Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

A dime sat on my desk, had soda spilled on it – and you can see the results. I have to say I was absolutely stunned when I saw the results, and I have kept that dime to this day as a reminder of the impacts of soda on health.   Sadly, that didn’t stop me from drinking sodas, as remarkable of an example as it is.  I finally stopped when I started cleaning up my health act in 2017.

This galaxy was called Kentucky.  I lived in the college town of Richmond and worked for EKU.  One day, at lunch, from a vending machine I bought a can of Mountain Dew Code Red.  If your initial reaction is “yuck!” …you’re pretty much right on the money.  I set the can on my desk and popped it open.  The small spray from simply opening that can happened to land on the dime.  Just a few drops hit the dime in precisely the places that you see in the photo.

I thought nothing of it and went about my day.  Weeks later I finally picked up that dime from my desk, and seeing the red-ish spots on it, thought it was simply the dried soda and I could wipe it off.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered those were not just spots of dried soda, but that the small droplets had actually EATEN into the dime!  (That’s no moon!)


The Reaction and The Impact:

Mountain Dew Code redThe whole thing remains amazing to me.  I am stunned with what happened to that dime with just a few drops of soda and of what the larger implications are for regularly ingesting soda.  While I know the correlation is not 100% the same, it’s hard not to see some level of damage as a result.   What I can tell you for certain is that sodas had a significant impact on my health.  Ceasing to drink sodas also saw those impacts reduce dramatically.   What I learned from that was that the sodas were having both a long term impact and an immediate impact.  Most specifically, the aspartame of diet coke was facilitating water retention in my legs, mostly.  As soon as I stopped drinking that, it went away almost entirely.  The degree of Adema decreased significantly!

So while I did experience some immediate and long term health effects, this incident still has a limited amount of direct correlation.  Let’s turn now to the health impacts of sodas.


The Reality:

Jumping to the conclusion that “if soda will do this to a coin! OMG imagine what it is doing to your teeth and your stomach!“ is a little bit dramatic.  So …whoah, Hoss.  Let’s just slow this runaway down.  Suggesting that the acidic levels of soda are intensely damaging to your digestive system or teeth is not altogether illogical, but still lacks a sound scientific foundation. To have that kind of effect on your teeth it would have to sit in your mouth for a long, long, long time.

It’s likely that the sugar residue will do more damage to your teeth than the acid (pH) levels.  Remember, you could do this same experiment with vinegar given the pH level of vinegar.  Additionally you have saliva to protect your teeth from things like acid.  But rather, I think sodas have other, longer range, negative health effects that would be even more concerning.

The Research:

Let’s look at some current research outcomes:

  • People who consume sugary drinks regularly – 1 to 2 cans per day or more – have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely have such drinks.
  • A study that followed 40,000 men for two decades found that those who averaged one can of a sugary beverage per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack than men who rarely consumed sugary drinks. A related study in women found a similar sugary beverage–heart disease link.
  • A 22-year-long study of 80,000 women found that those who consumed a can a day of sugary drink had a 75% higher risk of gout than women who rarely had such drinks. Researchers found a similarly-elevated risk in men
  • Frank Hu, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, recently made a strong case that there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases.

An Article from the Harvard School of Public Health was the source for these notations.  It contains references for each study cited above.


More thoughts:

There are many more sources that suggest that sodas are bad for you.  Here are just a few:





The Take Away:

For me, the bottom line is that sodas have a variety of impacts on my health that I never would have expected.  I understand the research and how the conclusions were formed.  But I am still surprised at just how much damage these things do.  While anything in moderation is manageable, it’s also pretty clear it doesn’t take many sodas to really create problems – on some level.   The safe choice, for me, is to avoid sodas as much as possible.


Why This Happens:

A question you may still be asking yourself is “ok, Ethan, so yeah …soda’s aren’t great for my waistline, but why the heck did you end up with a dime full of holes?!”  Good question! I’m glad you asked!

The Coinage Act of 1792 established the dime.  Curiously, it was spelled “Disme” in the legislation.  From 1786 to 1837 the dime was composed of 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper.  At the time, the value of silver required the dime to be as small as it was (18.8mm diameter) in order to prevent the intrinsic value of the metals being worth more than the face value of the coin.

In 1837 the “Seated Liberty” dime was developed and the percentage of silver was increased to 90%.  Accordingly they reduced the size of the dime to a diameter of 17.9mm.

The Coinage Act of 1965 established a new standard for dimes and the silver content was removed entirely. Dimes from 1965 to today are composed of outer layers of 75% copper and 25% nickel, bonded to a pure copper core.  What interests us is this high copper content.

Sodas contain phosphoric acid.  Most sodas have a phosphoric acid pH level of 2.5-3.5.  The pH scale determines the acidity level of something.   The scale goes from 0 to 14, and anything under a level of 7 is considered acidic.  Therefore a pH level of 2.5-3.5 is VERY acidic.  The pH level of vinegar is 2.5 making it fairly similar to soda.

Phosphoric acid (H3PO4) in the soda reacts with the copper (Cu) content of the dime.  The hydrogen atoms of the phosphoric acid bond/react with the copper element of the dime and will become a copper phosphate (Cu2PO4??) and result in the dissolving of part of the dime.

4 Responses

  • Lani

    Ha, that dime is interesting! Don’t know if you have love bugs in Minnesota, but in Florida at certain times of the year they are a real problem. Once you drive through a swarm your car is coated with disgusting dead bugs that a car wash won’t remove, including on your windshield. The solution? Pour coke on them, let it sit a minute, and it basically starts to dissolve the bug goo so that it will wash off. Seriously. Finding out about that was my “maybe I should drink less soda” moment.

    • Wow Lani! That’s crazy! I don’t think we have any kind of bugs like that here…thank goodness. But yeah, when nothing works and little coke dissolves the problem, it’s a bit of an ah ha moment for sure! I’ve also heard that coke is great at getting out all kinds of stains, like bad calcium and lime stains on bath tubs and toilets, or cleaning up aluminum wheels, etc. It’s just frightening the power of a little acid.

  • Linnea

    What do you drink instead?

    • Water, Tea, Coffee, and Sodastream. I’m going to do another post soon taking a hard look at aspartame in diet drinks and comparing that to a healthier option: Sodastream.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.