Carbonated water (also known as sparkling water, seltzer water,
seltzer, bubbly water, or fizzy water, or the closely related club
soda or soda water) is water into which carbon dioxide gas under
pressure has been dissolved. Club soda or soda water may have
additives, such as sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate or similar, but
seltzer water is almost always composed of water and carbon dioxide
with no other additives.
Carbonation is the process that causes the
water to become effervescent. Most carbonated water is sold in ready
to drink bottles like carbonated beverages such as soft drinks, but it
can also be prepared at home with soda makers.
Carbonated water was invented by
Joseph Priestley in 1767 when he
discovered a method of infusing water with carbon dioxide after
suspending a bowl of water above a beer vat at a brewery in Leeds,
England. He wrote of the "peculiar satisfaction" he found in drinking
it, and in 1772 he published a paper entitled Impregnating
2 Health effects
3 Chemistry and physics
4.2 Social popularity, decline, and renaissance
5.1.1 Soda siphons
5.1.3 Codd-neck bottles
5.1.4 Soda makers
6 Combined usage
6.1 Carbonated beverages
6.2 Alcoholic beverages
7 Stain remover
8 See also
10 External links
Main article: Carbonation
Whether homemade or store-bought, soda water may be identical to plain
carbonated water or it may contain a small amount of table salt,
sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, potassium
citrate, potassium sulfate, or disodium phosphate, depending on the
bottler. These additives are often included to emulate the slightly
salty taste soda water developed years ago from first using them as
preservatives. Naturally occurring processes also produce effervescent
mineral water similar to carbonated water in artesian wells, such as
in Mihalkovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, in
Macedonia, or most notably in
Selters in the German
By itself, carbonated water appears to have little impact on
health. While carbonated water is somewhat acidic, this acidity is
quickly neutralized by saliva. Soft drinks are about 100 times more
erosive to teeth than sparkling mineral water.
Carbonated water may increase irritable bowel syndrome symptoms of
bloating and gas due to the release of carbon dioxide in the digestive
tract. It does not appear to have an effect on gastroesophageal
reflux disease. There is tentative evidence that carbonated water
may help with constipation among people who have had a stroke.
Soda water is defined in US law as a food of minimal nutritional
value, even if minerals, vitamins, or artificial sweeteners have been
added to it.
Chemistry and physics
Carbonation vs. temperature: Bonds between gaseous carbon dioxide and
liquid water are more easily broken at high temperatures. As a result,
seltzer at lower temperatures (far right) hold more carbonation than
seltzer at higher temperatures (far left).
Carbon dioxide gas dissolved in water at a low concentration
(0.2–1.0%) creates carbonic acid (H2CO3) according to the
H2O(l) + CO2(g) ⇌ H2CO3(aq)
The acid gives carbonated water a slightly tart flavor (this is partly
due to the carbonic acid). The pH level between 3 and 4 is
approximately in between apple juice and orange juice in acidity, but
much less acidic than the acid in the stomach. The human body robustly
maintains pH equilibrium via acid–base homeostasis and will not be
affected by consumption of plain carbonated water. If an alkaline
salt, such as sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, or potassium
citrate is added to the water, its acidity is reduced.
The amount of a gas like carbon dioxide that can be dissolved in water
is described by Henry's Law.
Water is chilled, optimally to just above
freezing, in order to permit the maximum amount of carbon dioxide to
dissolve in it. Higher gas pressure and lower temperature cause more
gas to dissolve in the liquid. When the temperature is raised or the
pressure is reduced (as happens when a container of carbonated water
is opened), carbon dioxide escapes from the solution, in the form of
bubbles. This is known as effervescence.
Joseph Priestley pioneered a method of carbonation in the 18th
Many alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine and champagne, were
carbonated through the fermentation process for centuries. In 1662
Christopher Merret was creating 'sparkling wine'. William
Brownrigg was apparently the first to produce artificial carbonated
water, in the early 1740s, by using carbon dioxide taken from
mines. In 1750 the Frenchman
Gabriel François Venel also produced
artificial carbonated water, though he misunderstood the nature of the
gas that caused the carbonation. In 1764, Irish chemist Dr.
Macbride infused water with carbon dioxide as part of a series of
experiments on fermentation and putrefaction. In 1766 Henry
Cavendish devised an aerating apparatus that would inspire Joseph
Priestley to carry out his own experiments with regards to carbonated
waters. Cavendish was also aware of Brownrigg's observations at
this time and published a paper on his own experiments on a nearby
source of mineral water at the beginning of January in the next
Equipment used by Priestley in his experiments on gases and the
carbonation of water
Joseph Priestley discovered a method of infusing water with
carbon dioxide when he suspended a bowl of water above a beer vat at a
local brewery in Leeds, England. The air blanketing the
fermenting beer—called 'fixed air'—was known to kill mice
suspended in it. Priestley found water thus treated had a pleasant
taste, and he offered it to friends as a cool, refreshing drink. At
that time, as even now, sodium bicarbonate was used in medicines and
for making baking powder. Known as soda bicarb, it was produced by
bubbling carbon-dioxide through a solution of sodium carbonate
obtained from the ashes of plants. Priestley called it a soda water
(or soda) since it was produced by bubbling carbon-dioxide through
water. In 1772, Priestley published a paper titled Impregnating
Water with Fixed Air in which he describes dripping "oil of vitriol"
(sulfuric acid) onto chalk to produce carbon dioxide gas, and
encouraging the gas to dissolve into an agitated bowl of water.
Priestley referred to his invention of soda water as being his
In the late eighteenth century, J. J. Schweppe (1740–1821) developed
a process to manufacture carbonated mineral water, based on the
process discovered by Priestley, founding the
Schweppes Company in
Geneva in 1783. In 1792 he moved to London to develop the business
there. In 1799 Augustine Thwaites founded Thwaites' Soda
Dublin. A London Globe article claims that this company was the first
to patent and sell "Soda Water" under that name.
Modern carbonated water is made by passing pressurized carbon dioxide
through water. The pressure increases the solubility and allows more
carbon dioxide to dissolve than would be possible under standard
atmospheric pressure. When the bottle is opened, the pressure is
released, allowing the gas to come out of the solution, forming the
Belfast Evening Post, Belfast, Ireland, August 7, 1786
In the United States, carbonated water was known as soda water until
World War II, due to the sodium salts it contained. These were added
as flavoring and acidity regulators with the intent of mimicking the
taste of natural mineral water. During the Great Depression, it was
sometimes called "two cents plain", a reference to its being the
cheapest drink at soda fountains (i.e. without the addition of three
cents' worth of flavored syrup).
In the 1950s, terms such as sparkling water and seltzer water gained
favor. The term seltzer water is a genericized trademark that derives
from the German town Selters, which is renowned for its mineral
springs. Naturally carbonated water, Selters, has been
commercially bottled and shipped from this town since the 18th century
or earlier. Generally, seltzer water has no added sodium salts, while
club soda still retains some of the sodium salts that once were used.
The term "Seltzer water" is virtually unknown in Britain and most
Commonwealth countries, although Australians of a certain age remember
Selza Saline powder in metal tins with lids which had to be opened for
each use with the back of a spoon, sold during the 1950s.
In many parts of the US, soda has come to mean any type of sweetened,
carbonated soft drink.
United Kingdom and Canada today, drink mixers sold as soda
water or club soda contain bicarbonate of soda, which gives them a
specific flavour and differentiates them from carbonated water. It is
popularly used for drinks such as whisky and soda and
Social popularity, decline, and renaissance
Whisky and soda
Carbonated water changed the way people drank. Instead of drinking
liquor straight/neat (without a mixer), soda water and carbonated soft
drinks helped dilute alcohol, and made having a drink more socially
Whisky and sodas can be seen in many British TV series and
films from the 1960s and earlier and the soda siphon is ubiquitous in
many movies made before 1970. Only a small amount of soda water is
added; a 'splash', and 'Scotch and a splash' was a common bar order.
Whisky and soda was commonly drunk without ice in the UK.
Social drinking changed with the counter-culture movement of the 1970s
and the arrival of new bottled and canned beverages in the 1980s, and
soda water has declined in popularity. Soda siphons are still bought
by the more traditional bar trade and are available at the bar in many
upmarket establishments, but in the UK there are now only two
wholesalers of soda-water in traditional glass siphons, and an
estimated market of around 120,000 siphons per year (2009). Worldwide,
preferences are for beverages in recyclable plastic containers.
Home soda siphons and soda water are enjoying a renaissance in the
21st century as retro items become fashionable. Contemporary soda
siphons are commonly made of aluminum, although glass and stainless
steel siphons are available. The valve-heads of today are made of
plastic, with metal valves, and replaceable o-ring seals. Older
siphons are in demand on on-line auction sites. Carbonated water,
without the acidity regulating addition of soda, is currently seen as
fashionable although home production (see above) is mainly eschewed in
favor of commercial products.
A soda siphon circa 1922
Main article: Soda syphon
The soda siphon, or seltzer bottle—a glass or metal pressure vessel
with a release valve and spout for dispensing pressurized soda
water—was a common sight in bars and in early- to mid-20th-century
homes where it became a symbol of middle-class affluence.
The gas pressure in a siphon drives soda water up through a tube
inside the siphon when a valve lever at the top is depressed.
Commercial soda siphons came pre-charged with water and gas, and were
returned to the retailer for exchange when empty. A deposit scheme
ensured they were not otherwise thrown away.
Home soda siphons can carbonate flat water through the use of a small
disposable steel bulb containing carbon dioxide. The bulb is pressed
into the valve assembly at the top of the siphon, the gas injected,
then the bulb withdrawn. Soda water made in this way tends not to be
as carbonated as commercial soda water because water from the
refrigerator is not chilled as much as possible, and the pressure of
carbon dioxide is limited to that available from the cartridge rather
than the high-pressure pumps in a commercial carbonation plant.
Late Victorian seltzogene made by British Syphon
The gasogene (or gazogene, or seltzogene) is a late Victorian device
for producing carbonated water. It consists of two linked glass
globes: the lower contained water or other drink to be made sparkling,
the upper a mixture of tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate that
reacts to produce carbon dioxide. The produced gas pushes the liquid
in the lower container up a tube and out of the device. The globes are
surrounded by a wicker or wire protective mesh, as they have a
tendency to explode.
The Codd-neck bottle's special shape is designed to contain a marble
which seals in the carbonation.
In 1872, British soft drink maker
Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London,
designed and patented the Codd-neck bottle, designed specifically for
carbonated drinks. The
Codd-neck bottle encloses a marble and a rubber
washer/gasket in the neck. The bottles were filled upside down, and
pressure of the gas in the bottle forced the marble against the
washer, sealing in the carbonation. The bottle was pinched into a
special shape to provide a chamber into which the marble was pushed to
open the bottle. This prevented the marble from blocking the neck as
the drink was poured.
Soon after its introduction, the bottle became extremely popular with
the soft drink and brewing industries mainly in Europe,
Australasia, though some alcohol drinkers disdained the use of the
bottle. One etymology of the term codswallop originates from beer sold
in Codd bottles, though this is generally dismissed as a folk
The bottles were regularly produced for many decades, but gradually
declined in usage. Since children smashed the bottles to retrieve the
marbles, they are relatively rare and have become collector items,
particularly in the UK. They could be found at retail shops and
restaurants in many parts of the world until recently.[when?] Due to
the risk of explosion and injuries from fragmented glass pieces, use
of this type of bottle is no longer encouraged in most countries. The
Codd-neck design is still used for the Japanese soft drink
in the Indian drink called Banta.
A typical all-in-one soda maker for home use found in supermarkets. A
refillable carbon dioxide canister and a high pressure bottle are
Soda makers or soda carbonators are appliances that carbonate water
with multiple-use carbon dioxide canisters. Soda makers may reach a
higher level of carbonation than home soda siphons. A
variety of systems are produced by manufacturers and
hobbyists. The commercial units may be sold with concentrated
syrup for making flavored soft drinks.
One major producer of soda carbonators is SodaStream. Their products
were popular during the 1970s and 1980s in the United Kingdom, and are
associated with nostalgia for that period and have experienced a
A modern bar soda gun
The process of dissolving carbon dioxide in water is called
carbonation. Commercial soda water in siphons is made by chilling
filtered plain water to 8 °C (46 °F) or below, optionally
adding a sodium or potassium based alkaline compound such as sodium
bicarbonate to reduce acidity, and then pressurizing the water with
carbon dioxide. The gas dissolves in the water, and a top-off fill of
carbon dioxide is added to pressurize the siphon to approximately 120
pounds per square inch (830 kPa), some 30 to 40 psi
(210–280 kPa) higher than is present in fermenting champagne
In many modern restaurants and drinking establishments, soda water is
manufactured on-site using devices known as carbonators. Carbonators
use mechanical pumps to pump water into a pressurized chamber where it
is combined with CO
2 from pressurized tanks at approximately 100 psi (690 kPa).
The pressurized, carbonated water then flows to taps or to mixing
heads where it is mixed with flavorings as it is dispensed.
Soft drink § Health concerns
Plain carbonated water is often consumed as an alternative to soft
drinks. However, a soft drink is a beverage that typically contains
carbonated water, a sweetener and a flavoring. Flavored carbonated
water is also commercially available like cola.
Carbonated water is
often consumed mixed with fruit juice. It differs from sodas in that
it contains flavors (usually sour fruit flavors such as lemon, lime,
cherry, orange, or raspberry) and usually a sweetener. Many people cut
up fresh fruit and put in their carbonated water.
Carbonated water is a diluent mixed with alcoholic beverages where it
is used to top-off the drink and provide a degree of 'fizz'.
Adding soda water to 'short' drinks such as spirits dilutes them and
makes them 'long' not to be confused with long drinks such as those
made with vermouth.
Carbonated water also works well in short drinks
made with whiskey, brandy, and Campari. Soda water may be used to
dilute drinks based on cordials such as orange squash. Soda water is a
necessary ingredient in many cocktails, such as whisky and soda or
Campari and soda.
Carbonated water is increasingly popular in cooking to provide a
lighter texture to doughs and batters as compared to regular water.
Kevin Ryan, a food scientist at the University of Illinois at
Urbana–Champaign, says the effervescent bubbles when mixed with
dough provide the light texture. Pockets of carbon dioxide gas are
introduced into the dough and further expand when cooking.
The popular belief that carbonated water is a good remover of clothing
stains, particularly those of red wine, is based on hearsay and
anecdotal evidence. The dissolved gas in water acts as a temporary
surfactant. There is no underlying chemical reason why carbonated
water would be superior to plain water in stain removal.
Premix and postmix
Perrier – naturally carbonated water from France
Fizzy extraction – an analytical technique
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mineral waters.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Carbonated water.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
The Priestley Society
Priestley's paper Impregnating
Water with Fixed Air 1772
Interview with one of New York City's last se