Safer Sniffing Guide

A step-by-step guide on safer sniffing, a publication by OnPoint NYC. OnPoint-NYC-EducationBinder_SS-Brochure


Reducing Nasal Damage and Infection
Sniffing drugs can be much safer than other routes of use, like injecting. However, there are still risks associated with sniffing drugs, including nasal damage and infection.

These two risks also go hand-in-hand: when the inside of your nostril is damaged, the chance of infection significantly increases.

  • Only use clean equipment, disinfect your hands and surfaces before sniffing, and practice safer sniffing tips (in the step-by-step on next page)
  • Rinsing nostrils with saline or lukewarm water after sniffing also helps prevent injury and infection


Reducing Common Risks Related to Street Drug Use

Different drugs have different risks, depending on their effect. However, there are also general risks with taking street drugs- like adverse effects or overdose- due to their varying strengths and the possibility of harmful cuts (like fentanyl).

  • Make healthy choices and keep a regular routine to prepare for the drug’s impact on appetite, dehydration, and ability to sleep
  • If it’s your first time using a specific drug, sniff a small test line first to gauge its strength.
    Consider checking for cuts using a test strip or reagent (available online or at some harm reduction agencies. OnPoint NYC provides free fentanyl test strips!)



These tools are included in our safer sniffing kit to help reduce the risk of injury and infection. Remember to disinfect everything beforehand and replace tools as often as possible!

To avoid sharing, our kit includes differently colored straws. These straws come as two options:

  • Straight-end: these can be used for lines
  • Scoops: these can be used for bumps

Use these to cut your substances into fine lines. Not only are they a cleaner alternative to any card in your wallet, but they’re also safer than a store-bought razor.

Use these to clean your hands before sniffing to help prevent infection.

Use these to clean all tools and surfaces before use to help prevent infection.

Use this to rinse your nostrils after sniffing.

Use this to reduce tearing during sex (caused by many drug’s dehydrating effects)

Step-by-Step: How to Sniff Drugs More Safely

Make a plan before you use to avoid unnecessary harm and wasting money:

  1. Decide how much you’re going to use and put aside money that you’ll need for other expenses (like food or rent).
  2. Buy from a source you trust and sniff a little bit first to test its strength. See “Reducing Common Risks Related to Street Drug Use” for more safer use advice related to purchasing street drugs.
  3. Plan to use in a safe place with people you trust, and make sure to eat and drink plenty of water before sniffing.
  4. Know when the drugs will wear off so you can decide on a time to stop sniffing, which will allow you to rest and be sober for work or other commitments.


  1. Clean hands with soap and warm water or antiseptic wipes.
  2. Find a clean surface to prepare your drugs on.
    Set down the included card or a fresh piece of paper to use as your surface. Using a darker color surface will make it easier to see your lines.
    TIP: If using a hard surface (like a table or mirror), disinfect it first by wiping an alcohol pad in one direction (not in circles).
  3. Get a freshly cut straw.
    Dollar bills, keys, and fingernails are covered in dirt and bacteria, which you’ll end up sniffing right up your nose! Instead, use a clean straw cut to the desired length (about 2.5 inches)
    TIP: If you don’t have access to a clean straw, you can also roll a fresh post-it note!
  4. Clean equipment.
    Use alcohol pads to clean any tool that you’ll be using to chop up your drug, such as cards or razors.
    TIP: If using a card, try to avoid using an old card or one that goes through a lot of hands and/or machine swipers (credit cards, Metrocards, etc.).
  5. Pour desired amount of drug onto clean surface
    If you are using a new supply, pour out half of what you normally would do so you can first do a test line to gauge strength.
  6. Cut lines as thinly as possible.
    Use a clean razor blade or card to chop up the powder into very fine lines.
    For pills, crystals, or rocks: It’s important to crush up these drugs into a very fine powder to avoid nasal irritation and injury. A reliable way to do this is to place them inside a freshly folded piece of paper and use a hard object (like a lighter or phone) to press firmly along the paper’s surface.
  7. You’re now ready to sniff!
    Carefully insert your straw far up one nostril and press the other nostril with your finger to keep it closed. Use the straw to sniff your freshly cut line.
  8. Switch nostrils between lines
    If you’re sniffing multiple lines, switch up your nostrils between uses to keep one nostril from getting too irritated and congested. You’ll also have an easier time sniffing this way.

Rinse nostrils after sniffing!

RINSE your nostril with saline or water after sniffing. Leftover powder can irritate the nose and damage cartilage. Rinsing also flushes leftover drug into the throat, which means none of the drug will be wasted.

If you are sharing with someone, make sure they use a different straw!

Sharing straws means sharing mucus, bacteria, and blood– even if you can’t see it!

If you’re going to a party or otherwise planning to share your drugs with a group, pick up a pack of straws or post-its to avoid sharing sniffing tools.

If you have leftover powder on your surface, scrape it back into its original baggie using your cutting tool. Leaving powder out will expose it to dust and bacteria, which means you’ll end up with dirty lines later!

Have a Question about Safer SNIFFING?

Email us your drug education questions at [email protected]

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