Spray paint cans

Pavlo Burdyak/Shutterstock (Licensed)

What is the ‘chroming challenge’ on social media?

Another dangerous TikTok trend has resulted in the deaths of at least seven people.


Lindsey Weedston


The chroming challenge prevalent across social media involves breathing in toxic substances such as chrome-based paint on camera and has become a dangerous trend. At least seven young TikTok users have died from taking on the “challenge” so far as the trend spreads without warnings about the associated risks.

Similar to “huffing,” the practice of chroming creates a brief high but can result in brain damage, coma, or death.

What is the chroming challenge?

Chroming refers to the act of making a TikTok video in which someone inhales fumes from things like spray paint cans, spray deodorants, and other aerosol sources. Viewers can then watch the results of the high.

The term originated in Australia and appeared in a 2006 entry in the Urban Dictionary on July 7. This definition seems to better fit the term “huffing,” as it mentions first putting the substances into a paper bag.

“The process of getting high from aerosol cans sprayed into a paper bag and inhaled,” it reads.

The TikTok videos became popular in 2021, but following reported injuries and deaths, were replaced by entries warning people away from the practice.

@haileyyymills #chroming ♬ original sound – haileyyymills

Why is it called ‘chroming’?

The term “chroming” specifically references chrome-based paints, which may have been primarily used for this trend in the early days, but many different types of intoxicating substances have been used under this name, from paint thinner to Scotchgard.

The practice is distinct from “huffing,” an older word that refers to any use of inhalants — a class of intoxicating substance mostly consisting of household and industrial chemicals. The term huffing was popularized in the 20th century due to the common practice of placing these substances into a paper bag or similar container and breathing deeply from the opening, which was sealed around the user’s mouth for maximum effect.

“Huffing” briefly came back into use in 2022 when some people began to specifically inhale the chemicals from compressed air cans.

The use of inhalants to get high has occurred since chemicals like these existed, and have continued under various names and methods through the years.

Chroming deaths

At least seven deaths have been reported in relation to the chroming TikTok trend, including a 13-year-old girl by the name of Esra Haynes who passed away on March 31, 2023. She inhaled aerosol deodorant for a TikTok video and sustained irreparable brain damage and cardiac arrest. The teen died after spending a week in the hospital.

@9news Esra had a lifetime ahead of her 💔 #EsraHaynes #chroming #rip #victoria #9News ♬ original sound – 9News Australia

Esra’s parents, Paul and Andrea Haynes, launched an awareness campaign about the trend following her death.

“Esra would’ve never have done this if she’d had known the consequences. That it could take your life,” said Paul.

Health risks of chroming

Chroming is attractive to young people because it’s an easy way to get intoxicated. Many of the substances used can be purchased without ID at a local store, and inhaling them produces a high similar to that caused by alcohol, but for a shorter period of time.

The consequences can be dire. Risks associated with using inhalants include:

  • Choking
  • Asphyxiation/Suffocation
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Fatal injury
@americanaddictioncenters What is chroming? #addictionrecovery #rehab #recovery #sobriety #druguse ♬ original sound – American Addiction Centers

Many of these risks come from oxygen deprivation, as the hydrocarbons interrupt the intake of oxygen and delivery to the bloodstream. This can result in suffocation and loss of consciousness within seconds, and the lack of oxygen can damage organs including the brain within minutes, especially if the heart has stopped.

Chroming memes

In spite of the dangers and tragedies associated with TikTok chroming, people have made jokes and memes around the topic. However, most recent posts using the term contain warnings or bemoan how often trends on this platform have hurt people.

Chroming meme with a silver Pikachu doll.
Chroming meme with items from The Mandalorian.
Chroming meme with Laura Dern huffing and passing out in an alleyway.
In Body Image
Tweet reading 'I'm 67, this was a fad when I was a freshman in HS. It was called bagging, ragging. Airplane glue, paint, Texas shoeshine spray, etc. Lost lives back then as well. Sad. What is chroming, the new social media trend that killed a 13-year-old girl?'
Tweet reading 'Tik tok is at it again. Smartest app ever -- An 11-year-old boy has diеd after participating in ‘chroming’, a TikTok trend involving inhaling toxic fumes.'

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