While preparing some delicious home pastries, one may wonder, what is the history of nangs? How did they end up in our kitchens, and what exactly is hidden in these small canisters? These are very good questions, and for all those curious bakers, we prepared this guide on the history of nangs in Australia.
Now you can enjoy all the whipped cream you want and be knowledgeable about the origins of whipping cream chargers, also known as NOS and nangs. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to impress one or two friends as well?
What Are Nangs?
A good starting point for us would be to explain what exactly are nangs? Their popularity is immense, but not everyone knows how they actually work.
Nangs are small metal bulbs filled with nitrous oxide (N2O). The primary application of nangs is in cooking, where they are used as cream and gel chargers. They’re designed to work with a cream whipper.
Nitrous oxide itself has many implementations – for example, it’s the same gas that is used to sedate or provide some pain relief during minor dental procedures. The gas is colourless, and it is also known as laughing gas. It has a long history (150 years) of being used in medical procedures, and now, it is also a common sight in many kitchens.
In the doctor’s office, you may inhale nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen through a small mask that fits over your nose. Sometimes, it can be administered with another anaesthetic gas through a tube placed down your throat to provide sedation during surgery.
Medical nitrous oxide is sold to registered doctors and dentists in larger quantities and can be used only under their supervision.
Why Are Cream Chargers Called Nangs?
Where does the name “nangs” come from? Although officially we would say whipping cream chargers or whipping cream canisters, the colloquial and often used name for them is nangs. But why?
The history of the word “nang” is rather fascinating. The word ‘nang’ comes about from a slang term used by people, from effects of N2O, inspired by the sound of distortion that a user/patient might hear in quick repetition while being under the influence of nitrous oxide – which leads to N2O cream chargers also adopting this term. Nang is the most commonly used term for cream chargers and other N2O baking supplies in Australia for most bakers, restaurants, tea shops, and retailers.
The history of N2O being used recreationally is relatively long. It has a lot to do with the fact that nitrous oxide resulted in an euphoric state in the individuals who were using it without immediate serious side effects attached. The effects that an individual might experience from inhaling the gas last between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
The History of Illegal N2O Consumption in Australia
The history of illegal N2O use in Australia is an interesting one. N2O was used as a “party starter” long before it became a popular way to prepare the best whipped cream treats. Its origin story dates back to 1799 when the British aristocrats hosted their “Laughing Gas Parties.”
Those events were an opportunity for chemist Humphry Davy to research the effects of nitrous oxide on the human body and, for many guests – a chance to endure a “powerful spiritual and mystical experience.”
For years (up until 1863), the availability of the equipment needed to produce the gas was low, and so was its medical usage. Medicine students were the group that had the most experience in using gas recreationally.
When this equipment became more accessible to hospitals and dentists, most countries introduced laws restricting the access to buying pure nitrous oxide gas cylinders in those sectors.
Interestingly, the laughing gas parties were still organised, but with the help of medical professionals or restaurant workers. They were able to provide nitrous oxide, often from illegal sources.
As of now, in many countries (including Australia), it is perfectly legal to purchase N2O whipped cream chargers/nangs for cooking and baking purposes without many restrictions. Allowing you or any company to utilise N2O baking supplies for your favourite desserts, and beverages.
Are Nangs Dangerous?
Whipped cream chargers, if used properly, don’t pose any threat. It is essential to follow the producer’s instructions and use whipped cream canisters and nangs according to their intended purpose.
The risk of burns is a factor when dealing with N2O as the gas can cause sub-zero burns if not handled with care. N2O burns should receive professional medical attention as it can cause tissue damage that may not be completely visible exteriorly.
Is Misusing Nangs Dangerous?
Yes, although inhaling the gas, in small doses rarely results in health complications, there are serious side effects. One of the most significant risks occurs when inhaling it straight from the canister. It is because nitrous oxide is released from the bulbs at a very high pressure, which may result in a frostbite-type burn.
Another thing to be cautious about is using the gas for a more extended period of time without inhaling fresh air. This can lead to hypoxic, meaning having low oxygen levels in your blood.
The most common side effects, as the research suggests, that accompany using N2O to get “high” are dizziness and becoming temporarily lightheaded.
It is also significant to note that nitrous oxide is addictive. Long-term usage of the gas can also lead to B12 vitamin deficiency, which is responsible for maintaining healthy levels of red blood cells. This means that abusing nitrous oxide can lead to anaemia.
Inhaling the gas can also pose a serious threat to pregnant women and, more specifically, to the foetuses.
Overall, if used in the kitchen to prepare whipped cream or other desserts, nangs are perfectly safe but should be used with caution to avoid cold burns.
The history of nangs & nitrous oxide is pretty interesting. First, nitrous oxide was used as a recreational drug during the aristocratic parties. Many people were experiencing a euphoric state, and some could observe the effects of the gas on people.
Then it became more common to use nitrous oxide during minor medical procedures and at the dentist. Access to gas was restricted by the law, but some still found a way to use it at social gatherings.
Now N2O is used with nangs which are primarily used in the kitchen to create whipped cream and give many foods and beverages their desired texture.