Boiling Pads to Get High?

By Leilani H

Did you remember those headlines from 3 years ago where Indonesian teens were fishing out used pads from dumpsters (or purchasing new ones), boiling them and drinking the water to get high? Feels like a fever dream. An unsanitary nightmare.

Which component of the pad gets you high? 

The typical pad is made of five materials: polyethylene, absorbent cellulose or gel, adhesives, plastic and paper. The suspected component of the pad that gets you high is polyethylene - the chemicals that give pads its absorptive properties. Polyethylene and polypropylene is a synthetic polymer used in textile and clothing manufacturing.


As you know from your middle school chemistry classes, when certain materials and substances are mixed with each other (or with water) or exposed to heat their structures can change! When consumed, some components may cause hallucinations but dangerous effects on the body.

Potential Health Effects

The BNN (the Indonesian drug enforcement agency) have claimed that drinking this “pad water” could lead to brain damage, respiratory or digestive issues. Conventional pads such as plastic and chlorine, the Nona team didn’t conduct the laboratory tests but we’re pretty sure those things should not be ingested. Furthermore, blood waste may contain viruses or pathogens (some examples include syphilis, HIV, malaria, hepatitis).

Why Would One Engage in Such Ridiculous Behaviour?

There is a lack of education surrounding drugs, substances or alcohol education. Like adolescents around the world, these young Indonesians want to try new and riskier forms of entertainment but lack the knowledge and access to safe recreational habits. For example, they look to alternatives when they don’t find what they want (e.g. sniffing Aibon glue).

Behaviour Changes and Prevention

Such behaviour shows the existing need to educate the Indonesian youth, both girls and boys, on recreational substance use and periods. Most of the children consuming this “pad water” are street kids but there are a handful of school-attending children.

First, there is nothing wrong with teenagers having fun. Young adults who choose to consume these substances must do so responsibly and in moderation. Adults should do more to educate young adults on the consequences (physical, legal, emotional, and spiritual) and potential health effects they induce. In a conservative country like Indonesia, discussing such topics may be taboo. But what adults fail to acknowledge is that if these kids want to engage in reckless behaviour, they will always find a way no matter the perceived barriers.


Secondly, periods must be treated with respect and dignity. Periods are a matter of health - it is a highly personal matter. How would you feel if your pads (or your sister or mother’s used pads) were fished out of the bin and used for this purpose? Wouldn’t that make you feel uneasy? Nona strives to educate young Indonesians, men and women, about menstruation - a healthy, normal bodily process!

Join the movement today and educate yourself. Follow us on Instagram at @nonawoman.

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