Here’s Why Canned and Bottled Soda Taste Different

Updated: Apr. 01, 2022

While some people love to chug a soda straight from the can, others prefer the ways their soft drinks taste from a bottle. If the recipes are the same, why do they taste so different?

soda cans vs bottlesShutterstock (2)

Now that the world can stop speculating about Game of Thrones, we can pop more provocative questions. Like why soda tastes different when you drink it from a can versus a bottle—and whether there’s a difference between plastic and glass bottles. While soda manufacturers state that they use the same recipe regardless of whether the soda is packaged in a can or bottle, there is no denying that ice cold Coca Cola tastes different when you chug it from a can compared to drinking it from a bottle. And that just one of the 10 secrets Coca Cola is not telling you.

The aluminum cans have a polymer lining that can absorb some of the soda’s flavors, food chemist Sarah Risch tells Popular Science, potentially making the taste milder. If you are slugging your soda from a plastic bottle, Risch notes, the soda’s flavor may be altered by some of the acetaldehyde in the plastic transferring into the drink.

Since glass bottles are basically inert, they’ll deliver a product very close to the original intent, experts tell Business Insider. One chemist states that the metal taste some people note from soda in cans may have more to do with their sensitivity to metal—they’re tasting the can as they put it to their lips, not a metallic taste that’s actually present in the cola. Here are some more things that happen to your body when you drink soda.

A researcher from Harvey Mudd College who studies taste tells Business Insider that other variables in flavor occur based on the sensitivity of someone’s tastebuds: Some people can pick up extremely tiny differences. What’s more, the way the product is stored may alter flavor: light, temperature, and time will also change the way your soda tastes. Thirsty for more fun fizz facts? Check out the origins of 9 of your favorite sodas.