Root beer is made of Sarsaparilla root.
But other flavors also dominate. Wintergreen root is the primary flavoring used in most commercial brands today, mixed with vanilla for smoothness.
Many brands also include anise for a licorice taste. Unlike most other sodas, root beer is often still made with a mix of roots and herbs.
Sassafras root, a common ingredient in days of old, is no longer included.
Sassafras contains a substance called safrole, which has caused cancer in lab animals.
As a result, it was banned by the FDA.
Sassafras extract is still used in some brands of root beer, but with the safrole removed.
Many nutritionists claim that it has anti-oxidant properties like many other herbs.
When Root Beer was introduced from the New World, it was believed that it cured many diseases.
There are hundreds of root beer brands in the United States, and there is no standardized recipe.