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Joseph Priestly was the chemist who invented soda water

Soda water has become a million dollar industry. It has gained fan following around the world. There are so many variants you can find which are popular among people of all ages. You would surely be interested in knowing “who invented soda water?” It was Joseph Priestly who gave this gift to us. The first instance of soda water or carbonated water is the mineral water found naturally.
Scientists wondered what made water bubble. Initially it was thought that the medicinal properties in water were the cause. Further research however showed it to be caused due to carbon dioxide that is mixed with water when it flows from several layers of minerals in the ground.

Joseph Priestly worked with a church initially but later his interest grew in experimenting. He was considered an unorthodox philosopher. He was the first chemist to prove that oxygen was essential for combustion. He has to his credit the discovery of ammonia, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and rubber pencil eraser.

Joseph Priestly noted in 1772 that air on top of a beer vat could be injected into water. He had already noted earlier that mice suspended in this air died. However, he went ahead and decided to flavor water with it. He offered it to his friends as a pleasant drink. It was loved by most because of its tangy and refreshing taste.

The process of mixing the gas which is carbon dioxide gas to water is carbonation. That’s how carbonated water was discovered. Priestly was introduced in French Academy of Sciences for this invention. In 1772 Priestly published a paper “Impregnating water with Fixed Air”. In it he described how dripping oil of vitriol (i.e. sulfuric acid) on chalk produced carbon dioxide gas. He also mentions dissolving the gas into an agitated bowl of water.

In 1771 it was Torbern Bergman who independently tried to create carbonated water from chalk and sulfuric acid to get effervescence like natural spring water. At that time mineral water was considered to be beneficial to health.

In 18th century a Hungarian, Anyos Jedlik invented the consumable soda water. He was the one who built the first carbonated water factory in Budapest. Since then soda water or carbonated water is being made by passing pressurized carbon dioxide through water.

The name soda water came into use around 1798 and was in use in the US until the World War II. It was also called as two cents plain during the Great Depression as it was the cheapest drink available at the fountain. In 1819 Samuel Fahnestock patented the first soda fountain. In 1835 the first bottled soda water was available in US. Later in 1886 and 1898 came the very popular Coca-Cola and Pepsi-cola brands respectively.

In the 1950’s, new terms, Sparkling water and Seltzer water came into use. The name Seltzer comes from the German town of Selters where naturally carbonated water is available and is commercially bottled and shipped around the world.

Over decades there have been several modification or additions to soda water that was invented by Joseph Priestley. What we enjoy now as soda water, sparkling water, seltzer water, tonic water, soft drinks and many more names is all thanks to his first attempt at creating the refreshing drink by passing carbon dioxide gas in agitated water.