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Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric Acid has no flavour of its own. It adds a sensation of dryness to drinks, and a bit of tartness and tang.

It can act as a substitute for the sourness from citrus juice or for the tang from ingredients like ginger.

Phosphoric Acid is used in cocktails such as the Montauk Riding Club Cocktail, and is added to some soft drinks such as Coca Cola (classic.)

The amount of Phosphoric Acid in Coca-Cola and Pepsi is roughly the same, about 106 mg per litre.

The scientific formula for Phosphoric Acid is H3PO4. Food-grade Phosphoric Acid is usually made from the mineral phosphorus mined from rocks. The mineral is then burned and mixed with water to cause a reaction. Phosphoric Acid produced in this way is sometimes called "thermal" Phosphoric Acid.

Industrial-grade Phosphoric Acid is prepared by mixing phosphorous with sulfuric acid. It's often used as a rust remover in "Naval Jelly." Most industrial Phosphoric Acid produced is actually used in fertilizers.

Phosphoric Acid is used by dentists to clean teeth before applying fillings, just as it is used as a flux in soldering to clean surfaces before applying the soldering metal.


There was some health concern that consuming Phosphoric Acid in soft drinks decreased the body's ability to absorb calcium, leading to weaker bones. Researchers have not been able to find any evidence of this, but have suggested that the decrease in calcium absorption might be a result of the people who drink a lot of soft drinks tend to drink less milk.

In concentrated form, even food-grade Phosphoric Acid can burn you.

See also:

Technical Terms

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Also called:

Acid Phosphate; H3PO4; Orthophosphoric Acid


Oulton, Randal. "Phosphoric Acid." CooksInfo.com. Published 30 April 2006; revised 07 November 2007. Web. Accessed 03/19/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/phosphoric-acid>.

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