The Chemistry of Soda Pop

IntroductionEveryone in the world(everyone sensible at least) drinks soda pop. Soda covers things like Coke, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, or anything else that is sugared and carbonated. Soda has been around for an extremely long time, first being patented in 1819. However, soda didn’t rise into popularity until around the 1890’s when it was discovered it was better used as a drink instead of a medicine. Why did I choose soda pop? Simply because it is delicious. There isnt a place in the world where soda can’t be drank. Additionally, there are tons of types of soda, even some that are possible to create yourself which leaves a lot of room for experimenting. For me, not a single week will go by without at least one soda, it’s just a refreshing delicious drink. Now, in soda, it is easy to see chemistry in the making. Just by a glance it is easy to see bubbles floating to the top. This means there is carbonation happening, proving there is a chemical reaction happening. However, there is much else that goes into making the average soda drink.

Composition of ...

Mostly, Soda is made of Carbonated water and High Fructose corn syrup. However, most companies need to cover up their tastes from competitors so most just contain “natural flavors”

Carbonated Water:

Carbonated Water is simply water that has had carbon gas more or less “injected” into it. This causes the reaction that makes those lovable bubbles that appear at the top of most sodas.

This in itself can be drank and is very popular when mixed with other flavors making it a prime ingredient of soda drinks.

High Fructose Corn Syrup:

This is just a word for a type of sugar. Fructose is merely a sugar that originates from fruit(or in this case corn/sugar beets). Obviously, sodas like Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper contain large amounts of sugar, but soda companies merely make a syrup making it easier to mix into sodas. However, it is only particularly harmful because of the large amounts of natural sugar. Corn syrup in particular is made naturally from corn.

Phosphoric Acid:

Known in the chemical community as H3PO4, phosphoric acid is the ingredient in soda that makes a sharper flavor(that burning sensation!). Most of the acidity in soda pop comes from the phosphoric acid, not from the carbonation. In addition, it slows down the growth of bacteria which are lively in sugary solutions.


Ah, Caffeine. What’s not to love? Caffeine acts as a stimulant drug in the human body, acting upon the central nervous system. Why is caffeine in soda pop? There are several possible reasons, sometimes people need to sway from their sleep patterns, and soda pop is a no hassle way to get stimulated from caffeine. However, it is also used as a sort of addictive “hook” in soda products, making the user more likely to buy more soda to prevent headaches. Caffeine, although important to the soda pop everyone knows and loves, has no effect on taste.

Chemistry's Role

The two main ingredients in Soda Pop are mostly carbonated water and high fructose corn syrup. Chemically, carbonated water is better known as carbonic acid that has simply been created by pumping carbon gases into water.(H2CO3) As seen by the composition, water is present(H2O) However, CO2 or carbon dioxide is also present. When these two combine it creates carbonic acid, an essential ingredient in soda to make it “bubbly”.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is made by refining in a sense the sugar that naturally occurs from corn or sugar beets. The kernels that are harvested from corn are crushed into a liquid, from there the liquid has natural enzymes added into it producing a chemical reaction within this “corn paste...stuff”. This reaction produces fructose from the natural glucose in corn. Fructose is written as C6H12O6. The now broken down liquid is passed through activated (reacting) carbon and is filtered. What results is an isotope of HFCS(High Fructose Corn Syrup). However, in order to be used as a sweetener for soda pop, the isotope must be combined with another isotope of HFCS. After then, the process is complete and it can be used for soda pop.

Background Research

1. Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola Label. Digital image. Cross-Cultural Labels. Wintranslation. Web. 27 Apr. 2012.


2. Madison, Josh. "Soda Ingredients." 14 Dec. 2003. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>.

3. "Fructose." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>.

4. "What Is HFCS?" High Fructose Corn Syrup Health and Diet Facts. Corn Refiners Association. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>..

5. Tahmina. Sweet Corn. Digital image. Rosy, BlogSpot. 31 May 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>

6. Sinease, Fred. "Why Is Phosphoric Acid in Soda Pop?" General Chemistry Online: FAQ: Chemistry of Everyday Life:. General Chemistry Online! Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>

7. "Caffeine Facts: Addiction, Insomnia, Pregnancy Effects, and More." WebMD. WebMD, 03 Jan. 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2012. <>.


Potentially more chemically factual information on caffeine(sorry for use of wiki)

picture of hyper-caffeinated cat.

Process of producing High Fructose Corn Syrup

About the Author

Brendan Patrick Wiser is an average student at Billings Senior High School. He is Irish, sports a fantastic red beard and spends most of his time on a computer. However, he is planning to go to college and possibly “get out more” whatever that means.