Sour candy's acidity in comparison to battery acid


44 Responses to “Sour candy's acidity in comparison to battery acid”

  1. Teirhan says:

    thanks to that typo, i had to read this article in a cartman voice.


  2. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I used to suck on lemons when I was young.  I wonder if there’s a physiological basis for craving sour.

  3. David B says:

    But sadly no data on Sour Patch Kids.  Every time my wife and I are at the movies and she mentions she wants to buy a bag, my mouth and throat seize up just at the thought of it.  

  4. MrEricSir says:

    Wait, so I can drink battery acid and it won’t mess up my teeth?  Cool!

  5. Seth Brammer says:

    Cool info, but it is a touch misleading, as pH is measured logarithmically.

  6. Isn’t the pH scale a log scale (like Richter)?

  7. sugarsails says:

    i used to drink the bottles of warheads spray on long car trips

  8. corydodt says:

    Hmm. I’d really like to know where sour gummy vitamins fall, because that’s how I’ve been taking my vitamins for some time now.

  9. I also distrust the chart because it does not list pickles (or a selection of pickled goods).

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      mmm…. pickled goods….
      i had pickled okra for the first time last month.  holy fsm it was good.

      but back to the post, isn’t enamel damage a function of  ph and *time*?  And shouldn’t there be at least a few sample fruits in this list, at least an orange?

      • robuluz says:

        Pickled Okra sounds awesome. I used to work near this lebanese place that did the best falafel rolls with homous, tabouli and pickled turnip. I’m in the country now, and I can get a decent falafel mix and make great fresh falafel, there’s pretty good homous around (although nothing compares to the fresh stuff from people who know what they are doing) but pickled turnip might as well be 20km under the frozen seas of Europa. I’ve tried making it myself, with results varying from very good to slowly exploding.

        Mmmmmm. Pickles.

  10. thebelgianpanda says:

    two things:
      * first, thank you for alerting me to the fact that there are candies called ‘mango sours’. i love mango, i love sour, so it’s a perfect fit!
      * second, why yes I do keep a bag of citric acid in my kitchen.  that shit is delishus.  sour or teeth?  i’ll take sour.

  11. CliffStoll says:

    pH of Coca Cola Classic is 2.5

    • hadlockk says:

      I came here to say this as well about Coca Cola. It’s extremely acidic, and worse for your teeth than drinking most forms of Vinegar. Additionally the phosphoric acid (a primary ingredient of Coca-Cola) leeches calcium salts out of your teeth, making them more brittle.

      I’ve since switched to tea and on occasion coffee, cut about 2000 calories a week out of my diet and on rare occasions, will drink less acidic soda. Not to mention that tea is about one-tenth the cost of soda!

  12. Also, what about basic (alkaline) foods?

    Where would the famed “playa dust” of the Black Rock Desert rate on the pH scale?

  13. Patrick Wiedorn says:

    The above posters are right in noting that pH is a log scale. So it’s important to note that since battery acid has a pH of 1.0, that does not make it slightly more acidic than a Spree at 3.0, battery acid is in fact one hundred (100) times more acidic than Spree.

    • Boris Bartlog says:

      It’s worse than that. Battery acid (normally I would define this as 35% sulfuric acid, by weight) doesn’t have a pH of 1, but rather a pH of around -0.5. So it’s really more like 3000 times more acidic, but even that is sort of an approximation, as you can’t predict the exact effects just by counting the hydrogen ions floating around.

  14. A.C. Valdez says:

    Why are you out to ruin my enjoyment of candy, BoingBoing?

  15. bo1n6bo1n6 says:

    At first I was like,  “Holy shit people eat that..” But then I realized I used to put 9v batteries on my tongue for fun…

  16. spejic says:

    Orange juice – 3.3
    Lemon juice – 2

    Yes it is a function of time, but sticky candy will stay with your teeth longer than fruit will. And don’t think you can just brush after eating candy – when the enamel is softened by acid, the brushing and toothpaste can damage the enamel themselves.

    • thebelgianpanda says:

      honest question–what is the best thing to do?  baking soda rinse?  water?  just don’t eat anything delicious?  (okay, that last one was snarky :D)

      • jackie31337 says:

        <ihonest question–what is the best thing to do?

        Finns seem to be partial to chewing xylitol gum. It’s soft, so it doesn’t damage the enamel itself the way brushing can. And the xylitol reduces the acid levels in your mouth.

  17. Theo Fitanides says:

    Was this measuring the local pH of a spot of candy that would be, say, stuck on your teeth? Otherwise, the pH will be greatly diluted by your saliva (since we can all agree that sour candy is mouth wateringly delicious). So, can we just brush directly after eating sour candy to circumvent enamel damage?

    • Ben Davis says:

      Saliva is buffered – sour tastes go away if you leave them there (when you eat a Warhead, the sour sensation goes away in seconds). This means that the acid probably damages the teeth on contact, not over time, and brushing wouldn’t help this particular problem.

      As for sour food being “mouth watering”, it truly is! Sour flavors stimulate saliva production. This is easy (and delicious) to test.

  18. BillKosMD says:

    IIRC, a change of pH 0.3 represents either a halving or doubling. Malic acid is the dicarboxylic acid used in making extreme sourness candy. I could be wrong.

  19. Hamburger Helper says:

    The PDF creator is clearly misinformed.  A charged lead acid battery has ~4M sulfuric acid in it, which has a pH of about -1, not 1.  On a log scale, this error is huge.

    • robuluz says:

      OK so to sum up:

      1. The chart is wildly inaccurate.
      2. In any case it’s net result has been to get a bunch of people salivating uncontrollably at the thought of the most acidic foods they can imagine.

      Probably best to pull this one, Minnesota Dental Association.

  20. xenphilos says:

    Still fares better than the Aperture Science Material Emancipation Grill.

  21. mtdna says:

    I don’t see the problem. All I eat is WarHeads and my teeth look fine. See:

  22. semiotix says:

    If you’re that worried about it, just chase the candy with a shot of bleach or lye. Swish it around in your mouth first!

  23. gwailo_joe says:

    Enamel be damned, I do love me some sour candy…

    I feel slightly self concious plunking down a bag of (yum) sour Skittles on the counter at my local store (yet somehow the tall Sapporo and nitrite-bomb jerkey feels properly adult)

    Many years ago I was about to embark on a exchange trip to Japan, and an older kid who had just returned from there gave me some candy; I think it was called Super-Sour?  A hard candy ball coated in death-dust: by far the most mouth puckering, taste bud destroying thing I had ever put in my mouth:  So fucking great.

    I came back, hooked my friends, found a store that sold them and we spent a season tricking other kids into trying them and laughing uproariously at their reactions…but sadly, not long after that; though one could still buy Super Sours: the formula had changed, drastically weakening the shocktacular sourocity.


  24. gwailo_joe says:

    And what about Shocktarts?!  Far, far superior to wimpy Sweetarts…but alas, harder to find…

  25. chaopoiesis says:

    Numbers, numbers, numbers. For a stiff dose of qualitative, check out Jessica Yu’s 5-minute classic, “Sour Death Balls”:

  26. Wayne Dyer says:

    Some good comments up there on errors in the chart, but wanted to add that pH only makes sense in a solution.  You can’t really measure the pH of a hard or even soft candy with any real meaning.  

    What you’d want to do is measure the pH of your saliva “at rest” so to speak, then put in a Lemonhead let’s say, get that going, then measure the pH of your lemony saliva.  Now, if they did that — great.  But I really doubt it.  They probably crushed the stuff and put it in a quantity of water and measured the pH.
    But yes, prolonged exposure to acidic food will dissolve your teeth, and the more acidic the less exposure is required.  

    This is the problem when you use data to make a valid point.  People quibble over the validity of the data, and the point is lost.  Capping it off with a shocking “reference point” of battery acid just draws us nerds out of the woodwork.

  27. Dennis Abbeduto says:

    How are they even getting pHs so low on the candies? Sour candies typically use citric acid, sometimes malic acid, both of which have pkas of about 3.  A pH of less than 2.5 or so is chemically impossible for these acids. Either the measurements are off or the manufacturers are using strong acids like phosphoric that aren’t on the label.

  28. artimusClyde says:

    pH is much different than pKa, or the strength of acids. Just because it has a pH of 1.6 doesn’t mean it’ll burn your skin off, like sulfuric acid (in lead batteries).

    • Dennis Abbeduto says:

      Huh? Granted pH doesn’t predict corrosivity, but that wasn’t my point at all. And, as mentioned earlier, sulfuric acid pH is lower than 1.

  29. Brian Riggins says:

    I love this thread.  I clicked it, thinking “I bet a bunch of people debunk this chart in the comments.  I don’t know how, per se, but there’s no way this chart covers everything.”  You guys didn’t disappoint.  I’d treat you all to some Sour Patch Kids if I could.

  30. milovoo says:

    There is an implied question here that I am reluctant to fully articulate because I would not want to be responsible for some idiot following it through.

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