Caffeine has been added to almost everything, including jerky, soap, and brownies. These products cost significantly more than their regular, non-caffeinated counterparts. What if you could buy a regular $0.99 box of brownie mix and add as little or as much caffeine as you wanted for pennies? With this simple guide we’ll show you exactly how to do it and how much cheaper it is to do it yourself.
To add caffeine to your foods and drinks you’ll need to buy it in its pure, powdered form. Bulk caffeine powder is inexpensive, costing around $10 for 500g. Caffeine is a fine white powder that’s easy to use. It dissolves easily in water (see next section) and won’t be broken down by heat or cold which means it’s safe to bake with or add to ice cream.
- Scale accurate to at least 1 gram. 0.1 or 0.01 gram is better. See our bulk supplement starter guide for additional scale information.
- Bulk caffeine
- 500mL to 1 litre bottle
- Warm or hot water, preferably filtered or distilled.
Due to caffeine’s potency you need to be careful when using it in bulk form. You’ll need to have an accurate scale to measure out the powdered caffeine. Even if you have an expensive, extremely accurate scale you won’t want to measure out 50-200mg every time you want to add caffeine to something. Mixing it in with other bulk powders can result in “hot spots”, or concentrations of caffeine that didn’t mix in well. The best way to measure out caffeine safely is to dilute it in water. This provides an easy way to measure small amounts of caffeine accurately without using a scale and makes it easy to add to anything.
Diluting caffeine in water is straightforward. You’ll add water to the bottle, weigh it, and then doing some simple math you can calculate how much caffeine to add. This article will show you how to obtain a concentration of 10mg per mL, making it easy to use with standard measuring spoons. At this concentration 1 tsp will give you about 50mg and 1 Tbsp will give you about 150mg.
Fill Your Bottle
You can use any size bottle but we recommend 500mL to 1L. Larger bottles are fine but due to the potency of caffeine they may end up sitting around for months before emptied. 500mL water bottles work well, as do Gatoraid, soda, and other resealable bottles. If your scale is only accurate to 1g we recommend using a larger bottle, at least 800mL or 1L. This will make up for the large margin of error. If your scale is off by a gram at 500mL you get an extra 20% caffeine, but at 1L it’s 10%.
Tare your scale to your bottle and fill it most of the way with warm water. Caffeine dissolves better in warmer water. The warmer the water the faster and easier it will be. Water has a convenient concentration of 1g per mL, meaning a 500mL bottle will hold 500g of water. Measure the water and make sure you fill it to an even 100g increment (500g, 800g, etc). You’ll need to leave some space to add the caffeine so don’t fill it to the very top.
Add the Caffeine
So how much caffeine do you add to get the desired concentration? Simply move the decimal place left two places. If you have 500g of water add 5g of caffeine. Easy right? If you want a lower concentration of 5mg per mL cut that in half, 2.5g of caffeine for a 500mL bottle. Due to caffeine’s solubility going higher isn’t really an option. If you increase the concentration above 10mg per mL some of the caffeine won’t dissolve if the water temperature is under 75-80. You’d need to heat the water every time you use it.
After adding the caffeine you’ll need to shake the bottle. A lot. It can 5 minutes or more for all the caffeine powder to dissolve, especially if the water is room temperature or colder. One way to speed up the process is to shake for a while then set the bottle in the sun, on a hot water heater, or near a heater. This will keep the water warm and reduce the amount of shaking you have to do. Continue shaking every few minutes.
Covering The Taste
Before you start adding caffeine to everything you have to realize it’s bitter. Very bitter. It’s so bitter that it’s the standard bitterness is measured against. Luckily it’s very easy to cover at normal concentrations. You can easily take 200mg of caffeine in a shot of liquid and not even know it’s there. If you’re adding caffeine to flavored drinks or food you probably won’t notice it. If you mix it with water adding some sugar free drink mix will easily mask the bitterness.
Using Your Caffeine Water
Using the caffeine mixture is easy. 1 tsp will have about 50mg, 1 tbsp will have about 150mg. To put that in perspective a 20oz bottle of caffeinated soda contains 25-50mg of caffeine, a cup of coffee has 85-125mg, and energy drinks range from 80-300mg. Start off small, with 1/2 to 1 tsp (25mg or 50mg) per serving, and work your way up to find your optimal amount. Warning: You can overdose on caffeine. Be careful!
If you’ve added caffeine to something crazy, let us know in the comments below!
- Combining Caffeine with Sugar May Improve Concentration [Caffeine] (lifehacker.com)
- Stay Puft Caffeinated Marshmallows: A Childhood Dream Come True [Caffeine] (gizmodo.com)
- Study: Nearly half of caffeine overdoses in teens and children (charlotte.news14.com)