I really want to try LSD but am confused about the dosing. It seems tabs and liquid can have a large range of micrograms. When I buy it, how do I know how much I’m getting and how much to take so I don’t overdose myself?
The short answer: You can’t, as of right now.
As with all substances, there’s typically a lot of puffed-up talk about the quality, strength, etc. from suppliers. In reality, “quant” – quantifying the amount of something in a substance – is a time-consuming, expensive, and difficult-to-access form of lab analysis that is almost never available to the general public in the U.S.
It is usually impossible to truly know how many hands LSD has passed through before reaching you, although it does seem to be a substance where lots of people claim they know a guy who knows The Guy who made it. I have personally known multiple acid dealers across the country who’ve bragged about having “original Grateful Dead Sunshine,” referring to the Orange Sunshine LSD that was available in California in 1968 and 1969. It’s an amusing marketing claim, and almost certainly bogus.
Take note: just because someone claims to be affiliated with a well-loved community/supplier doesn’t mean they’re inherently trustworthy, either. When I was a teenager, my friend witnessed our local dealer dosing sugar cubes in his van in San Diego – “one drop on you, one drop on you, let’s do three on you, whoops that was four” – and never mentioning to our little knot of teenagers that he’d intentionally made all the strengths different.
My advice is usually to buy in bulk. This can, of course, really bite you if you end up buying something weak or low-quality, but I’d say LSD is one of the lower-risk bulk purchases out there at the moment because there don’t seem to be a ton of adulterants floating around. Just make sure you test with Ehrlich’s reagent before buying. Ehrlich’s will turn purple in the presence of a class of drugs called indoles, which includes LSD.
A note on testing: While the majority of drugs sold as LSD currently do contain LSD, there are still dozens of substances that may be misrepresented as LSD, although most of them will either not fit on blotter paper in psychoactive quantities and/or not turn purple on Ehrlich’s. Earth Erowid had some thoughts on this topic. “Erowid is now certain that some ergoloids that have been sold commercially in the last decade are strongly active on 6x6mm blotter AND cause Ehrich to turn purple. To confuse the topic further, all of those we know that have those qualities are experientially VERY similar to LSD in terms of effects and duration, though not identical,” wrote Earth in an email.
Two examples of such substances are LSZ and AL-LAD. LSZ is very rarely found on the illicit market, and AL-LAD is usually barely distinguishable from LSD in terms of effects. In either case, a purple Ehrlich’s is usually an indicator of LSD – just not always.
Buying in bulk might not sound appealing to you as a first-time consumer, understandably. It might be a good option to buy two or three hits and gradually work your way up from a tenth of a tab, to a quarter, to a half, to three quarters, etc. until you feel like you’ve gotten your sea legs a bit. True microdoses of LSD are really small, like 1/20th of a tab sometimes, and there’s a lot to learn and observe at all levels of dosing, so there’s no need to rush it.
It takes quite a bit of practice to be able to ballpark the actual strength of any dose of LSD. Seasoned consumers sometimes overestimate how many micrograms are in a dose because they’re accustomed to getting tabs they think are 100 micrograms but are actually only about 70 or 80. That’s why it’s good practice to start with a half tab of any new batch and just feel it out. It’s not always the case (see: San Diego van guy), but I’d say batches are usually fairly similar across tabs in terms of strength, which gives you a useful baseline once you’ve gotten familiar.
Of additional note: 100 actual micrograms of LSD is, for most people, plenty strong. In fact, the last time I had a properly-dosed 100 micrograms that actually was from someone who I truly believe might have known the chemist, I tripped so hard my vision was eclipsed by spiraling rainbow eyelashes.
In summation: With any new batch, start with no more than half a tab (or less if you’d like) and get a feel for it. Keep the tabs in the freezer to prevent them from degrading too much so the potency stays more consistent. I don’t advise using liquid for your first time because it can be harder to know how, exactly, someone diluted it, what kind of volume is in the dropper, and how hard to squeeze without “puddling” yourself (accidentally getting a mouthful of LSD). I suggest staying away from gel tabs initially because they can be harder to test and, from what I’ve seen, sometimes contain higher doses.
What’s the difference between doing nitrous from a hose on a tank as opposed to a balloon filled with a whippet? Are there precautions I should take or safety concerns with either method?
The first thing to note is whether a nitrous tank is auto grade or not. Auto grade nitrous may contain industrial lubricants that make the gas riskier to inhale, as well as deterrents to prevent inhalation in the first place or make it uncomfortable. I’ve heard rumors of some enterprising psychonauts (my friends) using two RV water filters stuck together to purify auto grade nitrous, but have no idea how it’s actually supposed to work (and how well). Other types of nitrous include food and medical grade, both of which are usually much safer to inhale, with medical grade obviously being ideal.
Never inhale directly from a hose on a tank. Always fill balloons or a third party device from the hose. Nitrous is typically a well-tolerated substance with a risk profile that’s pretty easy to manage, but inhaling a continuous stream of it without appropriate oxygen intake can make you hypoxic (a state of oxygen deprivation).
There are two major ways in which nitrous-related hypoxia can take place: acutely, like if you wear a mask to take in straight nitrous without oxygen, and chronically, over the course of a session. From my understanding, in the case of chronic hypoxia you’d probably have to try pretty hard to not take in oxygen while engaging in a really long session. Acute oxygen deprivation usually starts causing real harm (cell death) in about 3-5 minutes.
Be aware that it seems like the frequency of nitrous use is just as, if not more important than, the quantity in terms of health risks. This is because of nitrous’ ability to inactivate vitamin B12, which is a critical component of nerve functionality. Inactivating B12 on a regular basis may lead to symptoms of vitamin B deficiency, including numbness, pins and needles, and issues with gait and speech. This is likely related to the quantity of nitrous consumed in a session as well, but I can’t say for sure because I don’t know to what extent small amounts of nitrous inactivate B12 as opposed to larger ones.
I do know some folks who have experienced vitamin B deficiency-induced neuropathy after using nitrous 3 days a week for two weeks, just a few Whip-Its (small canisters) each time. It seems, from what I’ve gathered, that doing a larger amount in sessions spaced further apart may be lower risk than doing smaller amounts more regularly. Which brings me back to the original question: I don’t love the waste of hand-loaded nitrous chargers, but it might be easier to track how much you’re consuming with that method. Tanks tend to be a little easier to binge on because they’re so much faster and more efficient.
Additional tips for nitrous harm reduction:
- Supplement B vitamins in the weeks leading up to a session. Since nitrous inactivates B12, supplementing during and immediately following a session might not do much. Supplementing beforehand, at least, could protect you a bit from going into the experience already deficient.
- There’s also some speculation that breathing a little more quickly and shallowly between balloons of nitrous can help to hyperoxygenate your blood and reduce some of the risk of chronic oxygen deprivation during a long session. My immediate concern with hyperventilating is the risk of passing out, or “fishing out” as it’s called with nitrous. I don’t know if the method works, but if you have access to an oxygen tank, hitting that briefly might not hurt.
- Always check the tank for labels and sourcing. If it’s an auto grade nitrous tank or the gas from it tastes bitter, metallic, or like it has “flecks” in it, I advise staying away.
Update: An anesthesiologist reached out to me and offered insight that this practice may be directly dangerous, since CO2 levels are lowered during hyperventilation and CO2 is the main indicator that helps our brains understand when we should be breathing.
I was told it’s very dangerous to mix ketamine and alcohol, but I’ve had a drink and an hour later, followed it up with a night of ketamine. I felt fine. Are there any guidelines that can help navigate this?
Well, an hour is a pretty moderate amount of time for a single drink to be at least partially processed by your system (depending on who you are, of course). This is largely determined by your personal body chemistry and how you typically experience both alcohol and ketamine, as well as your respective tolerances to each.
As always, dosage is a big factor here. It’s good to be very familiar with your relationship with each substance before mixing them, and try not to use a new batch for the first time when combining. Make sure you’ve tested your ketamine and have tried it to get a feel for the strength.
I usually advise avoiding this combination altogether by waiting until you are truly sober from one before starting on the other, but if you really want to mix them, my recommendation is to do one of two methods:
- Get where you want to be with ketamine first. Always wait 15 minutes after each bump before doing another one. It can be easy to assume it’s been 15 minutes since the last bump when it’s only been 5, and suddenly you’ve done three bumps and are sitting on the ground with your head in your hands.
- Once you’re where you want to be, wait 15 minutes, then sip on a drink slowly. It’s much easier to titrate (gradually increase) your dose of alcohol than it is to titrate your dose of ketamine.
- Drink a small amount, wait until you can barely (or not) feel it, and then do a small bump of ketamine to test the waters.
- It’s easy for people to not realize how much they’re still feeling the alcohol before doing a bump, which is why I strongly recommend ketamine first, alcohol later.
I do not advise “sandwiching” bumps and drinks, which can make it tough to keep track of how much time has elapsed and whether you’re fully “up” on either substance. Once you’ve started drinking, setting timers for 45-60 minutes between each bump can help minimize the risk of absentmindedly digging around in the bag and becoming an oil painting halfway through the night.
Mixing moderate-to-large amounts of ketamine and alcohol isn’t necessarily dangerous every time, but it can certainly be very uncomfortable. Choking and asphyxiating on vomit is a real risk from both ketamine and alcohol with sufficiently high doses, and risk increases with the two of them together if someone goes way too deep.
I believe there’s also a consideration to be had around the combined impacts of ketamine and alcohol on body temperature regulation, but can’t say with certainty. Most of the cases I’ve responded to have involved people who are incoherent, unable to move around, vomiting profusely, and sometimes sweating buckets. Going too far usually involves severe spins.
This combination isn’t inherently bad in any way, but I consider it to be a much higher-than-average risk for feeling sick and having a Bad Time because the timing and dosing matter so much, and get harder and harder to do properly when you’re already high. I do witness more blackouts, psychedelic babbling, and chaotic vomiting at events from this combo than almost anything else. Be strategic, and be safe!
About Your Psychedelic Auntie
When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers.