Saturday August 30th 2014

Embalming fluid as a drug

Can you get addicted to embalming fluid?

Yes.

During my second spin in rehab, I met a kid, probably seventeen or eighteen, who said he was addicted to embalming fluid.

“You mean the stuff they use in mortuaries to preserve dead bodies?” I asked him.

“Yep,” he said, smirking mischievously. “Stuff gets you messed up. For real dawg.”

I couldn’t believe it. Addictive personality types have been known to try crazy things.   But I thought huffing paint was an exotic way to get inebriated (although being addicted to huffing is less than fun).  And I’d heard about getting high on nutmeg. But, embalming fluid? Well, now I’d heard everything. I decided to do a little research. It only took a few seconds of poking around on Google before I was taken to an entire treasure trove of articles written on the recreational use of embalming fluid. I was shocked. Not only was it prevalent all around the country, but people had been getting high off this stuff since the 1960’s!

Getting high on embalming fluid

The way it works is…the embalming fluid, which is basically just a mixture of formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol, is used as more of a solvent for the dissolution of PCP, a highly potent hallucinogen. Since a tiny amount of PCP (less than a milligram) is enough to make even a full-grown gorilla go absolutely bananas, it can’t be ingested directly, and must first be diluted down into the embalming fluid. Then, a cigarette, usually marijuana or sometimes straight-up tobacco, is dipped into the solution and dried out in a freezer. The result, known as a “fry”, “fry stick”, or “death stick”, can be bought on any street corner for about twenty-bucks.

Okay, well that makes more sense. At first I thought the kid meant he was stealing embalming fluid from mortuaries and injecting it straight into his veins, like you would a cadaver. Thank goodness, that’s not the case.

In reality, the embalming fluid is not the drug itself, but more of a solvent or “carrier” for the real drug, PCP, which is nothing to joke around about. This stuff is so dangerous and so potent…it seems to make people want to do the craziest and vilest things imaginable. In fact, anytime I hear a story about a guy who was “tased” seventeen times and shot in the chest with thirty rubber bullets, but still didn’t go down, I know the culprit right away; PCP…angel dust.

Embalming fluid: a carrier for PCP

Take for example the story of Sammy Hunter, who, after a couple hits off a blunt laced with angel dust, attempted to bake his own infant son in an oven. That’s right. You read this correctly. The guy was so messed up he tried to bake his own son and eat him! Now, I’ve heard of weed giving you the munchies, but this is ridiculous. What does PCP do? Turn you into some kind of cannibal?

According to police and local state prosecutors, after smoking some PCP-laced blunts with a friend, Hunter came home, turned on the oven, placed his 4 week old son in an empty diaper bag, and then tried to put him in the oven. Fortunately, Hunter’s girlfriend, the baby’s mother, stopped him. She turned off the oven and put the baby in a makeshift bassinet made out of a Rubbermaid container.

But that didn’t stop Hunter. He was determined. While the mother was in the other room, Hunter went back into the kitchen, turned on the oven, and watched television while it preheated. Then he grabbed the baby and, once again, tried to put him in the oven, but thankfully was stopped, again, by the baby’s mother.

Still determined, Hunter tried to set a fire using the natural gas piped into the kitchen. When firefighters responded to the neighbor’s reports of a gas leak they tried to force their way in only to be assaulted by Hunter. The police arrived moments later and arrested him and transported him to a hospital were he repeatedly said, “I need to kill him. I don’t want him to go through what I did.”

Scary, I know. That’s why this stuff is nothing to mess around with. And unless you want to end up in the ER, naked, and strapped down by your wrists and ankles, you’re probably better off staying away from the stuff. And even be careful if you go out and buy a blunt from the guy on the street corner that it’s not laced with PCP or anything else that might turn you into a raving, baby-baking lunatic.

Embalming fluid drug questions

Do you have questions about the role of embalming fluid in drug use? Please leave them here. We do our best to respond to all questions, comments or opinons with a personal and prompt reply.

Photo credit: bsimpsonuk

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10 Responses to “Embalming fluid as a drug
Eddie
8:46 pm July 27th, 2012

Wow. I have other stories of the outrageous things people have done while on angel dust but I have never heard this Hunter story. It is absolutely horrifying yet it doesn’t surprise me considering the horrendous effects that using PCP can have. I used PCP as a young adult…among other drugs. I got clean and sober when I was 17 and I have been sober for the last 8 years.

Ryan
12:57 pm January 3rd, 2013

The solvent used to dissolve PCP for the uses you describe isn’t any form of embalming fluid, PCP is usually dissolved in ether (Though I believe that petroleum or tetrahydrofuran can be used). “Embalming fluid” is just the street name, it’s nothing to do with the stuff they pump into corpses.
Second, the doses for PCP aren’t nearly as small as you’ve supposed in this article, a moderate dosage for a human being around 5-10 milligrams when inhaled (though doses are much lower when injected). Judging by their mass, I’d guess that a similar inhaled dose for a gorilla would be somewhere around 12 to 20 milligrams.

chris
1:30 am March 29th, 2013

How long does wet stay in someone system I want to make sure my daughter isn’t still doing it by giving a drug test

Sick
12:58 am April 5th, 2013

My neighbors are smoking this stuff (I’m pretty sure) it has been making me sick since I moved into my apt above them. Is it possible for me to be tested to find out if this is in my system as well? I have been waking up with headaches and swollen eyes along with nausea. The burning smell is horrific and in all MY clothing carpets etc. I need help, I feel like I’m being poisoned!

2:08 pm April 8th, 2013

Hi Sick. I would recommend that you call the local authorities to report the experiences. There is a way to collect air samples which involves using your vacuum cleaner attached to an air bag. You can contact the EPA for more on this and to learn about how to gather samples.

Robin
5:43 pm July 24th, 2013

Please tell me what side effects will this give a person?

Jessica
8:09 am June 26th, 2014

What could the side effects be from embalming fluid when someone is assaulted with it? For example if it is poured on their head and were to get into their eyes and they left it on their body unnoticed, assuming it was nothing, for hours…

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
10:41 am June 26th, 2014

Thank you for your questions Robin and Jessica.
When smoked recreationally, the Sherm cigarettes can cause symptoms such as numbness, hallucinations, euphoria, psychosis, and aggressive behavior. Smokers put them selves in the risk of bronchitis, destruction of body tissue, brain damage, lung damage, inflammation and sores in the nose, throat and esophagus. AND it’s been proven by scientists to be extremely carcinogenic.

The risks are even greater in individuals who are prone to developing conditions similar to psychosis. People under the influence of PCP are given the trait “Superhuman”, basically because it awakens violent feelings and actions, erratic and suicidal behaviors and prevents them from feeling any bodily pain.

In young users, even recreational use can affect the hormones in the body that regulate growth and development. Medical experts point out the potential risk of impaired learning process.

When taken more frequently and in higher doses, PCP can have fatal outcome, causing seizures, comma or even death-mostly as a result of the erratic behavior and injury while on the drug. Doctors don’t exclude schizophrenia-like symptoms, delusions and paranoia. Long-term use can lead to memory impairment, slurred speech, depression, and loss of weight.

IF it’s taken in, injected or swallowed, for some reason, it’s a medical emergency and upon that case one should call 911.

Jessica, I’d suggest that you call a doctor in a case like what you describe. If it’s on skin for an extended period of time it begins to burn. Medical cases show skin discoloration for a period in time before the skin starts to repair. But, it’s best to have a doctor check you out!

Tammy
12:56 am August 6th, 2014

My 19 year old grandson is currently in a mental health facility for smoking pot soaked in embalming fluid. Can you tell me how long the effects last & if he will be ok?

Ivana @ Addiction Blog
10:09 am August 6th, 2014

Hello Tammy. I’m sorry to hear that your grandson is facing such problems. Fry may contain PCP, which is an addictive drug. It can negatively affect the hormones associated with normal growth and development, and it can also impede the learning process. Long term use can lead to memory loss, difficulty with speech or thought, depression, and weight loss. The problems caused by fry (marijuana or tobacco cigarettes dipped in PCP (phencyclidine) can persist for up to a year after an individual has stopped smoking it. Unfortunatley, there may be some brain damage and cognition impairments that can be irreversable.

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About Andrew Seaward

Andrew Seaward is the author of Some Are Sicker Than Others. Although he makes his living as a chemical engineer in the Oil & Gas industry, his true passion is telling great stories through both acting and writing. He is a member and contributor of Benjy Dobrin Studios, the Cinematic Arts of Colorado and the Lighthouse Writers Workshop. He has written and acted in several short and feature length films, one of which won an Award of Merit at the 2010 Indie Fest.