Save Our Sucky Seltzer!
July 15, 2007 11:54 AM   Subscribe

How can I make better seltzer?

We've started making our own seltzer at home, since we drink quite a bit of it and the store-bought stuff generates a lot of waste in production/transportation. Problem is, it just doesn't retain its fizz the way even basic seltzer does. I've tried purified vs. tap, no difference. Is that just how the homemade stuff is? Can this be improved? I've thought about salt, but have no idea how much to add or if this would quickly corrode our soda bottle.
posted by mkultra to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This web site may help you. I've been reading quite a bit in preparation for my own home-selzer set-up. It seems the two important factors for keeping the carbonation in the water are cold temperature and agitation. If the bottle is sealed, the carbon dioxide can still separate and collect in the space above the water. I find that shaking a cold bottle of seltzer can put some of the fizz back -- IF I don't open it and let the gas out first.
posted by wryly at 12:01 PM on July 15, 2007

What kind of siphon do you have?

When you say "retain it's fizz" do you mean while in the bottle in the fridge or once it's been served out into a glass?

At any rate, I concur with Wryly. Cold water + agitation = good seltzer. I pre-chill my siphon and that helps a lot.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:29 PM on July 15, 2007

In the glass. Out of the siphon, it's fine.
posted by mkultra at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2007

I make my own seltzer. The only trick I've found is to fill the bottle, close it, and chill it for hours before you use the CO2 cart to charge it. Chilling increases the solubility of CO2 in the water and creates a stronger pressure differential since the air trapped in the bottle will drop in pressure as its temperature drops. This will help pull out more CO2 from the cart.

So chill before charging and don't open the chilled, pre-charged bottle. Keep it chilled after charging too.
posted by chairface at 2:47 PM on July 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

I don't doubt the observations of wryly and dirtdirt, but it is paradoxical that agitation would make the water seem more carbonated. As anyone knows who's dropped their sparkling water on the way into the house and had the water erupt out of the bottle as much as more than an hour later when opened, agitation makes the water less able to hold its gas in solution (if the solution is supersaturated, at least).

It could be explained if carbonated water is less dense than un, I suppose; in that case the carbonated water would sit up at the top of the bottle where the CO2 is, and the uncarbonated would sit at the bottom of the bottle where CO2 could only reach it by diffusion, which might take a long time-- or a very long time if boundary layers can form.

If this is what's happening, the first water out would be flattest, because the siphon takes water from the bottom of the bottle.

I looked for a density table for water with dissolved CO2, but didn't find one.
posted by jamjam at 8:04 PM on July 15, 2007

What are you using to make your seltzer? I find that using my sodaclub machine the seltzer stays bubbly for as long as I was used drinking vintage brand seltzer water. The biggest things I can think of that help are: getting the water extremely cold before you carbonate, using a smaller bottle (ie 1L instead of 2L), getting a bottle with a tight sealing top. Also, if you are making it yourself it ends up being so cheap I don't have very much reluctance to refilling a half-drunk flat bottle of seltzer with tap and re-carbonating it.
posted by vegetableagony at 1:10 AM on July 16, 2007

We're using a 1L Isi siphon. I use cold water, but perhaps letting the bottle + water sit together in the fridge before carbonating may help. I'll give that a try.

jamjam- Shaking the new seltzer is explicitly recommended in the instructions.
posted by mkultra at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2007

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