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What Are Cream Chargers and Are They Illegal?


Cream chargers, often recognized for their use in whipping cream, have become well-known in the UK for their misuse as a recreational drug. Despite their legitimate culinary applications, the government has recently taken steps to regulate their sale and possession more strictly. This blog will cover what cream chargers are, their legal uses, the current laws, and advice for retailers to ensure compliance.

What are Cream Chargers?

Cream chargers are steel cartridges filled with nitrous oxide (N₂O). Known by names such as laughing gas or not, they are frequently used by some individuals in the UK to achieve a temporary euphoric high by inhaling the gas from balloons.

Legitimate Uses of Cream Chargers

While cream chargers are often linked to recreational misuse, they serve several important legitimate purposes:

  1. Culinary Uses: In the kitchen, cream chargers are essential for whipping cream, creating foams, and even infusing flavors into liquids. Chefs and culinary enthusiasts use them to achieve professional-grade results.
  2. Medical Applications: Nitrous oxide, when mixed with oxygen, is used as an anesthetic in both human and veterinary medicine. It’s also employed in various medical research contexts, such as in treatments for severe depression and managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  3. Industrial and Automotive Uses: Nitrous oxide is used in certain industrial processes and to enhance the performance of car engines, particularly in racing, by speeding up the combustion process for a temporary boost in horsepower.

Are Cream Chargers Illegal in the UK?

In the UK, it is completely legal to purchase whipped cream chargers for culinary purposes, provided that the buyer is 18 years or older. Retailers are legally obliged to verify the age of the purchaser to prevent underage sales.

Misuse and Legal Regulations

Misusing cream chargers by inhaling nitrous oxide for its psychoactive effects is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Supplying cream chargers for such purposes is also illegal. While possession of nitrous oxide itself is not yet criminalized, the government is actively working on legislation to ban the sale or possession of cream chargers without a legitimate reason, such as culinary or medical use.

The upcoming changes are in response to recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and aim to classify nitrous oxide as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Class C drugs are deemed the least harmful but are still illegal to possess or supply for recreational use.


Cream chargers remain legal for culinary use in the UK, but their misuse as a recreational drug has led to increased regulation. Retailers must ensure compliance with age verification and stay informed about legislative changes to avoid legal repercussions.


Mr Harry.

Harry is not just a connoisseur of whipped cream delights but also a dedicated explorer of culinary wonders.

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