Ether... how dangerous? how available?

Just rewatched “The Ciderhouse Rules” and was wondering…

the ether that the doc had; of course he had access, he’s a doc! But could anyone one else aquire ether easily in the time period of the movie? How about today? Clearly it can be dangerous to your life! Is the ether the doc used the same type of ether used in car starting fluid today?

Just wondering.

Yes, its the same ether, but it has additives in it in order to discourage consumption. You can get the pure stuff online easily even today. In the time period of the movie, it was easily obtainable by private citizens–remember that in the past, cocaine and heroin were sold over the counter.

Actually, due to it’s use in Meth production, it is now fairly difficult for Joe Average to buy ether… at least at reasonable prices.

It is used in Diesel model airplane fuel. There are some off the shelf products that contain high percentages of ether that seem to work.

From a chemist’s point of view, ether is highly flammable, highly volatile, and forms dangerous peroxides.

Agreeing with asterion. It’s flammable, volatile, and can form peroxides (which can be explosive). The most common form, and what most people mean when they say “ether” is diethyl ether (CH3CH2-O-CH2Ch3).

Its vapour pressure is so low, you don’t want to leave it in an open container with a large neck (a conical would be ok etc) for any great length of time with no ventilation. It boils at comparatively low temperatures too about 35C (100F) and has a low autoignition temperature (it burst into flame without a spark at 170ºC)

It’s a recipe for disaster - extremely flammable, very volatile, colourless as a liquid and a gas and not particularly pungent (it smells quite sweet actually). It’s no surprise that most meth labs are discovered because they explode.

You can buy it in bulk from any chemical supplier, but unless you’re a legit business (university, chemical company, factory, pharma company etc) you’ll be raising eyebrows if you buy in vast quantities.

Essentially, treat it like gasoline on steroids. Very handy solvent though!

The dangers are varied. There was an in depth study published a while back that touches the dangers of ether.

Nothing, that is, except a presidential candidate under the influence of Ibogaine …

:confused:To whom are you referring? I don’t even know what Ibogain is.

Edmund Muskie. We sure dodged a bullet with that one.

So… using starting fluid to gas unsuspecting people to use them as test subjects to prove the lethality of a bio-engineered virus that you plan to use to reduce the world’s population thereby saving the planet and preserving “Nature” is probably not the best way to go about it, eh? :smiley:

When I first started working in a lab in my youth, I took home some ether and tried to get high. I got nothing. I now know it was very dangerous, as others have said.

I tried chloroform too, first trying a little and then working my way up. Again, nothing. Not like in the movies.

Yes, Edmund Muskie. The Raoul Duke quote (post #6) was from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, the absurd (and obviously made up) ibogaine story about Edmund Muskie was from “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.” Taken together, these books are the defining works of “Gonzo Journalism” by Hunter S. Thompson.

In France, ether was sold over the counter until 20 years ago or so (not anymore due to its use as a drug). It seems to me that it was quite common in people’s drug cabinet, along with aspirin, etc… My father used it as a desinfectant. Its main use in my house, however, was to get rid of ticks (on people or dogs). Some ether on cotton, put it on the tick, wait a minute, remove tick whole.

Interesting. I certainly didn’t get high in a colloquial sense, but I’ve lightly sniffed both from shallow containers in a classroom ( on psychoactive drugs, as it happens ) and I did get a definite effect. One was like a pins and needles sensation in my brain, the other felt like I was stuffing my head full of cotton.

It’s a great opening line in a bar. “Does this handkerchief smell like either to you?”

You can get ether every year on ether Sunday. The ether bunny leaves ether eggs on people’s lawns.