A company called Palcohol has recently been approved to market powdered alcohol in the U.S.
The company is offering five different flavors of the powdered alcohol, including cocktail favorites like margarita, cosmopolitan, and mojito, as well as a simple vodka. The packets contain 50% alcohol by weight, and 12 to 60% alcohol when mixed with water. When used as directed, Palcohol is not any more dangerous than regular alcohol. It’s small, portable, and lightweight enough to bring anywhere. But what has people concerned is the product’s potential for an array of other creative uses that could be deadly. These include snorting the product, which could lead to instant intoxication, being able to easily bring the product into venues like schools and concerts, sprinkling it on food, and spiking drinks. The powdered product is also so concentrated and seemingly lightweight, it makes it much easier to consume way too much.
How Can Alcohol Be Powdered?
Most of us are familiar with the natural liquid form of alcohol, so it seems strange to think of it in a powdered form. So what is Palcohol exactly? Most likely the product is made by taking alcohol, or ethanol, in its liquid form and encapsulating it in tiny microscopic shells. The tiny beads of alcohol are then mixed with sugar and other flavorings to get the “Mojito” flavor or other cocktail flavor of your choice. The encapsulations are most likely made from fat, which makes it easy for the tiny beads to dissolve in liquid or with mixing. This process is similar to that which is used with chewing gum to give it lasting flavor. The Palcohol company has chosen not to reveal the exact process they use to convert alcohol into powdered form.
Surprisingly, powdered alcohol has captured the attention of the public several times in the last few decades. A U.S. patent in 1974 for powdered alcohol had a 60% alcohol content and in Japan a powder with a 3.48% alcohol content is marketed by a company called Sato Industries. A group of Dutch students also created a powdered alcohol product called Booze2Go in 2007. They argued that their powdered form of alcohol could be sold to underaged drinkers because it was in a nonliquid form.
Concerns About Palcohol
The product isn’t quite ready yet to be sold at liquor stores, as there are many regulations and legal issues to get through first. But many are already talking about Palcohol and the potential dangers it poses. The truth is, this isn’t the first time a new, more dangerous method for consuming alcohol has hit the market. Caffeinated, sweet alcoholic drinks, like 4Loko, were especially popular and dangerous among young people who were attracted to the taste and not aware of how much alcohol the beverage contained. The beverage was banned after many cases of teen alcohol poisoning were reported as a result of drinking 4Loko.
These drinking trends come and go quickly, usually because the majority of drinkers prefer a good tasting, more sophisticated alcoholic beverage over a sugary fad. Studies also show that drinkers worldwide are influenced by flavor, rather than getting intoxicated, when making their drink choices. Powdered alcohol products like Palcohol do not taste as good as a properly made cocktail with real ingredients. Palates are becoming more sophisticated, which means even drinkers are demanding cocktails made with fresh herbs, fruit, and high quality spirits. In the end, consuming a shot or well made cocktail is still the easiest and most convenient way to enjoy alcohol.