Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Calculator (Beer, Wine & Liquor)

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Calculator

Without an adequate measure, it is hard to assess the level of one’s alcohol consumption. The blood alcohol content (BAC) calculator has been developed as a tool to monitor alcohol use by inspecting an individual’s blood. BAC calculator can be very useful for people who wish to assess whether they are too drunk to perform certain activities (e.g. driving).1

It can also help in diagnosing major health issues associated with excessive alcohol consumption, most particularly alcohol use disorder (AUD). To these ends, researchers have devised a scale through which people can compare their blood alcohol level using objective standards.1

What Is BAC?

Blood alcohol content (BAC) or blood alcohol level represents the amount of alcohol present in a person’s body at any given time. BAC is commonly measured as the gram weight of alcohol’s chemical compound ethanol in 100 milliliters of blood.2

Once an individual ingests alcohol, the substance gets quickly absorbed into their stomachs and small intestines. From there, it rapidly enters the bloodstream, where the BAC calculator measures it. Alcohol is then processed by the liver so that it can leave the body. The pace at which the liver usually operates involves one drink per hour. Due to the liver’s inability to work faster, people often feel intoxicated when they drink more than one drink per hour.3

What Does Your Blood Alcohol Level Indicate?

Varying levels of alcohol in one’s blood can have a range of different effects. Researchers have developed a clear metric that pinpoints various symptoms that may be associated with any given BAC value:4

  • 0.001 – 0.029%. At this level, most people feel little to no symptoms. Alcohol consumption can usually only be detected with very specialized and precise tests.
  • 0.030 – 0.059%. Symptoms present at this blood alcohol level involve mild euphoria, increased readiness to talk, and decreased overall inhibition. Many people also feel happy and relaxed, while others struggle to keep focus.
  • 0.060 – 0.099%. This amount of alcohol consumption is commonly associated with a reduction in the intensity of emotions and sensitivity to pain. Disinhibition and extraversion are further intensified, along with the feelings of euphoria. On the other hand, many people experience issues with reasoning and perception, particularly peripheral vision.
  • 0.100 – 0.199%. This is the stage when things get more complicated. Alcohol consumers start getting loud and over-expressive. They also exhibit mild signs of nausea and vomiting, as well as impaired motor control, slurred speech, and staggering. Men can even experience temporary erectile dysfunction.
  • 0.200 – 0.299%. This BAC value indicates more severe problems, including emotional swings, nausea, vomiting, sadness, anger, decreased libido, and impaired sensations. People can even experience serious motor impairment, difficulties with memory, and loss of consciousness.
  • 0.300 – 0.399%. At this stage of alcohol intoxication, the risk of stupor is particularly high. Slips in and out of a conscious state are also possible, along with loss of understanding and slowing down of central nervous system functions. Organs other than the brain are also affected as people can experience increased heart rate, breathing issues, and loss of bladder function. There is, however, a low possibility of death at this blood alcohol level.
  • 0.400 – 0.499%. The majority of symptoms present at the prior stage manifest at this stage as well. Impairments, however, get more severe so they can even lead to coma or death, as well as conditions such as positional alcohol nystagmus.
  • Above 0.500%. This BAC value indicates a high likelihood of death.

The symptoms listed above most commonly include effects that can manifest in the short run. Over the longer-term horizon, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to a range of deadly diseases, such as liver disease, heart failure, stroke, and various types of cancer. In order to prevent these undesirable outcomes, alcohol consumers should pay attention to how much and how often they drink. Adequate education and, in some cases, regular alcohol testing are the keys to a life free of alcohol-associated issues of any kind.4

Alcohol Content of Various Beverages

A good place to start is to get acquainted with the amounts of alcohol present in most commonly consumed drinks. The following percentage of alcohol can be found in standard drinks, as defined by the National Institutes of Health:5

  • 12 ounces of beer usually contain about 5% alcohol. In lighter versions, this might go to as low as 4.2%.
  • 5 ounces of wine commonly include about 12% alcohol.
  • A standard drink of any distilled spirits (such as vodka, rum, gin, tequila, or whiskey) contains around 1.5 ounces which amount to about 40% alcohol.

Importantly, these standard drink definitions are used in alcohol consumption guidelines which, if followed, can somewhat replace regular alcohol testing. The latest instructions issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out that consumers should refrain from any drinking or at least drink in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as the daily consumption of more than 2 drinks of any type in the case of men and the daily consumption of more than one drink of any sort in the case of women. Excessive drinking, on the other hand, is viewed as alcohol consumption that goes over these limits.6

Which Factors Affect a Person’s BAC?

Alcohol consumption will unlikely lead to the same outcomes in consumers. How any particular person will react to alcohol depends on numerous factors. The effect of some of the factors is more obvious than the effect of others:7

  • The level and frequency of alcohol consumption. Obviously, the more one drinks and the shorter intervals between drinking sessions, the more likely that person will suffer higher levels of BAC.
  • Body composition and size. People who have larger bodies and more body fat will have smaller BAC compared to smaller and more muscular body types.
  • Levels of testosterone and estrogen. It is clear that the presence of higher levels of testosterone makes blood alcohol levels smaller, whereas estrogen makes the numbers higher. This effect has to do with the higher blood count in people who have muscle, which makes alcohol more diluted throughout the body. It is also related to a higher presence of water and alcohol dehydrogenase in bodies with higher levels of testosterone. While water makes alcohol more diluted in the body, alcohol dehydrogenase breaks it down. Both result in smaller BAC.
  • Use of drugs and/or medication. There are some substances, even among those that are commonly prescribed by physicians, that can contribute to higher levels of alcohol in someone’s blood.
  • Food intake. People who eat a lot, especially right before alcohol consumption, will have smaller blood alcohol levels as food in the stomach will slow down the bodily absorption of alcohol, eventually preventing much of it from entering the bloodstream.
  • Emotional state. People who experience fatigue or are under stress may be more susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol, which would manifest in BAC calculations. People who suffer from depression may also have negative experiences, particularly in the form of depressive episodes after drinking.
  • Menstrual cycle. People who have periods may have their metabolism slow down. This may be accompanied by more pronounced symptoms of intoxication and higher BAC.
  • Beverage type. Drinks with high fruit content usually slow down the pace of alcohol processing, leading to lower blood alcohol levels. Carbonated drinks, on the other hand, are conducive to higher BAC as carbonation speeds up alcohol absorption.
  • Age. People of younger age commonly have faster metabolisms, which speeds up alcohol processing and raises BAC. Older people, however, usually have lower alcohol levels due to a slower metabolism rate.

How To Lower BAC?

Evidence has shown that the only effective way to lower one’s blood alcohol level is time. Leaving it to one’s own body to process alcohol is believed to be the surest route to get rid of this substance. There are, however, pervasive myths about activities that could lead to a significant BAC decrease. Some of them involve:8,9

  • Exercise. Even though it possesses numerous health benefits, exercise alone can hardly eliminate any alcohol from someone’s body. Research shows that sweating can add up to 1 percent to a blood alcohol level decrease.
  • Drinking water. Water consumption is unlikely to bring any reduction in levels of alcohol in one’s body. It, however, may prevent dehydration and lead to other positive outcomes.
  • Drinking coffee. Not only will drinking coffee not reduce BAC, but it may also lead to negative consequences, including dehydration, that may create additional problems.
  • Showering in cold water. Even though it may make you more alert, this activity most likely will not contribute to alcohol removal from someone’s body.
  • Eating a lot. Excessive eating may slow down the process of alcohol removal and thus spare the person from some unpleasant symptoms of alcohol consumption. It, however, will not prevent alcohol from entering someone’s bloodstream.
  • Gum chewing. This activity can only neutralize the unpleasant smell coming out of the alcohol consumer’s mouth. It will not have any effect on blood alcohol levels.
  • Mixing with energy drinks. Many people mistakenly believe that if they mix alcoholic beverages with energy drinks they will be spared from raised intoxication levels.

People concerned about high levels of alcohol in their blood and other negative effects of alcohol consumption are best advised to limit their alcohol intake. So far, all other proposed strategies to spare oneself from health risks associated with alcohol while continuing its consumption have been shown to be ineffective.8

Frequently Asked Questions