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What Are the Different Types of Carbonated Beverages?

By Robert Ferguson
Updated May 16, 2024
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Carbonated beverages are made by incorporating carbon dioxide into a liquid. The most common type of carbonated beverage is the soft drink. Other types of beverages such as water, juice and energy drinks are often carbonated as well. Some wine manufacturers enhance their products with carbon dioxide, which creates a fizzy, "sparkling" wine.

Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas in the earth's atmosphere. It has many uses in nature, including supporting plant life. The gas has no odor and is colorless. Plants absorb carbon dioxide to aid in photosynthesis and release oxygen as a byproduct. When breathing, humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

The first known form of carbonated liquid was natural mineral water. Scientists discovered that carbon dioxide created the bubbles associated with it. Mineral water becomes carbonated naturally when subjected to high pressures of carbon dioxide underground. Fermentation is a natural cause of carbonation in beverages such as wine, beer and champagne.

In 1767, the first carbonated beverage was created by Doctor Joseph Priestley when he infused drinkable water with carbon dioxide. The introduction of carbonated beverages opened up a new industry as inventors quickly scrambled to create efficient methods to infuse the liquids with carbon dioxide. In the years that followed, many variations of carbonated beverages — including many soft drinks — were invented. Ginger ale was introduced in Ireland in 1856. Dr Pepper®, Coca-cola® and Pepsi® were introduced in the United States in the late 1800s.

Carbonated soft drinks are a combination of sugar, water and applicable flavoring. During the manufacturing process, the water is de-aired to eliminate oxidation. Sugar solutions are prepared and mixed with the water along with flavorings and concentrates specific to the product. After carbon dioxide is dissolved or injected into the solution, it is packaged in airtight containers.

One of the most important aspects of creating carbonated beverages is sealing the container to prevent the carbon dioxide from escaping. Several methods were used until William Painter invented the crown cork or crown cap in 1891. Still in use today, the crown cap is commonly referred to as the bottle cap. This airtight seal prevents the carbon dioxide in the bottle, which keeps the liquid carbonated until it is ready for consumption. Once opened, the beverage will go flat over time as the carbon dioxide escapes into the atmosphere.

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