Dry vs. wet caffeine: What’s the difference?

by Mark Miller August 31, 2017

Anhydrous caffeine

(Photo by Canbel/Wikimedia Commons)

What's the difference between dry caffeine, like that in Viter Energy Mints, and caffeine in drinks like coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks? The effects of the caffeine are the same, but one has to be careful not to take too much anhydrous (without water) caffeine so as not to overdose. Also, dry caffeine has none of the antioxidants and other chemicals of coffee and tea.

There are warnings online about taking too much caffeine powder, which you can still buy online in bulk. We say "in bulk" because even small amounts of it pack a powerful kick.

Some warnings

An article with some warnings about anhydrous caffeine, which can be taker in greater amounts than in hydrous caffeine, at Wisegeekhealth states:

Caffeine can cause numerous side effects, and these are usually the same whether the chemical is ingested on its own as a powder or within a substance that contains it naturally. Studies have shown that excessive consumption can lead to blurred vision, dizziness, dryness of the mouth, and gastrointestinal discomfort. It can also make people feel more anxious or irritated. Its effects on the heart are well documented, too, and even moderate use can cause an abnormally fast heart rate.

Too much caffeine can lead to a health condition called caffeine intoxication, Wisegeekhealth states:

This can drastically affect a person's reasoning ability, and lead to nervousness, rambling speech patterns, muscle twitching, and agitation. Larger overdoses can lead to episodes of mania, disorientation, hallucinations, and, in serious cases, psychosis. Anyone who is thinking about taking caffeine as a supplement is usually wise to talk with a healthcare specialist before beginning in order to discuss the risks and potential benefits.

Anhydrous caffeine

Anhydrous caffeine is powdered caffeine and is used in weight-loss pills, nutritional supplements, some medications and our Viter Energy Mints. There is a difference between caffeine taken in powder or pill form and caffeine in coffee, tea and other drinks. Studies have shown coffee has a plethora of beneficial side effects.

Two recent studies have shown that coffee can increase the length of the lives of those who drink it. It can be part of a healthy lifestyle. The two studies, which followed two large groups of coffee drinkers for 16 years, have shown that coffee contributes to healthful living too. See our blog posting "Coffee is good for you."

According to various experts, coffee:

  • Reduces risk of heart disease, cancer and multiple sclerosis
  • Boosts semen production
  • Invigorates
  • Enhances memory
  • Alleviates fatigue
  • Reduces the risk of kidney stones
  • Helps alleviate migraine headaches and erectile dysfunction
  • May help reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • Enhances the effect of over-the-counter painkillers
  • Enhances athletic performance

And it tastes great. The caffeine in coffee is habit-forming and slightly addictive, but it is not a dangerous, life-destroying drug like opiates or meth.

Viter Energy Mints

Our mints have 40 mg of caffeine, so you could safely take about eight of them in a day. And because the mints are meant to be placed under the tongue (sub-lingual), the caffeine is absorbed quickly through the thin membranes and gives a quick energy kick.

Coffee and tea contain acids, antioxidants and other compounds, and companies add sugar, citric acid and other substances to soda and energy drinks. In addition to caffeine, Viter Energy Mints have B vitamins for extra energy and mental clarity, but they do not contain all the substances that coffee and tea do.

White crystals of anhydrous caffeine

Anhydrous caffeine is derived from coffee beans, guarana berries and tea leaves and other natural plant sources. It is prepared in a lab and is reduced to white crystals. Anhydrous caffeine dissolves in water and mixes easily with other substances. But this powder is powerful in minute doses. It is best to allow experts who make approved products, guided by people who know the chemistry and how much to administer in, say, a caffeine pill or mint.

There are many articles and blogs on the World Wide Web touting caffeine as a supplement for enhancing athletic performance and increasing gain from weightlifting and other types of workouts.

WebMD has an article about caffeine that states:

Caffeine is one of the most commonly used stimulants among athletes. Taking caffeine, within limits, is allowed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Urine concentrations over 15 mcg/mL are prohibited. It takes most people about 8 cups of coffee providing 100 mg/cup to reach this urine concentration.

Caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure. Caffeine can raise blood pressure, but might not have this effect in people who use it all the time. Caffeine can also act like a 'water pill' that increases urine flow. But again, it may not have this effect in people who use caffeine regularly. Also, drinking caffeine during moderate exercise is not likely to cause dehydration.

Body building and other athletics

BodyBuilding.com has an interesting article by Chris Lockwood, a sports nutrition researcher, that states:

From a sports-nutrition perspective, caffeine anhydrous has been shown to 'directly potentiate skeletal muscle force, work and power,' according to a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. In other words, it can theoretically help pretty much everything that happens in the weight room and most other athletic settings. Companies that strictly adhere to the regulations for substantiating marketing claims will often use caffeine anhydrous in a dose easily supported by human data.

Mr. Lockwood, who has a doctorate, writes of anhydrous caffeine:

For example, about 2.73 milligrams of caffeine (from anhydrous), per 1 pound of bodyweight (or, about 491 milligrams of caffeine for a 180-pound adult), consumed one hour prior to a cycling test to exhaustion was shown to improve the time to exhaustion by about 23 percent and slightly increased the use of fat as fuel, to the tune of about 3 percent.4

In an earlier study that used the same dose of caffeine, fat burning increased under resting conditions, but not during exercise. Additionally, the stimulant hormones adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) rose significantly under both resting and exercise conditions

So it looks like anhydrous caffeine, and of course hydrous caffeine, can really boost athletic performance and mental clarity. It may even be responsible for some of those health benefits found about coffee. But take caution not to ingest too much caffeine, or you could experience some unpleasant effects.
Mark Miller
Mark Miller

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