All of us are aware of soft drinks. We simply love the fizzy taste of these drinks. They have becomes an integral part of our daily diet. However, are you aware how carbonated soft drinks are made? A simple answer is that carbonated drinks contain certain characteristics of carbonation which leads to bubbles and fizzing of the beverage. Carbonation is the process which involves passing carbon dioxide gas and dissolving it in a drink or water.
Joseph Priestly found the method of infusing water with carbon dioxide. He did it by suspending a bowl of water above beer vat at a local brewer which gave the water a pleasant taste. With developments in technology the carbonation method includes dissolving pressurized carbon dioxide into water. The solubility of water increases due to pressure and helps dissolve more carbon dioxide. Often the amount of CO2 dissolved is responsible for the quality of that carbonated soft drink.
Carbonated soft drinks are a mixture of carbonated water and other ingredients. The carbon dioxide gas is dissolved in water or aqueous solution. There are different flavors, sweeteners, food acids, food colors, etc that are added. By dissolving carbon dioxide to water it becomes carbonated water or sparkling water. As a result the chemical formulation gives carbonic acid. Carbonic acid has a chemical formula of H2CO3. While manufacturing carbonated soft drinks carbonated water forms the base. Additives are used to give it the specific taste, flavor etc.
The chemical formulation as a result of carbonation process gives the soft drinks its bite. It is not the bubbles but the dilute carbonic acid that provides it the fizzy taste. In soft drinks like Pepsi and Coca-Cola the bite is due to the phosphoric acid which is not associated with fizz or change in flavor. Carbonation also may be used to lower the pH of a water solution. Over carbonation can be dangerous and can cause explosion of bottles. Bottlers use priming sugar or malt extract to make the process bottling beer safer.
Experts feel that the pH level of soft drinks after the carbonation process is often around 3.0 or a bit lower. It is more than that of distilled water. It may not be healthy to consume the soft drinks in the quantities that we do right now. Further, some studies also suggest that it can cause tooth decay, calcium depletion etc. There is a belief that carbonation promotes digestion and reduces nausea. However, the carbon dioxide that gets into the bloodstream goes to the lungs for exhalation. Just about 10 percent dissolves in blood and about 20 percent is bound to hemoglobin. About 70 percent is carried by red blood cells as bicarbonate.
The carbonated soft drinks are manufactured by bottlers like Pepsi Bottling group by taking the concentrate from its manufacturers. These bottlers usually convert the concentrate into the specific flavored soft drink. It is distributed to the stores by packing them into bottles generally plastic or glass, cans etc. There could be different bottlers for the same concentrate in different countries. However, they are generally responsible for marketing and distribution in that region.
Some experts feel that carbonated soft drinks are not as healthy as they are believed to be and should be avoided. Flavored carbonated water without any sweeteners may be a better option and an equally satisfying one.