If you regularly like to drink carbonated water, you might wonder how it becomes so fizzy.
Those bubbles are what distinguish carbonated water from other types of water, and make drinking water much more fun.
What, exactly, is carbonated water?
Carbonated water can be enjoyed in various forms, such as sparkling water and seltzer water.
However, the way that all these types of carbonated water are made is the same.
With that in mind, let’s explore how a water carbonator works so you can impress your friends the next time you enjoy a seltzer after dinner.
Does Carbonated Water Contain Carbon Dioxide?
If you love drinking water with bubbles, then you have carbon dioxide to thank for them!
Carbon dioxide doesn’t have a smell or colour.
It’s an incombustible gas that can take the form of liquid, gas, or solid states, which is why it’s used in various chemical processes. When carbon dioxide is put into still water, it produces bubbles.
History Of Water Carbonation
Interestingly, fizzy beverages date back to 1662 when scientist Christopher Merret produced sparkling wine by adding molasses and sugar to the wine during its fermentation process.
In 1767, scientist Joseph Priestly suspended a bowl of water over a beer vat, then put sulphuric acid onto chalk on top of the vat. He made the discovery that this method gave the water fizziness.
A few years later, in 1772, Priestly wrote a paper about this process. Then, in the late 18th century, amateur scientist Johann Jack Schweppe came up with the first commercial process to make carbonated water and mass manufacture it.
This was such a success that King William IV of England loved sparkling water!
So, How Is Water Carbonated?
Carbonated water is made by combining carbon dioxide with water under high pressure.
These ingredients react chemically so that they produce carbonic acid. This acid stimulates the nerve receptors in your mouth, which is why it produces a prickly, burning sensation that some people find enjoyable.
Sparkling water requires a high gas pressure and low temperature so that the carbon dioxide can get dissolved in the water.
This is what produces carbonic acid. As the temperature is increased or the pressure is decreased, carbon dioxide is released from the water in the form of bubbles. This requires passing pressurised carbon dioxide through the water.
Is Carbonated Water Bad For You?
If you really love your bubbly drinks, you might wonder if it’s safe to drink them daily.
Generally, carbonated water is healthy, as long as you ensure that you avoid water that contains unhealthy additives such as sugar and sodium, both of which can be unhealthy for your teeth and overall health.
How Different Types Of Carbonated Water Are Made
As we’ve already mentioned, there are different types of carbonated water: sparkling water, seltzer, club soda, and others.
Let’s explore these different types in more detail and how they’re made.
- This is pure carbonated water that doesn’t contain any ingredients. It’s basically just carbon dioxide and water. You’ll know seltzer in this pure form if you have a SodaStream machine. Sometimes seltzer is called soda water.
- Mineral water. This can be still or sparkling. Mineral water can’t contain less than 250 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids that come from a physically and geologically protected water source which is located underground.
- Club soda. This is carbonated water that contains sodium or potassium salts. These salts are added to the water because they neutralise the water’s acidity and they also give the water the flavour of natural mineral water.
- Tonic water. This isn’t actually water – it’s a sweet, soft drink that contains carbonated water. It contains trace amounts of quinine, which is an antimalarial compound that’s found in cinchona tree bark. Quinine used to be added to tonic water in large quantities for medicinal effects, but now it’s added to it in much smaller amounts because it gives the tonic water a bitter flavour.
Pros And Cons Of Carbonated Water
Carbonated water has many advantages, but some potential drawbacks, too.
Let’s take a look at them.
- Carbonated water is said to improve digestion. A study containing 21 participants found that sparkling water can help to relieve symptoms such as constipation and indigestion. It’s also good for improving satiety and fullness, so that you relieve constant feelings of hunger.
- It’s not as bad for your teeth as sugary soft drinks. That’s according to a study that found sparkling mineral water only slightly damaged tooth enamel more than still water.
- It improves your ability to swallow. Various research has found that carbonated beverages can help people to swallow better. For example, one study found that when people were asked to swallow different liquids, when they swallowed carbonated water their nerves responsible for swallowing were stimulated the most. Another study monitored 72 people who felt they had to clear their throats persistently. When they consumed ice-cold carbonated water, about 45 of them experienced relief.
- It’s healthy for your bones. When 18 postmenopausal women were studied, it was found that drinking one litre of sparkling water rich in sodium for two months resulted in them having more calcium retention as compared to when they drank plain mineral water.
- There’s some evidence that carbonated water can be good for your heart. Another study of 18 postmenopausal women found that drinking carbonated water which is rich in sodium helps to decrease bad cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation. It’s also been found that the risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years is 35 percent lower if you drink carbonated water.
- It can help you to lose weight. The reason why carbonated water is good for weight loss is because it helps you to stay hydrated. In fact, it’s much better than drinking diet or regular soda as these don’t give you enough hydration.
- If you already have a health condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), it’s probably best to avoid drinking carbonated water. This is because it can cause gas and bloating, both of which can result in an IBS flare-up.
- While carbonated water can be good to prevent weight gain, it’s important to note that tonic water can be unhealthy as it has about 15 grams of sugar per serving. You should be wary of any carbonated water beverages that contain additives, such as sugar.
Can You Make Your Own Carbonated Water At Home?
If you don’t have a carbonated water machine at home, you can make your own carbonated water without one. If you add citric acid, vinegar, and lemon juice to water, and then add a bit of bicarbonate of soda, you’ll have carbonated water.
What happens during this process is that the acid content in the water mixes with the bicarb to produce carbon dioxide. Here’s how to do it, but note that you won’t get a lot of pressure and bubbles.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- 2 cups water
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon citric acid
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
How to make carbonated water:
- Mix the citric acid, lemon juice, sugar, and water.
- Pour the solution into a bottle. It’s advised that you make use of a plastic bottle to prevent the glass from exploding.
- With the use of a funnel, pour in the baking soda before quickly closing the lid so that the contents won’t spill out the top.
How To Make Carbonated Water With SodaStream
A water carbonator such as SodaStream provides a quick way to make bubbly water at home.
How it works is that you have to twist the CO2 canister and push the button to make it fizz. This forces carbon dioxide into regular tap water.
The gas that’s inside the carbon dioxide cylinder experiences high levels of pressure which produces carbonated water.
Can water be carbonated naturally?
Carbonated water does sometimes occur naturally, such as when water is retrieved from mineral springs.
Does carbonated water make your body acidic?
Although carbonated water has a pH of three or four, which means it’s slightly acidic, it doesn’t make your body acidic. This is because your lungs and kidneys work to remove any excess carbon dioxide in your body.
If you love a bit of bubbliness in your beverages, you’ll love carbonated water.
In this article, we’ve looked at the different types of carbonated water and how they’re made.
We’ve also looked at the pros and cons of carbonated water so you can enjoy it safely.