Alcohol powder

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Alcohol powder is molecularly encapsulated ethanol. The powder produces an alcoholic beverage when mixed with water.

Chemical properties[edit]

According to food chemist Udo Pollmer of the European Institute of Food and Nutrition Sciences in Munich, alcohol can be absorbed in cyclodextrins, a synthetic carbohydrate derivative. In this way, encapsuled in small capsules, the fluid can be handled as a powder. The cyclodextrins can absorb an estimated 60 percent of their own weight in alcohol.[1] A US patent was registered for the process as early as 1974.[2]

Chemical structure of the three main types of cyclodextrins.

Routes of administration[edit]

  • Reconstituted: Alcohol powder can be added to water to make an alcoholic beverage.[3]
  • Nebulizer: Alcohol powder produced through molecular encapsulation with cyclodextrin can be used with a nebulizer[4]

Brands and legal status[edit]


In Germany a product called Subyou reportedly was distributed on the Internet. The product was available in four flavours and packed in 65-, or possibly 100-gram, sachets. When mixed with 0.25 litres of water it gives a drink with 4.8% alcohol. It was assumed a German producer manufactured the alcopop powder based on imported raw alcohol powder from the US.[5]


In the Netherlands the product Booz2go was reported in May 2007.[6] It will produce a bubbly, lime-coloured and lime-flavoured drink with 3% alcohol when mixed with water. When put into commercial production, it is expected to sell for 1.50 euro (approx. US$1.60) for a 20 gram sachet. The product is marketed by four food technology students, Harm van Elderen, Martyn van Nierop and others at Helicon Vocational Institute in Boxtel. They said they are aiming at the youth market, and one advantage of the powder is it would be legal to sell to people under 18, the legal age of drinking in the Netherlands. They compared the drink to alcopops like Bacardi Breezer, and expect the relatively low alcohol content will be popular with the young segment.

Director Wim van Dalen of the Dutch National Foundation for Alcohol Prevention said the powder was not subject to the Alcohol and Horeca Code, but when dissolved in water it would be. This would mean that everyone could buy the powder. He said he generally did not support new alcoholic drinks, but doubted the powder would become attractive. A spokesman of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport said they would not undertake any actions against the product, but added that according to other laws the label must contain a warning about any health risks for the consumer.[7]

United States[edit]

In the United States, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), alcohol powders which are intended for beverage use fall within the jurisdiction of both the federal government (TTB) and the state governments. Under the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, state and territory governments also have substantial regulatory powers over "intoxicating liquors".

In 2008, Pulver Spirits was developing a line of alcohol powder products. The marketing was reportedly intended to be in full compliance with alcohol regulations and targeted at adults of legal drinking age.[8]

In Spring 2014, the Arizona-based company Lipsmark LLC announced that it would be marketing powdered alcohol from that fall under the name Palcohol.[9]

The product was approved for sale by the TTB on April 8, 2014; due to a labeling error, the approvals were surrendered by the manufacturer on April 21.[10] Ohio state legislators introduced legislation in 2014 that would ban Palcohol and all other powdered alcohol,[11] and Iowa state legislators followed suit in 2015.[12]

TTB granted Palcohol approval in March 2015.[13]

On March 25, 2015, alcohol wholesalers and distributors in the state of Maryland (USA) announced an agreement to voluntary ban the distribution and sale of powdered alcohol.[14] Concerns included abuse by minors and the potential to snort the powder; and the ease of using the powder to bring alcohol into public events or spike drinks. At the same time a bill to ban Palcohol for one year was under consideration in the Maryland House of Delegates.

United Kingdom[edit]

The legal status of Powdered Alcohol in United Kingdom is uncertain.[15] In a January 2015 answer to a parliamentary question, Lord Bates wrote "The Government is aware of powdered alcohol from media reports and the banning of the product in five states of the United States of America. The Government is not aware of powdered alcohol being marketed or made available to buy in England and Wales."[16]


  1. ^ Alcohol powder: Alcopops from a bag, Westdeutsche Zeitung, 28 October 2004 (German)
  2. ^ Preparation of an Alcohol Containing Powder, General Foods Corporation March 31, 1972
  3. ^ Powdered Alcohol Coming To The US
  4. ^ Le, V. N.; Leterme, P.; Gayot, A.; Flament, M. P. (2006). "Aerosolization potential of cyclodextrins--influence of the operating conditions". PDA journal of pharmaceutical science and technology / PDA 60 (5): 314–322. PMID 17089700.  edit
  5. ^ "Statt Alcopops droht Sucht in Tüten". Die Tageszeitung (in German). 10 November 2004. Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. 
  6. ^ Just add water – students invent alcohol powder Reuters, 6 June 2007
  7. ^ Students make alcohol powder, Het Parool, 25 May 2007 (Dutch)
  8. ^ Amara, Audrey (4 July 2008). "Alcohol Powder Starts Flowing". Science 2.0. ION Publications LLC. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "Powdered Alcohol". Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Stampler, Laura; Alexandra Sifferlin (22 April 2014). "Feds: Powdered Alcohol Approved in ‘Error’". TIME. Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  11. ^ Walsworth, Jack (22 July 2014). "Powdered alcohol? Ohio may ban it". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Lynch, James (2 February 2015). "Iowa Legislature considers ban on powdered alcohol sales". The Gazette (Cedar Rapids). Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
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