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What Is The Detail Ingredients Of Carbonated Drinks?

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When was your first time drinking the carbonated drink? Maybe it was at a birthday party in childhood. What’s your first feeling after drinking it? Wow, it’s so delicious! I want to drink it every day! What’s inside? What’s inside of the carbonated drink? Today, let’s talk about the ingredients of carbonated drinks.

the ingredients of carbonated drinks

The detail ingredients of carbonated drinks

Water 

No matter what kind of carbonated drink you want to make, water is the first ingredient. The composition of water in a typical carbonated soft drink (CSD) is about 90% (98% for sugar-free drinks). 

The water used in carbonated drinks comes from two main sources: natural spring water and underground water. Due to the scarcity of natural spring water, groundwater has become the water source of most carbonated beverage factories. If we use groundwater water as the water source, it must undergo further treatment before it is used for production. In addition to treating groundwater into drinkable water without impurities and odor, we also need to pay attention to other component data in the water, such as water hardness, pH value, alkalinity, and chroma, which may affect the stability, color, and flavor of the beverage.

Here are some possible effects of the composition in the water on the beverage

CompositionEffect
Suspended MatterVisible haze/ or particles
Foaming during filling
Taste and Odour
(e.g. from chlorination/ or chlorophenols)
Off-tastes
AlkalinityReduced product acidity
Scaling of boilers, heaters, and jets
BacteriaSpoilage
Health risk

PS: During water treatment, we usually use chlorine to disinfect water, if you use this kind of water(the water contains chlorine) for the beverage, dechlorination is required, otherwise it may affect the color, flavor, and aroma of the beverage. The dechlorination method can use the activated carbon to filter and adsorb the treated water.

The key to a tasteful beverage starts simply from water. So each carbonated drink manufacturer should have its own treated water requirements covering physical, chemical, microbiological and taste characteristics. 

Here are some requirements of water for carbonated drink 

As for the analysis of water composition, please refer to another article named water report analysis

Sugar/sweeteners

The second main ingredient is sugar, which makes up 7-14% of a carbonated drink. The sugar in carbonated drinks adds sweetness to the drinks, balances the acids of the beverage, it also acts as a preservative for carbonated drinks.

Sweeteners in carbonated beverages can be divided into natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners according to their sources:

  • Natural sweeteners: cane sugar, beet sugar, fructose, glucose, honey, etc.
  • Artificial sweeteners: saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame, stevia, etc.

Different sweeteners have different tastes. Here are the taste characteristics of some sweeteners for your reference

  • Sucrose, fructose syrup: sweet and soft, refreshing;
  • Glucose: sweet, with a little bitter;
  • Saccharin: slightly bitter, sweet residual for a long time. Generally, the maximum allowable dosage is 0.15g/kg;
  • Stevia: low permeability, late taste, and long residue time. It can reduce blood sugar and fatigue, hangover, etc. It is suitable for diabetics and health drinks.

As far as the feeling is concerned,10% of the sugar solution is generally comfortable, and 20% of the sugar solution is not easy to dissipate sweetness (greasy taste). Therefore, when processing carbonated drinks, the sugar dosage should be controlled at 7% – 14%.

When choosing granulated sugar, it is best to choose high-quality granulated sugar. Poor quality granulated sugar will lead to drink condensation, sediment, odor, and a lot of foam when filling. Drinks with high requirements for syrup color, such as white lemon soda, generally need the purifying treatment.

Sugar-free drinks

With the development of the times, concerns about health and the change of lifestyle have been influencing traditional soft drink consumption, people are drinking less soda to reduce their sugar intake, which promotes the development of sugar-free drinks. In 2005, the Coca-Cola Company launched Coca-Cola Zero as no-calorie cola, which sold as Coca-Cola No Sugar in some countries.

In the production process of sugar-free cola, we use artificial sweeteners to replace the traditional sugar. Therefore, we can say that sugar-free cola does not contain sugar components such as white granulated sugar and fructose syrup, but it contains sugar substitutes, that is, alternative sugar that only provides sweetness. Sugar-free Coca Cola uses aspartame and acesulphame potassium (sometimes called Acesulphame-K or Ace-K)as alternative sugar to increase the sweetness, which is also the sweet ingredient of Coke Zero and Diet Coke. Sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners bring much fewer calories than traditional sucrose.

Carbon Dioxide/CO2

Carbonated drinks, as the name suggests, the drinks contain carbon dioxide. The amount of carbon dioxide added depends on the type of carbonated drink. The carbon dioxide content of fruit-type carbonated drinks is usually lower than that of cola-type carbonated drinks.

Besides quenching thirst, relieving summer heat, and cooling temperature, carbon dioxide also can highlight the aroma of the beverage and prevent the growth of microorganisms in the beverage.

The carbon dioxide used in carbonated drinks mainly comes from the recovery of fuel preparation, such as power plants or large fermentation plants, such as breweries. The CO2 is extracted from these factories, purified, and then sold to the carbonated drink factories.

Flavors 

Flavors are present in virtually every carbonated drink. Different carbonated drinks have different flavors. According to the sources, it can be divided into natural flavor and artificial flavor. 

Natural flavor mainly comes from various fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Artificial flavors are manufactured synthetically. As the natural flavor is greatly affected by seasons and natural conditions (climate, natural disasters, etc.), the supply and price of natural flavor are unstable. Compared with the instability of natural flavor, artificial flavors are diverse, easy to obtain, and much cheaper and more stable. 

Acid

Almost every carbonated drink contains acid. Acid has the following functions in carbonated drinks:

  1. Give carbonated drinks a specific sour taste;
  2. Improve the flavor of carbonated drinks by balancing the sweetness;
  3. Enhance the thirst-quenching effect of carbonated drinks by stimulating the production of saliva;
  4. Prolong the shelf life and act as preservatives by slowing the growth of micro-organisms (yeasts, molds, and bacteria).

The acid agent used in carbonated drinks can be divided into organic acid and inorganic acid. 

  • Organic acids: citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, ascorbic acid, lactic acid, gluconic acid, etc.
  • Inorganic acid: phosphoric acid (mainly used in cola drinks and beer)

The most common acids in carbonated beverages are citric acid, malic acid, and phosphoric acid.

  • Citric acid(E330): the most common acid in carbonated drinks come from the citrus fruits, predominantly lemons, and limes 
  • Malic acid(E296): adding malic acid to carbonated drinks will enhance the fruit flavor of the drinks. Someone said that the malic acid acts as a flavor blender and creates a smoother and more natural-tasting flavor profile.
  • Phosphoric acid (E338): mainly used in cola drinks and beer. 

Caffeine

In the United States, over 60% of soft drinks sold contain caffeine. Some carbonated drinks contain caffeine, while others do not. In the United States, over 60% of carbonated drinks contain caffeine. Caffeine, a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant, the most common caffeine drink is coffee. On a tired weekday afternoon, a cup of coffee will greatly improve our work efficiency. How about a bottle of carbonated drink that contains caffeine? This combination of carbonated drink and caffeine not only gives us a taste of carbonated drink flavor, but also stimulates our nerves, reduces our fatigue, and eases our mood. We all know that caffeine has a bitter taste, add a small amount of caffeine to carbonated drinks can also be used as a supplement to sweeteners to neutralize the sweetness of carbonated drinks, and then enrich the taste of drinks.

Caffeine is easy to get, found naturally in coffee beans and tea plants.

The dosage of caffeine in carbonated drinks is less, and if you want to add caffeine to your carbonated drinks, it must be shown on the ingredient list. Levels above 150mg/l must be declared quantitatively with the following warning statement: ‘High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate made up of glucose units in chains of various lengths. Maltodextrin is often used in sports drinks because it provides a high concentration of carbohydrates with less sweetness.

Electrolytes

Not all carbonated drinks contain electrolytes. Like the Maltodextrin, carbonated drinks containing electrolytes are mainly sports drinks. Electrolytes are substances that conduct electricity when dissolved in water. Potassium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, calcium, and phosphorus are the six electrolytes humans required. These substances support a healthy nervous system, regulate fluid balance, keep muscles contracting, and stabilize the body’s pH. During exercise, electrolytes are lost by sweating, especially sodium and potassium. These electrolytes need to replenish, so they are often added to sports drinks.

Colors/pigment

The function of colors in carbonated drinks:

  1. Imitate the color of natural products
  2. Make up for discoloration in processing
  3. Enhance eye appeal, make the beverage more psychologically desirable 
  4. Help customers recognize the flavor of beverage faster

The color can be divided into natural edible color and artificial color. Natural colors can be extracted from plants, fruits, and vegetables. Artificial colors, by artificial synthesis, a full range of colors can be obtained, such as blue, green, red, and yellow, etc. Usually, people seldom use natural color in carbonated drinks, due to high cost, difficulty to color, unstable, and may change the taste of the drink. Artificial colors are popular in carbonated drinks as it is cheap, stable, and convenient to color. The brown-colored beverage use caramel color to color their beverage. Caramels are one of the oldest and most widely-used colors. They are used in cola, beer, and ginger ale drinks.

Some tips for color agent solution

  1. Use dechlorinated, distilled, or deionized water for color agent solution, which are formulated in 1%-10% solutions 
  2. Use glass, ceramic, stainless steel, or plastic containers for color agent solution, and avoid contact with iron and copper 
  3. The color agent solution should be kept away from light and stored at low temperatures.

Preservatives

Although everyone wants no preservatives in the drink, it is difficult to achieve as the beverage will go bad without the preservatives.

Preservatives prolong the beverage shelf life by slowing or stopping the growth of micro-organisms (yeasts, molds, and bacteria). The preservatives prevent the growth of organisms, not kill the organisms. If your beverage already be contaminated, no preservatives can prevent spoilage. The dosage of preservatives used in carbonated drinks usually be regulated strictly by the relevant departments. The most popular preservatives used in carbonated drink is benzoates (E210-E213) and Sorbates (E200-E203).

When we put the preservative in carbonated drinks, we need to pay attention to the other ingredients, which may affect the effectiveness of the preservative. For example, the benzoates can only be used in the liquid whose ph range is 2.5-4.0, the Sorbates can be used in the liquid whose ph range is 5-6. 

Other food additives used in carbonated drinks

Emulsifier

  • Purposes: emulsification, wetting, and dispersion, solubilization
  • Selection principle: select according to HLB value; the principle of similarity and compatibility; minimum transmittance value.
  • Common types: sucrose ester, monoglyceride, fatty acid sorbitan anhydride, lecithin, etc.

Thickening agent

  • Purpose: thickening, stabilizing, suspending, clarifying
  • Common types: agar, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC Na), sodium alginate, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate (PGA), pectin, etc. 
  • Using principle: generally, mixed-use is better than separate use, so mixed thickener is used in practice, usually the total dosage of thickening agent used in carbonated drinks is 0.2% ~ 0.3.

Antioxidant 

Ascorbic acid, usually called vitamin C, is often used as an antioxidant to remove air from drinks. Air will make the drink off-taste, ascorbic acid can prevent the drink be oxidated. The amount of antioxidants used in carbonated drinks is 0.01%~0.05%, if exceed this amount, it may oxidize the color of carbonated drinks. 

LINHO design carbonated drink making system according to different ingredients of the carbonated drink.

soft drink blending system
the ingredients of carbonated drinks process system
the ingredients of carbonated drinks mixing system

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