What’s Up with Powdered Alcohol?
Recently a customer asked us the question, “Will an Alco-Sensor detect alcohol on a person who has consumed powdered alcohol?” Here’s the scoop…
- There really is a product known as “powdered alcohol.” The name is a bit of a misnomer; alcohol cannot exist as a powder, any more than water can exist as a powder. Powdered alcohol is perhaps more accurately described as “encapsulated alcohol.” It is created by using a class of compounds called cyclodextrins, a sugar derivative with a powdery texture, to absorb and encapsulate molecules of alcohol.
- The process of creating powdered alcohol is not new; it has been used for many years in the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries to encapsulate and absorb a variety of substances. Cyclodextrins have the capability of holding volatile substances (such as alcohol), and releasing the volatile substance when dissolved in water.
- Currently no powdered beverage alcohol product has approval for sale in the US. Palcohol, a company created to sell powdered alcohol as a beverage mix and for industrial use, started the approval process for its line of flavored powdered alcoholic drinks. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted “label approval” in April of this year, then immediately rescinded their approval, saying their approval was made “in error.” Because of the hysteria created by some people imagining a variety of ways people might abuse powdered alcohol, approval for Palcohol beverage products does not seem imminent.
- And finally, to answer the theoretical question posed at the beginning of this article: Yes, an Alco-Sensor will detect breath alcohol on a person who has consumed a beverage made with powdered alcohol.