The plot of the famed 1987 sci-fi comedy Spaceballs boils down to a conflict over one precious resource: air. The villains have depleted their world’s breathable air supply and are on a mission to steal it from another planet. But, in the meantime, they rely on aluminum cans of air known as “Perri-Air.” The movie is science fiction, but the idea of sniffing air out of a can is not as far-fetched as it was when the film premiered 28 years ago. Today, one of the newest trends in the consumer “energy boost” market is canned oxygen.
Although the products and their use are both far from widespread, several brands are available through online markets or specialty stores. Styles, sizes, and actuation methods all vary, but in general, a high-oxygen mixture is stored in a pressurized canister or bottle and the user, when looking for an energy kick, can inhale the air via the mouth or nose. Many are “flavored” and offer users a choice of scents.
While traditional oxygen therapy is available only by a doctor’s prescription, these canned oxygen devices are available over the counter.
One brand, called O+ (Oxygen Plus), was the subject of a recent CBS3 news report and a company rep said users had increased energy and felt better after using the products. The product contains a 95% oxygen mix (ambient air is 21%), and the company’s website purports that it “helps revitalize, boost energy, increase alertness and mental clarity, and alleviate the effects of vigorous exercise, travel, altitude, poor air quality, and a night on the town.” Christine Warren of Oxygen Plus Inc told CBS3 news, “Oxygen is the next bottled water.”
The idea of canned air has even crossed into the “refreshments” market. A Chinese businessman, for instance, is capitalizing on the interminable smog and poor air quality in Northern China by launching a line of canned air products that can provide users some “fresh air,” according to a 2013 Sydney Morning Herald article. The 88-cent cans contain scented air in a number of flavors, such as “Pristine Tibet.”
In another example, an artist from the Czech Republic sold canned air from cities around the world (including Paris, New York, and Singapore), according to a 2012 BuzzFeed article. The labels reportedly claim the air “relieves stress, cures homesickness and helps fighting nostalgia,” according to the same news report.
Of course, none of these uses of air or oxygen have been FDA-approved for any of the benefits listed above, but that isn’t stopping businesses from trying to bring consumers air in a can.
Mike Fratantoro is chief editor for RT Magazine. Contact him at [email protected].