What Is A Fatal Dose Of Four Loko?

“How many Four Lokos would it take to kill you?” wondered Esquire. So they turned to a report in Forensic Science International that says the rare fatal caffeine overdose usually requires consuming over 5 grams. To reach that level it would take…

Twenty-four Four Lokos. Most people would probably pass out before reaching that level. Either that, or temporarily disable themselves by doing something stupid while hopped up on the crazy swill. Not to mention your BAC is going to be a bit more of a problem than your BCC (blood caffeine content) at that point.

Everything in moderation folks. You can also die from drinking too much water.

How Many Four Lokos Would It Take to Kill You? [Esquire]
Fatal caffeine overdose: Two case reports [Forensic Science International]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MerlynNY says:

    Yes you can die from drinking too much water. Remember that woman who died during a radio contest about drinking the most water?

    • MerlynNY says:

      All for a Wii….

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        It was the Hold Your Wee For a Wii contest.

        She won 2nd place. She freakin’ died and didn’t even get the Wii.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          And refused EMS help which would have saved her with a simple saline iv.

          • General Colon Power says:

            Umm… no. There was no EMS on-site for the contest. None was called by the station. When she was found at her home she was already dead.

            • SolidSquid says:

              GitEm$teveDave might be thinking of a different story, I know there was another one not so long ago (again involving a radio station) which happened in the UK, and there were nearly charges pressed because the same radio station had had it happen at a contest before

        • Kishi says:

          Well, it’s not like it would have done her much good if she had won.

    • Groanan says:

      For awhile it was a huge problem in the Army because, for fear of heat casualties, they were forcing new soldiers in basic training to constantly drink water.

      Supposedly it is a very painful way to die. Congress should get on top of banning hydrogen dioxide.

      • Rena says:

        The term is Dihydrogen Monoxide.

      • Willnet says:

        I remember those days. We had to drink a minimum of 8 canteens of water a day. We would get into formation and were required to drink a whole canteen at once. I can’t remember exactly, but we had some sort of measuring system (a necklace?) to keep tabs on how many canteens of water we drank during the day. Even that wasn’t enough when you’re dragging 60 pounds of gear 15+ miles through the South Carolina sand-hills. Walking in sand in boots sucks. Sometimes, if we were lucky, we were served “spirit punch.” Its pretty much a large mixture of gatorade powder and water. I remember during one of these ruck marches I wanted nothing more than to sit down and sip on a cold cup of spirit punch. I would have sold my car for that cup of punch. Yessir.

        Ah the memories…

      • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

        What does hydroperoxyl (HO2) have to do with this? I thought we were discussing the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide.

      • Promethean Sky says:

        It’s dihydrogen monoxide.

  2. tbiscuit360 says:

    I am pretty sure that the alcohol will kill you way before the caffeine.

    • cardigan says:

      Exactly. I don’t think the issue here is the amount of caffeine, it’s how it affects your mental/physical state in tandem with the alcohol.

    • dangermike says:

      At 12% ABV, assuming a fatal amount of ethanol would be a BAC of 0.50-0.75%, and neglecting the dynamics of elimination, I would estimate 3-5 per hundred pounds of body weight. YMMV.

      • Rocket80 says:

        per hour I assume?

        • dangermike says:

          An hour would be an appropriately short amount of time for my projection. Maybe as much as 2-3 hours, even. I didn’t take into account uptake or elimination. A healthy liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol will typically reduce a person’s BAC level by 0.01-0.02 percentage points per hour, higher BAC’s can increase the rate of elimination of unmetabolized ethanol, and typical absorption rates result in peak concentrations occurring between 20 minutes and 3 hours, usually right around 60 minutes. It’s complex and can vary considerably from one individual to the next, which is why I chose such a high value for the lethal dose to base my numbers on (typically 0.3-0.4 can lead to coma and death)

      • sonneillon says:
  3. c!tizen says:

    I don’t think it would take quite that much. I took one sip of that crap and nearly died from disgust.

    • MamaBug says:

      wow, you too?
      I bought it out of curiosity, and found the least disgusting flavor I could (cranberry-lemonade, i was thinking like mike’s hard, you know?) and it promptly went down the drain.

      The wine-y, half-assed carbonated-y, horrible flavoring made me die a little

      • Arctic Snowbot says:

        Drink Joose. The flavors seem like they actually give a shit about their product.

      • backwerds says:

        Trust me; don’t drink the Cranberry Lemonade; its awful. I went out and bought all of the flavors; the orange is most likely the best; followed by grape, watermelon is the most popular but it tastes like a liquid jello shot. Lemonade/cranberry lemonade just taste foul. Blue raspberry doesn’t live up to the hype and fruit punch is pretty foul too.

        I haven’t gotten into the Joose flavors but they have a pretty decent variety though i think 3 are like cat names or something.

    • dohtem says:

      I always wondered what they tasted like. Thanks for saving me the trouble (and cash)

  4. BannedInBrittan says:

    About 10 of them would be enough to hit .40 BAC on a 120 lb female. I’d worry more about the 2.82 oz of alcohol in each 695 ml can.

    • Don't_rip_me_off_bro says:

      Ounces . . . mL . . . please don’t mix units. Or Four Loko with stomach contents.

    • sirwired says:

      2.82oz of alcohol in each can? You do realize that’s almost three short shots of pure grain. I know this stuff ain’t exactly healthy, but it doesn’t have THAT much booze in it.

      • tbiscuit360 says:

        That is true- 12% alcohol for 24 ounce cans

        • Kunavukke says:

          I did the math out of curiosity: 24 cans of Four Loko (assuming the 12% stuff) is the equivalent of 136 1.25 oz shots of 80 proof liquor. I do not think you’d be terribly concerned about the caffeine at that point.

      • BannedInBrittan says:

        yup they really do have that much in them… crazy isn’t it?

      • dangermike says:

        A 24 oz can x 12% ABV = 2.88 oz pure EtOH. This is as much as is in 4.8 shots of liquor (2.88 oz/ (40% of 1.5oz)). It is worth noting that the larger volume of liquid in the lower ABV drink does slow the uptake of liquor. That is, you would probably hurt yourself more by taking 9.6 shots of liquor (about a quart) than you would by shotgunning two of these things. Of course, either way is pretty sure — at the very least — to induce vomiting. Unless maybe you are large, have food in your stomach and upper GI tract, and are a very seasoned drinker.

  5. lawnmowerdeth says:

    Sorry, but an elected official said it’s evil poison that’s killing children. I’m sold.

    • spamtasticus says:

      I’m still waiting for one of those “officials” to explain to me how it is ok to tell an adult that he/she can not drink alcohol until they are 21 years old.

  6. guaporico says:

    WTF? It’s not the caffeine directly that is the problem, it’s the combination of an upper and downer in one bottle.

    Another superb article from Consumerist …

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Someone didn’t RTFA! The article is about caffeine content of a variety of drinks, including Four Loco. If you would like, I can put you in touch with someone who makes a knee restraining device to help control the amount of jerk yours is doing.

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      Either way, it’s not a problem unless abused. Like all things you might ingest.

      Criticism for no valid reason, hooray!

    • Caffinehog says:

      The real problem is that you don’t FEEL drunk when drinking them. You think you can drive, but you can’t. You think you’re sober enough to drink more, but you’re on the verge of alcohol poisoning. Of course if you THINK about how much you are consuming, you’ll be fine.
      Frankly, though, idiots will still find ways to kill themselves. When we take the caffeine out of these, kids will start popping no-doz while drinking.

  7. sardonicbastard says:

    There are some energy drinks that have 500mg of caffeine in them. That means you’d only have to drink 10 cans… and there’s no alcohol there that’ll make you pass out before you make it that far. That sounds much more dangerous than four loko…

    • borgia says:

      From a quick search of a caffeine MSDS the LDLO (lowest published lethal dose) is 192 mg/kg
      or for a 100 lb (45kg) person that would need 8.6 grams. So the Forensic Science International is being particularly cautious in their statement. So it would need closer to sixteen cans for a 100lb person but since the average person is far heavier you would need more than that.

      • jnads says:

        5 grams is generally accepted as the LD50 dose.

        That is, the dose in which you have a 50% chance of death.

        • borgia says:

          LD50s are never expressed as a mass such as 5 grams they are expressed in concentractions and the LDLO can be considered and even more conservative estimate than the LD50 here is some tox data.
          ORL-RAT LD50 192 mg kg-1
          IPR-RAT LD50 260 mg kg-1
          IVN-RAT LD50 105 mg kg-1
          IVN-WMN LDLO 57 mg kg-1
          ORL-CHD LDLO 320 mg kg-1
          ORL-HMN LDLO 192 mg kg-1
          SCU-RAT LD50 170 mg kg-1
          IPR-GPG LDLO 220 mg kg-1

  8. aloria says:

    I thought the fatality existed in the alcohol dose, not the caffeine; the problem with Four Loko being that the addition of an upper can delay the feeling of intoxication, leading to increased consumption.

    That being said, anyone who is relying on how drunk they feel as an appropriate gauge of when to stop drinking is risking alcohol poisoning or at least a massive hangover. Your body weight, health, and metabolism are the factors that set your risk, not how well you hold your booze.

  9. lehrdude says:

    Is this anything like getting to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop???

  10. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    I think we are also missing a factor here. Both the alcohol and the caffeine are diuretics, so they would start you processing and eliminating much of both before they could possibly hit fatal levels.

    • borgia says:

      You don’t understand the ethanol elimination mechanism. Diuretics will not speed up the metabolism of ethanol. The ethanol will not leave the body through urine. A diuretic while drinking will just dehydrate the body and make it harder for the body to eliminate the breakdown products of ethanol and give you one heck of a headache.

  11. Anachronism says:


    I am a person that has always had a pretty ridiculous tolerance, even though I really don’t drink (and am now enforced sober due to drug interactions that could cause liver damage with even minor drinking).

    Back in the day when I did this sort of thing, it would normally take about 10 beers/shots/glasses of wine to feel ANYTHING, and 20 drinks before I went from inebriated to drunk. At several times (at least a dozen times in my life), I had put away 40 or more in a night, and yet have never reached a “blackout” drunk stage, and even at that level, it was very rare for me to have ill effects the next morning. I have puked from drinking maybe three times in my life.

    A major reason I really slowed down my drinking (before the medical piece) is that I have had no less than six dates end up in the hospital, because my date decided they would try and match my pace and got alcohol poisoning. It seems with several dates, no matter how I explained that they should take their own pace, they took it as competition and went past their limits.

    Anyways, I am mentioning this because a fatal dose at 24 drinks is something that could certainly be attainable for me, and thus other drinkers, in a night.

    Caffiene certainly affects me- I feel sick if I have more than my standard coffee in the morning, but I could see that alcohol could inhibit the severe caffiene jitters.

    I used to think that the regulation cries for this type of thing were overblown, but a potentially fatal reaction from 20ish drinks give me pause. LOTS of college students put that away on a typical friday night.

    • shepd says:

      And this is what’s wrong with making 21 the age limit.

      If it were 14-16, alcohol just wouldn’t be that important to going to college.

    • fortymegafonzies says:

      Their estimate is probably based on the hypothetical amount of caffeine that would be present in your blood if you instantaneously drank all 20 drinks. In reality there is an equilibrium between the rate of input (drinking) and the rate of output (metabolism and urinary elimination). In other words, if you drank them at the proper pace — what that pace is I don’t know — you would stop accumulating additional caffeine in your system. Works the same way with alcohol — a typical person can drink one beer per hour for 24 hours and not increase the amount of alcohol in his or her blood beyond a low level.

      • Firethorn says:

        For the alcohol alone, you’re looking at 3 hours per can. Caffiene is longer lasting, but would take more cans to kill you.

        Then, like others have said(and the concern of the FDA), there’s a distinct possibility that mixing the two drugs will effectively make the LD50 for 4loco less than the LD50 for either the caffeine or alcohol. There’s reasons they don’t want you mixing various drugs.

    • dangermike says:

      Except this stuff has almsot 3 times as much alcohol as most beers, and it only comes in 24 ounce cans. The 24 of them to OD on caffeine would be like drinking 2/3 of a keg of budweiser in terms of alcohol. That’s like 9 gallons.

  12. Tim says:

    So like, 96 Lokos.

    Sorry, I had to.

  13. PsiCop says:

    My impression was that what these hyperdrinks did was to keep people awake — and wired and thirsty — to the point where they died of alcohol poisoning. Not that the caffeine, all by itself, was killing people.

  14. LandruBek says:

    Next questions for Esquire:

    • What if we secretly replaced the caffeine with plutonium?
    • What would happen if you drank ten Four Lokos (good buddy) and then the Salt Vampire attacked you?
    • How many Four Lokos up the tailpipe is too many?

  15. borgia says:

    From a quick search of a caffeine MSDS the LDLO (lowest published lethal dose) is 192 mg/kg
    or for a 100 lb (45kg) person that would need 8.6 grams. So the Forensic Science International is being particularly cautious in their statement.

    • dangermike says:

      yeah, that’s corresponds to a BAC of 0.0192%. That’s like one serving of alcohol (12 oz beer, 4 oz wine, or 1.5 oz liquor) for a 200 lb person.

      • dangermike says:

        oops. My bad. I didn’t read carefully enough. A quick look at wikipedia shows the LD50 for caffeine at 0.192 mg/kg for oral dosage to rats. At 100-125 mg caffeine per cup of coffee (typical values), clearly, it would about 1.8 cups per kilograms. A 200 lb person weighs 91 kg. The human LD50, if consistent with rat oral dosage, would correspond to about 17 grams.

  16. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    I am pretty sure the taste will get you long before the caffeine or the alcohol. God that stuff is shitty.

  17. Shmoodog says:

    Or, you could drink 4 loko’s at an insane rate and die much quicker. how much time elapses while drinking those 24 cans? I’d probably die from chugging 15 beers in a row myself.

  18. chefboyardee says:

    I have not read all the comments so I apologize if this has been posted, but in case anyone hasn’t seen it:


  19. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Kid: “Mr. Owl, how many cans of Four Loko does it take to kill you?”

    Owl: “Let’s find out… One (gulp)…two (gulp)…three…(gulp)…” (Thud)

    Kid: “Three.”

  20. Shadowman615 says:

    As mentioned above, it’s a conservative estimate, but the thing is you’d also have to drink them pretty much all at once. Spread it out over the course of a normal-drinking evening or something (disregarding the alcohol for a moment) and your body has time to metabolize some of the caffeine in the process.

    I’m not sure about the alcohol content, but I wonder if one drank enough four-loko (in a short-enough time period and managed to keep it down) for the caffeine to kill them, whether they would simply die of alcohol poisoning first. As is one risk when overdosing any other alcoholic beverage.

  21. HungryGal says:

    Are rum & Cokes still legal?

  22. jaredwilliams says:

    Drink Moonshot it’s better

  23. brianary says:

    The breathless Four Loko panic is just the Puritanical US making the prohibition mistake again, as we will over and over forever, since we just can’t shake the feeling that we know better than “them” and “their” unfamiliar drug. Rum & Coke? Great! Four Loko? Alcohol and caffeine are TOO DANGEROUS! WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?