Vanilla Extract and Alcohol Content
Vanilla extract may contain up to 35% ABV, which is the equivalent of a shot of hard liquor like vodka or bourbon. This means vanilla extract can get you drunk, but it also puts a person at risk of alcohol poisoning.
When vanilla beans are macerated in alcohol and water, the resulting substance is known as vanilla extract. You can buy vanilla extract by the bottle in any baking aisle and it’s commonly used in cakes and confections in small quantities.
However, teenagers looking to experiment and people recovering from alcohol addiction may think about drinking a bottle of vanilla extract to try and get drunk. While it might seem like a harmless thought at first, there are risks you should be aware of due to the product’s surprisingly high alcohol content.
If you or someone you love is taking serious risks with alcohol, Zinnia Health can help. We offer treatment for alcohol abuse to help individuals overcome addiction and get on the path to living a long, fulfilling life. Call our alcohol addiction hotline at (855) 430-9439 and get answers to your questions.
How Much Alcohol is in Vanilla Extract?
Vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in alcohol for days at a time. This means that the finished product has quite a bit of alcohol left in it, even ones the vanilla beans have been removed from the alcohol and macerated into liquid.
With that in mind, the alcohol content depends on whether you purchase “real” or “pure” vanilla or an imitation vanilla product.
- Pure vanilla extract can contain up to 35% alcohol
- Artificial vanilla can contain as little as 2% alcohol
The amount of alcohol in pure vanilla extract varies by brand. Some contain as much as 35% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is equivalent to 70-proof vodka. However, a teaspoon of that vanilla extract has very little alcohol, somewhere closer to 1%.
The amount of vanilla extract used in most recipes is not enough to result in any sort of intoxicating effects. Plus, the recipes that vanilla extract is often used for typically require baking, and the heat will remove any trace of alcohol.
Can Drinking Vanilla Extract Get You Drunk?
The short answer is yes, enough pure vanilla extract can get you drunk, but imitation vanilla is unlikely to ever get you drunk, no matter how much you drink. If you tried, you’d surely get sick from the sheer amount of product you’re consuming before you ever felt tipsy.
On the other hand, pure vanilla extract is quite strong when consumed in large amounts. Most pure vanilla extracts are sold in small one ounce bottles and, based on a 35% ABV, taking four one-ounce bottles of vanilla extract is the equivalent of four shots of vodka.
However, there’s a reason why people don’t typically indulge in vanilla extract. Drinking it in large amounts won’t taste very pleasant and it can also lead to a range of uncomfortable and potentially dangerous side effects, like:
- Stomach upset
- Trouble sleeping
- Allergic reactions
If you or someone you know consumes more than a tablespoon or two of vanilla extract, you should call the national poison control hotline at (800) 222-1222 or dial your local center for advice.
How Much Vanilla Extract is Dangerous?
The dangers of drinking vanilla extract depend on how much you actually consume, but one risk is that you may end up consuming more alcohol than you realize.
Pure bourbon vanilla extract typically has a 35% ABV. Take two shots of this vanilla and it’s the equivalent of two shots of hard liquor, which is enough to make most people feel tipsy. If you keep drinking, you’ll begin to notice the more serious signs of intoxication.
The alcohol level of flavoring extracts like vanilla is enough to lead to central nervous system depression, just like if you were drinking hard alcohol. This means:
- You may start to feel your breathing slow down and grow more shallow.
- You’ll also experience symptoms like dilated pupils and a warming sensation.
- You will start to feel inebriated as you consume more of the product.
- You will likely lose track of just how much you’re drinking.
The poor judgment alone that results from intoxication can quickly lead you down a path of unhealthy drinking.
When someone is drinking a lot of any product with the intent of becoming intoxicated, alcohol poisoning is also a major risk. If you drink a lot of vanilla extract, you need to be weary of the signs of alcohol poisoning, which can turn deadly if you don’t act fast.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning is a serious consequence of drinking alcohol faster than your body can process it. The early signs will include changes in your breathing and heart rate and, before you know it, you could find yourself losing consciousness.
If you think someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, you should reach out to a poison control center immediately to get them help. The primary signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Slow and/or irregular breathing
- Reduced body temperature
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of color in the skin or lips
Are you worried about alcohol addiction? Zinnia Health can help. Our team of addiction specialists can answer your questions on substance abuse and alcohol use. If you’re ready to take the next step, call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for more information.
Tips to Prevent Vanilla Extract Misuse
Real vanilla contains large amounts of alcohol. If you have minors in your home or individuals who have dealt with substance abuse issues in the past, it’s a good idea to take precautions and make sure they aren’t tempted to misuse a product like vanilla extract.
Some of the ways you can prevent misuse include:
- Checking the percent alcohol content before purchasing vanilla extract
- Storing vanilla extract on a high shelf or in a locked pantry
- Marking the bottle each time you use it so you can detect misuse
- Purchasing smaller quantities of vanilla extract
- Buying an alcohol-free alternative to vanilla extract
- Educating your family on the dangers of alcohol poisoning
Zinnia Health Can Help
Alcohol abuse is a serious condition that can lead to death. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol use, Zinnia Health can help. At our caring, confidential treatment center, we offer:
- Customized treatment pathways that are built around the needs and goals of the individual
- Multiple therapies, including individual, group, and family counseling
- State-of-the-art methodologies, including art and music therapy
- A mix of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs designed to support your lifestyle
- Extensive support both during and after our programs