Sparkling water is an attractive name that sounds like something complicated to produce, but this drink, also called soda water or seltzer, derives its bubbly nature from the simple process of adding carbon dioxide (CO2) in gas form to regular water, and then bottling it. The result is the effervescence that tickles the taste buds and makes a nice change from regular water.
Carbonated water is not always mineral water, though it is frequently misnamed as such. Mineral water is defined as water that contains more than 250 parts per million of a dissolved mineral source. Though some mineral water can be sparkling with the addition of carbonation, the two terms are not interchangeable. All water needs to be considered sparkling water is carbonation.
The process of carbonating water began in the 18th century. A brewer named Joseph Priestly discovered that passing water over fermenting beer produced an interesting taste, and he began offering this water to his friends. Today, pressurized CO2 is forced into bottles or can be made with a soda maker at home or in bars and restaurants. Soda pop gets its sparkle from the same process.
In bottled water, when the pressure releases, as when the bottle opens, bubbles form. This is also why it is not a good idea for people to shake a bottle of sparkling water, because it builds the pressure of the carbon dioxide. Given time to settle down, it will, but a freshly shaken bottle is opened, the result is a spray of water.
A recent experiment with diet soda revealed that the combination of the ingredients in Mentos® candy and the aspartame in the drink causes CO2 to become extremely reactive, and it rapidly shoots virtually all the contents of the bottle into the air. This experiment may impress the kids, but it is a bit messy.
Sparkling water was once celebrated as a drink to cure stomach ailments, but now, most medical professionals recommend that people with acid reflux avoid it. It may however be helpful in calming nausea, however.