Boost Oxygen

I saw this oxygen-in-a-can in the grocery store. It’s apparently useful to athletes, and the website says it’s also for jet lag, fatigue, and hangovers. Does it really give you a second wind? I’m thinking it might be helpful on a hot smoggy day.

A single good breath will draw in and expel over a liter of air. Ask yourself how big this can is, and how many breaths it’s supposed to be good for.

Well, that’s one liter at 1 bar STP; if the can is 750ml in size and is at an initial pressure of 300 psi that gives 15 breaths. The effect also depends on what the oxygen content is. (I’m going to wager that it is somewhere in the 50% range; more than that would require special handling and fire protection procedures per NFPA 53.)

Using enriched air or Nitrox in scuba diving (with an oxygen content between 22%-40%) definitely makes one feel a little more invigorated after diving, although the effects are subjective. Of course, a diver will breathe 60 cubic feet or more during a dive rather than a few breaths. I doubt a couple puffs of oxygen-enriched air will do much for a hangover or fatigue other than a short burst of giddiness, and athletes usually improve oxygen transport by building up hemoglobin, which occurs by exercising, especially at high altitudes. Oxygen is occasionally used for recovery from brief sprints as in American football, but in general it’s not going to turn a couch potato into Bruce Jenner.


This site is claiming their “Recreational Oxygen” is 99% pure (and contains ZERO Calories! ZERO Sugars!).

What would be the physiology of giddiness here? (I’ve often breathed air with a high percentage of oxygen - via a supplemental oxygen system on board a glider - and never experienced this.)

Perhaps “giddiness” is not the right word; a few breaths of highly oxygen-enriched atmosphere can make one feel temporarily energized; however, the effect goes away as soon as blood oxygen levels drop back to normal. I do not think this would produce any long-term improvement in fatigue (which is due to depletion of blood glucose, the accumulation of fermentation products, and imbalance of mineral ions in muscle), and am morally certain it would do little to nothing for a hangover.


Hmmm. That could mean anything, and they might be taking the risk that nobody will complain to the FDA/USDA/whatever. 100% O2 at standard pressure or above will, given sufficient heat, burn just about anything to a fine ash. My guess is that it’s no more than 50% O2 with some inert gas like N2. Yes, the O2 itself is pure, in the same way that H20 is pure water. What’s in the can may not be 100% O2, but the O2 in it is pure. :smack:

Just as a note, the astronauts doing spacewalks use 100% O2, but only at 3 psi (I think that figure’s right; the point is that it’s much lower than regular pressure of air). That results in the same partial pressure of O2 as at sea level (since air is only 20% O2), eminently breathable, but lowers the overall pressure enough to allow the spacesuits to bend.

I don’t know if the ISS uses only O2 inside, but no matter what, it doesn’t use pure O2 at normal pressure. NASA learned via the Apollo 1 fire that pure O2 at normal pressure is Not A Good Idea.

I’m not so sure about that. I can buy cylinders containing 40 g of ~100% pure 02 for my Oxy-MAPP torch that don’t require any special handling other than the usual caveats concerning pressurized gas containers. Now, you wouldn’t want to breathe this stuff, since it’s Technical Grade (which means it can contain trace contamination of Ungood Stuff) but it’s the same stuff, essentially.

You may be right. But on the linked page is the statement “99% Pure Oxygen (1% Ambient Air)” - so if it’s in fact just 50% oxygen, they are certainly not telling the truth.

I researched this about 5 years ago, and learned that whereas there once was a difference between breathing oxygen and the stuff sold for welding, there no longer is. These days, it’s all produced cryogenically, which means there’s no way for anything other than oxygen to get into a bottle. I have many times filled from a welding cylinder, and I know plenty of other pilots who have done the same. I’ve never encountered or heard of a problem, and my investigation turned up no cases of contamination.

Since I understand that the standards still are not identical, I suppose it makes sense to add that YMMV.

Most of the contamination in Tech Grade O2 comes from the bottle, which doesn’t have to meet the same standards of cleanliness as medical O2. I’m sure it’s no worse than the air inside a typical machine shop, for instance, but still.

Is contamination the only issue? For example, it isn’t that unusual to buy a container that claims to contain one product and actually contains another, due to a labeling mixup at the factory or some similar error. The care they apply to weeding out all such sources of error might not be as high in the welding gas supply chain as it should be for breathing gasses. It’s pretty easy to die from breathing pure nitrogen, as it takes away your awareness and caution and anxieties very early on. Couldn’t calamity ensue in some related way, breathing welding gases>

Different gases use different threads on their bottles, which tends to seriously reduce the chance you’ll mistakenly use the wrong bottle or that the bottle will be filled with the wrong gas. I’m certainly not saying this can’t happen, but I’ve never heard of it.

I’ve heard of this effect from breating nitrogen at high pressure (e.g. nitrogen narcosis for scuba divers) but not at sea level pressure or below. It’s certainly true that 100% N[sub]2[/sub] is going to make your body less happy than, say, 80% N[sub]2[/sub] 20% O[sub]2[/sub].

Note that it’s standard practice to hook up and test a supplemental oxygen system on the ground, before you try to rely on it at altitude (not that this would catch all problems - but it could help).

Certainly could (acetylene surely would cause problems). The only one I’d be at all interested in breathing would be oxygen.