthetic products.

Why I chose to do Nitrous Oxide

I chose to do Nitrous Oxide because it is something that is used a lot in dentists and I wanted to know what that gas that the dentists give you actually is, what it is made of, how it came to be, who discovered it, and the effects it has on our bodies. As I discovered, Nitrous Oxide is very interesting, it is used for many different reasons, and in the future maybe we will find even more reasons to use it to help others.

By: Bel Jesus