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Powdered Alcohol Banned In Six States 421

HughPickens.com writes Rachel Abrams reports at the NYT that six states have passed legislation to ban Palcohol, a freeze-dried, powdered alcohol developed by Mark Phillips who he says was inspired by a love of hiking but a distaste for carrying bottles of adult beverages uphill. "When I hike, kayak, backpack or whatever, I like to have a drink when I reach my destination. And carrying liquid alcohol and mixers to make a margarita for instance was totally impractical," says Phillips, who hopes to have Palcohol on store shelves by the summer. One packet of Palcohol equals one shot with each packet weighing 1 ounce and turning into liquid when mixed with 6 ounces of water. Phillips has vigorously defended his product, called Palcohol, saying it is no more dangerous than the liquid version sold in liquor stores and plans to release five flavors: vodka, rum, cosmopolitan, powderita (which is like a margarita) and lemon drop.

Critics are concerned people may try to snort the powder or mix it with alcohol to make it even stronger or spike a drink. "It's very easy to put a couple packets into a glass and have super-concentrated alcohol," says Frank Lovecchio. Amy George, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said MADD did not typically take a stand on the dangers of specific alcohol products, but MADD is concerned about the colorful or playful packaging of such products that can sometimes appeal to children. Phillips dismisses concerns saying that they don't make sense if you think it through. "People unfortunately use alcohol irresponsibly. But I don't see any movement to ban liquid alcohol. You don't ban something because a few irresponsible people use it improperly," says Phillips. "They can snort black pepper. Do you ban black pepper?"
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Powdered Alcohol Banned In Six States

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  • The states... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:25AM (#49409307)

    The states are: Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Virginia

    Not sure why this couldn't be in the summary.

    • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:26AM (#49409313)

      "The states are: Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Virginia

      Not sure why this couldn't be in the summary."

      Why state the obvious?

      • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:39AM (#49409363)

        "The states are: Alaska, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Virginia

        Not sure why this couldn't be in the summary."

        Why state the obvious?

        Why state the states are obviously unstated?

      • Wait a minute...Louisiana? The state that has drive-through daiquiri bars [onesixtyk.com] ?

        Driving with a Big-Gulp sized Hurricane in your lap (no straw of course, *wink* *wink*), that's OK, but powdered alcohol is irresponsible?

        • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
          Also the state with LOTS of towns and counties where alcohol is illegal to sell. Damn I hate having to drive to the next city to buy alcohol....
        • by TarPitt ( 217247 )

          The Big-Gulp sized Hurricane Retailers association has a very strong political presence in Louisiana, and do not like the idea of competition for cheap over-sweetened high alcohol beverages.

          Maybe...

        • What is extra funny is that they apparently have no idea how it works [youtube.com] as you would have to snort so much of the crap you would die of your lungs being caked in crap before ever getting a buzz that way. Its a gimmick folks, and in pretty much every situation you would be better off with a hip flask.
    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @10:43AM (#49409945)
      What?!? States where "small government" is a popular idea! That can't be right! Conservatives NEVER would regulate what responsible adults can put into their own bodies! You must be thinking of California, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the Third Reich.
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      It's also banned for sale and distribution in Massachusetts since it's not regulated under existing laws (which seems to mean it's illegal)
  • "They can snort black pepper. Do you ban black pepper?"

    Oh, crap, you know they're going to try now...

  • Not Freeze Dried! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:40AM (#49409365) Journal
    You cannot "freeze dry" alcohol because alcohol is a pure liquid at room temperature and to make it solid you would need a temperature of -78C which is a little on the cold side for anyone not Canadian. Powdered alcohol is actually alcohol absorbed by something else as desribed here [wikipedia.org] and if you want to make it yourself the instructions are here [popsci.com]... just don't do this if you happen to live somewhere where you are now not allowed to do it anymore!
    • Re:Not Freeze Dried! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:43AM (#49409379) Journal
      Oops - sorry the freezing point of pure alcohol is apparently -114C...that's even cold by Canadian standards!
    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Here's a thought: anyone know a good way to extract ammonia from ethanol? Or would it degas on its own? Because if so one could use the reaction:

      NH2COOC2H5 (ethyl carbamate) + H2O (water) -> CH3CH2OH (ethanol) + NH3 (ammonia) + CO2 (carbon dioxide)

      If you can meet that spec then this seems to meet all requirements:

      1) Ethyl carbamate is a solid crystalline powder at normal conditions. It doesn't melt until 46C.
      2) While it's a "suspected carcinogen", it's already found normally in alcoholic beverages, so if

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Rei ( 128717 )

        Oh hey, the reaction is endothermic: it'll generate chilled alcohol for you! Even better :)

        Hmm, wonder if it needs a catalyst...

    • Indeed. It's also not lighter in weight or stronger than pure alcohol. Plus, as you say, it can be made at home. It's really not much different than putting rum in rum cake.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:52AM (#49409437)

    I wonder how much of this objection has nothing to do with the vasty overstated risks but instead is of a commercial nature. Alcoholic beverages are extremely expensive in a lot of places (stadiums, bars, restaurants, events) and sneaking your own in is inconvenient or impossible.

    I woner if the real opponents of this aren't people who make money charging $10 for cocktails to captive audiences. How much money do they stand to lose when people start bringing a half-dozen packets to the big game?

    How is the drinking control regime threatened when you can't restrict alcohol because of its bulk and liquid nature?

    Some idiots will no doubt overconsume it, but they are probably the same idiots that do it now.

    • I woner if the real opponents of this aren't people who make money charging $10 for cocktails to captive audiences. How much money do they stand to lose when people start bringing a half-dozen packets to the big game?

      While this may be an issue, I'm not sure it's a significant one.

      If you can afford to blow a couple hundred bucks for a seat in the stadium, I doubt an extra twenty or so for booze is going to be a show-stopper.

      Where I see an issue is minors, who can't buy the overpriced booze at the show/conc

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Do not underestimate the religious wackos that have been elected to state government over the past few election cycles. Their fear that someone might be having fun somewhere cannot ever be discounted as a cause.

      That said commercial interests are often combined intricately with religious desires to dictate how people live. In many states alcohol sales are overly regulated to insure that states and the corrupt religious organization that engage with them in defrauding the public of funds through the regula

  • One packet of Palcohol equals one shot with each packet weighing 1 ounce and turning into liquid when mixed with 6 ounces of water

    Instead of carrying seven ounces for one unit of alcohol why not just bring grain alcohol and get 14 units for the same weight?

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Better weight ratio but it's awkward to haul around. It seems to leak easier than water (made obvious by that alcohol smell it gets on stuff ;) ), and you have to haul around bulky partly-empty containers.

      I've done it before, but it'd be nice to have a powder. That said, your point is spot on - you get a lot of bang for your weight-buck with concentrated liquid alcohol, not so much with this adsorbed stuff.

      • Package 80 proof in juice box bags. Sell it at outdoor supply stores. Not your responsibility if people smuggle it into games/movies/the Opera/schools.

        I knew kids who injected Vodka into oranges to eat at lunch. Couldn't really get a buzz that way. More about getting away with something.

    • indeed. packets of pure alcohol would be lighter and easier to mix.
    • Exactly! The hiking/camping justification for the product is simply idiotic. And even if the weight ratio would be in favor of this product, what are we talking about here? Carrying in the woods massive amounts of alcohol? Unless you want to be totally drunk in the woods, I don't really see the point of this product supposed to target hikkers and campers.
  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @08:58AM (#49409469)

    Anyone that thinks this stuff makes any sense at all is merely ignorant.

    Here is the thing, alcohol is a liquid. The most compact state for alcohol to be in is a liquid. The only way to have powdered alcohol without adding a lot of filler to it that will make it take up MORE space and more weight would be to freeze it and then smash up the frozen alcohol into a powder and then keep that at freezing temperatures.

    Sound practical? Me neither.

    What they're obviously doing is adding a chemical, probably a sugar of some description, and allowing that substance to absorb the alcohol.

    while you CAN do that, why would you want to do that? It will take up MORE space and weigh MORE per unit of weight or volume.

    So what the fuck is the point? People keep talking about powdered alcohol like people are going to be able to compress 2 liter vodka bottles into little pouches where you just add water and you get a strong alcoholic drink.

    You won't though... unless you have something like 10 liters of powder to dissolve in the water.

    the amount of alcohol you'll actually be able to store in any sugar crystal going to be miniscule. And sugar molecules are often quite large... so you're talking about a lot of mass invested into containing a very small amount of alcohol. Why?

    Get yourself some 200 proof booze, put it in a flask, and if you want drink, then mix that with some amount of water because you really don't want to drink 200 proof booze straight unless you're completely crazy.

    • lighten up, Francis. The product is a compact way to carry a cocktail, it takes less space than the cocktail. There are other concentrated cocktail mixes at your local liquor store, yes?

      So settle down, or we'll have to send a jungle ranger to shoot you in the butt with a tranq dart.

    • Powders are a bit easier to package. That said, there is nothing to prevent our dashing entrepreneur from making Margaritas-in-a-bag, especially for camping or other weight / volume challenged activities. A one ounce square foil pack of Everclear .... Hmmm ..... Food / Drug / Disinfectant / Cleaner / Industrial solvent. This could be more ground breaking than those foil packs of WD-40.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Actually, might not be a bad idea. Might. Small individually factory-sealed liquid packages would reduce the leak risk that large bottles have due to not requiring a resealable cap. But rather than a leak risk, I'd worry about them being an outright rupture risk... foil is not particularly strong. If you have a foil pack of pop tarts rupture, no big deal, but if you have a foil pack of everclear rupture, it's going to leave some of your stuff wet and smelling like alcohol at best - at worst it'll ruin elec

    • Powders have a lot of advantages over liquids when transporting them. Mostly due to the containers required and their reaction to shock, friction and pressure.

  • Since the powder is 50% abweight and everclear is 96% abweight, maybe they should ban the latter first?

    The only 'advantage' -- and I say it in quotes, since it won't always be an advantage -- is that the powder is dry (ish).

    • On the subject of math, I don't buy the story of the developer. Each packet equals a shot and weighs one ounce. So he could have solve his problem just as well by carrying tequila (one shot weighs one ounce) with him on his hike.
  • ... and let the black market begin.
  • The problem is not the weight of the liquid alcohol. The problem is the "hike, backpack or whatever". Anyplace where carrying a fifth is too difficult is not worth going to.

    I mean, how good can freeze-dried Ardbeg Uigeadail taste, anyway?

  • Hmm... the vast majority of the pro-powdered-alcohol comments in the article come from the inventor himself -- who stands to make a lot of money if this is legal everywhere. And the sole, somewhat-pro, comment by an M.D. was pretty lukewarm about the stuff. IMHO, it's a solution looking for a problem. Celebrations in the woods? Pretty lame argument in favor.

    • Maybe 'cause the only ones who feel anything but "meh" about it is the inventor and overprotective soccer moms?

  • DAMM - Drunks Against Mad Mothers

    In all seriousness, I'm against irresponsible/dangerous conduct such as drunk or impaired driving. That said, the argument made by the idiot from MADD is reactionary and illogical.

    • MADD is the modern day Women's Christian Temperance Union: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W... [wikipedia.org]

      Those are the folks who brought Prohibition to the US, with disastrous consequences. They are just flexing their muscles a bit. After they successful ban powdered alcohol everywhere, they will start going after other fringe alcohol products, like Jello-shots, alco-pops or whatever those damn kids on my lawn are drinking these days.

  • "You don't ban something because a few irresponsible people use it improperly"

    Of course not... unless it's any psychoactive substance or plant that isn't alcohol.

  • I looked through the FAQs and watched the 15 min video, nothing is being said if it is possible to get 2 or more bags of this stuff and dissolve it in the same amount of water that is normally used for one packet; I believe he said it's about 5 ounces of liquid. Or maybe taking 5 ounces of vodka and dissolving the vodka powder in that. What about swallowing the stuff in powder form? How does the re-absorption of liquid affect your insides or does the various concentrations of alcohol as it goes through a

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      "but when has pre-adult portion of our society ever been smart when it comes to drugs?"

      how about the post adult? A large segment of the population is not smart their entire life. 2 out of every 5 people you meet has an IQ below 100. and 3 out of 5 have a very poor "common sense" ability.

      I have friends that will lick a light socket when drunk, and they are fortune 500 management.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @09:46AM (#49409663)

    Talk with them. It's YOUR kids. Don't put the burden of raising your kids on society!

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @09:47AM (#49409665) Homepage

    You can't protect stupid people from acting stupid.

    In fact, want to make the world a better place? pass laws that make it impossible for someone stupid, that did something stupid, from using the legal system to sue anyone for their act of stupid.

    I personally wish we allowed more of the stupid people to kill themselves, it would help the humanity gene pool immensely.

    • The problem, Lumpy, is that stupid people often kill *other* people with their acts of stupidity. Whether it's mishandling a firearm, or in the area we're discussing, choosing to get themselves drunk then drive their pickup headfirst into a family's minivan as they try to make their way home from the bar/friends house. If this happens, and a drunk driver kills someone, who is responsible? Who should mete out punishment? What should that punishment be? What is a fair punishment society should impose on an id
  • It's called Everclear.

    I'm told Senor Frogs uses it for margaritas. I am unable to tell you whether it is effective, as I have no memories of my attempted scientific tests of its potency.

  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @12:27PM (#49410397) Journal
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lover_Come_Back_%281961_film%29 [wikipedia.org]

    Alcoholic candy. (Spoiler alert?) And their version was going to be banned as well.

    It's pretty good if you like screwball comedies.
  • by fafalone ( 633739 ) on Sunday April 05, 2015 @05:57PM (#49411563)

    You don't ban something because a few irresponsible people use it improperly," says Phillips. "They can snort black pepper. Do you ban black pepper?"

    Actually we ban every single psychologically active substance *except* alcohol and tobacco for precisely that reason, those two being the lucky winners because historically the few irresponsible ones misusing other things were typically not the white male property owners responsible for determining whose favorite substance was allowed.

  • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @03:52AM (#49412937)

    So... how good is snorting black pepper anyway? I might give that a go tonight.

  • Mad at MADD (Score:4, Informative)

    by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Monday April 06, 2015 @08:29AM (#49413547)

    Back in the 80's, MADD was formed with the purpose of blackmailing all the states into banning alchohol sales to anyone under 21. This of course includes a good 3 years of actual voters, but fuck them, there are more over 21 than under, so we can just outvote them! Yes folks, a portion of the electorate can gang up on another portion and take their rights away. MADD has shown us the way. They accomplished this by getting Congress to threaten to take away their highway funds unless they complied. (BTW: Extra credit goes to Louisiana here for being about the last state to give in).

    They got to my state just at the perfect time that the "grandfathering" of the new law assured people 1 year older than me could legally drink for 3 years while I could not. I didn't even like alcohol, but this completely pissed me off. 30 years later, and I still hold a grudge. I hate MADD with the heat of 1000 suns. Anything they are against, I'm automatically for. In 30 years, that rule has held me in good stead.

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