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Determining the Pressure inside an Unopened Carbonated Beverage

Students tackle the deceptively simple task of determining the pressure of carbon dioxide gas inside a sealed soft drink can.

By Hans de Grys, Journal of Chemical Education 2007, 84, 7, 1117

Abstract Soft drinks provide a unique way to explore chemical principles. A challenging exercise for students is to determine the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas inside a sealed 12 ounce soft drink can. When presented as an open-ended problem, this exercise encourages students to think deeply about the principles involved and to develop creative strategies that are sound both theoretically and practically. A number of different methods are discussed for solving the problem, including solutions that use the ideal gas law, gas collection via water displacement, and Henry’s law. The investigation includes aspects of gas behavior, equilibrium, solubility, and acids and bases.


  • 2 decimal place balance
  • thermometer
  • unopened carbonated beverage

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