What Soda Really Boils Down To

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

What Soda Really Boils Down To

July 8, 2014

We all know that soda is loaded with sugar, rots people’s teeth and makes people fat if they drink too much. If that doesn’t sound gross enough, check out this video, where a guy cooks Coke on his stove to see what gunk is left behind once the water boils away. When we heat up water, it “evaporates:” it turns into steam and floats off into the air. But sugar and other ingredients don’t evaporate like that — they stay in the pot. So we see exactly how much of those things were mixed into the soda to make it. The “chef,” named Crazy Russian Hacker, first boils down a 1-liter bottle (close to 1 quart — about 4 cups), and there’s plenty of black goop left behind: a mix of sugar, food coloring and other chemicals. The 2-liter bottle leaves behind an even bigger, goopier load. It’s basically the syrup that Coke mixed into water to make the soda to begin with. But it’s a little alarming to see hat that goop looks like — and how much of it there is.

Wee ones: If you pour 2 bottles of Coke into a pot to boil it, then your friend adds 3 more bottles, how much Coke do you have for your science experiment?

Little kids: If you decide to boil 8 cups of Coke and right now 6 cups of liquid are left in the pot, how many cups of water have you boiled off?  Bonus: If you boil off half of the liquid you have left, how much liquid gunk will be left?

Big kids: The video shows the Coke boiling from about 1 minute 15 seconds until 1 minute 35 seconds. If it actually took him 5 times as long as that to boil it, how long did the boiling take?  Bonus: Crazy Russian Hacker ends up with about 1/2 cup of gunk. If half of that was sugar, how much sugar did the soda have?

The sky’s the limit: Once you boil off the water, you can just mix that sugary gunk into bubbly water to make soda all over again. If you boil all the water out of Coke and the gunk that’s left is 1/9 of the starting volume, then you add only ½ as much water back to make soda that’s twice as strong, how much soda did you boil to start if you end up with 15 cups?




Wee ones: 5 bottles.

Little kids: 2 cups boiled off.  Bonus: 3 cups of gunk.

Big kids: 100 seconds, since it took only 20 seconds on the video.  Bonus: About 1/4 cup, which is 4 tablespoons. (For those who are curious, just a 12-ounce can of Coke holds 39 grams of sugar – one gram short of the 40-gram total daily limit recommended by the FDA.)

The sky’s the limit: If the gunk is 1/9 of the starting soda, then the water was 8/9 of the total. If you then add only half the water back, that’s 4/9 of the starting volume. The resulting soda will be 5/9 of the starting volume. If that amounts to 15 cups, then the 1/9 gunk took up 3 cups, and so the original amount was 27 cups.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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