Theory behind Carbonation

Carbonation follows a simple law of Physics which is called as the Henry’s Law. This law states that at constant temperature, the given gas amount that will dissolve in a certain type of liquid with a given volume is proportional to that gas’ partial pressure as equilibrium with the liquid it is dissolved in. What this means is that, for example, your soft drinks in a can have dissolved carbon dioxide in it. But when you don’t open the can, the carbon dioxide remains in the liquid. That is because the can is pressurized with pure carbon dioxide above the liquid inside the can. When you open the can, you will then hear the fizz. That fizz is the sound of the gas escaping. Now, since the carbon dioxide that surrounds the liquid had already escaped, the carbon dioxide dissolved in the liquid will start to escape the liquid and that’s what the bubbles on the soda is.

To keep the carbon dioxide longer in the liquid when the gas that surrounds the liquid has already escaped, there are different variables that would affect the release. First, the temperature of the drink. Try performing a simple experiment. Get a few mL of the soft-drinks you have and put it inside a test tube. Now, try to heat that test tube in a Bunsen burner for a short time, just enough to make it warm. Notice what happened to the soft drinks and its bubbles? If the soft drink liquid is now warm, you will not see any form of bubbles anymore. The reason behind this is that the bubbles in the liquid solution had already escaped. Gas and liquid naturally want to repel each other. So, naturally the gas will start to leave the liquid if left under normal atmospheric conditions. By adding heat, you just promoted the release even further making the escape of gas move much faster. This is the reason why any beverage that had been carbonated are served cold and never warm.

Another simple way to prolong the sparkle of your soda or beer is to place it in a bottle that is long and narrow. This makes the carbon dioxide release move a little bit slower than when you put your beverage in a wide mouthed glass. That’s because the exposure of the liquid to atmospheric pressure is reduced when the area of the surface exposed to air is also small.

Henry’s Law applies to any gas and liquid combination actually and is not mainly focused on carbonation alone. But, the carbonation process is the best example because it’s the most commonly seen and known by people. The theory behind the carbonation process is simple. But the process itself needs to be done by experienced individuals or at least have a guide that will help you to get the factors right in order to avoid adding too much carbon dioxide to your liquid. There are online charts to help you with this and you need to have a regulator to regulate the amount of pressure of CO2 already in your can or any other container. Make sure the container don’t have any holes or means of escape for the gas to make it work.