Snorting Powdered Alcohol Is a Really Bad Idea


It’s been a whirlwind of a month for Palcohol, the powdered booze product that the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved for retail in April, only to announce that the approval was made in error a couple days later.

The product had a lot of vocal critics. Senator Charles Schumer (NY) has asked the FDA to prevent Palcohol from ever going to market out of worry that it would become “the Kool-Aid of teenage binge drinking.” The Senator also suggested that adventurous youths (or, as we’ll soon find out, Vice journalists) would dangerously use Palcohol “sprinkled on food and even snorted.” (Other critics didn’t like the idea of Palcohol not because of its dangers, but because it sounds dorky as fuck.)

To Sen. Schumer’s credit, the idea that people would try to snort powdered alcohol isn’t all that outrageous. In fact, the first question to come up when I was talking about it with friends this past weekend was, “Can you snort it?”

Answer: You can. Technically. But it’s incredibly ill-advised.

If you’re curious about what exactly happens when you snort or eat powdered hooch, first of all, dude, get your life together. But more to the point (and with a lot less judgement), River Donaghey at Vice did the leg work for you.

Of course, by the time he began his investigative reporting, Palcohol (thanks to Schumer and Co.) was no longer on the market so he had to make his own. And because he works for Vice, he had to make it a little more Xtreme.:

The recipe called for 30 grams of alcohol, which is hardly anything. I kept pouring and stirring, and pretty soon I had half the fifth of everclear in the powder. It absorbed it all, leaving only a moist, flour-like powder. I knew I had the right mixture when my eyes started watering from the fumes.
Palcohol likely has a more complicated process (and it’s probably much weaker), but I now had some powdered alcohol on my hands, which was great, since I love getting drunk but also enjoy awful hangovers and bloody noses. I’ll get to that later.

Yes, more on that in a bit.

Donaghey discovered that getting drunk by eating powdered alcohol takes awhile and then takes hold very suddenly. It also makes you feel like shit almost immediately:

I went from mostly sober to buzzed to the kind of drunk where you already have a headache and can feel the hangover coming like a distant high-pitched whine.

After learning that powdered alcohol is VERY flammable by starting some on fire in a public park, he gets to the part that we’ve all been wondering about.

…When Schumer said he worried about people snorting powdered alcohol, Palcohol dismissed that fear as being ridiculous—someone would have to snort an ungodly amount of the company’s stuff just to get buzzed. But this was powdered everclear, not their weak, wimpy powder. I had to give it a try.
We stumbled back to the VICE offices. I started racking lines.
Somehow, the powder turned straight into glue when it hit my sinuses. I was immediately plugged up. The fumes burned inside my nose, but only for the first minute or so. After that came an uneasy numbness. Maybe all the nerve endings were dead. There was no one left to sound an alarm.

Donaghey wasn’t concerned enough to go to the hospital, so instead he stumbled home to sleep it off. His rest, however, didn’t last too long.

I woke up at 4 AM, with my face caked with blood from my nose. At least I could breathe again. The headache had dulled to a manageable form.

Let’s stick to booze in liquid form, shall we?

Image via Shutterstock.

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