Introduction: Powdered Alcohol

Picture of Powdered Alcohol

Contrary to what suspicious lawmakers may think, powdered alcohol is not the herald to the apocalypse. In April of 2014, a form of American-made powdered alcohol was approved for sale... with its approval quickly rescinded due to what I'd imagine to be bureaucratic red tape by the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Their belief was that its creators are degenerates who were plotting the downfall of American society, starting by getting everyone drunk: people could surreptitiously consume it or trick others into consuming it, mimic (and thus promote) drug use by snorting it, engage teenagers in underaged drinking with their kid-friendly flavors and packaging... the uninformed, paranoid list goes on and on.

Since you can't buy it yet, why not just make it yourself? After the initial hubbub over powdered alcohol arose, Popular Science was kind enough to provide a recipe, but their actual instructions were somewhat lacking.

My powdered alcohol isn't technically powdered alcohol; it's alcohol that has been trapped in powder. Yes, semantics. But it's light, dry, and if enough is consumed, you'll be six ways to Sunday drunk* in no time!**

*Please drink... uh, eat responsibly.

**This is false, as you'll need to eat a lot. A lot.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

Alcohol - use a high proof liquor. If you can get something akin to Everclear, use that - you'll need less powder to create an effective product. I used Bacardi 151, since we can't legally obtain 190 proof Everclear in California. The thing with the proof is that you can't think of it like a shot - you aren't taking a traditional shot. No one, aside from 21 year old frat boys (I was one, so I should know) likes taking shots of that stuff. It's nasty. But the more alcohol you start off with, the less you'll have to eat to get drunk.
Maltodextrin - this is the powder you'll be using to absorb the alcohol. I used N-Zorbit, a tapioca maltodextrin. Other accounts of this recipe insist that other types won't work, but I was unable to test others out.

Mixing bowl
Food processor (small, if available)

Step 2: Measure!

Picture of Measure!

Measure out the alcohol and maltodextrin; one shot of booze weighs approximately 30 grams, for which you'll need roughly 100 grams of maltodextrin. It's fairly light so it'll be a pretty sizable mound of powder.

Step 3: Mix and Mash!

Picture of Mix and Mash!

Dump the maltodextrin into a bowl and while whisking, slowly pour the booze into the bowl. It'll clump up substantially, but just keep whisking. You'll need to mash up the clumps to create more surface area to have more of the loose maltodextrin absorb the moisture. Add more maltodextrin as needed; the mixture needs to be dry to touch before proceeding. Ideally, you'll end up with small dry "chips" of the mixture.

(I tried mixing the booze and maltodextrin directly in the food processor, but ended up with a large, sticky, taffy-like mass that wouldn't easily grind into a powder)

Step 4: Blend!

Picture of Blend!

Pour the "chips" into the food processor. After a few cycles of alternating grinding/chopping, I added more maltodextrin; a heaping spoonful should do the trick.

You'll end up with varying-sized clumps of the powdered booze. The larger ones presumably held more of the actual alcohol; I sifted the powder from the clumps and just kept grinding the larger clumps (with a tad more maltodextrin) until they were small enough to mix in easily with the powder.

When opening up the food processor, whether to add more maltodextrin or when finished grinding, take care; my first time, I got a healthy whiff of 151 that almost made me gag.

On to the taste test...

Step 5: Put It in Your Mouth

Picture of Put It in Your Mouth

The end product as pictured is one shot's worth of Bacardi 151. That's a *lot* of powder (and from what I understand, the commercial product will be somewhat close in volume); those bureaucrats who think that people will snort it or sprinkle it into an unsuspecting foodie's soup failed to realize that the volume of the product prohibits those kinds of shenanigans.

Eager to test my creation's intoxicating properties, I put a spoonful in my mouth.

It quickly became a pasty, rum-flavored mass in my mouth. After chewing - yes, chewing, as it didn't quite dissolve in my mouth - it for a bit, it felt like caramel... only less tasty. It was brown, sticky, and relative to taking an actual shot of 151, much less pleasant (so that's saying something). Attempts at dissolving the powder in water did not make it any easier to consume, as it quickly solidified into the same lump of brown goo once it hit the water.

I'm going to give this another go. First on the list of additives is sugar - if I need to chew it to get drunk, I might as well be chewing something a little more palatable.

The end product of this Instructable is an extremely inefficient way to get drunk. After all, taking a shot or two of your favorite alcohol is far easier; I much prefer sipping a good whiskey with a splash of water. But if you're keen on getting drunk and can't be bothered (or are restricted from using) with traditional booze, I don't see why this wouldn't be a viable option!


fifer_in_the_rye (author)2014-06-25

Um... Pedantic Point...

(Warning, Looooonnggg reply)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it most likely would not have been the alcohol that caused the pancreas failure, but rather the massive amount of sugar in the fellow's system, and the body's refusal to process it until the "poisonous substance" (the body sees alcohol as such and tries to process it first) was processed out of the system. Diabetes is one condition that can cause such a thing, but it's not the only possibility.

"But, there's not enough sugar in a slice of rum cake to do that!" Of course there isn't. The thing is, the human body does not differentiate between the sugar one eats an hour before a slice of rum cake (or anything else), or the steak and potatoes (or whatever) consumed just before it, or whatever else was consumed before, at the same time, or after. It usually takes about a minimum of six hours to process the contents of a full stomach; that means that everything the guy ate before of after the cake, and maybe breakfast the next morning, depending on when he ate the cake, has to be processed as well, including the alcohol in the cake, which the body processes before the sugar, leaving the sugar to pile up. Plus, Every dang thing anybody eats turns to sugar in the system; that's what the body runs on. It thus most likely wasn't the alcohol, but the massive degree of blood sugar that had piled up while his body processed the alcohol that caused the problem.

That's one of the reasons why doctors tend to take a dim view of diabetics drinking habitually.

Just saying.

Um, if that is a pedantic point, it should be pointed out that it is not correct. First, the body does not treat alcohol as a poison. Second, processing of ingested items by the liver is NOT a linear process. It does not put one process on hold while dealing with another,. IT just does not work that way.

DennisH45 (author)ManifoldSky2016-10-15

Metabolism and body process can and does, at time, put one drug process on hold to handle another. In the pharmaceutical or toxicological world this is called a competitive inhibitor. A classic example is treatment of ethylene glycol poisoning, which I'm not going to go further with here.

You're entitled to your opinion. Unfortunately, that opinion flies in the face of more than 150 years of diabetic treatment and research, not to mention even more than that in the field of alcohol-related diseases and maladies. Sorry, but you're wrong. Just how wrong, I'll leave it to the vast accumulation of collective medical knowledge to show you. Er, provided, that is, that you go and actually look it up before you retort. If npot, well, ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

By the way, I never said anything about the liver. What you said about it is essentially correct, but it isn't up to the liver to decide anything. The brain makes the decisions. In this case, the decision is hardwired in, and is involuntary. As I said, go look it up for yourself.

Um, nonsense. First, there is no "diabetic research" supporting the claim that the body treats alcohol as a poison (whatever that means). It metabolizes it just like it metabolizes any other nutrient. If you are trying to discuss excess systemic alcohol, that is an ENTIRELY different matter, and totally irrelevant to the current claims.
Furthermore, again, the body does NOT operate on metabolites in a linear, FIFO manner, and processing of alcohol takes place in parallel with other metabolic processes.
As to the liver, it most certainly IS "up to the liver to decide". The brain has NOTHING to do with it. Processing of metabolites is NOT under direct neural control. And this is not affected by diabetes. What is affected in diabetes is that exogenous insulin or insulin promotion from the pancreas due to medication can then lead to hypoglycemia, since the liver only has a limited passing capacity, and LARGE amounts of alcohol can swamp that capacity. Note that this is NOT the same things as your original statement.
Furthermore, as pointed out numerous times, the quantity of alcohol in both this powdered form, as well as in a fruit cake, is so low as to have all but no effect on systemic glucose.
As to it being treated as a "poison", just because it is treated at high priority in the liver does not imply that it is treated as a poison. In fact, there is a substantial and growing body of evidence that not only is naturally occurring alcohol (from over-ripe fruit, etc.) a standard part of the evolutionary diet, in fact, in these types of naturally occurring quantities, it has a number of benefits to the point that many species actively seek it out. Name one other "poison" animals have evolved to actively seek out.

fifer_in_the_rye (author)2014-08-21

My God, are you still trolling about this? The rest of us have lives; I would have thought that you do as well.

Yes, I'm sure you could be right (you aren't, but you could be). Do have fun ranting, now.

The above and this post was/are meant to be a reply to manifoldsky. By the way, sir or madam (I haven't checked which), these are my last words to you on this topic:

What I know was told to me not only by my doctor, but also by those who gave second, third, and fourth opinions, not to mention the several texts and numerous medical journals I've perused on the subject in order to stay abreast of new developments.

Alcohol is a toxin, whether you choose to believe it or not; it is recognized as such by every reputable medical establishment on this planet. Ingest enough of it at a time, and it will most assuredly kill you (about a fifth and a half of bourbon will do the job for most people). Wild animals do not seek it, they seek fallen fruit for simple subsistence reasons and get drunk from spoiled and fermented fruit found on the ground. Humans seemingly have always loved to get drunk, so they did and do seek it. That doesn't mean it isn't a poison or that the body doesn't consider it to be thus. You would know those facts if you had looked it up. You have obviously failed (or refused?) to do so.

Sugar is processed in exactly the way I described. Your outline of liver function is essentially correct, but you miss several key points, and make a particularly egregious error: the liver, sir or madam, does not make decisions; it cannot think or solve problems. The ruling organ is in fact the brain, a section of which rules involuntary functions. Yes, the liver secretes a chemical which acts as a trigger for the pancreas, but to saythat that is ho2w it all works is a vast oversimplification, and is mosyt assuredly not an example of decision-making in the liver. An augmenting signal is required from the brain in order for the trigger to be acted upon in the way indicated, which you would know if you had bothered to look it up, which you obviously have not. These are concepts that are taught at the sixth-grade level (roughly ages 10 through 11 though actual ages vary) in the United States, by the way.

Please take this as an attempt to teach a very bright mind, rather than an ad hominem attack. I will speak or post no more in this thread on this wildly tangential subtopic.

NickS21 (author)fifer_in_the_rye2015-08-18

Why are you still trolling.

TeleDex (author)2014-06-17

All I can say is -- WHY?

GinaP1 (author)TeleDex2015-04-07

After coming back from a long trip, with multiple flights through awful storms, and having to pay $16 per drink at every airport, I'd buy it just to keep from getting bankrupted while being held captive at airports, sporting events,and hotels. And what about those times in which you're trapped at hideous obligatory functions with nary a drink in sight (fundamentalist wedding receptions w/ sparking apple juice, WTF)? It's just nice to have a little more control over one's environment, that's all.

NickS21 (author)GinaP12015-08-18

Why would you even pay 16 for a drink, just don't drink. I don't understand your problem, I can keep from drinking at airports and I am a Master Drinker.

ManifoldSky (author)TeleDex2014-08-19

Apparently you can also say "all", "I", "can", "say", and "is".
Just saying.

thirtytwoutside (author)TeleDex2014-06-23

Why not?

GinaP1 made it! (author)2015-04-12

This totally did not work. I used an entire bag ($25 on Amazon) of powder to try and dry just 4 shots of 151 and it still wasn't enough to get anything more than a huge sticky wad of alcohol and glue. Would never do this now that I can take porta-shots (bag of 25 is about $15) in my wallet pretty easily anywhere. That pic shows how almost all of the 151 is still in the bottle. What little I used was transformed into a huge blob of sticky yuck. Oh well. To good to be true and all that jazz.

thirtytwoutside (author)GinaP12015-04-15

Oh yeah - 4 shots would be way too much. I only used one shot in my attempt.

gcopenhaver1 (author)2015-03-25

This was informative and funny ...thanx for the info and a good laugh ... the look on your face is priceless ... lol

It looks like the alcohol would evap after awhile

Cat on my Lap (author)2014-06-17

The actual chemicals used for encapsulating the alcohol molecules are cyclodextrins. These are similar to maltodextrins used in this instructable in name and monomeric structure only. The cyclic polymers made from dextran subunits form a cone-like structure that traps ethanol (and many, many other chemicals, such as sterols) in an energetically favorable manner, allowing them to be isolated from water and exist in a "dry", but stable form. If you really want to replicate the powdered alcohol, you'd need to look at the actual papers involved, e.g.

Um, so?

shadesofsisyphus (author)2014-07-10

Man, why does everyone always have to hate 151? I know that people like to be ridiculous and order flaming shots with it, order it to get their buddies WAY too drunk, etc. But I LIKE the taste of 151. I would drink it straight from the bottle back when I was drinking too much in general (I was that guy who brought a bottle of vodka with me to settle my stomach during beer pong games...) but mix about 2 shots into a 20oz bottle of vanilla coke and WOW. If you think long island iced tea sneaks up and hits you, this is like having a navy seal sniper team after you. Drink it slow, earn your nursing degree, and enjoy the cheap night of fun.

GrfxGawd (author)2014-07-07

"wrong-minded" is thinking you have some special dispensation that you have a right to dictate what is and is not acceptable for others. There are already an excessive and absurd number of laws and things declared prohibited by the government and their various agencies that severely infringe upon most every Liberty granted to us as Americans. As an American, I support your right to speak your mind, but don't assume that means I support your agenda.

KieranKirk (author)2014-07-02

I like this. You tried something new and documented the process and results. I was given to understand this was the whole point of instructables, so well done on that, too.
Now you should write an instructable on how to ignore high-and-mighty, soapbox commenters.

Mayam78 (author)2014-06-22

Wow. The comments on this one are... I.... uhh... it um....

Well anyways, we live in a country where some poor souls inhale butane, the fumes off of paint and gas, ingest multiple bottles of cough syrup, and so on in the name of altering their perception of a reality that apparently they find that agonizing or unfulfilling or <insert adjective denoting negative emotional state here>. Heck, I live in a state where one can purchase 190 proof grain alcohol! The hilliest of billies spend sleepless nights musing about such a feat! What reason for such a product could there be aside from getting hazardously, life endangering, blackout, "the light is causing me physical pain and where are my pants!", HAMMERED!

In short, flinging wide the gates of Sodom and Gomorrah, 'powdered alcohol', or more specifically this instructable, does not. Well, in my humble opinion at least.

GyroGearLoose47 (author)2014-06-16

One hundred K views in a week, amazing.

pculbert (author)2014-06-15

Definitely don't try this at home folks. The mixture of maltodextrose and ethanol (organic solvent) and atmospheric oxygen can detonate under the right circumstances (food processor). One spark and it's game over. The author has just been lucky thus far. Do not do this.

Kiteman (author)pculbert2014-06-15

Having spent many years using a wide variety of highly flammable and explosive mixtures, I have never been able to produce anything more than a flame from ethanol diluted down with 40% water.

The absorbant powder further reduces the vapour pressure, cutting the chance of ignition.

As for the maltodextrin, the dampening effect of the alcohol solution drastically reduces the surface area of the solid, further cutting the chance of combustion.

On top of all that, the heat produced by friction within the blender is not enough to ignite either the alcohol or the maltodextrin - if you left it long enough to build up to those temperatures, the mixture would melt and clump first. The blender's motor would burn out before the mixture caught fire.

pculbert (author)Kiteman2014-06-15

Fair enough, but just because you haven't blown up the double-wide doesn't mean school is a waste of money.

Kiteman (author)pculbert2014-06-16

I just explained to you why there won't be a dust explosion...

(I know school isn't a waste of money, I'm one of the folk they spend it on.)

pculbert (author)Kiteman2014-06-16

We have opposing views. That's fine.

The purpose of my original post was to express the learned opinion that this Instructable is unsafe. I hope that at least a few readers will stop, think, and ultimately decide not to do this "experiment".

Kiteman (author)pculbert2014-06-16

This isn't an issue of "views", it's an issue of facts.

The facts are that this project will not explode, and will not get you drunk.

The main hazard from this project is developing diabetes if one uses it repeatedly to attempt to inebriate oneself.

noahspurrier (author)Kiteman2014-06-16

So what you are saying is that this projects fails to deliver either of the two products that motivate any good project?

"There is no failure in science, only disappointment."

Kiteman (author)noahspurrier2014-06-16

Pretty much.

Lazy Glen (author)pculbert2014-06-16

Yes - you have opposing views.

Yes - there is danger involved "under the right circumstances" with dust and atmospheric oxygen. And alcohol. And food processors. And ignition sources.

The difference is, others are explaining why a dust explosion is not an issue, while you are jumping up and down on your keyboard stating "This could happen!"

The problem this results in, is that ignorant (as in 'not knowing information', not the popular definition of 'stupid') people get worried about "Thing-A" happening rather than worrying about the eleventeen other infinitely more probable things happening. Alcohol is flammable. Food processors have sharp blades. GRAVITY MAKES STUFF FALL!

Simply having an opposing view does not make it a valid viewpoint.

noahspurrier (author)pculbert2014-06-16

This is actually interesting.

I doubt that a blender provides a large enough of an enclosed space to allow the conditions necessary for a dust explosion of even perfectly dry powdered maltodextrin under ideal atmospheric conditions. And the maltodextrin in this article is far from dry -- it's quite wet with water (Bacardi 151 is ~25% water). The flashpoint of damp maltodextrin is pointless to even consider. But why even consider the obscure topic of dust explosions with all this alcohol around to burn? If you had any source of ignition the alcohol will burn before the maltodextrin. So I believe that the conditions necessary for a dust explosion are not only absent, they are not possible here, which is a moot point anyway due to the presence of a far more easily combustible fuel, alcohol, which maltodextrin does not enhance the combustion of. The notion of a dust explosion in this argument is a red herring, so lets ignore the science of dust explosions as a distraction and consider just the alcohol explosion danger.

You can rephrase the problem as a design for a potato gun (deliberately make this fuel combust). How good of a design for a potato gun is this system? The blending action helps vaporize the ethanol in the Bacardi 151, but also kicks up the soggy maltodextrin and vaporizes some of the water in the Bacardi 151. Both displace the air from the blender. If you have ever tuned a carbureted engine in a humid climate then you know you have to account for water vapor in the air when tuning the fuel/air mix (ambient pressure, temperature, AND humidity affect combustion). The vaporized ethanol itself will even help prevent its own combustion by displacing air from inside the blender... Conditions are poor for ignition in this design. Is this even any more dangerous than simply blending drinks in your blender? Go back to the potato gun design problem and correct all the flaws preventing combustion in this system. First, throw away the blender and get rid of the maltodextrin and just try to build a potato gun that can be fired using Bacardi 151 as fuel. I won't say it can't be done, but I doubt it's easy. If you can't easily construct a purpose built blender sized device to deliberately combust Bacardi 151 then what are the odds of accidentally assembling one in your blender using an even worse fuel?

It's fun to speculate. The real danger in this experiment is that someone carelessly lets the lid of the blender fly off. This is followed by a spray of alcohol soaked maltodextrin covering the vicinity, which easily finds a source of open flame in a kitchen. A fireball then engulfs the area... I wonder how often this happens in bars or homes when someone is attempting to blend a drink made with a high test alcohol. A few shots of 151 blended even with lots of ice is likely to be still quite flammable. Why would anyone blend just alcohol and ice in a blender without a lid? Drunken mistake? I bet that happens. Are there statistics kept where one can look this up?

Kiteman (author)noahspurrier2014-06-16

Somewhere, if you dig hard enough - for instance, roughly 4 Brits are killed every year by pens and pencils, and about 450 Americans die falling out of bed.

thirtytwoutside (author)Kiteman2014-06-16

You British folk need to stop using pens and pencils!

And I should probably just sleep on the floor.

Kiteman (author)thirtytwoutside2014-06-16

What? On the carpet?

GrumpyOldGoat (author)Kiteman2014-06-15

What this site needs is "Up Arrows" and "Down Arrows".

Some people just need to know what the rest of the community thinks without forcing them to comment on the "best left alone" foolish comments.

Personally, at 67, I'll just skip the whole powder thing and go straight to the hard stuff....

Why is it that something as simple as cracking the seal on a new bottle of booze is so hard now?

Kiteman (author)GrumpyOldGoat2014-06-16

This isn't Facebook or YouTube, we hope that folk put a little thought into expressing themselves. Occasionally we're let down, but not so often as the comments on this project might make you think.

If you want to be brief, though, you can just type "+1" to agree, or "-1" to disagree, it's kind of a tradition here.

wilgubeast (author)2014-06-16

The author was kind enough to let me taste test this. Unsurprisingly, it tastes pretty awful. It's all of the terrible parts of a shot of 151, without any of the
benefits: Bacardi 151 flavor, the same alcohol content as a
non-alcoholic beer, and requires chewing.

It is gluten-free, though.

Imagine the gooeyness of a Sour Patch Kid or other chewy candy, minus any sweet deliciousness, with a pervasive and weak 151 flavor. It reconstitutes into almost a gum when exposed to saliva (or any other moisture), and it takes a few extra seconds in your mouth to chew and swallow.

A serving size, based on flavor tolerance and chewing enthusiasm, is probably around 2 grams. That works out to maybe 1/50th of a normal shot of booze. Any child willing to waste difficult-to-obtain alcohol and maltodextrin on a science project is probably going to turn out fine. It's the impatient ones you have to worry about.

WarriorStudio (author)2014-06-12

According to chemistry, alcohol is a solution...

According to some people, alcohol is a problem.

Can it be the solution to the problem at the same time?

Reminds me of something Homer Simpson once said!

jhope2 (author)GrumpyOldGoat2014-06-15

I like your logic.

Haha, this made it worth reading all the comments!

shadec (author)WarriorStudio2014-06-15

Not pure alcohol. In the case of this rum, then it is a solution of ethanol (and other stuff) in water, yes.

Snidely70448 (author)shadec2014-06-15

The rum is not a simple solution of ethanol and water. i just learned much more than I need to about the subject and I recommend the wikipedia articles about ethyl alcohol, distillation and water-alcohol mixtures.

shadec (author)Snidely704482014-06-15

There is plenty of other stuff in there, like I said, but you could, if you ignored the flavour and colour compound components, say it's essentially a simple solution of ethanol in water.

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