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Caffeine Anhydrous – Uses, Differences, Side Effects, Benefits – Everything You Need to Know

There’s another hot chemical substance in town, and it is none other than the psychoactive caffeine anhydrous, or as some would put it – caffeine on steroids.

Of course there are really no performance enhancers involved in its production, and it is only deserving of the name thanks to its potency and use in pre-workout supplements.

All you have to do is take a quick glance at the ingredients of most supplements and it won’t be long before you find caffeine anhydrous listed as one of the major components.

And just like the buzz products before it, the newfound fame and novelty of caffeine anhydrous has made it a quite fascinating topic of discussion amongst enthusiasts and skeptics alike.

Is the compound all it’s cut out to be? How safe is it exactly? How does it compare to the traditional caffeine that’s already established as the beloved stimulant for billions of people on the planet? Are there ways to ensure it’s safer for use?

All these are great questions to ask, of course. And I provide answers to them below.

What is Caffeine Anhydrous?

Caffeine Anhydrous powder

To understand what “caffeine anhydrous” is we must first understand what it means and this involves delineating the meaning of both words that make up the compound in the first place.

Caffeine”, which we’re all familiar with, is a naturally occurring substance employed for its psychoactive purposes. By far the most popularly consumed compound of its class, caffeine is very legal and as unregulated as psychoactive compounds come.

As for the second word, “anhydrous“, despite its seeming ambiguity, its meaning is quite straightforward. “Anhydrous” simply indicates the absence of water.

So, to put it succinctly, caffeine anhydrous is a more concentrated, dehydrated variation of caffeine. Or simply, caffeine extracted from any of its natural sources, with the water and other non-caffeine components removed in a laboratory.

What We Will be Going Over

Understanding caffeine anhydrous is the first step into understanding its general mechanism and mode of operation, which in turn is important to estimate just how safe it is and figure out the side effects, if any, that the compound possesses.

So now that we’re done delineating etymology, what we’re going to be taking a look at next are the differences between caffeine anhydrous and the more popular, traditional form of caffeine, its benefits and uses, side effects, how synthetic caffeine is made, and a few other interesting facts.

Caffeine Anhydrous vs Regular Caffeine

anhydrous caffeine vs regular caffeine

The general difference between caffeine anhydrous and regular caffeine is the fact that “regular caffeine” is usually naturally-occurring, extracted directly from trees and other sources without additional chemical processes.

Caffeine anhydrous, on the other hand, usually undergoes some laboratory procedures, including dehydration and other separation techniques, all aimed at obtaining “pure caffeine.”

So yes, herein lies the major difference. But there are also a host of other minor differences between both compounds. The most important of these can be found below:

  • Occurrence
  • Concentration
  • Convenience


As mentioned earlier, regular caffeine is naturally-occurring caffeine, extracted from naturally-occurring sources, while caffeine anhydrous is not naturally-occurring caffeine also known as “synthesized caffeine”, altered and “improved” in a laboratory to exclude water and other impure components.


Thanks to the fact that the caffeine content in caffeine anhydrous have undergone intense separation from other components, it is more concentrated than regular caffeine.

For instance, studies have shown that taking one teaspoonful of powdered caffeine anhydrous is equivalent to taking 28 cups of coffee.

Yeah… That is extremely concentrated pure caffeine.


Thanks to the fact that caffeine anhydrous generally come in tablet, pill, gum, or gel form, they are usually a lot easier to carry around than regular coffee.


While, as we’ve seen above, there are a number of significant differences between caffeine anhydrous and regular caffeine, they are both still fundamentally made of the same substance, and such still share some similarities.

The most prominent of this is the fact they share the same working mechanism.

Anhydrous Caffeine has the same overarching working principle as regular caffeine. They both involve impersonating neurotransmitters called adenosine, that cause drowsiness.

They do this by binding to certain receptors in the brain where the original chemicals would have, thereby stopping you from feeling drowsy and tired.

Overview of Caffeine Anhydrous

overview of caffeine anhydrous

Caffeine anhydrous has become so popular that it is estimated to be consumed by no less than 1 million people a dayin the United States alone.

From colas and sodas to flavored soft drinks and even breakfast bars, it is safe to say the use of caffeine anhydrous has become widespread enough to warrant intense analysis.

And perhaps there is no other place it finds the most application than in pre-workout supplements, weight loss pills, and performance-enhancing supplements.

The reason for this comes in two parts: efficacy and availability.

Synthetic caffeine is cheap and as such highly available, with imports in the United States estimated to be as high as millions of tons every year.

Thanks to its super concentration and purity, it is also highly potent, hence the widespread application by manufacturers.

What are the Benefits of Caffeine Anhydrous?

Availability and efficacy are just one thing, though for a product like caffeine anhydrous to be so famous, it of course has to have other tangible benefits and applications.

Here are some of the most popular and well known benefits

Increased Performance

caffeine anhydrous improves performance

Caffeine Anhydrous is a well known and well-established performance enhancement supplement. Numerous amounts of research and studies have proven this to be true. This is why the compound seems to be really popular for use in endurance-related sports such as running and cycling, and also in recent pre-workout supplement formulas.

Improved Muscle Strength and Endurance

Studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine studying caffeine anhydrous in capsule form found that the substance is highly effective for building muscle strength and endurance.

Health Benefits

Among some of the reported health benefits of anhydrous caffeine include relieving tension headaches, and improving alertness and concentration.

Other Less Known Benefits

Other benefits of anhydrous caffeine are its weight management benefits that involve reducing appetite, releasing adrenaline, boasting metabolism, and so on.

It is worth noting that these are also some of the health benefits of regular coffee. The only difference is in concentration and efficacy. Caffeine in its anhydrous form is absorbed faster into the circulatory system than regular coffee, and as such, kicks in much faster.

Caffeine Anhydrous vs Regular Caffeine – The Effects

While there have been quite a handful of research and studies on the subject of the effects of caffeine anhydrous in relation to that of regular caffeine, results are not quite definitive yet. There are, however, a few studies worth examining.

The first are studies that found pure caffeine (in anhydrous form) offering more consistent and reliable responses than the same concentration of regular caffeine from coffee.

An example of this can be found in a study that examined the effect of anhydrous caffeine and regular caffeine on treadmill running exercises, and found the results to be much stronger in anhydrous caffeine than the regular form.

A Contrasting Viewpoint on The Differences between Caffeine Anhydrous & Regular Caffeine

Another study to consider, a quite contrasting one at that, is one which found that there really isn’t much difference between effects found in caffeine anhydrous and regular caffeine.

The study involved a group of elite male cyclists and it was found that there was no difference in enhancement between the group on caffeine anhydrous and those on regular caffeine.

What is Caffeine Anhydrous Used in Today?

As mentioned earlier, caffeine anhydrous can be found in a lot of products on sale today. Among them are:

  • colas & caffeinated sodas
  • some alcoholic beverages
  • some energy drinks and gums
  • weight loss products
  • certain breakfast bars and snacks
  • fat burners, and
  • OTC pills

What are the Side Effects of Caffeine Anhydrous?

caffeine anhydrous side effects

Looking at the benefits, efficacy, and potency of caffeine anhydrous, it may seem as though the substance is all pros and no cons. Well, this couldn’t be farther to the truth.

Like most super-efficient stimulants, caffeine anhydrous does have its own side effects, should it be abused.

These side effects can be grouped into two. The general ones to be found in all caffeine, and the peculiar ones to anhydrous caffeine thanks to its concentration.

Anhydrous Specific Side Effect – Concentration

There are general side effects of caffeine anhydrous, common to all forms of caffeine, and then of course there are side effects particular to anhydrous caffeine.

The latter is caused usually by the high concentration thanks to the potent powdered form.

Without water and other impurities, caffeine anhydrous is extremely strong, and even a small amount can produce significantly heightened effects.

This also means that the threat of overdose is more profound in anhydrous caffeine than it is in regular caffeine. All it takes is an error in measurement and things can go wrong very fast.

General Side of Effects

Caffeine anhydrous also has the same side effects as naturally-occurring caffeine. They include:

  • stomach upset,
  • insomnia,
  • anxiousness,
  • nervousness,
  • incessant skin irritations,
  • restlessness, and
  • headaches.

It is worth reiterating that these side effects typically only happen once the recommended dosage is exceeded. To find out what this is, feel free to check out the “frequently asked questions” section below.

How is Caffeine Anhydrous Made?

anhydrous caffeine powder made

Caffeine anhydrous is made by dehydrating caffeine from natural sources. Other chemical components from the source that are not caffeine are also removed.

Caffeine can also be synthesized and made into anhydrous form through a number of processes. A popular example is the chemical process involving urea and chloroacetic acid.

Urea, a form of nitrogen usually obtained from the urines of mammals, reacts with chloroacetic acid to form a compound known as uracil, which in turn is converted to theophylline.

Theophylline is then further reacted with methyl chloride to form synthetic caffeine.

Caffeine Anhydrous and Regulations

Caffeine anhydrous, like caffeine, is one of the most loosely regulated psychoactive compounds in the world.

Thanks to the fact that it can be overdosed, however, and the unnatural edge it gives to athletes, there remains a degree of regulation and governance by appropriate bodies.

At any rate, the majority of this effort is directed towards warning and sensitization of the public towards its side effects, and not towards outright bans or restrictions.

Caffeine Anhydrous Regulations in Sports

When it comes to sports and performance enhancement, however, the regulation is a bit tighter. The NCAA includes caffeine on their list of banned substances with a threshold of 15 micrograms per millilitre to not be exceeded in a urine sample.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), on the other hand, is much relaxed towards caffeine, and does not outrightly regard it as an outlawed substance.

It does, however, regard it as a substance to be on the lookout for, and it appears on its “monitoring program”, a program designed to  keep track of substances that are not quite banned, but are of great interest to see how their future development goes.

Types of Caffeine Anhydrous

Anhydrous caffeine, after the removal of water and other components, usually appears in a white crystalline powdered form.

For easier dosage calculation, safety, and convenience, this powdered version is usually converted to other forms. These include pills, tablets, capsules, gums and gels.

Apart from these, caffeine anhydrous is also employed as an ingredient in various supplements. These types of caffeine anhydrous usually appear as either dicaffeine malate, caffeine citrate, or caffeine pterostilbene co-crystal.

  • Dicaffeine Malate – Dicaffeine malate consists of two caffeine molecules conjoined to a malic acid molecule. This is done to prevent the stomach upset side effect, although the efficacy of this is yet to be proven by a definite study.
  • Caffeine Citrate – Caffeine Citrate consists of caffeine molecules along with two other compounds – citric acid monohydrate and sodium citrate dihydrate, in a 2 – 1 – 1 ratio. This form of caffeine is employed for its health benefits rather than being used as a supplement.
  • Caffeine Pterostilbene Co-Crystal – This form of caffeine is synthesised for optimal energy production. It contains caffeine along with the compound pterostilbene.

FAQ About Caffeine Anhydrous

Listed below are some of the most commonly asked questions about caffeine, both in its anhydrous form and regular form.

Are All Types of Caffeine the Same?

There’s a popular saying that all caffeine is caffeine, which means that no matter what form caffeine comes in; no matter what type and synthesis, all caffeine forms always retain the same properties.

But is this a general truth? Well, the answer is yes. It is a general truth.

When we get particular, however, things start to get less clear-cut. This is because while all caffeine is generally the same, the forms they come in also play a huge part, as we see in the case of anhydrous caffeine.

Being more concentrated as it is, even though still the same chemical, ensures it is absorbed faster and can be potentially more dangerous than caffeine in coffee.

It is much harder, for example, to guzzle ten cups of coffee, than to ingest a tea spoonful of crystalline powder.

How Much Caffeine is in Energy Drinks?

how much caffeine is in energy drinks

This is a question that many people have and for good reason. There is no one answer as every energy drink is different and contains different amounts of caffeine per serving. Although on average most energy drinks contain about 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Each serving is typically 8 ounces.

Something to keep in mind, is that most energy drinks that you buy at the store are not just 8 ounces. In fact it is not uncommon for some energy drinks to contain two servings which would bring the total caffeine content to around 160 mg of caffeine.

How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee?

This is also a no one answer fits all question but on average a normal cup of coffee contains about 80-100 mg of caffeine. This is for 1 cup, which is considered to be 8 ounces of coffee.

how much caffeine is in coffee

Is Anhydrous Caffeine the Only Form of Synthetic Caffeine?

No, anhydrous caffeine is not the only form of synthetic caffeine. Anhydrous caffeine is a form of synthetic caffeine.

Fun fact: synthetic caffeine was actually first invented by the Nazis during the second world war.

Thanks to the fact that it is much cheaper to produce, it became quite popular, and has come a long way compared to its early Nazi beginnings.

How Cheap is Synthetic Caffeine?

Sourcing natural forms of caffeine is quite expensive. Making synthetic caffeine in the laboratory, however, is a lot cheaper. To put in perspective just how cheap it is, you can get about a 100,000 milligram bag of anhydrous caffeine for just 10 bucks.

Caffeine Anhydrous In a Nutshell

Caffeine Anhydrous is a dehydrated form of regular caffeine. Thanks to the fact that all foreign components, including water, have been removed from the composition, it is, in a way, boiled down to its bare essence.

This makes it way more concentrated and significantly more potent than regular coffee.

Thanks to these properties, it also manages to produce a number of health benefits that’s made it a favorite among manufacturers today. Like all good things, though, it also has its negative effects, especially when abused and overused.

Thankfully there are a good number of precautionary measures to take to avoid these side effects, most of which involve understanding the dosage and following required recommendation.

Speaking of recommendations, it is also worth noting that anhydrous caffeine isn’t quite as heavily regulated as most psychoactive compounds, and is considered safe as long as you stick to the recommended guidelines.

All in all, anhydrous caffeine is definitely a fascinating compound sure to remain so for long time to come.

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Ben Mayz

Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 16 years now. My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future. I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics. My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics. Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward. You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page

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