Dropping a few Mentho candies into Coca-Cola (Coke) and other carbonated drinks creates an explosive volcano of sweet, sticky rain. But, what happens when other catalysts are dropped into carbonated liquids? When the catalyst is yeast, the results aren't nearly as fun to watch.
Yeast is a living fungi, a spore which acts as any other leaving creature. In the right environment, yeast will eat its favorite foods, digest them to create energy and fuel growth, then excrete a chemical waste byproduct. Yeast consumes natural sugars, but not artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin. Therefore, when yeast is dropped into Coke or other naturally sweetened beverages, the fungi's first response is to consume sugar.
Fuels Growth and Reproduction
As the fungi consume the sugar, the energy is converted and fuels two distinct biological functions. First, yeast multiplies via a process called mitosis. This asexual reproduction does not require male and female components. Individual yeast spores replicate and then break off into two identical fungi spores. The second product of the chemical reaction between yeast and the sugar present in Coke is CO2. Carbon dioxide is released as the byproduct of the yeast's digestive process. All living plants and animals give off, transpire or excrete some kind of waste products after ingesting food. Yeast's byproduct, the direct result of consuming sugar, is the secretion of CO2. If a balloon is stretched over the top of the Coke bottle after adding yeast, the CO2 will inflate the balloon.
As the sugars are consumed out of the liquid Coke, the beverage is converted to a beverage with mild alcohol content. Much like the difference between regular wine and dry wines, which have a lower sugar content, the carbonated soda pop is converted into a solution with a higher content of C2H5OH, straight chain alcohol. This process should not be confused with creating wine. Wine is a combination of carbonated beverage infused with alcohol content. The reaction between Coke and yeast does not produce a pleasant tasting, wine-like beverage. This result is likely caused by the high amount of chemical preservative in Coke. Wine is produced as yeast consumes and reacts with high amounts of natural fruit sucrose. In the Coke, yeast consumes sugar and high fructose corn syrup, but creates an unpleasant-tasting, alcohol content beverage.
Raises pH Levels
In liquids, pH is a measure of a substance's acidity. High pH solutions have a high salt content. Low pH levels are typically acidic and have a high hydrogen, or OH radical content. Highly acidic and high salt content compounds are on opposite ends of the same spectrum. As alcohol is produced in the liquid Coke, hydrogen content increases. This chemical process results in decreased pH levels.
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