What Coke Contains

CocaCola C2Kevin Ashton describes exactly what goes into the cans of coke he buys at his local supermarket in Los Angeles. Do you still want to drink this stuff?

The Vons grocery store two miles from my home in Los Angeles, California sells 12 cans of Coca-Cola for $6.59 — 54 cents each. The tool chain that created this simple product is incomprehensibly complex.

Each can originated in a small town of 4,000 people on the Murray River in Western Australia called Pinjarra. Pinjarra is the site of the world’s largest bauxite mine. Bauxite is surface mined — basically scraped and dug from the top of the ground. The bauxite is crushed and washed with hot sodium hydroxide, which separates it into aluminum hydroxide and waste material called red mud. The aluminum hydroxide is cooled, then heated to over a thousand degrees celsius in a kiln, where it becomes aluminum oxide, or alumina. The alumina is dissolved in a molten substance called cryolite, which is a rare mineral from Greenland, and turned into pure aluminum using electricity in a process called electrolysis. The pure aluminum sinks to the bottom of the molten cryolite, is drained off and placed in a mold. It cools into the shape of a long cylindrical bar. The bar is transported west again, to the Port of Bunbury, and loaded onto a container ship bound for — in the case of Coke for sale in Los Angeles — Long Beach.

The bar is transported to Downey, California, where it is rolled flat in a rolling mill, and turned into aluminum sheets. The sheets are punched into circles and shaped into a cup by a mechanical process called drawing and ironing — this not only makes the can but also thins the aluminum. The transition from flat circle to something that resembles a can takes about a fifth of a second. The outside of the can is decorated using a base layer of urethane acrylate, then up to seven layers of colored acrylic paint…

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12 Responses to What Coke Contains

  1. lazy_friend March 9, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    the secret ingredient is… evil

    • Sir Legendhead March 9, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Mmm yeah. Tasty delicious evil.

      • Zenc March 9, 2013 at 11:40 am #

        Yeah, Tasty Delicious Evil that goes perfectly with mid-grade Bourbon.

        • lazy_friend March 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

          goes great with all grades of bourbon and rum

          • Zenc March 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

            I agree with your Rum sentiment, but mixing Coke with any Bourbon better than something along the lines of Wild Turkey 101 is “alcohol abuse”.

          • lazy_friend March 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

            yeah I agree, at that grade you are ruining the bourbons taste. In that case the bourbon would be making the coke taste better.

          • Calypso_1 March 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

            The only reason to mix any whisky with a cola is to mask the vomitous acidity of well grade gut rot.

  2. BuzzCoastin March 9, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    trackback your food
    you’d be surprised at how many steps were involved
    and how much energy was used
    to put a salad on your table
    but in this case
    a significant number of Americans could grow much of their own salad
    with information & supplies readily available
    such as,
    Paradise Lot:
    The Making of an Edible Garden Oasis In The City
    Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates

    • Ray Butlers March 9, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      and where shall I get lettuce and blueberries in February?

    • Ray Butlers March 9, 2013 at 9:39 am #

      and where shall I get lettuce and blueberries in February?

      • BuzzCoastin March 9, 2013 at 10:19 am #

        Monsanto

  3. Charlie Primero March 10, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Interesting. Thanks Majestic.

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