You see a YouTube video of a naked man refusing to give up as he fights off police officers for several minutes. The title mentions a drug called "Love Boat", but with little of no detail of the ingredients in the drug. What is in this Love Boat that causes a fellow take off his clothes and risk his life to avoid the authorities?

Love Boat is a term used for a variety of illicit drugs since the 1960s. Let's take a look at the street drug's differing forms, use, possible chemical side reactions, and an account of someone taking a ride on the Love Boat.


The top image is by nihataksel on DeviantArt.

What is Love Boat?
Love Boat goes by several other names (including fry and purple rain) and pops up every few years as report on national news when a particularly crazy event involving its use occurs.


The name Love Boat is currently associated with three different street drugs - marijuana soaked with embalming fluid or formaldehyde, marijuana soaked the dissociative hallucinogen in PCP, or marijuana soaked in both formaldehyde and PCP.

Smoking tobacco cigarettes dipped in formaldehyde dates back to the late 1960s. Use provided a body numbing experience and cheap high along with a fiery burst in the lungs. Cigarettes and cigars are also used as a cheap and quick delivery method for liquid PCP, going by the street name sherm.


Embalming fluid as slang for PCP
One of the problems arising in determining what is actually within Love Boat comes from a confusion of street names.

"Embalming fluid" is a common street name for liquid PCP, a name so common that users and sellers eventually substituted embalming fluid for PCP in the production process.

Embalming fluid contains formaldehyde and methanol along with other solvents, with formaldehyde making up 20 to 40% of embalming fluid.


Formaldehyde is a small carcinogenic molecule that causes a sore throat and coughing in exposed individuals. Embalming fluid or formaldehyde soaked marijuana burns slower than a normal joint would. This increases the window of time available to the body to absorb THC, formaldehyde, or PCP - causing a longer and more intense high regardless of the combination.

A reaction between formaldehyde and THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the principle active chemical in marijuana, could react with the small molecule formaldehyde while dipping. This could cause a chemical reaction that modifies the structure of THC, akin to how synthetic cannabinoids are created by making small changes to THC.


This chemical modification of THC could alter its psychoactive properties. This combined with a longer exposure time to THC when a joint is dipped in formaldehyde could create a unique set of experiences for Love Boat users. Also, chemical reactions between PCP and formaldehyde or PCP and THC are not out of the question.

Mixing Hallucinogens
Marijuana and PCP are both hallucinogens, with PCP acting in a dissociative manner by blocking chemical signals sent from your conscious mind to other parts of the brain. Blocking these signals results in variety of effects ranging from sensory deprivation to hallucinations to a trance-like state. Data for combining hallucinogens in this manner is not readily available, but from reports, Love Boat users often obtain a feeling of invincibility and anger along with intermittent bouts of confusion.


One user of marijuana dipped in liquid PCP monitored his behavior over a five hour period, making over forty notes. His reactions ranged from "(I) feel like a badass, I looked in the mirror, and felt like I was a thug" to "(The) light switch is gonna eat me...Looked like it grew teeth" to "(I) sat in my room naked for 15 minutes." The entire account (be careful, the language and site is NSFW) makes for an interesting read, as the individual tries to maintain sanity while two competing hallucinogens battle it out for control of the user's mind.

It is very hard to be sure of what is in your Love Boat
Thanks to the less than definitive street terminology, Love Boat purchased on the street could be three different combination drugs - Marijuana soaked in PCP, Marijuana soaked in Formaldehyde, or Marijuana soaked in both PCP and Formaldehyde. There simply is no set of standards for how the drug is produced and limited data for its effects on the human body, making the Love Boat use a bit risky. Smoking Love Boat is like mixing alcohol and pain killers - on their own, they can have their problems, but the synergistic combination is much more dangerous.