Does kava have alcohol?

If you’re here for the short answer, then yes, kava might contain alcohol in some cases. However, if you’d like to know more about this interesting phenomenon and why it happens, then read on.


Kava is a traditional beverage consumed by Pacific islanders for centuries. Its calming effects make it an ideal drink to share with friends during social gatherings or when one needs to unwind from the daily stresses of life. But many people wonder whether or not kava contains alcohol because of its similar physical properties.

What is Kava?

Kava comes from the root of the Piper methysticum plant which is native to islands in Fiji, Vanuatu, and Tonga and that’s not just copy-pasting names from Wikipedia. The roots are ground into a powder that’s used as a base for making drinks or other products

Kavalactones Vs Alcohol

The primary active ingredient responsible for kavas benefits (like relaxation) are called “kavalactones”. They interact with GABA receptors in our brains causing us to experience feelings of calmness and euphoria; but their similarity in chemical structure ― name ending in -lactone―with certain alcohols has led some researchers speculate that there may be trace amounts of ethanol present as well wooh… molecular chemistry terminology alert!

But hold it right there!

Before you ask: nope! Consuming enough kavalactones won’t give you a buzz like drinking beer or wine would if we keep things clear cut?


I mean…

It bears repeating though just how different these two molecules are − If they were matched upon play-along lumps-the-clay style character test; Ethanol could be best described as energizing extroverted & buzzing while kakaletones prefer picking up drama books and mugs with our favourite bookmarks, settling down and unwinding the day quietly.



Kava is generally safe to consume in moderate quantities. There have been a few cases where people experienced negative side effects after drinking too much kava or more commonly unregulated consumption of low-quality products with added amounts of ethanol; but despite some evidence indicating intermittent liver toxicity, it’s not frequent enough to stop the widespread use by pacific communities be viewed negatively moral(s) everyone: avoid cheap kavas with ‘alcohol’. Always get high-end stuff.

How Does Ethanol Get in Kava?

While kavalactones are undeniably responsible for most of the beverage’s calming properties. Sometimes, however, when producers fail at their job as quality assurance caretakers (due to lackadaisical attitude towards best practices), traces of ethanol may wind up infiltrating these drinks unintentionally while non-purified water used during production tracks minute levels stored within old pipes or materials used water can come loaded heavy`-grabs microscope- check if that rusty pipe has any stories… woosh we’re back!

Historical Temperance Gogos vs Contemporary Negligence

To better understand how alcohols amount reaches detectable levels in your typical bottle/cup/glass/whatever you grab from which-ever amiable neighbourhood brand shop without being stucked on blacklisted shelfs you know those shelves, here’s what happened historically:

The temperance movement initiated Prohibition laws until late into the first half on this century for alcohol abstinence reasons – so simply put nobody was legally selling alcohol anywhere public places were open around daytime-. Some makers tried taking advantage of those very murky markets by turning down-market (Lemonaide-like bottles could contain soft/hard liquor indiscriminately). But times they’ve changed now #-RIPtemperancemovement?

Mass-manufactured products have become the norm with producers primarily concerned with churning out as much kava powder and drinks as possible while minimizing costs without worrying too much about ‘quality control’. However, some of them aren’t overly meticulous in checking where their raw materials originate nor how they handle the milling machine used for sieving grit from the final product. Hence traces of ethanol can come through if these powders are exposed to alcohol-laden surfaces prior to or even post sold as finished goods #Cantblametheboozewhenavoided.

Ethanol Content in Kava

It’s quite difficult to measure exactly how much ethanol is present since only minor amounts typically exist so comparisons might abstractly portray an opposite end result. Still, most reputable brands will try to test their products regularly so you could ask your supplier for a certificate of analysis (CoA) indicating that their drink contains only minimal levels of alcohol note worthy: Do not be fooled into thinking that CoAs=Kingery… better do more than just one!

Small Sips For Extra Measure

Considering there aren’t stringent regulations governing kava production and consumption worldwide; it wouldn’t hurt if one takes proactive measures wherever possible hence gradually introducing yourself/selves when consuming this beverage before fully diving into tropical drinking-feasts precaution devoid cowardice got us nowhere remember_our_brothers-sister_instead:

  • Consider asking manufacturer/supplier[s] for volume content prior buying if space may forbids running additional tests on purchased wahala-drink ~who wouldnt be legally bashed-up after intentionally selling adulterated/off-spec stuff upon request~

  • Check beforehand where your product’s ingredients are sourced & quality checks performed especially regarding sterility intentions around facility-made-from within rather than outsourced’cyclic-sequence-inclined’,sensitive equip’s & machines

Tips and Tricks for Enjoying Kava

If you’re eager to try kava but worried about the alcohol content, here are some tips and tricks to help you fully experience this beverage safely:

  • Start with small sips at first just like our earlier hint stated
  • Always take products containing kava from suppliers that value transparency regarding best production practices e.g. sourcing details & quality checks on their websites or in-store brochures

  • Limit your overall intake amount per session – moderation is key unless “moderation” sounds like a foreign term from distant lands

Sneaky Option 💁‍♂️: Maybe It’s Not Even Ethanol

People who’ve previously consumed vanilla, licorice or cough medicine might go what do all of them have in common aside from sugary taste 🤔? Well then, Glycyrrhizic Acid the common ingredient found therein can also show up as false positives instead of ethanol after certain testing procedures Don’t feel foolish for not knowing this one. There is always room for new discoveries.


In conclusion; while it may be possible to find trace amounts of ethanol present within some low-quality kavas during unregulated productions having chilling moments around friends/gatherings doesn’t necessarily imply consuming enough alcoholic content able to get anyone drunk entirely so long as carefulness isn’t thrown too extravagantly overboard sometimes better safe than sorry never work out even hand-to-mouth wise especially when Nigerian Johnson has an antenna-worthy tale~ (>_–)>