What’s in that soda you’ve got in your hands right now? Go ahead, turn the can over to the nutritional information section. Take a look, I’ll wait for you. One of most striking ingredients you’ll notice is sugar…roughly 39 grams of it. Sugar will get a posting all its own, but for now I want you to keep reading the label in the small-font “ingredients” section. You’ll notice something else: Phosphoric acid.

Before I continue, I want to be up front: I AM NOT POINTING FINGERS at anybody who decides drinks soda. I was addicted for years. I loved it. But it wasn’t until a little over 6 weeks ago that I severed my umbilical cord from it. I’m glad I did, and I already feel better from doing so. I could reasonably be what you call a recovering coke-aholic. I mention this to say I truly understand where you are. But I also want you to understand what you’re consuming because I (like many of us) was ignorant and naïve about it for far too long. (Please note: this posting is relatively long compared to my usual post. However, it is merely 2 pages on a “Word” file.)

Phosphoric acid. What is it? Why is it used? What does it do? Those are some of the questions I want to address here.

In response to a question posed to them about phosphoric acid, Coca-cola admits to adding this harmful substance to their soda. Do you think they call it harmful? Here’s what they have to say about it: “Yes, Coca-Cola does contain phosphoric acid (E 338). It is used as an acidulant to add a pleasant tartness to the beverage. Phosphoric acid contains phosphorous, an essential nutrient and one of the basic elements of nature.” Source

First, what on earth is an “acidulent”? I’m glad you asked. Acid is chemically bitter; an acidulent makes your “soft drink” quite “hard”. Bitter, in fact. It’s what helps keep your soda fizzier longer; It’s what creates that cool burn as it travels down your throat. But just like grandpa needs to take one medication to offset the side-effects of his other meds, soda manufacturers have to do the same with their ingredients. Enter, sugar. If they didn’t add sugar – and lots of it – the bitterness would be too much. So rather than eliminating phosphoric acid, they simply sweeten the pot and mask it a bit with all that yummy sugar. But like I said, we’ll get to that at another time.

I want you to take special notice of what Coca-cola mentions about phosphoric acid: “…it contains phosphorous, an essential nutrient.” If you feel like they think you’re stupid, well you’re right. They hope you’re completely stupid AND ignorant. Coke minimizes their use of “phosphoric acid” by schmoozing you over about this “essential nutrient” crap. The last time I looked, phosphoric acid was not on the periodic table of elements. How can it be even remotely connected to an essential nutrient?

Let’s move on. I want to give you some common uses for phosphoric acid: “…it is a chemical intermediate or reagent in the production of numerous phosphate fertilizers, agricultural feeds, waxes, polishes, soaps, and detergents. Phosphoric acid is also used in processes such as the coagulation of rubber latex, electropolishing, soil stabilization, and as a catalyst in the production of propylene and butene polymers, ethylbenzene, and cumene.” Source: CHRONIC TOXICITY SUMMARY PHOSPHORIC ACID (Orthophosphoric acid) CAS Registry Number: 7664-38-2

Let me get this straight: the same substance used to clean rust off metal, to coagulate rubber latex, to produce fertilizers, to shine your boots, etc, is the same stuff in our favorite soft drinks that we’re putting into our bodies on a daily basis in epic proportions. Really? Are they purposely trying to kill us, or are they just hoping our ignorance will do it for them?

By now, you may be wondering just how much phosphoric acid is in that soda you’re drinking. I’m glad you asked. Approximately 17 mg of phosphoric acid is found in 100mL of soda. Your basic 12-ounce can is 355 mL. Do the math. That’s a little more than 60 mg of phosphoric acid in one tiny can of Coca-cola. But how many refills do we consume at the restaurant? And are we only drinking cans these days, or are we drinking 20-ouncers and 1 liter bottles? When you drink that massive beverage, just imagine how much phosphoric acid you’re pouring into your body.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of it. Basically speaking, phosphoric acid attacks the calcium in your system. In order to stabilize the calcium, guess where your body goes for reserves? Yup, your bones and teeth. It's one of the culprits in why we're losing our teeth, getting more cavities in the ones we have, and developing osteoporosis.  Additionally, phosphoric acid neutralizes the naturally occurring presence of hydrochloric acid in our stomachs. HCL is used to digest food, as it separates out for us those useful nutrients our bodies need. When your body can’t get those nutrients due to phosphoric acid stealing it, guess what happens? Yup (see, you really are smarter than soda manufactures give you credit for), you grow malnourished.

In the 2nd week of my “rehabilitation”, I experienced severe numbness in my fingers similar to symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. My fingers were constantly going numb in the middle of the night, keeping me awake when I tried to sleep. I asked a couple trust-worthy sources about it, and they each told me the same thing, and the above reason is why that was happening. My body and bones were severely depleted, and that’s the havoc that was wreaked upon me.

Here are some of the side-effects of this crap we’re consuming is mass quantities: “Very hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion. Hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive, permeator), of eye contact (corrosive). Slightly hazardous in case of inhalation (lung sensitizer). Liquid or spray mist may produce tissue damage particularly on mucous membranes of eyes, mouth and respiratory tract. Skin contact may produce burns. Inhalation of the spray mist may produce severe irritation of respiratory tract, characterized by coughing, choking, or shortness of breath. Severe over-exposure can result in death. Inflammation of the eye is characterized by redness, watering, and itching. Skin inflammation is characterized by itching, scaling, reddening, or, occasionally, blistering.” Source: Material Safety Data Sheet, Phosphoric acid, 85% MSDS

Did you notice what this stuff attacks? Our mucous membranes – eyes, mouth, and respiratory tract (lungs, throat, etc). Is it any wonder our country's medical costs are so high? 

Here’s the bottom line: We shouldn’t dare touch the stuff, inhale the stuff, or ingest the stuff. Yet, we’re drinking the stuff in mass quantities in our “soft” drinks?

C'mon, America, we’re killing ourselves!


  1. Phew, Vernors doesn't have it. They use citric acid.

    Are you going to cover Sodium Benzoate? Please don't...

    Also, not sure about the health factors, but I prefer sugar over high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes I buy Mexican soda in bottles from the ethnic aisle because they use cane sugar. It's more expensive, but in a way, the higher price helps make it a special thing, not a drink for every occasion.

    1. Sodium benzoate....good idea!

      I'm glad you found a beverage that satisfies. I'm still looking.

  2. I've not had a soda in at least two years. I have been drinking herbal teas and water. I don't miss it. I stopped buying them because of the COST.

    I do think everything in moderation is okay, so I don't think the OCCASIONAL soda is bad.

    1. Ma, thank you for your comment.

      I agree, soda is quite expensive...especially when you consider its ill benefits.

      I agree with the moderation point. I'm simply afraid right now of cracking open a cold Coke, cuz I might fall back into the habit again. Right now, anyway.

      Thank you for visiting!

  3. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Phosporic isn't the only ingredient that is bad. When you research everything in that can and how it effects everything in your reveals how dangerous it is. Sugar causes sugar highs and blocks receptors giving dopamine and glutamate a chance to do what they do best have a party in your brain. HFCS does the same thing. Super sugary goods cause your tastebuds to dull to other flavors and encourage cravings for more sweet. Cola doesn't hydrate your body adequately so easy to become dehydrated chronically and not know it for a long time either.

    Would love to discuss with you Mike is there an email?