Why A Pinch Of Salt Does Wonders For A Soda's Flavor

Soda is widely known for being three things: cold, bubbly, and — most of all — sweet. Sweetness is so important to soda, in fact, that companies are constantly bending over backwards to develop diet sodas that taste just as sweet as sugary ones, if not more so. With all that in mind, we are asking you to try one flavor-enhancing trick with your next soda: add salt.

At first, it doesn't seem to make any sense. Every classic sitcom ever has drilled into us the terrible mistake of confusing sugar and salt, telling us it leads to dire consequences for our taste buds. Not to worry, though; there is a solid amount of culinary science backing up this unusual recommendation. When added in moderation, salt actually has the effect of making sweet things taste even sweeter. This is because sodium has been shown to "wake up" additional glucose receptors on your tongue, making your sense of taste extra receptive to foods and beverages that contain glucose — that is to say, sugar. It similarly can intensify sour flavors as well as reduce bitter ones, making it a handy addition to heighten the drinking experience of any one of your favorite fizzy beverages.

How to salt your soda

You can add salt to both homemade or store-bought sodas. To add salt to your drink, you will want to start by pouring the latter into a glass as it will allow you to stir and combine ingredients better than if it were in a bottle or a can. Next, add a small pinch of salt — kosher salt works best for this application. Taste the soda to see if the desired flavor has been reached, adding little by little until you are happy. We recommend starting with no more than a quarter teaspoon and stopping before a full teaspoon is reached to prevent the soda from tasting outright salty.

When deciding which types of soda to experiment with, the sky is the limit. Cola is a great starting point, since it has both sweet and sour flavors that are each enhanced by the presence of salt. Lemon-lime sodas like Sprite and Mountain Dew will have their flavors intensified as well. This technique can even balance out more complex sodas, like Dr. Pepper, allowing you to pick up on notes within them that you otherwise might not have. Truly, it comes down to a matter of preference, so we encourage playing around with salting a variety of sodas and seeing which results you like best.