How are soft drinks made?

We’ve been enjoying these refreshing beverages since the 19th century without guilt, as a matter of fact, these carbonated drink were first marketed to have medicinal properties. But in recent years, the sugar present in these drinks has become a menace for people’s lives not only because it promotes obesity and lifestyle health risk like diabetes and hypertension but also due to its addictive nature. But don’t worry, I won’t make you feel bad about it in this article, here I will only tell you how it is made in simple English.


How is it made?


Ingredients used: carbonated water (80-90%), sugar (7-12%) and additives like artificial sweeteners and emulsions.


Clarifying water: The water to be used for manufacturing has to be purified first of organic matter, suspended impurities and microbial pathogens to ensure quality and safety of product.

  1. Coagulation: salts of metal such as ferric sulphate or aluminum sulphate are used to coagulate suspended particles in water to make them bigger so that they can be easily filtered.

  2. Filtration: water containing coagulants is passed through filter (which is usually sand) to remove the coagulated particles.

  3. Sterilization: the filtered water is them stored in tank where chlorine is added and held for at least two hours to kill bacteria and germs.

  4. De-chlorination: activated carbon is used to remove the chlorine along with organic matter and thus, clarified water is obtained.


Adding ingredients: although recipes are mostly secret and the list of additives is quite long, but the main ingredients are sugar, flavorings and carbon dioxide.

  1. Sugar and flavors are mixed together by controlled agitation so as to avoid unwanted air to get mixed along. The mixture maybe sterilized before adding it to the water.

  2. The water and combination of sugar and flavors are mixed in tanks pressurized with carbon dioxide using a machine called 'proportioner', which controls the flow and ratios.

  3. Carbonation of the mixture is done under controlled temperature for optimum solubility of carbon dioxide. The pressure of the gas depends on type of drink.


Packing: the prepared drink is filled in cans or bottles, labeled and packed in cartons to be distributed for sale.


Health impacts of soft drinks

Okay, there’s no better way to put this but soft drinks are straight up BAD for your health. And I am just gonna leave a list of health complications linked to their over dosing.

  1. Increased belly fat: you know the kind of fat that we all just despise!

  2. Fatty liver: the excess amount of sugar is converted into fat in liver and may lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

  3. Diabetes and heart diseases: consuming too much sugar overtime reducing insulin sensitivity in your body which may lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

  4. Increased cancer risk

  5. Increased gout risk

  6. Increased dementia risk

The takeaway box

One argument which is jabbed by soda enthusiasts is that sugar free soft drinks are a good source of hydration which is obviously essential but hold up! Those added food additives in those drinks aren’t innocent. To replace the sugar, manufacturers commonly use artificial or natural sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or stevia which technically aren’t as bad and reduce the overall calories so as to make them a ‘healthier choice’. If you occasionally drink soft drinks then opting for sugar free option is definitely better but if your daily consumption is already high then making a change may not do you much good. Studies don’t find a simple answer to the question whether sugar free options are ‘healthier’ as findings show links between artificially sweetened drinks and obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, poor bone health and tooth decay. If you feel an urge to drink colas everyday than the problem lies in your dietary habit which needs to be corrected to begin with as you may be addicted to sugary foods.


References and further reading:


Avizienis, A., 2007. How Soft Drink Is Made - Production Process, Making, History, Used, Product, Industry, Machine. [online] Madehow.com. Available at: <http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Soft-Drink.html> [Accessed 1 August 2020].


Basciano H, Federico L, Adeli K. Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2005;2(1):5. Published 2005 Feb 21. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-5


Blumenthal DM, Gold MS. Neurobiology of food addiction. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2010;13(4):359-365. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e32833ad4d4


Bowen WH, Lawrence RA. Comparison of the cariogenicity of cola, honey, cow milk, human milk, and sucrose. Pediatrics. 2005;116(4):921-926. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-2462


Bucher Della Torre S, Keller A, Laure Depeyre J, Kruseman M. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Obesity Risk in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Analysis on How Methodological Quality May Influence Conclusions. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(4):638-659. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.05.020


Choi HK, Willett W, Curhan G. Fructose-rich beverages and risk of gout in women. JAMA. 2010;304(20):2270-2278. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1638


de Koning L, Malik VS, Kellogg MD, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption, incident coronary heart disease, and biomarkers of risk in men. Circulation. 2012;125(14):1735-S1. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.067017


Fung TT, Malik V, Rexrode KM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(4):1037-1042. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2008.27140


Leech, J., 2019. 13 Ways That Sugary Soda Is Bad For Your Health. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-ways-sugary-soda-is-bad-for-you> [Accessed 1 August 2020].


Mandl, E., 2020. Is Diet Soda Good Or Bad?. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/diet-soda-good-or-bad#1> [Accessed 1 August 2020].


Merckmillipore.com. 2011. Soft Drink Processing Application. [online] Available at: <https://www.merckmillipore.com/IN/en/ps-learning-centers/beverage-production-learning-center/applications/soft-drink-processing/PBeb.qB.mB0AAAFC_rpYZnxr,nav> [Accessed 2 August 2020].


Moreira PI. High-sugar diets, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(4):440-445. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e328361c7d1


Mueller NT, Odegaard A, Anderson K, et al. Soft drink and juice consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010;19(2):447-455. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-0862


Ouyang X, Cirillo P, Sautin Y, et al. Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Hepatol. 2008;48(6):993-999. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2008.02.011


Pollock NK, Bundy V, Kanto W, et al. Greater fructose consumption is associated with cardiometabolic risk markers and visceral adiposity in adolescents [published correction appears in J Nutr. 2013 Jan;143(1):123]. J Nutr. 2012;142(2):251-257. doi:10.3945/jn.111.150219


Vartanian LR, Schwartz MB, Brownell KD. Effects of soft drink consumption on nutrition and health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Public Health. 2007;97(4):667-675. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.083782