Since ancient times, many civilizations around the world have enjoyed some type of sparkling water or other. Yes, it occurs naturally. There are natural springs all throughout the world where water carbonation occurs, helped by geothermal processes. Humans have been drinking this naturally carbonated water since the days of the Greek Empire (323 BCE – 146 CE). It was very popular for its reputed natural healing powers and health advantages.
Manufactured Sparkling Water and Its Inventors
Several scientists were intrigued by the natural process of carbonation in the 1600s. They attempted to duplicate the procedure through their own experiments. Christopher Merret, an English chemist, invented sparkling wine in 1662. But it was a while before the sparkling water as we know it today was invented.
William Brownrigg from England, a scientist with a special interest in carbon dioxide gas, was the first to aerate water with gas in 1740. Merret’s work, as well as his proximity to “fixed air” from the brewery next door to his house, influenced him. Priestley’s studies began simply by suspending a bowl of water over a vat of brewing beer. Priestley was ecstatic when he discovered that the water absorbed some of the carbonation. He soon used other ingredients and discovered that the developed sparkling water got a pleasant and tart flavor.
Torbern Bergman, a Swedish chemical professor, invented a similar procedure for producing carbonated water in 1771. He achieved a similar result with calcium carbonate and sulfuric acid.
The Mass Production of Soda
Sparkling water had a boom in the late eighteenth century when Johann Jacob Schweppe invented the first commercially viable procedure for producing carbonated water. In 1783, Swiss Schweppe moved from amateur scientist to creating the Schweppes Company in Geneva. Yeah, this is the famous Schweppes brand that you may be familiar with today. Manufacturers such as Schweppes have always added flavors to their sparkling water products.
As sodium was always the most common additive in carbonated water people began to refer to the product as “soda.” Other names, such as seltzer, club soda, sparkling water, and fizzy water, became popular throughout time.
Sparkling water is a healthy alternative for many as it contains little or no sugar, though some may contain artificial sweeteners. People even commonly promote the beverage as an excellent alternative to drinking sugary and unhealthy drinks.
Whatever your motive for drinking sparkling water, you’re staying healthy and hydrated. So the next time you reach for a soda, you now know exactly how this delicious beverage came to be.