TIME

How the Heck Do You Make Powdered Alcohol?

It looks like powdered alcohol is no longer approved, but we're still wondering how it's made

The Internet was in a tizzy yesterday over what appeared to be the approval of powdered alcohol, which had the potential to be added to water or food, or snorted.

But if it sounds too ridiculous to be true, it probably is—for now. The labels for the powdered alcohol, branded “Palcohol,” were approved in error, and the product’s label approval was rescinded yesterday by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The company that makes Palcohol, Lipsmark, had this to say on its site: “We have been in touch with the TTB and there seemed to be a discrepancy on…how much powder is in the bag. There was a mutual agreement for us to surrender the labels. This doesn’t mean that Palcohol isn’t approved. It just means that these labels aren’t approved. We will re-submit.”

So while it appears powdered alcohol’s move to market has been stalled, we’re still scratching our heads: Considering how quickly liquid alcohol evaporates, do you make it powdered?

Palcohol, it turns out, is not the first attempt at a powdered alcohol. According to patent data, General Foods Corporation (now a subsidiary of Kraft) patented a couple of ways to make “alcohol-containing powder” in the early 1970s. In their process, they took a carbohydrate and broke it down through a process called hydrolysis, rendering it into a white powder. According to John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University and spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, they then combined that powder with pure liquid alcohol, which stuck to the powder, essentially capturing the alcohol in white dust. “It would feel dry to your hands,” Coupland says.

The Palcohol makers are not revealing how they make their product, which comes in cosmopolitan, mojito, margarita, and lemon drop flavors. “They say that they are trying to patent it at the moment, which suggests they have something novel, but I have no clue what that could be,” says Coupland.

So it looks like powdered alcohol is indeed possible, but won’t be for sale anytime soon. For now, you’re still going to have to consume your alcohol with dinner—instead of sprinkled on top of it.

 

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