Operating a Seltzer Bottle Properly

Getting the most out of a seltzer bottle (i.e. getting the most fizz) means being attentive to both time and temperature. Seltzer bottles work by releasing pressurized CO2 into a volume of water where, over a period of a few hours, it dissolves. You simple fill the bottle with water (filtered is best) and put in the siphon.

Drop a CO2 cartridge into a little sleeve-like cup that comes with the bottle…

…and screw it down onto the valve on the side of the bottle head.

This action punctures the top of the CO2 cartridge releasing the gas into the bottle. Once you hear the hiss and a little gurgling you know the job is done, you simply unscrew the cup, dispose of the empty CO2 cartridge (you can recycle them at a local gourmet shop if you like) and screw on the much more space-efficient valve cover.

Give the bottle a good shake to encourage mixing (remember Joseph Priestley?), stick it in the fridge for a few hours and you’re good to go. Probably the biggest factor that influences the solubility of carbon dioxide in water is temperature. The lower the temperature, the more CO2 the water will absorb. Thus you want your water as cold as possible when you gas it, and you want to keep it that way until you’re ready to serve it.

Sadly, because no home seltzer bottle is completely air tight, your home made soda will start to go flat after about 12 hours. All the more reason to make that second round of ice cream floats and be quick about it.

9 thoughts on “Operating a Seltzer Bottle Properly”

  1. what do you think if the bigger seltzer makers like SodaStream? are they worth it, or is it easier just to use a little seltzer bottle like the one you show here?

    1. Hi Abigail!

      They look very promising, those machines, however since I only have so much counter space I just use the seltzer bottle I’ve had for years. It really depends on the degree to which you’re going to get into it. Those Isi siphons are about $70 now, and the SodaStreams are $100. When you consider that siphons hold less and require lots of small cartridges the price starts to even out. One negative about siphons is that they can get mineral buildup inside them which is basically impossible to get out. So if I were starting from scratch I’d be sorely tempted toward the SodaStream I think.

      – Joe

  2. Could you use a pressurized cream whipping bottle with water and get the same effect? I once bought one but never liked the odd flavor it imparts to the cream. Maybe I could put it back into service making seltzer.

    1. Hey Rainey!

      I’m pretty sure the answer is no. As I recall, CO2 and N2O cartridges are different sizes.

      – Joe

  3. I must say I relish my SodaStream. I go through a bottle or so a day, especially in the summer. No, they are not paying me to write that; I truly dislike their ads. I tend to add extra shots too. It never occurred to me to shake it up – I’ll try that on the next bottle.

  4. I adore my Soda Stream. I use it more than any other kitchen gadget. You can make it more or less fizzy. The greatest thing is the cartridge is recycled when you return it for a new one. Best invention ever.

    1. Hey Robin!

      That’s what I like so much about homemade fizz…you can adjust the bubbles to your taste. It worth it for that alone!

      – Joe

  5. I acquired a used seltzer bottle 15 yrs ago, along with cartridges. I’ve been too afraid to use it as it didn’t come with the sleeve used to hold the cartridge as it screws into the bottle; it has an inch long threaded cap that goes over that area. Can I use that and/or the cartridges that came with it? I have no idea how old these things are. Can one buy the sleeve?

    1. Hi Teri!

      Depending on the manufacturer you should be able to buy a new sleeve. People buy the replacements fairly often because that part cracks from the strain after lots of use. Have a look online — and have fun!

      – Jim

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