Soft Drink


Soft drinks are enormously popular beverages consisting primarily of carbonated water, sugar, and flavorings. Nearly 200 nations enjoy the sweet, sparkling soda with an annual consumption of more than 34 billion gallons. Soft drinks rank as America's favorite beverage segment, representing 25% of the total beverage market. In the early 1990s per capita consumption of soft drinks in the U.S. was 49 gallons, 15 gallons more than the next most popular beverage, water.

The roots of soft drinks extend to ancient times. Two thousand years ago Greeks and Romans recognized the medicinal value of mineral water and bathed in it for relaxation, a practice that continues to the present. In the late 1700s Europeans and Americans began drinking the sparkling mineral water for its reputed therapeutic benefits. The first imitation mineral water in the U.S. was patented in 1809. It was called "soda water" and consisted of water and sodium bicarbonate mixed with acid to add effervescence. Pharmacists in America and Europe experimented with myriad ingredients in the hope of finding new remedies for various ailments. Already the flavored soda waters were hailed as brain tonics for curing headaches, hangovers, and nervous afflictions.

Pharmacies equipped with "soda fountains" featuring the medicinal soda water soon developed into regular meeting places for local populations. Flavored soda water gained popularity not only for medicinal benefits but for the refreshing taste as well. The market expanded in the 1830s when soda water was first sold in glass bottles. Filling and capping the gaseous liquid in containers was a difficult process until 1850, when a manual filling and corking machine was successfully designed. The term "soda pop" originated in the 1860s from the popping sound of escaping gas as a soda bottle was opened.

New soda flavors constantly appeared on the market. Some of the more popular flavors were ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer, lemon, and other fruit flavors. In the early 1880s pharmacists experimented with powerful stimulants to add to soda water, including cola nuts and coca leaves. They were inspired by Bolivian Indian workers who chewed coca leaves to ward off fatigue and by West African workers who chewed cola nuts as a stimulant. In 1886 an Atlanta pharmacist, John Pemberton, took the fateful step of combining coca with cola, thus creating what would become the world's most famous drink, "Coca-Cola". The beverage was advertised as refreshing as well as therapeutic: "French Wine Cola—Ideal Nerve and Tonic Stimulant." A few years later another pharmacist, Caleb Bradham, created "Pepsi-Cola" in North Carolina. Although the name was a derivation of pepsin, an acid that aids digestion, Pepsi did not advertise the beverage as having therapeutic benefits. By the early 20th century, most cola companies focused their advertising on the refreshing aspects of their drinks.

As flavored carbonated beverages gained popularity, manufacturers struggled to find an appropriate name for the drinks. Some suggested "marble water," "syrup water," and "aerated water." The most appealing name, however, was "soft drink," adapted in the hopes that soft drinks would ultimately supplant the "hard liquor" market. Although the idea never stuck, the term soft drink did.

Until the 1890s soft drinks were produced manually, from blowing bottles individually to filling and packaging. During the following two decades automated machinery greatly increased the productivity of soft drink plants. Probably the most important development in bottling technology occurred with the invention of the "crown cap" in 1892, which successfully contained the carbon dioxide gas in glass bottles. The crown cap design endured for 70 years.

The advent of motor vehicles spawned further growth in the soft drink industry. Vending machines, serving soft drinks in cups, became regular fixtures at service stations across the country. In the late 1950s aluminum beverage cans were introduced, equipped with convenient pull-ring tabs and later with stay-on tabs. Light-weight and break-resistant plastic bottles came into use in the 1970s, though it was not until 1991 that the soft drink industry used plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) on a wide scale.

Soft drink manufacturers have been quick to respond to consumer preferences. In 1962 diet colas were introduced in response to the fashion of thinness for women. In the 1980s the growing health consciousness of the country led to the creation of caffeine-free and low-sodium soft drinks. The 1990s ushered in clear colas that were colorless, caffeine-free, and preservative-free.

Raw Materials

Carbonated water constitutes up to 94% of a soft drink. Carbon dioxide adds that special sparkle and bite to the beverage and also acts as a mild preservative. Carbon dioxide is an uniquely suitable gas for soft drinks because it is inert, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive and easy to liquefy.

The second main ingredient is sugar, which makes up 7-12% of a soft drink. Used in either dry or liquid form, sugar adds sweetness and body to the beverage, enhancing the "mouth-feel," an important component for consumer enjoyment of a soft drink. Sugar also balances flavors and acids.

Sugar-free soft drinks stemmed from a sugar scarcity during World War II. Soft drink manufacturers turned to high-intensity sweeteners, mainly saccharin, which was phased out in the 1970s when it was declared a potential carcinogen. Other sugar substitutes were introduced more successfully, notably aspartame, or Nutra-Sweet, which was widely used throughout the 1980s and 1990s for diet soft drinks. Because some high-intensity sweeteners do not provide the desired mouth-feel and aftertaste of sugar, they often are combined with sugar and other sweeteners and flavors to improve the beverage.

The overall flavor of a soft drink depends on an intricate balance of sweetness, tartness, and acidity (pH). Acids add a sharpness to the background taste and enhance the thirst-quenching experience by stimulating saliva flow. The most common acid in soft drinks is citric acid, which has a lemony flavor. Acids also reduce pH levels, mildly preserving the beverage.

Very small quantities of other additives enhance taste, mouth-feel, aroma, and appearance of the beverage. There is an endless range of flavorings; they may be natural, natural identical (chemically synthesized imitations), or artificial (chemically unrelated to natural flavors). Emulsions are added to soft drinks primarily to enhance "eye appeal" by serving as clouding agents. Emulsions are mixtures of liquids that are generally incompatible. They consist of water-based elements, such as gums, pectins, and preservatives; and oil-based liquids, such as flavors, colors, and weighing agents. Saponins enhance the foamy head of certain soft drinks, like cream soda and ginger beer.

To impede the growth of microorganisms and prevent deterioration, preservatives are added to soft drinks. Anti-oxidants, such as BHA and ascorbic acid, maintain color and flavor. Beginning in the 1980s, soft drink manufacturers opted for natural additives in response to increasing health concerns of the public.

Impurities in the water are removed through a process of coagulation, filtration, and chlorination. Coagulation involves mixing floc into the water to absorb suspended particles. The water is then poured through a sand filter to remove fine particles of Roc. To sterilize the water, small amounts of chlorine are added to the water and filtered out.
Impurities in the water are removed through a process of coagulation, filtration, and chlorination. Coagulation involves mixing floc into the water to absorb suspended particles. The water is then poured through a sand filter to remove fine particles of Roc. To sterilize the water, small amounts of chlorine are added to the water and filtered out.

The Manufacturing

Most soft drinks are made at local bottling and canning companies. Brand name franchise companies grant licenses to bottlers to mix the soft drinks in strict accordance to their secret formulas and their required manufacturing procedures.

Clarifying the water

Filtering, sterilizing, and dechlorinating the water

Mixing the ingredients

Carbonating the beverage

Filling and packaging

Quality Control

Soft drink manufacturers adhere to strict water quality standards for allowable dissolved solids, alkalinity, chlorides, sulfates, iron, and aluminum. Not only is it in the interest of public health, but clean water also facilitates the production process and maintains consistency in flavor, color, and body. Microbiological and other testing occur regularly. The National Soft Drink Association and other agencies set standards for regulating the quality of sugar and other ingredients. If soft drinks are produced with low-quality sugar, particles in the beverage will spoil it, creating floc. To prevent such spoilage, sugar must be carefully handled in dry, sanitized environments.

It is crucial for soft drink manufacturers to inspect raw materials before they are mixed with other ingredients, because preservatives may not kill all bacteria. All tanks, pumps, and containers are thoroughly sterilized and continuously monitored. Cans, made of aluminum alloy or tin-coated low-carbon steel, are lacquered internally to seal the metal and prevent corrosion from contact with the beverage. Soft drink manufacturers also recommend specific storage conditions to retailers to insure that the beverages do not spoil. The shelf life of soft drinks is generally at least one year.


The $27 billion dollar soft drink industry generated about 110 billion containers each year in the early 1990s. About half of soft drink containers were aluminum cans and the other half, about 35 billion, were PET plastic bottles. Nearly 60% of all soft drink containers were recycled, the highest rate for any packaging in the United States. Environmental concerns continued to lead to improvements and innovations in packaging technology, including the development of refillable and reusable containers.

The Future

In the 1990s there were more than 450 types of soft drinks on the market and new flavors and sweeteners are developed all the time to meet market demands. In the future, advanced technology will lead to greater efficiency of soft drink production at all stages. New methods of water clarification, sterilization, and pasteurization will improve production and minimize the need for preservatives in soft drinks. Concerns with consumer health, safety, and the environment will continue to have a positive impact on trends in the soft drink industry.

Where To Learn More


Louis, J.C. The Cola Wars. Everest House, 1980.

Mitchell, Alan J., ed. Formulation and Production of Carbonated Soft Drinks. AVI, 1990.

Oliver, Thomas. The Real Coke. Random House, 1986.

Riley, John J. A History of the American Soft Drink Industry. Arno Press, 1972.

Audra Avizienis

Also read article about Soft Drink from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Husin Djoeffri
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 13, 2007 @ 10:22 pm
Normally, the to measure content on CO2 inside the sofdrink, pleople use as GAS VOLUME. How do you calculate yhe gas volume say for Coca Cola ?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jul 24, 2007 @ 6:06 am
Well done.
I have this question to ask. Why are soft drinks generally not sterilised? Send the answer to my e-mail
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 1, 2007 @ 7:19 pm
nice info... just 1 question... what gas is in soft drink?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 1, 2007 @ 8:20 pm
also... answer to my email plz... thnx and what soft drink has the most gas?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 27, 2010 @ 2:02 am
nice topic
...but i just want to ask if it is true that all soda/soft drinks
have only bad effects in our health??...thanks!
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 3, 2010 @ 11:11 am
"sodium bicarbonate & water mixed with ACID"
what ACID do you refer?
eugene ruthenburg
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 16, 2010 @ 7:07 am
I am an aspiring entreprenuer interested in getting into the soft drinks business specifically as a manufacturer. What tools and ingredients would i need to start inexpensively? How can i do this from home? Is it possible?
Report this comment as inappropriate
May 29, 2011 @ 2:02 am
I cannot seem to find any information on NON carbonated processes as many soft drinks are not carbonated. Then there are the drink crystals that one adds sugar to at home etc. I cannot find any details on how these packets are made anywhere namely because when one looks it up it says "Add a cup of sugar to a packet of the stuff" and this is how it is made. I want to know how the powders are made, are they from dehydrated fruits etc. Any suggestions?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 24, 2011 @ 6:18 pm
dear madam/ sir

Good day

my question is :-

what is the best to use in producing soft drink, is it citric acid or malic acid in order to get an extra bite and strong mouth feel bite while drinking a soft drink ?

all what explained above is good , but what is the flavor that shall be added to give a strong bite in mouth and to help co2 to keep strong for long time after open pet bottel ?

dose adding cream soda will give a foum ? & which type of cream soda to add ?

dose cream soda can be easly filled or shall be used anitfoum to fill by filler ?


Report this comment as inappropriate
Jun 25, 2011 @ 12:00 am
How i can measure the Syrup From mixing tanks to filler
ashok kumar
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 17, 2012 @ 8:08 am
what is process soft drink making.pls reply.I WANT TO KNOW THAT MAKI OF SOFT DRINK AND ITS MATERIAL.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 7, 2014 @ 10:10 am
my mango soft drinks show white ring after it is packed after few days what type of chemical shoul i use during preparation so that the ring at the top of liquid does not form
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 10, 2015 @ 1:01 am
how to use potassium carbonate for using soft drinks and how much is the percentage of water we are making juice items like grapes, oranges.strawberry etc. we make fruits only in the make of essence and not fruits pls guide me how to prepare thanking you for your valued reply.

Elrashid Ibrahim Hamad
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 25, 2015 @ 2:02 am
As about the quantity of hot water used in CIP , cleaning bottle and sugar prepare the produce one bottle.

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: