Embalming fluid as a drug

Can you get high off embalming fluid? How formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol are being used as carriers for PCP here.

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Can you get addicted to embalming fluid?


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.

About the author
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.
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