This wikipedia article on "jenkem" describes it as—

a supposed inhalant and hallucinogen created from fermented human waste.

Urban Dictionary's highest-voted entry for "jenkem" describes it as—

Fermented mixture of ripened sewage used primarily in Africa and third-world Near Asian countries as a glue-high substitute.

A Snopes article (last updated 28 July 2011) debunked the hoax of the drug's popularity in American schools, but did not verify whether the drug actually exists. They cite an IPS report (unavailable online) and a 1999 BBC article which both treat it as a real thing. The references on the Wikipedia article contain various other publications that talk about it also.

Sources agree that the drug is manufactured by putting human faeces into an airtight container and waiting a week or more (sometimes, leaving the container in the sun). It is supposedly taken by huffing the produced gases (similarly to inhalant abuse of glue or petrol), and supposedly produces a similar hallucinatory effect as glue or petrol.

It also sounds absolutely disgusting. This makes it great for jokes and shock value, and that seems to be all that the media cares about when describing it. I can find no authoritative source or scientific analysis of such a drug's composition, active ingredient, or effects. Hence my scepticism.

Is jenkem an actual drug? Can it really be manufactured from only human excrement, and by such a simple process? What is its active ingredient?

  • 1
    The bacterial breakdown produces (among other things) methane, and the same thing is used on commercial scales to produce energy from rubbish dumps. The inhalant effect would be as you describe - the same as huffing petrol fumes. Can't find any direct sources tying this effect to your claimant's product yet, though.
    – Nij
    Oct 19, 2016 at 3:54

1 Answer 1


I'm calling it a hoax.

Besides Wikipedia calling it a "presumed" drug and Snopes debunking it as you already found out, Erowid, which is a reputable and complete aggregator of psychoactive-related resources, it's calling it out as a hoax

Without undeniably clear evidence that people are actually inhaling the gasses from human waste (outside of some performance art piece) we believe there is little reason to give this much attention: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Unfortunately, this much media attention can actually confuse people into trying something stupid because they think other people are doing it.

So - not only there is no evidence, but there is also no reason to believe this would work, and multiple parties looking into this news have found it unreliable.

  • Well, if yuppies can be tricked into drinking civit poo as gourmet coffee, and paying hundreds per pound, it seems that this hoax was worth a shot. Oct 19, 2016 at 14:55
  • @AndrewMattson You seem to be skeptical about Kopi Luwak. If there was just a page on the Internet whose mission it is to clarify these kind of things. Oh wait: skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/8103/… :)
    – daraos
    Oct 27, 2016 at 13:04
  • @daraos - This is my prefered reference on the topic, if for no other reason than the artwork.... straightdope.com/columns/read/2306/… Oct 27, 2016 at 13:38
  • "But I cherish the thought of some yuppie complaining that his coffee isn't pure shit." Ok, I'm convinced :D I guess it's the same with lobster, caviar and oysters.
    – daraos
    Oct 27, 2016 at 14:05

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