Coca-Cola Hacks You Need To Start Using

If you don't have a can (or a case) of Coca-Cola sitting in your fridge right now, you likely know where you can find one fast. Maybe it's down the street at your corner store. Maybe it's downstairs in your apartment building's vending machine. With Coca-Cola served in more than 200 countries and over 1.9 billion servings imbibed each day (according to the company), the iconic soft drink is seemingly everywhere.

However, while Coca-Cola is best known as a delicious way to quench a parched palate, there's no reason to limit your enjoyment of this fizzy beverage when it can do so much more. You've likely already heard that Coca-Cola can remove grime or rust from household items, or that it makes a sweet addition to your favorite homemade barbecue sauce. But that's just the tip of the soda-flavored iceberg. Here are some other unique Coca-Cola hacks you need to start using ASAP.

Use Coca-Cola as a tenderizer

Coca-Cola has a sweet, distinct flavor profile, but it's more than just taste that makes Coke a fitting addition to your next barbecue. The acid in soda, according to Livestrong, also makes soft drinks like Coca-Cola suitable for tenderizing your favorite cuts of meat. Coca-Cola's pH level is similar to that of both lemon juice and vinegar, two popular choices for meat marinade and tenderizer recipes. This acidic pH level is possible due to the phosphoric acid, citric acid, and carbon dioxide that you'll find listed on many sodas' ingredient labels.

The acid in Coca-Cola, Livestrong also explains, is strong enough to tenderize meat to depths of up to a quarter of an inch, and can be used to tenderize beef, chicken, and fish. However, if you're looking for the soda with the highest acidity level — and therefore the most tenderizing power — you may want to be more specific with your Coke choices. Some of the brand's sodas are more acidic than others; Coca-Cola Cherry, for example, is more acidic than Coca-Cola Zero. Other sodas are even more acidic, such as RC Cola.

Add Coca-Cola to your cake

Coca-Cola appears in a variety of recipes. A 1990 New York Times article named just a few that incorporate Coke, including recipes for baked beans, barbecue sauce, Jell-O salad, and sloppy joe sauce. According to the article and an archivist for the Coca-Cola Company at the time, it's believed that home cooks began using Coke for cooking around 1900, when the soft drink became common enough to have on hand in the kitchen and adding it to a recipe was convenient. Perhaps one of the most popular recipes that calls for a heavy dose of Coke is Coca-Cola cake, a delicious concoction that's a bit like a sugary chocolate cake and sometimes garnished with a sprinkling of nuts and miniature marshmallows.

But why did those turn-of-the-century home cooks add soda to their cakes in the first place? As Southern Living details, using soft drinks of any kind in baked goods was historically an easy way to add sweetness when sugar was unavailable (either due to cost or, in some years, war rationing). Soda also helped to create an airy, light texture when baking powder, baking soda, and similar leavening agents were likewise hard to come by. If you'd like to add a few splashes of Coke to your next baking project, according to the Coca-Cola Company, it's best to allow the drink to come to room temperature first, and to stir it "rapidly" so as to reduce fizz and foam and for accurate measurement.

Add Coca-Cola to your compost pile

Take the Coke out of the kitchen and see what it can do for you in your garden. If you're trying to cut down on food waste, the drink serves two purposes in your compost pile, according to Gardening Etc. The same acid that makes Coca-Cola useful for tenderizing and marinating meats also works to break down items in your compost bin, helping jumpstart the composting process. The sugar in Coke also attracts various microorganisms that further hurry the composting process along. If you want to try this hack, an expert from National Greenhouse told Gardening Etc. that you can simply pop open a fresh can of Coke and pour it out onto your compost pile. One can per 1 square foot of compost will suffice.

Looking for another Coca-Cola benefit in the garden? Gardening Etc. also mentions that Coke can be handy for killing weeds where necessary, but cautions that the same sugar that attracts microorganisms for breaking down your compost can also attract bugs.

Use Coca-Cola to clean your toilet

Coca-Cola is often touted as a quick and easy option when you're low on your favorite household cleaning products or if you're looking for nontoxic cleaning alternatives. But can the sugary soft drink really clean as well as some claim? While it's still up for debate whether or not Coke is really a good option for cleaning your silver or jewelry, there's one place where Coca-Cola is reportedly excellent as a cleaner, and according to Southern Living, that place is the toilet.

The publication notes that while many standard toilet cleaners are abrasive and toxic, Coca-Cola can wipe away stains, rings, and lime, thanks to the same acids that make it suitable for use in marinades and tenderizing. The carbonic, citric, and phosphoric acids dissolve stains so you spend less time scrubbing. However, the publication does point out that you shouldn't use Coke every time you clean your toilet. Instead, only use it when you specifically want to clean away stubborn stains; otherwise, with frequent use, the soda's dark color can stain your white toilet bowl and the sugar content can attract potentially harmful bacteria.

Use Coca-Cola as a self-tanner

This hack is a bit contested, but it's one that seems to work, despite the potential downsides. According to Allure, the trend popped up several years ago as people began using Coca-Cola as a self-tanner. They would apply Coke to their entire bodies (or, you know, whatever body parts they wanted to tan) and then head out to the beach or backyard to soak up the sun. The hack reportedly gives you a deeper glow, thanks to the Coke's caramel dye and food colorings.

However, Allure spoke to a director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology about this hack, and they said that applying soda before going out into the sun can increase your risk of a sunburn. The acid in the soda may exfoliate away your dead skin cells, which allows for greater sun exposure and, thus, more sun-caused skin damage. Additionally, if you're using Coke on your skin, you're likely not also applying sunscreen, which is definitely recommended. So if you're going to use this hack, keep the Coke-based self-tanning indoors rather than stripping down to your skivvies and using soda as the only barrier between the sun and your skin.

Use Coca-Cola to remove stains from concrete

If you have a concrete floor in your garage or a concrete slab or patio outside your home, you may also have some grease stains on that concrete. Concrete stains are annoying to deal with, whether they originated from your leaky car, using the grill, or a messy DIY project. But if you took the water hose to those stains and were disappointed to see them still there, you may want to head inside and grab a can of Coke from the fridge. According to Hunker, Coca-Cola's acidic content will help blast through messy grease stains on concrete.

To take advantage of this handy hack, though, you'll need a few other items beyond just your trusty can of Coke. As Hunker details, if the stain is new, first you'll want to spread some cat litter on the grease stain to soak up excess liquid. After the excess grease is gone, pour a can of Coke over the stain, then give it a good scrub with a nylon brush. You can adjust the amount of Coke you use as needed. Let it sit for half an hour, then clean the stain again with a mixture of laundry soap, bleach, and water, and your stain should be gone.

Use Coca-Cola as a hair treatment

There are a lot of odd food-based hair treatments out there, from egg washes (as Cosmopolitan details) to apple cider vinegar rinses, noted by Healthline. Given all the unexpected ways you can use Coca-Cola around the house, it shouldn't be a surprise that Coca-Cola is also among the many food items that can be used in your hair. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, even celebrities use this cheap hack, with model Suki Waterhouse quoted as saying she occasionally uses a Coca-Cola rinse to make her hair tousled when it's feeling a bit too fine and limp after a wash.

Seventeen put this hair hack to the test, noting that the acid in Coke supposedly helps smooth and define curls, while the sugar helps to add volume. Their take after four staff members gave the Coke hair rinse a try? They said Coca-Cola did indeed increase their hair's shine, texture, softness, thickness, and smoothness. Their final verdict was that this hack could be a helpful beauty routine addition for those with the right hair type, at least on an occasional basis.

Use Coke to help with stomach woes

We've all probably grabbed a can of soda when we've been feeling a little under the weather, tummy-wise. According to the Wall Street Journal, carbonated beverages help to reduce stomach acid, which in turn reduces nausea in many cases. Additionally, phosphoric acid is a major ingredient in both cola and in anti-nausea drugs.

Beyond nausea, Coke can also help with much more serious stomach woes, like stomach blockages. As Live Science reported, researchers found that for about half of studied patients suffering from gastric phytobezoars (which are painful, hard masses that form from the indigestible bits of fruits and vegetables, often in those who already have digestive issues), Coca-Cola was a suitable lone remedy to remove the blockages. For even more of those patients studied, Coca-Cola was a suitable remedy alongside endoscopic techniques, meaning only a few patients needed surgery for their gastric phytobezoars. All in all, the researchers claimed that Coca-Cola has more than a 90% success rate in helping patients deal with these blockages and attribute that success rate to Coke's high acidity.

Use Coca-Cola to curl your hair

Okay, so you might not be able to use actual Coca-Cola to curl your hair (though, as Seventeen found out, you can use the soda as a rinse to help define naturally curly hair). But you can use Coca-Cola cans to curl your hair.

The hack popped up on both TikTok and Instagram in mid-2022 and no, it doesn't work by wrapping your hair around Coke cans like curlers, a la Lady Gaga in the 2010 music video for "Telephone." Instead, as Allure explains, you're going to need to drink all the Coke in the can first (or use it for one of the other hacks on this list) and then wash it out. Once you have a clean, dry can, insert a strand of hair into the can's opening, twisting the can upward until the entire strand of hair is in the can. Then, set your hair dryer to its hottest setting and blow dry the outside of the can. After the can is hot, turn off the dryer and slide your hair free, after which you should find a perfectly formed curl. Allure asked a hairstylist why this hack works and they explained that the hot air blowing on the can essentially heats your hair the same way a hot tool, like a traditional curling iron, might.

Treat a jellyfish sting with Coca-Cola

If you've ever worried about the chances of a jellyfish sting at the beach, you may have also considered your options for treating a jellyfish sting. The popular theory is that peeing on a jellyfish sting is the way to go to ease the pain quickly, but Cleveland Clinic points out there's no evidence that supports this theory and that it can actually make the pain worse. Instead, science says to turn to a much more palatable — and actually effective — remedy: Coca-Cola.

In 1993, a New Scientist article reported on research being done in Australia, comparing liquids that are commonly found at the beach and their effectiveness at treating jellyfish stings. The research looked at Coca-Cola, Fanta, milk, lemonade, fruit juice, tomato juice, tea, wine, and beer, and found that Coca-Cola inhibits jellyfish venom firing and stinging by 30% and reduces pain and skin reactions from jellyfish stings by between 25% and 75%. So, the next time you head to the beach, maybe pack a few extra cans of Coke, just in case.