How are Soft Drinks Produced?
On a hot Brisbane day there’s probably nothing you enjoy more than quenching your thirst with your favourite soft drink – maybe an iced tea, a mineral water, a fruit juice or a soda. But have you ever stopped to wonder how these drinks are made?
Many of these drinks are made right here in Brisbane, but from what? And what’s the general process used to create a soft drink?
What’s in a Soft Drink?
In the late 1700s Europeans and Americans started to drink sparkling mineral water, which was widely thought to have therapeutic benefits. Soda water was soon invented, consisting of water and sodium bicarbonate mixed with acid for effervescence. Flavours were added, creating ginger ale, sarsaparilla, root beer, lemonade and other fruit drinks, and that’s when they started to resemble modern day soft drinks.
Since the 1960s soft drinks have often replaced sugar with artificial sweeteners to lower the calorie count of many soft drinks; the caffeine content of some drinks was also reduced, though that reversed when energy drinks came onto the market in the 90s; however, health concerns have led to other drinks being developed that are totally free of artificial colours and preservatives.
The most popular beverages today consist mainly of water (up to 95%), sugar (up to 12%), and a range of flavorings which may be natural, “natural identical” (chemically synthesized imitations), or completely artificial. Emulsions (consisiting of water-based elements, such as gums and pectins) may also be added to make their appearance more pleasing.
The most recognisable versions of modern soft drinks – like a can of Pepsi or Lift – have combinations of ingredients that help top create the celebrated blend of sweetness, tartness, and acidity (pH).
How are They Made?
In Brisbane, like elsewhere around the world, soft drinks are generally made at the bottling or canning plant. Most of the brand name drinks you know and love provide licenses for the bottlers to create the drinks, based on strict adherence to formulas and manufacturing processes.
In general, for soda drinks the process is as follows:
- The water is clarified – this is a crucial step as all water-based soft drinks depend on the purity of its main ingredient. Coagulation, filtration and chlorination remove impurities.
- The water is filtered, sterilised and dechlorinated – it is usually passed through a sand filter; a carbon filter is used to dechlorinate it after it has been sterilised.
- The ingredients are mixed – dissolved sugar and flavor concentrates are pumped into batch tanks for mixing together using sophisticated mixing machinery.
- It is carbonated – once the mix is complete, carbon dioxide is usually added
- The drink is bottled or canned – and immediately sealed
- The drinks are labelled – once they reach room temperature
- The drinks are packed into cartons or trays – and dispatched!