"The gas will be administered only to gentlemen of the first respectability. The object is to make the entertainent in every respect a genteel affair" promised a promotional flier for one such event. Even so, early social uses of nitrous oxide did not foster the idea that the gas might serve a valuable surgical purpose.
The onset of action of nitrous oxide is rapid, beginning within fifteen to thirty seconds after inhalation. The intoxicating effects last around one to three minutes. Unless more of the gas is administered, it will will be out of the system within five to ten minutes. Nitrous oxide can be used for sustained surgical anaesthesia if combined with oxygen.