The Palcohol (powdered alcohol) controversy is over the dangerous potential of snorting the substance.
“Palcohol,” for those who don’t know, is simply powdered alcohol. The idea is that when added to water, and shaken or stirred, Palcohol becomes liquid alcohol. The concept of powdered alcohol isn’t new by any means. There are recipes on the internet to make powdered alcohol at home, and there have been multiple creators and submissions of some form of powdered alcohol to become a legal substance in the U.S. for many years.
Recently, Mark Philips, the founder of Palcohol, has been under fire for a poor marketing choice of the product on its website that noted the potential to snort it. Critics of Palcohol worry there is potential for users to snort and become dangerously intoxicated or addicted to the substance as well as providing a new means for creeps to spike your drink. Oddly enough, the bad idea playground that the internet often can be has provided some helpful answers to both Mark Philips claims and the critique of the yet-to-be-released or FDA-approved product.
According to River Donaghey at Vice, snorting his homemade Everclear-like concoction of powdered alcohol “got [him] drunk the worst way possible” (“Powdered,” 2014). After waking up with his face covered in blood, he concluded that his powdered booze, which was markedly more potent than Palcohol, provides an uncomfortable buzz that is literally a headache. Others have tried and reported similar bad experiences after snorting powdered alcohol. So the question is, will this fact stop all people from potentially snorting Palcohol to get drunk? Of course not. There is no way for any company to control all potential misuse of their product, but at least Palcohol has attempted to by increasing the volume of the powder. Getting the equivalent of one drink requires snorting massive amounts of the substance, which would make becoming addicted to it both seemingly difficult and painful.
As far as creeps or teenagers spiking drinks with Palcohol, of course those scenarios are likely to happen as well. Still, a single Palcohol packet is the equivalent to a single serving of alcohol no matter the cocktail flavor or specific liquor and it requires shaking or stirring to dissolve in liquid, so it’s not really comparable to traditionally powerful “roofie” drugs. Teenagers are probably more make illegal use of Palcohol, since the packets would be easier to steal or sneak around with than flasks or bottles.
That all being said, the industrial formulation of Palcohol seems promising. The practical applications laid out on the Palcohol website including uses in military, medical, fuel and other situations are not-unreasonable (Home, 2014). The hope is that consumers would carefully avoid Do-It-Yourself situations using the beverage formulation, as that could surely lead to other problems (Donaghey had perhaps a little too much fun lighting his powdered Everclear on fire). The thing is, he could have done this with liquid alcohol too. Basically, Palcohol has just as much potential to be a problem as most other alcoholic beverage products, so until new celebrity endorsed liquors or grass-roots wineries or breweries are barred, Palcohol can’t really be either. Remember, addiction is so far reaching that some people suffer with compulsions to eat toilet paper.
Home. (n.d.). Palcohol. Retrieved May 2014, from http://www.palcohol.com/
Powdered Alcohol Got Me Drunk the Worst Way Possible | VICE United States. (n.d.).VICE.
Retrieved June 2, 2014, from http://www.vice.com/read/powdered-alcohol-got-me-drunk-the-worst-way-possible