The Chemistry of Root Beer

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Introduction
Root Beer is a carbonated, sweetened beverage, originally made from the root of a sassafras plant as the primary flavor.  This drink has been a vital part of my life and will always be the most delicious drink in the world.  I will show you why this drink is so interesting through chemistry.

Composition of ...
  • Contains the following ingredients:
    • Vanilla, cherry tree bark, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, sassafras root bark, nutmeg, anise, molasses,  allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper ginger, wintergreen, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, pipsissewa, guaiacum, spice-wood , yellow dock, honey, clover, cinnamon, prickly ash bark, yucca, quillaja and dog grass.

Chemistry's Role

  • Root beer is made by fermenting a mixture of herbs with sugar and yeast.  Fermentation is the center of brewing Root Beer by the fermentation process of releasing carbon dioxide gas in the beverage.  Yeast and glucose break down that produce two waste products which are alcohol and carbon dioxide.  The carbon dioxide  needs to be trapped so it can become in a liquid form to create carbonation.

Background Research

Root beer was first discovered by our ancestors soaking Sassafras root in water and add sugar and yeast.  It later was found that a chemical in the Sassafras root there is a carcinogen that causes cancer.  In the 1800’s the sassafras plant was the modern formulation to create “true” Root Beer.  This herb is the foundation of Root Beer’s past and without this herb, there might have never been this amazing family beverage.

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About the Author

Austin Reay is a Senior at Senior High School in Billings, Montana and he played varsity soccer.  Fly fishing is a great hobby of his and he enjoys the outdoors.  He was born and raised in the great Big Sky of Billings, Montana and wants to spend the rest of his life living there.  Austin is going to have a gorgeous wife with posterity that will his own legendary soccer skills on the soccer field.
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