What’s Carbonation?

If there’s one ingredient a soda fountain can’t do without it’s, well…soda. Carbonated water. Fizz. But what exactly is it? Soda is nothing more than carbon dioxide dissolved in water. A gas dissolved in water you say? How does that work? Pretty much the way it sounds. The very first man-made carbonated water was created by a fellow named Joseph Priestly in about 1770. He simply agitated a container of water that he’d suspended over a huge vat of fermenting beer. The atmosphere under that particular section of domed ceiling was nearly 100% carbon dioxide. Eventually enough of the gas dissolved into the water to create bubbles.

Nowadays most of us leave carbonation to our local Coca Cola or Schweppes bottling facility. Yet there are a few of us out there, either soda freaks or Three Stooges fans (I happen to be both) who own their own seltzer bottles. These contraptions are nothing more than air-tight containers into which you can release CO2 and keep it there under pressure. Over time (a few hours, say) the gas dissolves into the liquid, producing a lovely accompaniment to Scotch. Of course not being of industrial caliber, seltzer bottles (also known as soda syphons) don’t give you quite the fizz that you get with store-bought soda. But then I’ve come to like the subtler sensation, also I never know when I might find myself caught up in the middle of a slapstick routine.

4 thoughts on “What’s Carbonation?”

  1. Some of us ferment our own soda with champagne yeast. Ginger beer made with freshly grated ginger or freshly squeezed ginger juice is INTENSE.

    1. Lovely, Karen. I keep meaning to try that. Know where I can get a good recipe? 🙂

      – Joe

  2. I’m hoping you do the egg cream. I haven’t had one in years and they bring back pleasant memories too.

    I’ve got one of those gadgets which hasn’t the elegance of the bottle, but as one who can go through a bottle or two a day, I suppose it’s more economical. I do make a ginger simple syrup which keeps a long time. Tonight I had a glass of soda water, ginger syrup and lemonade which was nice in the heat here (though cooler than usual; only 82º at 10:00). I did find a recipe for tonic water I’m thinking of trying, because even more refreshing is a gin and tonic.

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