Huffing Hand Sanitizer

A 14-year-old student at Killian Middle School in Lewisville picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his reading teacher, rubbed the gel on his hands, and then smelled it. According to the teacher, he "inhaled heavily."

The student said he sniffed it because it "smelled good." But the school authorities claimed he sniffed it because he was trying to get high. They gave him an in-school suspension, and then proceeded to file criminal charges against him. reports:

Joni Eddy, assistant police chief in Lewisville, said Friday that hand sanitizer has become a popular inhalant. "That is the latest thing to huff," she said.
She said officers felt they were acting properly when they pursued the case against Mr. Ortiz's son under a complex state statute governing volatile chemicals that could be abused.
"The charge said he was using the product other than its intended use," she said. "Huffing hand sanitizer is certainly using it for something other than its intended use."
Hand sanitizers usually contain a high percentage of ethyl alcohol, a flammable liquid used in a wide range of industrial products and alcoholic beverages.

Thankfully, common sense eventually prevailed and prosecutors dropped the charges. As far as I know, it's not possible to get high by "huffing hand sanitizer." Unless, perhaps, you were to do it to the point that it deprived you of enough oxygen. I'm not sure what strange rumors the police were believing when they pursued this case. The WFAA article includes a statement from the National Institute on Drug Abuse debunking the hand-sanitizer-huffing rumor:

Shirley Simson, a spokeswoman for the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington, said in an e-mail that the agency had no data about hand sanitizers being abused as inhalants. She noted, however, that there have been news reports of some people drinking hand sanitizers for their alcohol content.

It reminds me of the recent Jenkem scare, in which Florida police issued a bulletin warning that local kids were getting high by sniffing the fermenting gas from human sewage.

Health/Medicine Law/Police/Crime

Posted on Mon Jan 28, 2008


Is there ANY requirement for either intelligence or common sense in the job descriptions for police, teachers, or administrators?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Mon Jan 28, 2008  at  04:57 PM
Aside from the apparently silly claim that you can get high on hand sanitizer, what I find more worrying (and indicative of generally fucked-up priorities) is that the school, thinking a student to be a substance abuser, seems more concerned with making sure he's punished than with making sure he gets help.
Posted by Dave Rattigan  on  Tue Jan 29, 2008  at  05:07 AM
So why wasn't the teacher prosecuted for having the hand wash on her desk in the first place? Why wasn't the compnay prosecuted for making it? Why wasn't the school investigated for housing a teacher that could supply handwash to her students?

The whole thing is blatantly ridiculous, almost as bad as the 'kids-are-taking-cough-syrup-to-get-high!' story (God forbid a kid might have a cough and need syrup). Some adults seem to think that all kids do is try to get high all the time, and that must be stopped!

Besides, you get a far bigger hit off smelling those markers they use on whiteboards!
Posted by Nona  on  Tue Jan 29, 2008  at  05:38 AM
It happens in England too. Some poor kid got hauled up in front of the headmaster and suspended for a day for drinking alcohol at school - it was lemonade shandy, which is sold as a soft drink, and contains something like 0.3% alcohol. The teacher grabbed, poured it out on the ground, shouted 'we do not allow alcohol in this school!' and dragged him to the headmaster. Talk about overkill.
Posted by Michelle B  on  Tue Jan 29, 2008  at  05:41 AM
I am so glad I was homeschooled & never had to put up with this crap. I would have been one of those students that just made teachers nuts. (Okay, I admit I WAS one of those students before my mom pulled me out & homeshcooled me.)
Posted by Maegan  on  Tue Jan 29, 2008  at  08:59 AM
Some adults seem to think that all kids do is try to get high all the time

Huh? That is all they do! At least, it's all I did...

Seriously, though - it's perfectly plausible that the kid really was trying to get a high. Just because it's not possible doesn't mean he knew that. Dried banana skins, anyone?
Posted by outeast  on  Wed Jan 30, 2008  at  02:14 AM
As Alex says, the volatile ingredient in those "hand sanitizers" is rubbing alcohol, and I've never heard of anyone getting high by inhaling it (drinking it is another matter). You think this could make you high? Try sniffing a bottle of bourbon until you pass out. No sipping, just sniffing fumes. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Hand sanitizers are one of those huge cons, like bottled water, where somebody's gotten rich by creating a nonexistent "need" for something everybody got along without until now. They don't get your hands any cleaner than washing them with soap and water.
Posted by Big Gary  on  Wed Jan 30, 2008  at  11:13 AM
Ludicrous that they'd even think the student was trying to huff hand sanitizer.

As stated before by someone...I never heard of anyone getting high from rubbing alcohol.
Posted by Paige Turner  on  Wed Feb 06, 2008  at  12:43 PM
wow. every time i use hand sanitizer, i have to smell my hands. all the students at my school did. i don't think it was huffing. i think it's just one of those uncontrollable urges. like, if you have any kind of tube, you have to talk into it.
Posted by jay  on  Fri Feb 15, 2008  at  01:11 PM
The National Institute on Drug Abuse did not debunk the idea. You people are completely insane. It "has no data" which means it has not studied it. It doesn't mean the kids don't get high.
Posted by fred  on  Mon Apr 21, 2008  at  12:35 PM
It doesn't get you high to the point of intoxication, but there are certain hand sanitizers that give me a 2 to 3 second "rush". I can definitely feel it in the head immediately after smelling it. Purell does NOT give this effect, though. The hand-sanitizers that I have noticed give this effect have always been "industrial"; that is they are the ones that come in bags that go into dispensers at the gym or at a place where I used to work. But I doubt it's dangerous. The rush is over in 2 to 3 seconds. I always smell my hand sanitizer after rubbing it in my hands. I love that quick, refreshing, rush. But to expel a kid for this? What the hell?
Posted by buster  on  Sun May 10, 2009  at  08:31 AM
Posted by peter  on  Fri May 15, 2009  at  03:12 PM
🧛 i no a girl and her name is jasmine and she got high in reading and english class :sick: :gulp: :exclaim:
Posted by poop head  on  Fri May 15, 2009  at  03:16 PM
You Can Get High Off Of Hand Santizer:)
Posted by Nicole  on  Fri Jun 05, 2009  at  01:43 PM
i think you can ive sniffed it before its a very slight buzz doesnt last long at all.
Posted by Alex  on  Mon Jun 15, 2009  at  02:17 PM
i have seen classmates sniff sharpies, wite-out, and hand sanitizer to get a brief high (usually during testing... i wonder why? 😜)
some people seem more affected by fumes than others- personally sniffing sanitizer gives me a headache but one of my tablemates loves it.
sanitizers harmless, but you know what they say... all kids think about is sex and getting high.
Personally, i am more likely to be researching for senior prank :coolsmirk: and it will NOT be planting a garden.
Posted by freshie  on  Mon Aug 17, 2009  at  01:50 PM
i know a girl that did it so i tride it and i got a slite high and i liked it so on my wayto school tomarow ima buy some a the daller store:)

but i will remember not to do it infront of my teacher....😊hehe but i wonder what happens if you drink you get really high or drunk???
Posted by freak  on  Sun Sep 13, 2009  at  09:57 PM
ok Nona you are ignorant. Yeah kids drink cough suryp to relieve a cough. Duh. But plenty of older kids will drink it to get what you call "high" though is more like drunk. I'm in college, i've heard all about people that do it.

On the other hand, saying some kid is going to 'huff' hand sanitizer is absolutely ridiculous. I really question how in touch with reality the staff of this school must be... Not to mention that people seem to fail to understand that while occasional use of hand sanitizer is beneficial, its constant use will be, in the long run, much more dangerous... just wait until it force evolves a bacteria resistant to sanitizers... just saying.
Posted by Ben  on  Fri Sep 18, 2009  at  08:56 PM
hey john waddup
Posted by preston  on  Mon Nov 30, 2009  at  11:45 AM
I often heard about this. And in school and in college
Posted by Dick  on  Mon Jan 25, 2010  at  02:10 PM
its a 2-3 second "tingling" in your nose and head, any nirvana "derived from it" is mentaly induced.
Posted by thatguy  on  Wed Feb 10, 2010  at  08:14 PM
Most hand sanitizers contain ethanol. The ethanol rapidly evaporates creating ethanol vapor. Ethanol vapor IS intoxicating. However, the quanities involved in a single administration of hand sanitizer would not be enough to induce any significant level of intoxication.
Posted by Metan Viona  on  Tue Feb 08, 2011  at  12:22 AM
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