What are 'bath salts' and are they bringing on a zombie apocalypse? Of course not, but join Scientific American blogger Cassie Rodenberg at noon EDT today (Wednesday, June 13) to discuss the chemistry of this new class of recreational drugs and why it has been associated recently with unusual forms of violence.
Welcome everyone to our 30-minute live chat today with Scientific American blogger Cassie Rodenberg.
I'm Robin Lloyd, news editor at Scientific American and I'll host this 30 min. chat today.
We will be discussing 'bath salts' and the 'zombie' attacks, and whether there is any good science on this subject. Obviously, zombies don't exist, but let's get into the chemistry and truth behind these latest incidents of apparently drug-induced violence. Our guest today is Cassie Rodenberg. Cassie is an Interactive TV Producer in New York City, a writer & former chemist. Follow her on Twitter @cassierodenberg. Here is her blog: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/white-noise/.
So let's get started. Cassie, could you start by explaining to everyone what bath salts are?
Glad to be here. I've done a little writing on compounds in bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
Bath salts are the street name for a class of recreational drugs, that are synthetic and in the amphetamine and cathinone classes.
So it's not just one drug, but there are a variety of substances?
They're often marketed as things like 'Ivory Wave' and were initially called bath salts to get around FDA regulations. They stimulate the central nervous system and often cause feelings of euphoria and alertness.
I am interested in branding - where does the term come from, who uses it and why,
and should we use 'bath salts' when writing about it? Does it 'soften' the impact?
It's branded 'bath salts' because marketers can claim it's 'not for human consumption' and 'for novelty use only'.
Re Cassie's point, products with the chemical(s) in bath salts were also advertised as plant fertilizer for a time. Also marketed as incense, cleaning products, etc.
Cassie, David: Why are we all suddenly hearing about 'bath salts'? What happened?
It got big as a European club drug, because it's a relatively cheap stimulant alternative, and one that escaped under police radar. Bath salts are a nickname for a synthetic drug that has recently acquired a lot of media attention.
In Schuylkill County PA, they were also sold as 'jewelry cleaner' for a little while.
So it's a 'wink-wink' way for dealers and users to be in the know, bypassing other's watchful eyes!
I heard that a few companies, like Costco, recently pulled their Epson salts thinking they are the same thing.
Okay, I have a couple of questions. When you say 'bath Salts' are you talking about actual bath salts, or is it a euphemism for a new drug? Second, let's have some references please. How does it do what it does and how nasty (or not) is it?