How Soda's Packaging Could Affect Its Taste

Two aluminum cans without labels on white surface

If you're a dedicated soda drinker you have no doubt noticed that the same brand of soda will often taste different in a can than it does in a bottle. Not bad mind you. Just different. The difference is so noticeable to some folks that they will only drink their favorite soda out of either a can or a bottle, depending on which taste they prefer. Of course, this isn't an issue with our Sparkling CBD Soda since we do not offer it in plastic bottles.

Many people simply accept the difference in taste but others are curious why the same soft drink would taste different depending on the vessel. It's a good question and one the team here at CBD Beverages think is worth tackling. So let's get to it.

First Things First: Does Soda Actually Taste Different in Cans and Bottles?

The first issue to address is whether there is an actual difference in the taste of a given brand of soda depending on whether it's in a can or bottle, or whether it's all in the imagination of the drinker. If you are one of those people who believe with all their heart that, say, Coke tastes different in a can than it does in a bottle, there's good news: you're not crazy.

Different brands of soda do indeed taste different depending on whether they're in a can or plastic bottle. In some cases, the difference is so slight that most people will not notice. But in other cases, the taste difference can be pretty significant. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's look at why that is.

Why Bottled Soda Tastes Different than Canned Soda

When they first notice that their favorite soft drink tastes different in plastic bottles than it does in aluminum cans many people suspect that the manufacturer must alter the ingredient list depending on the intended vessel. While this seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation it's not actually true. The ingredients that go into Sprite in a plastic bottle are the same as those that go into Sprite in an aluminum can. So what else could be behind the taste difference?

The actual reason you may perceive a taste difference between soda in a bottle and soda in a can has nothing to do with ingredients and everything to do with the cans and bottles themselves. We'll explain.

About Aluminum Soda Cans

People who notice a taste difference often comment that their favorite soda seems to have a milder flavor when it comes from an aluminum can. It is, in fact, a softer "soft" drink when drunk from a can. But why is that?

Today, all soda cans are made from aluminum. But it wasn't always that way. Until the 1930s soda was only available at pharmacy soda fountains or in glass bottles. In 1935, the world's first tin can was introduced and remained the only kind of metal used for soda cans until 1959 when aluminum cans were first introduced. Lighter and cheaper than tin, aluminum quickly became the default material for making soda cans industry-wide.

But putting any type of soft drink into a can, whether tin or aluminum, created a chemical reaction between the soda and the metal. In order to prevent this can manufacturers developed a protective lining that was applied to the inside of the can forming a barrier between the liquid and the metal. This barrier is still used and may be made from any number of materials. Polymer or epoxy resin is the most common. But polyethylene, styrene, acrylic fiber, and vinyl plastic are also sometimes used.

Without this barrier the aluminum would corrode and the taste of the soda would be ruined. So the coating is a good thing. However, the coating had an unintended effect in that it tended to alter the flavor of the soda just a bit, and that difference is what you taste when you drink soda from a can. That, of course, implies that if you want to enjoy the true flavor of a soda you need to drink it from a plastic bottle. But is that really the case?

About Plastic Soda Bottles

There are a lot of reasons we don't put our Sparkling CBD drinks into plastic bottles. Most of them are environmental in nature. Most manufacturers, however, embrace plastic simply choosing to turn a blind eye to the unfolding environmental disaster these bottles are causing. Though that's a topic for another time.

As far as flavor is concerned plastic bottles are not coated in the same way that aluminum cans are. But that alone does not mean that the soda you get in a plastic bottle is a more accurate reflection of the taste intended by the manufacturer.

Although plastic bottles are not lined with resin or another material the plastic itself contains a chemical called acetaldehyde (say that three times fast!) that some chemists believe alters the taste of whatever is poured into the bottle because a tiny amount of it is actually transferred to the liquid. In addition, plastic bottles allow carbonation to leak out which can cause the soda to go flat faster than it does in a can.

So is that it? Is there any way to enjoy the "true" taste of soda? The answer is "yes", and the material that preserves the flavor most accurately is - drum roll please - glass bottles!

About Glass Bottles

Unlike aluminum cans and plastic bottles, glass bottles are not lined with anything, nor does glass bleed any chemicals into the soda. Instead, the soda that comes out of a glass bottle is likely the closest you will ever taste to what the manufacturer had in mind when they devised their formula.

But glass bottles are not without their own downside. A glass bottle weighs many times what an aluminum can or plastic bottle weighs. This means heavier trucks have to burn more fuel to cart the glass bottles around. Not exactly environmentally friendly. Glass also breaks, making it a significant safety hazard, especially around kids who are, after all, some of the biggest fans of soft drinks.

The Bottom Line

We use cans for our CBD Sparkling Soda because A) plastic is a no-go and B) we think you'll agree that our CBD drinks taste great when drunk from a can. They're cool and refreshing and in our opinion as close as you can get to a pure flavor experience short of using glass bottles. But don't take our word for it. Order some delicious, thirst-quenching Sparkling CBD Soda from Colorado's Best Drinks to find out for yourself.