Home Chemistry Turn down for what? Powdered alcohol gets fed approval

Turn down for what? Powdered alcohol gets fed approval

Palcohol, a powdered additive intended to be mixed into liquids to render them alcoholic, has once again received the go-ahead from Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Briefly approved last year, the Bureau repealed their approval on the grounds that it had been given too hastily.

It appears that Palcohol is here to stay, at least for now.

“Potential for abuse isn’t grounds for us to deny a label,” said bureau spokesman Tom Hogue. Four varieties of the powder have been approved, and can be regulated within state boundaries the same way an alcoholic beverage would be.

Don’t count on Palcohol being immediately available any time soon, however. Several states have banned its sale for now, including Colorado. However, on the heels of federal approval, Colorado will move to propose legislation that ensures Palcohol is regulated as liquid spirits.

The concerns surrounding Palcohol are myriad. Sold in small packets, its easily smuggled into sporting events and other public areas where the sale of alcohol is meant to be restricted. Proper dosing is a risk, and its discrete size makes it easy to use for surreptitiously spike someone else’s drink.

On Palcohol’s website, creator Mark Phillips presents a different explanation for state bans: Lobbyists.

“Many states are moving to ban powdered alcohol. Why? Because the liquor industry is against it and they want to squash competition and protect their market share. The liquor companies have lots of money to lobby for what they want and we are no match for their deep pockets,” he wrote.

Phillips cites several other responses to criticisms. For starters, he says snorting Palcohol for its intoxicating effects is painful and impractical compared to drinking alcohol. Spiking drinks is actually more difficult with palcohol, as it integrates much slower than an equivalent amount of liquid alcohol would. As far as underage use and smuggling into public events, he writes, people do that anyway, and there are currently no federal or state-wide bans on liquid alcohol.

Presently, four varieties of Palcohol have been approved: Cosmopolitan, margarita, vodka and rum. Phillips expects another, “lemon drop,” to be approved shortly.

Phillips initially developed Palcohol for use on hiking and camping trips, when he may have wanted access to adult beverages but didn’t want to carry heavy, bulky bottles of alcohol. Now, the product’s website cites several non-ingestive benefits of Palcohol, including medical, manufacturing and energy applications.

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau often works with the FDA to determine whether a product is “adulterated,” which Palcohol was found not to be.