Many people don’t think of alcohol as anything other than a liquid, so powdered alcohol may seem odd or fake. In answer to the question, “What is powdered alcohol?” the Journal of the American Medical Association provides this definition: “Powdered or crystalline alcohol is alcohol that has been absorbed into a carbohydrate, resulting in a dry state rather than its usual liquid form.”

Powdered alcohol is essentially a packet of powder that can turn water into a mixed drink. The concept of powdered alcohol has existed since the 19th century with the first mention in an 1877 patent. It has been sold internationally but has not yet successfully sold in the United States.

How Is Powdered Alcohol Different From Liquid Alcohol?

Powdered alcohol is different from liquid alcohol in several ways. The most obvious is that powdered alcohol is in a solid form, instead of the usual liquid form. Powdered alcohol products that are attempting to come to the market state that their powder is 50% alcohol by weight and 10% alcohol by volume.

Most liquid alcohol is measured by volume and is typically around 40-50%. This difference may make it more difficult for people to understand the amount of alcohol they are consuming. Another obvious difference between liquid and powdered alcohol is the production process.

Making Powdered Alcohol

Microencapsulation is the method of how to make powdered alcohol. Microencapsulation is when micro-particles have a core surrounded by a different kind of material. For powdered alcohol, alcohol is absorbed by a sugar, leaving powder that can be re-hydrated. Alcohol molecules are surrounded by sugar, and the sugar dissolves in water and releases the alcohol.

How People Ingest Powdered Alcohol

The typical method to ingest powdered alcohol is to dissolve it in water and drink it, like liquid alcohol. However, there are concerns that powdered alcohol will be misused and ingested in unintended ways, such as snorting.

Snorting Powdered Alcohol

Although the intended use of powdered alcohol is to dissolve it in a glass of water, some people may choose to ingest it in other ways. One of these ways is snorting.

One company producing powdered alcohol in America stated that there is little concern for snorting. A report from ABC News on powdered alcohol said that “not only does it have the burn of alcohol, but it would take an hour to snort a ‘shot’ of vodka.”

However, critics of powdered alcohol are concerned that the quick absorption of alcohol in the nose will compel people to snort it.

The Legality of Powdered Alcohol

In April 2014, the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved a powdered alcohol product in the United States. Less than two weeks later, the TTB stated that it had issued the label approvals in error, then reissued approval for four types of powdered alcohol.

After this approval, states began enacting legislation to regulate or ban the sale of powdered alcohol. As of 2017, powdered alcohol is banned in 35 states, so people can only buy powdered alcohol in some states. Several others introduced legislation that regulates powdered alcohol like other alcoholic products.

Concerns About Powdered Alcohol

Experts in public health and safety, as well as government officials, have raised several concerns about powdered alcohol. Some of the biggest concerns include:

  • Ease of sneaking it into other peoples’ food or drinks without their knowledge or consent
  • High binge-drinking potential, as it may be difficult to track the amount ingested
  • Highly concentrated drinks could lead to unintentional over-consumption
  • Increased potential for consumption by minors due to the ease in which it can be transported or concealed
  • Misuse of the product, such as snorting
  • Sneaking it into public venues, such as schools or other events that do not allow alcohol consumption

Key Points: Powdered Alcohol

Some important points to remember about powdered alcohol include:

  • Powdered alcohol is a dried form of alcohol
  • Powdered alcohol is about 10% alcohol by volume, but this may not be an easy way to know how much a person consumes
  • It can be dissolved in water or ingested in other ways
  • It is legal in the United States, but at least 35 states have banned its sale

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