Although the fizz of carbonated drinks can make these beverages enjoyable to drink, many carbonated beverages contain acids. You can find several types of acids in carbonated drinks. Manufacturers add some of these acids while others occur naturally in the beverages. Manufacturers use acids in carbonated drinks to give the beverages freshness and tartness specific to the drink.
Manufacturers add carbonation to water by dissolving pressurized carbon dioxide gas in the water. This process causes the water to become effervescent and fizz. Manufacturers then use the carbonated water as an ingredient to make flavored carbonated drinks. During this process, carbonic acid forms in the water, giving carbonated water a pH between 3 and 4. Because of the strength of this acid, manufacturers often add a base such as sodium bicarbonate to reduce the acidity and neutralize the water.
Citric acid is a mild acid commonly associated with fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits such as lemons and limes contain a high concentration of this acid. Citric acid also functions as a natural preservative used by manufacturers to add tartness to carbonated beverages. Many flavored carbonated beverages use citric acid to produce the right combination of sweetness and tartness in the finished beverage.
Phosphoric acid is another acid commonly added by manufacturers to carbonated beverages. Phosphoric acid produces sharp flavors in the finished beverage. This acid also acts as an anti-fungal and antibacterial by slowing the growth of molds and bacteria. Without phosphoric acid, molds and bacteria would rapidly multiply within the beverage from the sugar content.
Danger of Acids in Beverages
The December 2009 issue of "Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases" reports that carbonated beverages do play a minor role in dental erosion. The sugars in these beverages, however, can directly damage your teeth by causing plaque that leads to cavities, which may be more harmful than the carbonation. According to a study published in the 2006 “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” the phosphoric acid in carbonated beverages can, over time, prevent the body from absorbing calcium. This can damage your bones and teeth by reducing the bones’ density and potentially lead to osteoporosis, and preventing calcium from keeping bones strong.