Carbonation: A simple explanation

Chemists or anyone in the beverage industry are very familiar with the term “carbonation” but the rest of us are still a bit dumbfounded as to what the term carbonation really means. To give a simple explanation, carbonation is a “process” wherein you add carbon dioxide to your liquid, whether it’s for your fermented beer, juice or simply water.

Just think of your favorite soda drink. When you open a can or bottle of soda, you would hear that fizzing sound, right? That sound is actually the carbon dioxide reacting to the atmospheric pressure outside of the bottle. When you open the bottle or can, the pressure inside would change and that causes the carbon dioxide to react and slowly gets released to the atmosphere or the surrounding air. It is that fizzing sound that indicates that carbon dioxide is present.

This carbon dioxide makes your beverage more refreshing. Just imagine drinking your soda or beer that doesn’t have the carbon dioxide, you surely wouldn’t be enjoying it. Because of this, it is recommended that you drink your carbonated beverage when it’s really cold.

What is the reason why carbonated drinks are suggested to be cold when drank? That’s because the carbon dioxide is not soluble to water but only slightly soluble. The thing is when you increase the temperature of the liquid, what happens there is you decrease the solubility of the carbon dioxide to your liquid further thereby releasing the carbon dioxide much faster into the atmosphere or the surrounding air. That will leave you with a beverage that is flat.
If, after reading that, you’re asking yourself what solubility even means then let me explain it further. Just imagine oil and water. Mix them up together and you notice oil would not mix with water, right? That’s because oil is insoluble with water. Now, let’s think about coffee this time. When you make coffee you pour in the coffee granules to your hot water and they mix perfectly, right? That’s because coffee is soluble in water. So now imagine it with a liquid and gas. Carbon dioxide is a gas and obviously wants to repel the water. But the process of carbonation forces this gas into the water and the carbon dioxide will remain in the water if the condition is right. And that is why carbonated beverages are placed in pressurized container.

Carbonation should be done by professionals or if you want to do this yourself then you have to know what the process is and you need to read further regarding the relationship of pressure, temperature and volume because too much carbon dioxide in your container can cause over-carbonation or worse, an explosion.

There are carbonation kits right now that you can buy and use at home. The aim is for you to substitute your preferred commercial soda with one you can do at home which is healthier for you. Just follow the instructions and you’d be on your way to making your very own carbonated beverage at home.