Sunday, 25 April 2004

Dropping Acid

You know, you may be appalled to hear this but when I bought a pH meter I was scoffed at. SCOFFED at. And by my so-called friends as well! I obviously need a better class of friend.

It all started when a science teacher I know had the gall to relate some bit of Coke urban myth to me as the truth. I think it was the one about Coke being harmful to drink because it's acidic, and it taking the tarnish off pennies. I don't doubt that the pennies thing is true - I've tried it, it works - but you can do it with any acidic drink. I tried it with wine and it worked just as well.

Anyway, I wanted to know just how acidic Coke is. I tried to find it out through search engines and what-have-you but I couldn't get any reliable number for it - so I thought I'd have a look and see how much an acidity meter costs. You may be as surprised as I was to learn that they cost less than £30! I got mine from RS Components and it was the most impressive bit of online service I've ever seen - I ordered it at about 6:30 in the evening and it arrived THE NEXT MORNING. I wasn't expecting it for at least another day. RS Components aren't always that fast. They must know that if a person orders a pH meter then that person means business - they don't want to measure acidity in a couple of days time, they don't want to measure it next week - no, they want to measure it NOW, THIS MINUTE, and they obviously drop everything and get that order out of the door the second it comes in. That is how much respect RS Components have for people who own (or aspire to own) pH meters. No scoffing from them.

Anyway I duely measured the acidity of Coke and yes, it is pretty much the most acidic thing I could find to measure (and I measured VINEGAR for God's sake). Maybe Iain did have a point about it being excessively acidic. I don't think it'll do a lot of harm though - bile is supposed to be between 1 and 2 and your stomach is full of that stuff. It turns meat into a white mushy pulp. Any Coke you drink would just dilute the bile. It's probably not good to drink too much of it though.

Anyway, I unfortunately seem to have misplaced all the readings I took at the time so this afternoon, instead of cleaning the flat, I decided to brush off the old pH meter and give it another whirl :-) This time I didn't have any Coke (I used Pepsi instead) and I measured a few other things aside from soft drinks and alcohol. Bear in mind that it isn't calibrated properly so the measurements are a rough guide only, they're nowhere near accurate:

Pepsi (normal version)2.70
Orange Fanta3.03
Malt vinegar3.08
Croft Original sherry3.37
Joker dandelion & burdock3.55
White wine3.76
Blendered orange3.94
Carex handwash4.52
Stella Artois lager4.66
Sainsbury's fizzy water5.06
Dove handwash5.13
Persil washing-up liquid5.39
Strong black coffee (no sugar)5.90
Tap water7.10
Sainsbury's still bottled water7.85
Flash all-purpose cleaner8.87

So there you have it. I was a bit surprised by the results for vinegar, coffee and Flash all-purpose cleaner. I thought wine would be more acidic than it was (it was quite a sweet wine, I'll get some dryer stuff and try that). I think I'll measure some spirits as well - I'm guessing acidic but less so than wine.