Nine Fun Facts About Carbonated Water

Colorful animation of numbers one through nine

ONE: Pass On the Plastic

Studies have shown that the carbon dioxide in carbonated water escapes from plastic bottles more quickly than alternative materials. This is because plastic containers are permeable and can expand and contract. This process lets the CO2 escape from sparkling water and soda, causing either to eventually become “flat” more quickly - even before they’ve been opened.

TWO: First Flavored Bubbly Beverages

Our satisfying sparkling sodas and flavored carbonated water drinks weren’t the first to hit the market. Flavored carbonated drinks were first introduced to the United States by Townsend Speakman in 1807. While the improved taste was a definite factor, Speakman also sought to improve mineral water’s many alleged health benefits. The first popular flavor additions are said to have included dandelions, lemon, and birch bark. These may have been all the rage in nineteenth century America, but our present-day options sound a lot more appetizing.

THREE: Who Penned “Pop?”

Ever wondered when we started calling soda “pop?” English poet Robert Southey’s believed to have coined the term in 1812 in a letter to a friend: “Called on A. Harrison and found he was at Carlisle, but that we were expected to supper; excused ourselves on the necessity of eating at the inn; supped there upon trout and roast foul, drank some most admirable cyder, and a new manufactory of a nectar, between soda-water and ginger-beer, and called pop.”

Southey proceeded to explain the clever logic behind his chosen term for carbonated beverages - “...because ‘pop goes the cork’ when it is drawn, and pop you would go off too, if you drank too much of it.”

FOUR: Problems In-Store

Carbonated water was originally only offered at restaurants and pharmacies (which once had refreshment counters as our last article mentioned). Limited storage options and less-than-optimal carbonation technology meant that bubbles didn’t last long. In those days, carbonated products would generally be too flat to enjoy by the time they made it from the shelves of stores to those in buyers’ kitchens. While the soda fountain days may be romanticized, home delivery of your favorite sparkling water flavors is pretty hard to beat.

FIVE: The Race to an Answer

Nineteenth century inventors recognized the demand for sparkling water - and the value of a method to better contain carbonation and make retail sale more feasible. More than 1,500 patents were filed for proposed cork-based solutions to plug bottles of carbonated water and prevent rapid flattening. In 1891, William Painter won the race to an effective, marketable option with his patent of the (aptly named) crown cork.

SIX: Clean Living - But Not Cleaning!

Many have claimed that carbonated water is a potent stain remover. However, it’s been ruled that regular water works just as well. If you’re looking to use bubbly water for cleaning purposes, soapy water is a better choice.

SEVEN: Cheers - but No Chugging!

You may be familiar with age-old advice to pace ourselves with champagne - with many claiming that the beverage’s bubbles add to the alcohol’s effects. Research into the effects of carbon dioxide suggests that these claims have some merit. More specifically, early research suggests that adding carbonated water to cocktails can increase the rate of inebriation. This effect is said to level off after approximately forty-five minutes, but it’s nevertheless recommended to pace yourself with sparkling soda cocktails (and all alcoholic beverage options, for that matter).

EIGHT: Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Sparkling water’s rich history dates back more than twelve centuries. Through the years, many recommended drinking sparkling water - and even bathing in it - to help treat a range of maladies.

While historical claims of sparkling water’s benefits are more fantastical than science can support, modern day research still stands by some advantages to carbonated water over plain old H2O. One New York Times guide advises readers (and especially travelers) to opt for bubbly water whenever they have the option, and even to brush their teeth with it, citing research suggesting that carbonated water’s increased acidity can help to kill bacteria.

NINE: Pour, Then...Eat?

Some culinary artists swear by the use of carbonated water in a variety of high-end recipes. "For tempura, it lightly coats so it's not heavy, which helps make the batter light and fluffy” explains New York City chef David Santos. “For the almond milk, it helps break down the almonds when you're pureeing them." If done correctly, carbonated water is thought to be an effective cooking substitute for water, beer, and some other types of alcohol, resulting in a lightweight and extra fluffy dough.

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