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Essay: Polyprotic acids in Cola beverages

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Cola beverages contain phosphoric acid, citric acid and carbonic acid. Phosphoric acid, citric acid, and carbonic acid are the example of polyprotic acids contained in Cola beverages. Polyprotic acid is an acid which contains more than one hydrogen ion per acid molecule. The acid ionizes with a separate ionization constant for each step which it ionizes one step at a time in an aqueous solution. Phosphoric acid is a colourless and odorless inorganic mineral acid. It is also known as orthophosphoric acid. The chemical formula of phosphoric acid is H3PO4. Phosphoric acid can be in liquid form or transparent crystalline solid form which is corrosive to metals. Citric acid is naturally present in citrus fruits. Example of citrus fruits are lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. Chemical formula for citric acid is C6H8O7. Carbonic acid is formed through the chemical reaction of carbon dioxide and water. The decomposition of carbonic acid produces carbon dioxide and water as the products. Carbonic acid tends to act like an acid and thus breaks into hydrogen and bicarbonate. This happens in a sealed container. Any hydrogen and bicarbonate in the beverage quickly recombines to form carbonic acid and then decomposes into water and carbon dioxide once a beverage container is opened. The carbon dioxide bubbles up out of the beverage, releasing the gas into the air. The chemical formula for carbonic acid is H2CO3. Phosphoric acid which is used in Cola beverages is used as an acidulant and to provide the specific tart note to the flavor of these products. It also prevents the mold and baccteria from growing in it, which can multiply easily in a sugary solution. Citric acid which is used in Cola beverages is used to add tartness into the Cola beverages and provides the sharp and tangy taste. It also lengthen the shelf life of a beverage. Carbonic acid is added into Cola beverages to make the water become effervescent and fizz. It also is used in the products as an ingredient to make flavored carbonated drinks. The pH of the carbonated water will be between 3 and 4. A base such as sodium bicarbonate is added into the carbonated water to reduce the acidity and neutralize the water. Excessive intake of phosphoric acid can cause health problems to us. It can lower bone density, trigger major kidney issues, decrease nutrient in the body, increase body acidity and damage our tissue. Citric acid is generally harmless. However, if we take it frequently, it can cause a few damage to our health. It can cause stomach problems and sore throat, can trigger an allergy, can erode teeth enamel, can cause aluminium toxicity, and can cause cancer. Excessive intake of carbonic acid can affect our respiratory system thus causing short breaths.





A pharmacist named John Pemberton, also known as “Doc” has invented Coca – Cola in year 1886. He decided that he wanted to invent something that would bring him commercial success during the end of the Civil War that he participated in.

Many drugs have been invented by him but none of them ever made any money. This shown that everything that is made by him failed in pharmacies. He decided to move to Atlanta to try his hand in the beverage market.

The soda fountain was rising in popularity as a social gathering spot during his time. Making a soda fountain drink just made sense because of the temperance that was keeping patrons out of the bars. This was the time that Coca – Cola was born.

Frank Robinson came to visit John Pemberton because John Pemberton had no idea on how to advertise the Coca – Cola drink. Frank Robinson helped John Pemberton by registering Coca – Cola’s formula with the patent office and designing the Coca – Cola’s logo. Besides, he also wrote the slogan, “The Pause That Refreshes.”

During the first year of the Coca – Cola drink production, Coca – Cola did not perform so well and the death of John Pemberton in August 1888 has made the matters becoming more worse. This means that he would never see the commercial success that he had been seeking.


A man named Asa Griggs Candler rescued the business after the death of John Pemberton. He became the sole owner of Coca – Cola in the year 1891.

One of the most innovative marketing techniques was invented by him after he took over the Coca – Cola. Traveling salesmen that were hired by him were instructed to pass out coupons for a free Coke. His goal was only one that was for people to try the drink, like it, and buy it later on.

He also plastered logos on calendars, posters, notebooks and bookmarks to reach customers on a large stage so that the word of Coca – Cola can be spread quickly. It was one of the steps in making Coca – Cola as a national brand rather than just a regional brand.

A controversial move on the part of Asa Griggs Candler wanted to sell Coca – Cola syrup as a patent medicine. He claimed that it would get rid of fatigue and headaches.

However, in the year of 1898, Congress had passed a tax in the wake of the Spanish-American war. The tax was on all of the medicines. So, this means that Coca – Cola wanted to be sold only as a beverage. Coca – Cola was no longer sold as a drug after a court battle.


A modest three-legged kettle is used by John Pemberton to brew the first mix of his new drink in his backyard. This statement was from Coca – Cola. Coca – Cola also stated that cocaine has never been an ingredient in the elixir. However, both of these facts have been proven to be myths.

Author of “For God, Country & Coca-Cola” named Mark Pendergrast stated that the syrup was meant to go along with the culture of the times. The syrup was advertised under Asa Griggs Candler’s reign to cure headaches and fatigue and acted as a “nerve tonic” to calm people down.

Coca – Cola have a negligible amount of cocaine in it. This statement was from Mark Pendergrast. The syrup contained one half-ounce of coca leaf per gallon, amounting to about a little over one – hundreth of a grain. Even though the drink contained coca leaves and Asa Griggs Candler said that he would shut down the Coca – Cola operation if the drink was found to be harmful, the Coca – Cola operation was still operate.

To get technical, Candler always ensured that the drink is always natural by using coca leaves to make the drink by mixing different kinds of alkaloids, as opposed to the drug cocaine, which was a pure alkaloid. The actual dose of the drug can be produced by using 30 glasses of the drink.

The uses of cocaine in the making of the Coca – Cola drink remained until 1903. Even though it made the drink very controversial, but it also contributed to Coca-Cola’s success.


There are a few steps that are needed to follow to produce the Coca – Cola drink. Firstly, the bottles will be cleaned, steamed and sanitized by jet streams and water. This process is needed to make sure that the bottles that will be used in the bottling process are free from any dirt and debris. Next, the bottles are picked up by individual clamps and they are transported from one station to another station. After that, the Coke will be put into the bottles. But before the Coke is put into the bottles, the syrup would go in first and the carbonated water would go on top. Four different steps are needed in bottling the Coke. Firstly, pure water is put into the bottle by a machine. After that, refined sugar is added to the mixture. Then, the sugared water will be added with the Coke’s secret formula mixture and some caramel coloring. The bottles will be shake by the machines to make sure everything is mixed well together. After everything is mixed together, carbon dioxide gas is added to the mixture to make the drink become more fizzy. The machines will sent the bottles down another conveyer belt. This would be the point where the drinks would be checked by a person to make sure that the quality of the drinks that are produced will always be in a good condition before they are marketed to the stores and to the people.


An acidic molecule called carbonic acid that decomposes when you open a bottle or can of a fizzy drink can be find in carbonated beverages.

Carbonic acid has the chemical formula of H2CO3. When carbon dioxide is reacting with water, the chemical reaction will form carbonic acid. Carbon dioxide and water will be produced as the products in the process of decomposition of carbonic acid. Carbonic acid acts as an acid. It can break into a positively charged hydrogen particle and a negatively charged HCO3, or bicarbonate particle.


Carbonic acid dissolves in water. This is the reason why it is added into beverages. The carbonic acid acts as an acid, breaking into hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions in a sealed container. However, any hydrogen ions and bicarbonate ions in the beverage will recombine quickly to form carbonic acid which then decomposes into water and carbon dioxide gas once the beverage container is opened. The carbon dioxide bubbles will go up out of the beverage and the gas will be released into the air.


In the process of breaking down of carbonic acid in soda and other fizzy beverages, it can lead to a buildup of air in the stomach. This can cause an uncomfortable bloating sensation and may lead to burping. Besides, excessive intake of carbonic acid can affect our respiratory system thus causing short breaths. When the level of oxygen is low in the blood, it can cause shortness of breath and air hunger, the feeling like you cannot breathe in enough air, to occur. It also can cause a bluish color on the skin, lips, and fingernails to happen if the level of oxygen in the blood is very low. A high level of carbon dioxide can cause rapid breathing and confusion to occur. People who undergoes respiratory failure may become very sleepy or lose consciousness. They also will develop arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. These symptoms can happen if the brain and heart are not getting enough oxygen.



Calcium oxide is added to citrus fruit juice to produce citric acid. Carl Wehmer first developed the process of fermenting sugar to produce citric acid in 1893, but it was not until 1917 that U.S. government scientist James Currie would publish an article on harnessing that power for large amounts of citric acid production.


Citric acid is used in Cola beverages to add tartness. Citric acid also provides the sharp and tangy taste in Cola beverages, according to Understanding Food Additives. Besides that, citric acid also lengthen the shelf life of a beverage. John Mallet’s Pop Art website, a chemistry magazine formerly published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, writes that acid prevents food spoilage.


Citric acid is generally harmless. However, if we take it frequently, it can cause a few damages to our health. It can weaken the tooth enamel and dentin and thus, making our tooth decay. It also can increase the aluminum toxicity in the body which may lead to kidney problems, anemia, or nerve damage. Besides, it also can increase the risk of free radical damage and cancer.


As per a Saudi Arabian study, energy drinks have the highest amount of citric acid at 7.3 g/L, followed by synthetic fruit juices at 2.79 g/L and soft drinks at 1.76 g/L. But as a 2007 study published in General Dentistry found that soft drinks, even the diet versions, are highly acidic due to their citric acid or phosphoric acid content. Excessive intake of citric acid can cause a sore throat, stomachache, or diarrhea to occur in short term. In long term, citric acid can cause tooth erosion and aluminum toxicity to happen if we frequently drink soft drink in a long time.


1.Can Cause Stomach Problems And Sore Throat

Excessive intake of citric acid can cause sore throat to occur in the short term. In the short term, excessive citric acid can give you a sore throat. Besides, citric acid overdose can also cause nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, and even black or tarry stool to occur.

2. Can Trigger An Allergy

If the person is allergic to citric acid, he or she will experience dizziness, confusion, sweating, weakness, and tingling in the limbs and around the mouth.

3.Can Erode Teeth Enamel

The side effect of citric acid if we consume it for a long time is dental erosion. Even though citric acid is a weak acid, it can erode the calcium in our tooth enamel. A 2006 study found that some sodas can erode teeth down to the dentin level that is the layer beneath the enamel.

The researchers in the 2007 General Dentistry study found that the erosive property of sodas can be attributed to their sugar and citric acid content. Even though diet soda contain less sugar, it still contain a high amount of citric acid. The most concerning fact about sodas is that they start corroding the teeth right from the moment of contact. In fact, the damage caused to our teeth when we drink diet soda is the same as consuming meth or cocaine.

4. Can Cause Aluminum Toxicity

Citric acid can increase the absorption of aluminum in our body. According to a study, rats fed with citric acid were found to have elevated aluminum concentrations in the cerebral cortex and bones. Those fed with aluminum citrate showed significantly high aluminum concentrations in all brain regions. This is of concern because aluminum is toxic to the nerves and has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Beside that, it can lead to kidney dysfunction and anemia when too much aluminum accumulates in other areas of the body, mostly in bones and kidneys.

5. Can Cause Cancer

Excessive intake of citric acid can cause damage in DNA. A study treated some human immune system cells with citric acid in concentrations used in foods. All the cells showed signs of DNA damage that are linked to cancer formation. The study suggests that while citric acid makes dietary iron more available to the body, the salt it forms with iron generates harmful free radicals, which can go on to damage all cells and even the DNA. When your immune system cannot cope with this damage, your body comes under oxidative stress and then falls prey to various diseases, including cancer.



Phosphoric acid is a a colourless and odorless crystalline liquid. The chemical formula for phosphoric acid is H3PO4. It is also known as orthophosphoric acid. The function of phosphoric acid in Cola beverages is to give the Cola drinks a tangy flavor and prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, which can multiply easily in a sugary solution.

Phosphoric acid can be produced from the mineral phosphorus which is found naturally in our body. Strong bones and teeth is formed when it works with calcium. It also support kidney function and the way our body uses and stores energy. Besides, it also is needed in the process of the body’s growth and is needed to produce DNA and RNA which are the genetic codes of living things.

In the process of producing phosphoric acid, firstly, phosphorus is turned to phosphorus pentoxide through a chemical manufacturing process. Next, it will be treated again to become phosphoric acid.



1. Lowers Bone Density

Excessive intake of phosphoric acid will lead to lower bone density in humans. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006 hypothesized that the consumption of colas containing caffeine and phosphoric acid decreases bone mineral density (BMD). BMD in the spine and hips of 1,413 women and 1,125 men is measured by the researchers.

For women, they found that Cola intake was associated with significantly lower BMD in the hips but not the spine. Overall, the mean BMD of those with daily Cola intake was 3.7 percent lower at the femoral neck, the location at which the bridge of bone connects the ball of the hip to the top of the femur, and 5.4 percent lower at Ward’s area, the region of the neck, than of those who consumed less than one serving of Cola each month. Researchers found similar results for diet Cola consumption and similar yet weaker results for decaffeinated Cola as well. They did not see a relationship between non-Cola carbonated beverage consumption and BMD. The conclusion of the study is that Cola consumption is associated with low bone mineral density, especially in women.

The fact that the non-Cola beverages did not seem to negatively affect bone density and the fact that even decaffeinated Cola had a negative impact point toward phosphoric acid as the enemy of bone health.

2.Triggers Major Kidney Issues

If we consume too much Cola beverages that are riched with phosphoric acid, we may get urinary changes problem, chronic kidney disease and kidney stones problem. The phosphoric acid found in Cola beverages can lead to an overload of phosphorus in our bodies.

A study published in the journal Epidemiology in 2007 evaluated the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy subjects. The researchers find that by drinking two or more Colas a day, either regular or diet, was associated with twice as great a risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

3. Decreases Nutrients in the Body

Excessive intake of Cola beverages that are riched with phosphoric acid can decrease our body’s calcium levels. This is because phosphoric acid that are produced from phosphorus can lead to phosphorus overload which can impair our body’s utilization of vital nutrients like iron, magnesium and zinc. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to all types of other health problems.

4. Increases Body Acidity

Cola beverages are extremely acidic due to the large amount of phosphoric acid contained in the drink. In fact, according to a study by the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, the top three most acidic soft drinks available today are all Colas.

The pH of Cola beverages ranges from 2.5 to 4.2. Coke Classic are the most acidic Coke product because its pH value is 2.5. This is the reason why Cola beverages are extremely acidic.

5. Damages Tissue

Phosphoric acid are very harmful to human tissue. This is because as we know, phosphoric acid is commonly used for rust removal, metal cleaning and refining and fertilizer manufacturing. It is also can be find in disinfectants and detergents. It will not surprise that phosphoric acid is commonly found on the lists of “strong acids” or chemicals commonly used in industry that can cause chemical burns due to those usages.

The fact that this corrosive chemical would be put into anything coming into contact with our bodies especially our internal bodies can cause irritation and burden to our eyes and skin. It can also irritate the nose, throat and lungs and this will lead us to wheeze and cough.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “phosphoric acid can affect the body if it is inhaled or if it comes in contact with the eyes or skin. It can also affect the body if it is swallowed.”


1.Kierston Wareing

She lost five of her teeth after she got hooked on Cola beverages. She drank seven cans of Cola drink a day for 15 years before quitting. Even though, a dentist had warned her about the effects of sugar on teeth, but she still keep continue her habit to drink it every day. She drank two and a half litres of full fat Cola beverages a day. A year later she with Coca – Cola addiction was waking up in pain and eventually had to have surgery to get rid of five of her teeth that had rot.

2.Natasha Harris

She died because she drank up to 10 litres of the Cola beverages each day. This is twice the recommended safe limit of caffeine and more than 11 times the recommended sugar intake. She had developed an addiction to Coca – Cola. She would get the shakes, withdrawal symptoms, be angry, on edge and snappy if she did not consume Cola beverages. She drank Coke throughout her waking hours and her teeth had been removed because of decay. Coroner David Crerar said her Coca – Cola consumption had given rise to cardiac arrhythmia, a condition when the heart beats too fast or too slow. The coroner calculated that drinking 10 litres of Coke amounted to more than 1 kg of sugar and 970 mg of caffeine. The fact she had her teeth extracted several years before her death because of what her family believed was Coke-induced tooth decay and the fact that one or more of her children were born without enamel on their teeth should have been treated by her and by her family as a warning of taking too much Cola drink.


We can neutralize the polyprotic acids in Cola beverages such as phosphoric acid, citric acid and carbonic acid by using limestone pH adjustment system. Limestone is used in pH adjustment system. Limestone acts as an alkaline agent in the pH adjustment system. It will neutralize, or partially neutralize strong acids. The neutralization process occurs when strong acids react with calcium carbonate to form water, carbon dioxide, and calcium salts. Calcium carbonate is the primary constituent of the limestone.

However, limestone pH adjustment system is not necessarily to be used in the neutralization of the polyprotic acids in Cola beverages due to some reasons. Firstly, as we know, calcium salt is one of the products of the neutralization process. Calcium salts are insoluble in water. This results in the precipitation of salts that deposit on the limestone chips forming very effective coatings. The limestone is rendered useless and must be replaced once coated with precipitated products.

Besides, if we neutralize the acids, the acids will not perform their functions anymore in the Cola beverages. This is because the acids have reacted with the calcium carbonate thus forming water, carbon dioxide, and calcium salts. This will make the Cola beverages loss it tartness, sharp and tangy taste, will expired quickly and mold and bacteria will grow quickly due to the neutralization of polyprotic acids in the Cola beverages.

By adding calcium carbonate into the Cola beverages, the polyprotic acids will react with calcium carbonate thus forming water, carbon dioxide and calcium salts. The addition of calcium carbonate into the Cola beverages will cause us to get some health problems if we consume it. It can cause constipation, increase our risk of developing kidney stones and prevent our body from properly absorbing other minerals to happen to us.

The limestone pH adjustment system is not possible at this time due to the results in the precipitation of salts that deposit on the limestone chips forming very effective coatings. The limestone is rendered useless and must be replaced once coated with precipitated products. Periodic replacement is necessary. However, it is very difficult to replace it and potentially it requires a lot of money to replace it.


We can substitute polyprotic acids in Cola beverages by adding kombucha into the Cola beverages. Kombucha is a fermented beverage. It consists of black tea and sugar which is used as a functional, probiotic food. The sugar comes from various sources such as cane sugar, fruit or honey. It contains bacteria and yeast which are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once it is combines with sugar. Kombucha becomes carbonated after the fermentation process. It contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid that is acetic, gluconic and lactic acid. The bacteria produce cellulose which acts as a shield to the cells. The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast known as a “scoby”. Scoby is the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha can also be made with green teas.

Kombucha is chosen because of a few reasons. Firstly, kombucha is a rich source of probiotics. Kombucha is a type of tea that has been fermented. This makes it a good source of probiotics, which have many health benefits. Besides, kombucha contains the benefits of green tea. This is because many bioactive compounds such as polyphenols found in the green tea. Polyphenols function as powerful antioxidants in the body. Studies show that by drinking green tea regularly, we can increase the amount of calories we burn, reduce belly fat, improve cholesterol levels, help with blood sugar control and more. Studies also show that by drinking green tea we can reduce risks of prostate, breast and colon cancers. Kombucha also contains antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals, reactive molecules that can damage our cells. Antioxidants from foods and beverages are much better than antioxidant supplements. Kombucha appears to have powerful antioxidant effects on the liver. Rat studies consistently find that drinking kombucha regularly reduces liver toxicity that is caused by toxic chemicals, in some cases by at least 70%. Unfortunately, there are no human studies on this topic, but it does seem like a promising area of research for people with liver disease. On top of that, kombucha can kill bacteria. One of the substances that are produced during the kombucha fermentation process is acetic acid. Acetic acid can kill many harmful microorganisms. Kombucha made from black or green tea appears to have strong antibacterial properties, particularly against infection-causing bacteria and Candida yeasts. One study of chickens found that kombucha had antimicrobial effects and similar growth-promoting effects as antibiotics. The researchers even suggested that kombucha tea could be used as an alternative to the antibiotic growth-promoters typically fed to these chickens. Kombucha also can reduce heart disease risk. Rat studies find that kombucha can improve two markers of these diseases, LDL and HDL cholesterol, in as little as 30 days. Green tea protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation which is thought to contribute to heart disease. In fact, people who drinks green tea has up to a 31% lower risk of developing heart disease. Moreover, kombucha may help manage type two diabetes. A study in diabetic rats found that kombucha slowed down the digestion of carbs which reduced blood sugar levels. It also improved liver and kidney function. Kombucha that is made from green tea is likely to be even more beneficial as green tea itself has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels. In fact, a review study of almost 300,000 individuals found that green tea drinkers had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic. Kombucha may also help protect against cancer. In test-tube studies, kombucha helped prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells, due to its high concentration of tea polyphenols and antioxidants. However, it’s thought that the polyphenols block gene mutation and the growth of cancer cells while also promoting cancer cell death (35). For this reason, it is not surprising to see that tea drinkers are much less likely to develop various types of cancer. The Gaia Research Institute has successfully pioneered the use of Green Tea Kombucha cell-wall components in several of its leading edge Gaia Organics range of personal care products. Besides, Cornell University also study the characterization of the anti-microbial activity of the fermented tea Kombucha. Kombucha may be a healthful beverage due to its anti-microbial activity against a range of pathogenic bacteria. This may promote immunity and general well being. It is recommended that Kombucha must be consumed at 7 g/L of acetic acid to obtain these beneficial attributes. On top of that, Michael Roussin also did a lot of research about Kombucha in 1995. It is observed that decaffeinated tea did not change the composition of the Kombucha. Although the pH value is the same for green and black tea, the green tea was perceived to have a tarter flavor than the Kombucha made with black tea. Green tea had more healthier yeast components presented in it than the black tea.

Besides that other drink company has replaced the acids in their products with the kombucha. For example, LIVE Soda Kombucha company has producing organic kombucha that tastes like soda. The products contain zero calories, no caffeine and no sugar, and are naturally sweetened with monk fruit extract. The products come with five flavors. Each of the five flavors is Cola, Root Beer, Ginger, Lemon, Orange and Doctor flavor.


Polyprotic acids in Cola beverages can be replaced by adding kombucha into the Cola beverages. This is because of a few reasons. Eventhough kombucha has the same function as polyprotic acids in Cola beverages but kombucha is much healthier than polyprotic acids in Cola beverage. This is because kombucha is a rich source of probiotics, contains the benefits of green tea, contains antioxidants, can kill bacteria, reduces heart disease risk, helps manage type 2 diabetes and helps protect against cancer. The Coca-Cola Company should replace polyprotic acids in their Cola beverages by adding Kombucha into the Cola beverages. This is because kombucha have the same function as polyprotic acids in Cola beverages and is much healthier than polyprotic acids in Cola beverages. It also can give fizzy bubbles that result from natural fermentation along with a powerful punch of probiotics, B vitamins and enzymes. Besides that other drink companies should also practice it by replacing the acids and flavouring in their products with the kombucha. For example, LIVE Soda Kombucha company has producing organic kombucha that tastes like soda. The products contain zero calories, no caffeine and no sugar, and are naturally sweetened with monk fruit extract. The products come with five flavors. Each of the five flavors is Cola, Root Beer, Ginger, Lemon, Orange and Doctor flavor.


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