My son asked me a question that stumped me: Is there anything a human can drink that does not contain water?

It stemmed from a conversation in beverages in general where I was pointing out that they all are based on water...coffee, soda, milk, etc.

That's when he asked if there are any beverages that don't contain water. Given that nearly all of the water and even solid food I could think of contains water, I couldn't come up with anything, but now I'm curious about it to so came here to ask the experts!

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    $\begingroup$ Ethanol, glycerol, plant and animal oils/fats (triglycerides), etc. This link might help: reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/2nbs8p/… Great question by the way. $\endgroup$
    – CDB
    Dec 9, 2015 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ @CDB - Deuterium is a hydrogen isotope. Hydrogen is not a fluid under normal earthly conditions. Further, EtOH always contains traces of water. The glycerine alternative and other oils, however, are a very nice example I guess. Worthy of an answer? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Dec 9, 2015 at 21:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Christiaan - Apologies, my bad. I meant deuterium oxide, which is actually, however much I hesitate to call it, a form of water. Still not really water though, seeing as it is 2H2O, so I thought it would fit in nicely on that list. Thank you for catching that and I apologize for the confusion. $\endgroup$
    – CDB
    Dec 9, 2015 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ @CDB - no need for apologies! However, water containing deuterium (D) is still water, just heavier. Water is water from a chemical point of view, so I disagree with your notion that DHO or D2O isn't water. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Dec 9, 2015 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Christiaan - Not quite. Since deuterium is among the heaviest of stable hydrogen isotopes, its bond to oxygen is much stronger. In small amounts, this is fine, but if you replace 50% or more of a higher organism's water with deuterium oxide, it results in cell lysis and ultimately the death of the organism because it cannot perform its regular biochemical reactions with such powerful hydrogen-oxygen bonds in place. $\endgroup$
    – CDB
    Dec 10, 2015 at 2:10

1 Answer 1


Is there anything a human can drink that does not contain water?

Yes, there are a lot of liquids that do not contain water, but mostly they are not safe for human consumption.

Mercury is a liquid at room temperature. Can a person swallow it? Most assuredly. Motor oil has no water in it. It's not a satisfying beverage. Canola oil, olive oil, and many other food derived oils can be imbibed in even reasonably large amounts, but it won't do your digestive tract a big favor.

I've treated goats with propylene glycol (a liquid), parents treat their kids with mineral oil for constipation, etc. etc.

It depends on what you mean by "drink".

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    $\begingroup$ The previous poster is close to true but olive oil, canola oil, and any vegetable oil does indeed have water in it. It's small traces but the vegetables themselves feed off water and makes it way into the oil. oliveoilsource.com/page/what-olive-oil Motor oil indeed has no water. Mercury as well has no water. $\endgroup$
    – Sean
    Nov 7, 2016 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Sean, you could heat up some edible oil to remove water traces, and it would still be edible. $\endgroup$
    – Joce
    Nov 9, 2016 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Add in 100% pure Ethanol, it will hurt like hell, is really hard to obtain but yeah. you can drink it allright. $\endgroup$
    – Dart Feld
    Nov 24, 2016 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Also add pure acetone. There have been cases where humans ingested significant volumes of it and lived. $\endgroup$
    – JohnEye
    Apr 9, 2018 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ I actually like this question. $\endgroup$
    – Joe
    May 5, 2021 at 21:48

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