Since its most popular form is powdered, most users dissolve creatine by adding it to their favorite drinks as their preferred form of intake. But what does creatine dissolve best in?
Some, on their journey to build muscle mass, understandably encounter problems with creatine clumping (we’ve all been there.)
Does creatine dissolve in this or that type of liquid? Which one works best? Is there a science to dissolving creatine..?
Apparently, yes! If you’re asking these questions, I’m here to answer and show you what the science says..
- Creatine dissolves best in warm water (but there are other options!)
- If your creatine isn’t dissolving, try: adding more liquid, adding warmer liquid, using less viscous (thick) liquid, using micronized creatine or a solution with a lower pH (more acidic).
- Creatine’s effectiveness does not seem determined by how much of it has dissolved in your liquid or not before ingestion.
What Liquid Does Creatine Dissolve Best In?
Creatine can be very helpful when building muscle and boosting exercise performance, but it is a relatively insoluble compound. Hence, it does not dissolve easily.
That being said, creatine dissolves best in warm water.
This is because creatine is hydrophilic (attracts water), but with an affinity for warm water, it’s able to dissolve more easily in this medium (1).
To show these differences, the study above looked at dissolving creatine in 1 liter of water at 4 degrees celcius and it could only fully dissolve 6 grams of creatine, where the same volume of water at 50 degrees could fully dissolve 34 grams of creatine powder!
Also, creatine mixed with water has a neutral pH.
The same study showed that you can increase creatine’s solubility by taking it in a liquid with a lower pH (more acidic), however, the caveat here is that the creatine degrades more rapidly in a lower pH solution.
If your plan is to leave the mixed solution for a while, it’s best to leave it in a pH neutral liquid.
However, even leaving the solution in orange juice (pH range between 3.3 and 4.2), only 5% of the creatine broke down into unusable creatinine after 8 hours.
By having the same pH, you know that water will NOT REACT with creatine and break it down.
Water is also readily available, making the process more convenient. Even those with access to basic mediums can take part in proper supplementation.
The Other Best Liquids for Dissolving Creatine Monohydrate
Generally, warm liquids work best for mixing creatine compared to cold ones, though boiling liquid is not necessary for powder forms of creatine to dissolve completely.
Cold water (or any cold liquid) or even room temperature liquid offers poor solubility to mix creatine, specifically when the supplement is in its powder form, but your body will still effectively utilize the entire creatine.
I ranked some of the MOST COMMON mediums used to dissolve creatine monohydrate:
- As previously mentioned, warm water is the best liquid for dissolving creatine monohydrate, since it isn’t as thick as other liquids.
- Additionally, water is readily available and easy to mix with creatine.
- Coffee can be an option to dissolve creatine because it is both warm and contains caffeine, which is also an ergogenic aid (it’s a myth that this can dehydrate the body and limit the effectiveness of creatine.)
- Coffee’s slightly acidic pH can potentially break down creatine but this would happen over many hours (and I don’t imagine anyone is looking to drink their coffee over a period of days!)
- You may want to beware of stomach/GI issues if you’re prone to them. If you’re unsure, read our ultimate guide: does creatine make you poop?
- Milk is a good option to dissolve creatine because it is mostly water and contains small amounts of carbohydrates and protein.
- Milk is more viscousthan water, so creatine powder is more likely to clump.
- Milk is very slightly acidic at pH 6 but this isn’t worth anything of note.
- Juice can be a good option for dissolving creatine as it contains water, and is a great way to ADD FLAVOR. However, try to stick to thinner juices to avoid clumping.
- Juices are generally acidic, but unless you aren’t planning to drink the mixture the same day, it’s not worth worrying (creatine had a 21% degradation after 3 days stored at room temperature)
- However, juice also contains sugar, which is not ideal for those avoiding added sugars.
*NOTE: The ranking is based on the effectiveness of the liquid in dissolving creatine monohydrate. It does not consider other factors, such as taste or nutritional value, which may be important to you.
Why Isn’t My Creatine Dissolving Properly?
Undissolved creatine can be unpleasant to consume! Poorly dissolved pure creatine monohydrate is a limiting factor in creatine supplementation, so let’s solve it.
Here are the most common reasons why people’s creatine powder may not be dissolving properly:
- Insufficient mixing. If this is not done adequately, the substance may not fully dissolve. Make sure to mix the powder thoroughly, or use a shaker cup or blender.
- Not enough liquid. Creatine powder may not be completely dissolved without a sufficient amount of liquid. Bear in mind, according to the study cited that 14 grams of creatine needed a liter of room temperature water to fully dissolve! At this temperature, 300ml’s would be an appropriate amount of water to dissolve 5 grams effectively. (Also find out, how much water should I drink on creatine?)
- Temperature of the liquid. Creatine is more soluble in warmer liquids than in cold liquids. So, if you are mixing the powder with cold drinks, it may be harder to properly dissolve.
- Quality of the powder. Lower-quality creatine supplements may not dissolve as easily. They can have bigger particles and/or contain fillers, which lend to poor solubility. Also, if your creatine powder is old or has been stored improperly, it can lose some of its natural solubility. Try micronized creatine vs regular monohydrate if this is important.
- Viscosity/Thickness: Using the wrong type of liquid. As I mentioned before, water is the best liquid for dissolving creatine. Using other liquids which are thicker may not be as effective as water.
- Using too much creatine powder. If you use more creatine powder than recommended, it might be more difficult to dissolve it fully. Add more liquid as your first port of call.
Best Practices to Dissolve Creatine Powder Effectively
By now, you should have an idea about which aspect(s) of the supplement may be causing your troubles! Still, there are ways to improve..
Before adding the creatine to your milk, tea, or any drink, use the following techniques:
- Use More Liquid – Using more liquid when dissolving creatine powder can help increase the solubility of the powder, making it easier to dissolve and shake into the liquid.
- Use Warm Liquid – Higher temperature can also help boost the solubility of creatine powder because heat can really aid in breaking down the supplement’s particles. Ice-cold water or room-temperature liquid may not be as effective. It can also cause the creatine particles to clump together and make consuming more difficult.
- Use a More Acidic Liquid – acidic juices like orange juice will help the creatine dissolve better.
- Use Higher-Quality Creatine Supplements – Higher-quality micronized creatine supplements may dissolve easier because they typically go through what is called the micronization process. This process allows the particles of regular creatine (powdered form) to be smaller and have a higher surface area. It can be dissolved more easily because of this. In addition, higher-quality forms of creatine like Creapure may also be free of impurities or fillers that might affect the powder’s solubility.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
If you are having difficulties taking creatine and fully dissolving it, here are answers to some questions commonly asked by the community:
Does Creatine Need to Fully Dissolve?
Currently, there have not been any specific scientific studies that I’ve seen to give definitive evidence supporting a yes or no answer.
I’d hazard an educated guess that you can still consume creatine even if it is not fully dissolved.
It may feel a little gritty, but it should work the same considering the acidity of the stomach.
Your stomach and gastrointestinal tract work very well to break things down and it’s doubtful it would struggle with clumped powder.
I’d confidently assert that it is still possible for creatine to be utilized by the body even when it is not completely dissolved.
When you consume creatine, it is broken down into smaller particles in your stomach and absorbed into the bloodstream.
What Does Creatine Absorb Best With?
Creatine absorbs best with sufficient HOT WATER or a WARM LIQUID.
Add your desired amount of creatine in an appropriate amount of liquid and mix until dissolved, then drink to aid your muscle strength training program.
If you have difficulty dissolving it, you can try adding more liquid, a warmer liquid, shaking vigorously, or using higher-quality supplements.
Is It Safe to Use Liquid Creatine Instead of Creatine Powder?
Its liquid form is a safe alternative to powder, but a highly ineffective one if bought pre-mixed in liquid creatine supplement form.
There are plenty of studies debunking the efficacy of creatine serum and liquid supplements (2). In short, stay away.
However, if you are pre-mixing your own creatine monohydrate solution, then you have up to 3 days to consume your creatine in a pH neutral liquid.
You can increase the chances of the creatine remaining stable and effective by the time it reaches your muscles if you store the solution in the refrigerator.
How Can You Fix Clumped Creatine?
There are a few ways to fix clumped creatine powder:
- Use a small spoon or spatula to break up the clumps.
- Add it to the liquid a little bit at a time while stirring constantly.
- Use a blender or shaker bottle to mix it well.
- If extremely clumped, try to dissolve it in a small amount of hot water in a separate cup and then add it to your drink.
Creatine intake can help you in your journey to build and strengthen your muscles.
It is one of the most widely studied safe, effective and, therefore, a very reliable supplement for this goal.
However, those who take it via powder may have difficulty dissolving creatine in different liquids they enjoy.
Above, I have shared that warm water is likely the best solution, but if your taste buds fancy something else, you have plenty of viable options. Pick your favorite as it doesn’t matter too much in the end.
You can also find the various reasons why you are running into problems to make it easier to troubleshoot.
(1) Jäger R, Purpura M, Shao A, Inoue T, Kreider RB. Analysis of the efficacy, safety, and regulatory status of novel forms of creatine. Amino Acids. 2011 May;40(5):1369-83. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-0874-6. Epub 2011 Mar 22. PMID: 21424716; PMCID: PMC3080578.
(2) Harris RC, Almada AL, Harris DB, Dunnett M, Hespel P. The creatine content of Creatine Serum and the change in the plasma concentration with ingestion of a single dose. J Sports Sci. 2004 Sep;22(9):851-7. doi: 10.1080/02640410310001658739. PMID: 15513279.