The Day the Carbonation Process Was Invented

Sparkling water in glass with red plastic straw

There are any number of things related to food and drink that people tend to assume have been around forever but are actually fairly new. When it comes to utensils the fork comes to mind. As far as food storage goes, refrigerators were rare before World War II. And, because they have been ubiquitous for as long as most people currently alive can remember, carbonated beverages like sparkling CBD water are generally thought to go waaay back. But this is not really the case.

“Really? What about beer?” you ask. Well, what about it? It’s true that beer has been around for thousands of years but ancient beer bore little resemblance to today’s brew with its foamy head and endless bubbles. Ancient beer had a wee bit of carbonation that resulted from the fermentation process, but if you were served an ancient beer today you’d say “Hey bartender! This beer is flat!”

The fact is, carbonation as we understand it only appeared a couple of hundred years ago, during the 18th century. Carbonated drinks did not enter the public consciousness to any great degree until the middle of the 19th century. So let’s take a look at the origins of carbonation and how its invention affected the world at that time, and eventually led to products like Sparkling CBD Soda.

The World of the 18th Century

The world of the 21st century is one of endless innovation and breakneck technological progress. Change is happening so quickly now that it’s almost impossible to keep up with. If carbonation were invented today it would likely get lost in the cloud of other breakthroughs, and might even be scoffed at due to its tendency to cause burping and occasional gastric discomfort.

But the world of the 18th century was a very different place. The 18th century is considered by many to mark the beginning of the modern era because it was during this period that new inventions sparked the industrial revolution. At the same time, enlightenment principles of equality began to take hold and provided much of the philosophical basis for the American and French revolutions.

For most people, however, the 18th century was much like the ones that preceded it. They still lived agrarian lives, those lives were typically nasty, brutish and short, and there was nothing remotely like Sparkling CBD Soda to drink. In fact, beverage choices, even for the well-off, were extremely limited. Most people were afraid of drinking water since it often made them sick (they had no understanding of bacteria). So instead of water, they drank things like wine, beer, ale, cider, and various spirits. If they had money they might also drink tea, coffee and cocoa.

Enter Carbonation

One of the characteristics of the beginning of the modern age was that inventive types were no longer looked upon as solitary weirdos. Instead, they were encouraged and their inventions often widely adopted. Carbonated water was a good example. Several 18th-century inventors began trying to find a way to reproduce the effects of naturally sparkling mineral water. Mineral water had a kind of mythic quality to it. People knew of it and believed it had miraculous curative powers. Inventors felt if they could produce carbonation artificially it might have commercial possibilities, and they were right.

In 1772 an English chemist and philosopher named Joseph Priestley published a paper entitled: Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air (1772). The paper described his process for creating carbonated water by dripping sulfuric acid onto chalk that was suspended over a vat of water. Priestley himself made nothing from the invention but others recognized its commercial potential and made fortunes with their new carbonated beverages. Among these entrepreneurs was J.J. Schweppe.

The new drinks caused a sensation. Within a few years, they had hopped the pond where they also found favor in the newly emergent United States. There was nothing else like them, and as mass production ensued the cost came down making them available to a wider customer base. In 1819 the soda fountain, which would become a staple of pharmacies nationwide for more than a century, was patented. In 1935 bottled soda finally reached store shelves eventually leading to products like Sparkling CBD Soda.

Diversification & Legacy

Carbonation did not just change the beverage industry, it pretty much created it. Before the advent of carbonated beverages, the only place you could buy something to drink would be in an inn, alehouse or pub. Carbonated drinks changed that. J.J. Schweppe opened a manufacturing plant in England in 1792 and began selling his creation through local markets, health spas and grocers, right next to cocoa, tobacco, and other imported items.

The early 19th century saw entrepreneurs begin to explore various flavors. Some added wine to their carbonated water, in effect creating the first wine spritzers. The early 20th century saw the introduction of commercially available refrigerators, which grocers adopted after discovering that people preferred their carbonated drinks cold.

Today, people take for granted that they can waltz into their local grocery store and purchase a can or cans of icy cold Sparkling CBD Water. But while it may seem like carbonated drinks have always been part of the story of civilization, they are in fact pure products of the modern era. So next time you’re enjoying one of Colorado's Best Drinks' Sparkling CBD Soda products, stop for a second and tip your hat to the forward thinkers of the 18th century who made it possible.