Fresh Seltzer

I mentioned yesterday that the Evan Williams Honey Reserve was pretty good with some ice and seltzer. I confirmed that again, today, and a little fresh lemon juice puts it over the top. It’ll be a go-to cocktail until I’m through with the bottle, for sure.

So I wanted to write a bit about the seltzer part of the whole thing. For a while, I found that buying 1 liter bottles worked better than buying less expensive 2 liter bottles, because the 2 liter bottles tended to go flat before I could use them up. The 1 liter bottles ran about 40¢, if I got them on sale, but now it’s hard to find them for less than 50¢. A couple of years ago, Mrs. Ferment got me a refillable soda bottle that takes carbon dioxide cartridges. Specifically, the iSi brushed-aluminum Soda Siphon.

iSi Soda Siphon Brushed Aluminum

iSi Soda Siphon in brushed aluminum

It’s pretty nice, but it definitely kept the charge longer when we first got it. Right now, it keeps the charge for 4 days or so, and it doesn’t spritz as quickly as it did. We’ve replaced the siphon-straw and the gasket, which is a nice feature, too, but I think a tiny piece of grit got into the canister at one point and possibly nicked part of the threads that seal the top in place. There’s a lesson there, for those who may consider one of these.

Through iSi, the unit is $70, but many online merchants sell the exact brand, including Amazon, for less. For folks who play paintball, getting the 8 gram carbon dioxide cartridges may be easy, but I had no idea where to buy them in bulk. I often found packs of ten cartridges for $7 or more, which seemed excessive. Through Amazon, I found ten 10-packs for $39.50, which makes each liter cost 39.5¢ (excluding the cost of shipping and the bottle, itself), cheaper than the plastic 1 liter bottles and far less waste. The carbon dioxide cartridges are steel, and tiny, and easily recycled. Getting the ten 10-packs keeps me in bubbly water for months, even if I drink a liter a day.

Why go through all this for bubbly water? Well, the presentation is nice. Shaking up the silver bottle and spritzing it in front of guests does start conversation. Besides this, I have consistent flavor, with my own home water filtration system and a never-flat bottle. Getting the cartridges in bulk means that it will take 600 liters or so before the soda siphon becomes less expensive to use than buying 50¢ bottles at the store, but I do feel better not purchasing all that plastic. We can go through six or seven liters a week during the summer.

Beyond what I’ve outlined here, I would recommend not buying a glass bottle, as one errant shake with wet hands has sent the soda siphon crashing to the floor with no ill effect other than a quickening of my heart-rate. I wouldn’t purchase plastic either, because the initial pressurization from the carbon dioxide cartridge is pretty intense. I’m pretty sure a plastic bottle would rupture over time. The metal bottles are more expensive, but they’ll last longer.

And finally, what would this post be without some trivia? Seltzer was originally naturally carbonated water from Niederselters, Germany. The Germans bottle it up and made it world-famous. Club Soda is actually a trademarked name for soda water. Soda water used to contain sodium bicarbonate to give it the bubbles and to mimic the flavor of naturally effervescent mineral water. Now most seltzers or soda waters are carbonated with plain ol’ carbon dioxide which dissolves into the water. Some of this dissolved carbon dioxide reacts with water to become carbonic acid. That’s the fizzy stuff on the tongue and what give seltzer it’s mild, but noticeable, acidic flavor. Club Soda, carbonated water, soda water, and seltzer now all tend to be the same thing, but occasionally, Club Soda will contain sodium—for that mineral-spring flavor one might guess.