Here’s some useful information about powdered alcohol (Palcohol) from Kristen Kidd Donovan, MPH, the very experienced Assistant Director of Substance Abuse Prevention for the Wellness Center at Virginia Commonwealth University:

In an informal email, Kristen wrote:

I spent some time this week wrapping my head around this problem, and I’m ready to cross it off my list of problems worthy of attention. Perhaps you can too!

If you don’t mind some lighter viewing on Palcohol, this mythbusters type video tempered my concerns about powdered alcohol. (The inventor of Palcohol made a drier, longer, less entertaining but safer for work video with similar content.)

Bullet points:

  • It’s not a super concentrated alcohol powder, it’s simply alcohol added to a starch that absorbs the liquid and can be reconstituted.
  • The equivalent of a single shot of 80 proof liquor is contained in a 29 grams of powder. That’s the weight equivalent of over 8 sugar packets. The volume would be greater than sugar.
  • Imagine snorting 8 sugar packets. Anyone losing sleep over people inhaling palcohol can rest easy. Doubtless it will happen, but the sheer volume of powder needed for an effective dose is huge.
  • It takes time and effort to reconstitute this powder in water. It’s not something a person can sneak into drinks.

Bottom line:

If this weren’t getting media attention, it would be dead in the water. It’s not convenient, it doesn’t look particularly palatable, and I can think of no practical purposes (nefarious or otherwise) where the advantages of Palcohol outweigh the disadvantages.


Thanks, Kristen!