You’ve seen movies where people look like they’re getting high as a kite right? So just what are they snorting if it’s so obviously not cocaine? After all it’s not conducive to an actor’s health or their image to be snorting small mountains of powder as you’ve seen in Scarface. The quantity that you see people snorting in this movie would be enough to kill a bull elephant, and at one point Tony just nosedives into the pile and takes a big ol’ snort as his henchmen watch on, thinking that their boss has gone un poco loco. Well to be honest they weren’t too far off the mark since Tony Montana was a paranoid and very narcissistic man that wanted everything but wouldn’t give much of anything. But as to what he was snorting, it was a substance called inositol, which is a kind of vitamin B powder. It’s also called fake cocaine since when inhaled it gives the recipient a bit of a kick in the energy department.
Cocaine is supposed to give the user a massive kick to their energy levels so it’s not too hard to for an actor to fake that portion since the vitamin powder does in fact work in the same kind of way. Unfortunately it can also do a bit of damage since a lot of things aren’t meant to be consumed through inhalation. Al Pacino actually said that he had to snort so much of the powder that his nasal passages were damaged as a result. It needs to be said that things are supposed to come out of your nose more often than they go in, as the interior lining of the nose is more useful when it’s allowed to capture, trap, and then expel any harmful toxins or invasive materials that aren’t supposed to be in the body. When something is taken up the nostrils it’s another invasion that the body doesn’t tend to like quite as well.
Of course vitamin B powder might be better than powdered milk or baking powder, both of which have been used in the past to simulate cocaine. Neither one of those has the kick of inositol and might have done a lot to clog the nasal passages of those that managed to snort significant amounts of it. That kind of thing just sounds painful when you really think about it. Snorting something that’s used in baked goods doesn’t sound like a great idea and snorting powdered milk has actually made a couple of actors sick in the past. It’s better to be sick than dead though I suppose, though getting sick because you snorted something up your nose doesn’t sound optimal either.
At least now every time you watch a movie during which cocaine is being snorted you can at least look at it and know what you’re watching. It might take a bit of the mystique out of it, but so long as you know the actors aren’t really damaging their health for the sake of their craft it seems a fair trade.