Alcohol powder or powdered alcohol or dry alcohol is a product generally made using micro-encapsulation. When reconstituted with water, alcohol (also known formally as ethanol) in powder form becomes an alcoholic drink. In March 2015 four product labels for specific powdered alcohol products were approved by the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) which opened the doors for legal product sales. However, as of January 4, 2016, the product is not yet available for sale and legalization remains controversial due to public-health and other concerns. Researchers have expressed concern that, should the product go into production, increases in alcohol misuse, abuse, and associated physical harm to its consumers could occur above what has been historically associated with liquid alcohol alone.
InventionIn Sato Foods Industries Co., Ltd. invented alcohol powderization. Sato is a food additives and seasoning manufacturer in Aichi Pref., Japan. () A year later, in 1967, Sato began production and sales of various kinds of "high content alcohol powder Alcock" ("高含度アルコール粉末「アルコック」"). On 15 January 1974, a practical manufacturing process for alcohol powder was patented by Sato. Sato has patented the process in 17 countries around the world. In the 1970s Sato began promoting powdered alcohol in the United States. Test sales began in 1977 under the trade name "SureShot". The product "Palcohol" was announced for future release in the U.S. in 2015.
Customer baseOfficially, Sato says that its products are for business use only, for example for the use of food-processing industries or food-and-drink businesses (e.g. restaurant, café, sweets shop, bakery shop, etc.). Mainly, its products are to be used as food additives. Other than purposes for test sale, research, etc., it has never been sold for eating or drinking, including personal use or home use. In June 1982, Sato started production and sales for the drinking powdered alcohol, as test case. Its name is "powdered cocktail Alcock-Light cocktail" ("粉末カクテル 'アルコック・ライトカクテル' "). At least, during some years, it seems that had continued to test sales.
Public health concernsPowdered alcohol would generally share the health risks that are associated with traditional liquid alcohol consumption, although there may be some differences in its effects related to differences in consumption potency, differences in characteristics for storage, concealability, and portability, lack of familiarity, and potentially novel delivery methods. Excessive consumption of alcohol can result in acute overdose, intoxication-related accidental injury, compromised judgment, and longer-term negative health consequences including liver disease, cancer, and physiologic dependence. The younger the age at which a person begins to consume liquid alcohol, the higher the likelihood that that person will become dependent and suffer negative health effects, and this may also be true of powdered alcohol.
Consideration for retailersAs with the public health concerns, the following concerns have been posed but data are not yet available to prove or disprove them. Because of the unique characteristics of powdered alcohol, introduction in the U.S. could raise significant concerns from alcohol retailers as it will raise the awareness of their customers health and well as a major priority. including csuch as restaurants, bars, and sporting venues, including:
- Availability of powdered alcohol could negatively affect retailers' economic interests as customers might now have the ability purchase less relatively expensive and safer alcohol from those businesses by augmenting their purchased liquid alcohol drinks with cheaper powdered alcohol mixtures purchased elsewhere.
- Use of powdered alcohol by customers could increase responsibility of these businesses' by increasing the accuracy and abilities to monitor their customers' alcohol consumption - which they are legally required to do to try to prevent the consumption of alcohol by intoxicated or under-age customers. This could hold them at a greater responsibility out of concern of civil-liability lawsuits (because retailers are held liable for alcohol-attributable harms caused by customers who should not have been served alcohol).
Production processPowdered alcohol is made by a process called micro-encapsulation. An auxiliary material for a capsule may be any readily water-soluble substance (e.g. carbohydrate such as dextrins ( starch hydrolyzate), protein such as gelatin). For powdered alcohol, maltodextrin (a type of dextrin) was chosen. For the process to encapsulate, a method called spray drying was selected. This process, in short explanation, is like this below.
- Mixture of dextrin and liquor are dried into powder by spray drying in short time.
- * After spraying, the mixture becomes many micro-sized drops.
- * By the heat, hydrous dextrin outside of each ball forms film.
- * Once the film gets dry, the ball becomes a microcapsule containing liquor and dextrin.
Non-commercial productionIn 2014, an article on the website PopSci.com published instructions on how to make powderized alcohol easily, through a simple mixture of alcohol and dextrin. In this method, the powder is not encapsulated, and also not yet fully dried. Consequently, alcohol continues to evaporate from it, very rapidly. Due to flaws in the powdered alcohol produced by this method, this form of powdered alcohol was said to be unsuitable for drinking, carrying, or preserving. Any production of powdered alcohol without a license is illegal in Japan, even if it is only for personal use, according to the Liquor Tax Act of Japan.
Sale in JapanCurrently, the alcoholic beverage industry in Japan is large and powerful. For example, in fiscal year 2013, Suntory, one of the country's largest beverage companies, recorded sales of 570.7 billion yen (about US$4.7 billion) in alcoholic beverages, excluding wine Currently, the sales revenue from powdered alcohol has been too small to affect the sales of liquid-alcohol companies. Additionally, powdered alcohol's market share is currently too small to be considered as a statistical item in Japanese tax reports. Powdered alcohol is found in some mass production foods, used in small amounts (as are other additives).
Promotion in the United StatesIn 1977, the Associated Press delivered the first news story in the United States about powdered alcohol, which was then an unprecedented product. Investors were quoted as saying that they "hope d to revolutionize the liquor business with a product that's easy to carry, cheap and potent". A test sale of powdered alcohol, called "SureShot", was done in the United States.
Chemical propertiesAccording 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. Alcohol powder: Alcopops from a bag, Westdeutsche Zeitung, 28 October 2004 (German) A US patent was registered for the process as early as 1974. Preparation of an Alcohol Containing Powder, General Foods Corporation 31 March 1972
Routes of administration
- Reconstituted: Alcohol powder can be added to water to make an alcoholic beverage.
- Nebulizer: Alcohol powder produced through molecular encapsulation with cyclodextrin can be used with a nebulizer though this could be dangerous.