Public officials warn against snorting bath salts to get high

Bath Salts

  • Bath salts are legal, commercially available substances that contain a synthetic chemical, Methylene Dioxy Pyrovalerone, or MDPV.
  • When ingested, MDPV mimics the effects of amphetamines, and can produce a hallucinogenic high similar to ecstasy.
  • Brand names for the product include Cloud Nine, Red Dove, Vanilla Sky, Lunar Wave, Ivory Wave and Hurricane Charlie.
  • Negative effects reported include psychosis, self-harm, intense cravings, increased heart rate, as well as a potential for causing seizures and cardiac arrest.
  • The products can be purchased at stores or online, and costs about $50 for a 500 milligram supply.
  • If someone experiences negative effects after ingesting bath salts, officials suggest calling 911. For more information on bath salts, contact the Kansas Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, or visit

Last year Kansas and Missouri banned the synthetic marijuana-like substance K2 as the once-legal product gained popularity in the region. Manufacturers responded with altered versions such as K3.

Now public health officials are warning about the latest legal way to get high: snorting bath salts.

Salina police issued a warning about the practice following the death of a Kansas University student who was struck by a vehicle after running into traffic. Police found bath salts containing methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV, in the student’s possession and are awaiting toxicology results on whether he had ingested the substance prior to the incident.

Health officials report that the substance can cause delusions and confusion, in addition to increased heart rate and potentially seizures or cardiac arrest.

In 2010, family and friends of a Cameron, Mo., man who committed suicide attributed his death to an addiction to bath salts.

The active substance in the bath salts — which go by brand names such as Cloud Nine, Ocean Snow and Lunar Wave — is amphetamine-like and mimics the effects of ecstasy, said KU medicinal chemistry professor Tom Prisinzano.

“They’re basically just amphetamine derivatives,” he said.

Prisinzano said a legal chemical is applied to the bath salts in a similar way to how synthetic cannaboids were sprayed on herbal mixtures to make products like K2.

It amounts to a creative way to make legal versions of illegal drugs, he said.

“They’re getting around the drug laws,” Prisinzano said, adding concerns about what may actually be in the bath salts. “There’s no quality assurance.”

American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that the bath salts are crushed up and snorted, and even injected in at least one case.

Reports of bath salt ingestion are popping up around the country. Jessica Wehrman, a spokeswoman for the AAPCC, said poison control centers in the United States reported 232 calls about bath salts in 2010. Through Thursday, Wehrman said centers had already received 50 calls about bath salts in 2011.

A spokesman for the Kansas Poison Control Center said they have not received any calls about bath salts. But Julie Weber, director of the Missouri Poison Center, said that the center received eight calls about bath salts in 2010 and already five calls in 2011.

The AAPCC release came with stern warnings about not ingesting bath salts, which are labeled “not for human consumption.”

“This is an emerging health threat that needs to be taken seriously,” said Alvin C. Bronstein, medical director of the Rocky Mountain Poison Control Centers.

Law enforcement officials say they haven’t yet seen bath salts pop up in Lawrence.

“We are aware of it and know that it could affect us in the future,” said Sgt. Matt Sarna of the Lawrence Police Department.

It’s unclear whether the product is sold at any Lawrence-area stores, but reports have indicated that the product is widely available in the Kansas City area and can also be purchased online.