Most of us can’t get through our day without a hit or two of caffeine. Whether it’s your morning coffee, tea, energy drink, or even just a Coke or Pepsi as an afternoon pick me up, it’s all around us. Like a lot of things, caffeine is not harmful in small amounts. Maybe the fact that we feel so safe with caffeine is the reason we underestimate the potentially deadly power of pure caffeine powder, which is sold as an unregulated supplement at astonishingly cheap rates.

You can buy pure caffeine from various purveyors of health supplements online—including trusted places like GNC and Amazon. How cheap? A kilo is around $35—less than a couple cases of your favorite energy drink or a nice dinner for two.

Business Insider bought a half-kilo of pure caffeine on the internet (the equivalent of 5,000 cups of coffee) to investigate.

Here’s what an average cup of coffee contains:

caffeine in coffee

Photo: Business Insider

And here’s what a single teaspoon of caffeine powder contains:

caffeine powder form

Photo: Business Insider

That’s the equivalent of 25 to 50 cups of coffee. Sellers generally list dosages as 200 milligrams per serving, warn you not to exceed 600 milligrams in a single day, and suggest that you need a scale capable of measuring milligrams to properly ingest this supplement.

Here’s a sample warning from online seller

caffeine powder warning

Laura MacCleery, an attorney with the consumer rights advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, very bluntly told NPR:

“It doesn’t need to be sold in this form. It shouldn’t be legal under the law. It’s the most dangerous dietary supplement that’s on the market today.

After the deaths of 24-year-old Wade Sweatt and 18-year-old Logan Stiner in 2014 were both attributed to overdoses of caffeine powder that both men had purchased online, the FDA issued both an official consumer warning and a detailed blog entry from Mike Landa, the Director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor had strong, direct words for NPR: “It’s fundamentally irresponsible to be selling this powerful drug in this form to consumers.” He also added that the FDA has begun building a case to force the companies selling caffeine powder as a dietary supplement to stop doing it.

Taylor told PBS“I would hope that people would get the message that they just ought to stop selling it.”

[via Business Insider, NPR]