Sodium Alginate immediately gels my liquid?

In the Modernist Ingredients and Equipment Forum
First attempt at direct spherification (or spherification of any kind).

I chose a diet cranberry-pomegranate juice which may have been a poor choice. :)

Looking at the label it has (among other things), malic acid, pectin, fumaric acid, sodium citrate, ascorbic acid, sucralose, acesulfame potassium.

But it is almost a happy accident--I have a gel rather than getting to the caviar/pearl step, but I can see uses for it as is.

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I posted a video of the failed attempt on YouTube.
The immediate gelling also occurred with some Whole Foods Mango Orange juice. It doesn't have all the chemicals that are in the Diet 5 cranberry-pomegranate drink, but they are both acidic, and they both list potassium in the nutritional information.

Do I need to invest in pH strips?

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