Which of your favorite drinks wins the race for the most acidic beverage?

You’ll see why choosing between diet and regular soda may not be your most important decision. There’s much more to consider.

When it comes to your teeth, cutting down on sugar is a good start. So when deciding between diet soda and regular, diet is always best, right? Not so fast. You’re on the right road, but it depends.

Diet and Regular Sodas Contain Acids Extremely Harmful To Teeth

Beverage companies deliberately add acids to your favorite drinks. They do it to create their signature flavors, distinct and recognizable. The acid additives have a significant downside if you want to retain your teeth for a lifetime. There is something you can do about it, but it starts with examining how acidic your favorite beverage is.

Kitchen Table Chemistry- Drain Cleaners, Battery Acids and Your Teeth

I’ll show you how you can actually measure the acid strength of your favorite beverage. But first a little kitchen table chemistry. In a previous article, I mentioned that you can measure the strength of an acid by looking at a number called pH. Very low pH numbers in the (0-1) range are close to battery acid strength.

Drain cleaners are on the other end of the scale.  They have a very high pH (13-14), are very strong bases and equally dangerous.

Tap water typically has a neutral pH (7), in the safe middle position and is neither acidic nor basic. Which means it’s okay for your teeth.

Each whole number change in pH represents a factor of 10 difference. For example the difference in acid strength from pH 5 (black coffee) to pH 2 (lemon juice) is three factors of 10 or  (10x10x10)=1000x stronger. Or moving in the opposite direction, from pH 2 to ph 5 black is 1000x weaker. Pay attention to the number of zeros.

Testing your own drinks is easy.

Tear off a 1-1/2 inch strip of pH test paper and dip about 1/2 inch quickly into the liquid and remove it immediately.  Then compare it to the colored scale on the pH paper container. Presto, you’ve got a reading on the pH of the liquid you are testing. Check out the image below to see where your favorite drink ranks.

Image Of pH Measurement Scale

pH Measurement Scale
Courtesy of:

A Horserace-Winner Of The Most Acidic Drink Challenge

Vying for the title of most acidic popular drink, the competitors enter the gates. The lineup is ready. There off. The excitement is gripping as the pack begins to spread out, rounding the track, with Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola running neck and neck. As they round the final turn taking the lead is Pepsi-Cola.

Pepsi-Cola, the winner, by a nose, for most acidic beverage in this reference article at a low pH of 2.46. It’s a photo finish with Coca-Cola, taking second, at a pH of 2.48.

They are followed closely by Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Arizona Iced Tea, and Diet Dr. Pepper, all between pH 2.9 to 2.99. These are about 1/3 less acid than Coke or Pepsi.

Then it’s regular Mountain Dew at pH 3.14, with Diet Coca-Cola, Diet Mountain Dew, Sprite and Diet Sprite finishing in a bunch, with Diet Sprite at pH 3.34.

The next to cross the finish line is A&W Root Beer lagging at pH 4.8, brewed black tea at pH 5.36, followed by brewed black coffee at ph 6.25. The tap water finished dead last, close to neutral with a pH of 6.7 in this study.

image of chart showing Acidity of popular beverages

pH Acid Ranking Of Popular Beverages
Courtesy of: Craig Sommer DDS and

Changing From Regular To Diet Soda Won’t Help Tooth Decay

We’ve looked at sugar previously. Looking at acid content and strength in this article, we’ve discovered where our favorite beverages fit into the pH lineup. Stronger acids, which have a low pH, help dissolve teeth faster than weaker acids, with higher pH numbers. Changing your drinking habits from regular to diet soda is not going to significantly reduce the destruction of your teeth. Changing your selections to higher pH number beverages will help, but there is one more thing to consider, acid additives.

It is what is in the sodas, as additives, that can make the biggest difference concerning tooth destruction. Sodas have sugar, low pH acids and “stealth acid” additives. I use the term “stealth acids,” that I coined, to describe an even more serious concern when considering which foods and beverages are the most dangerous. We will cover stealth acids in an upcoming article.