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Soda Siphons: The Topic


JAZ
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I've been considering getting a soda siphon but have a question about how well the carbonation holds over time.

I don't use that much soda, so I usually buy the small bottles of seltzer or soda, because even the quart size tend to go flat before I'm even halfway done. That, however, gets expensive. A siphon would be ideal if the contents stay carbonated, but if not, it would be a waste. We carry the Isi brand at work, but the instructions say nothing about how long the carbonation lasts.

Does anyone use one? Any insights?

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I have one and I love it. I find that the carbination holds up very well -- for example, we recently left the siphon about half full while we went away for two weeks. It was still fizzy when we got back.

"went together easy, but I did not like the taste of the bacon and orange tang together"

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Hmmm...

I have a siphon and don't use it much at all. I find that the particular kind I have makes the fizzy water taste quite unpleasantly metallic.

As to making soda stay fizzy longer (and this trick works best with plain fizzy H2O) is to learn never to depressurize the inside of your soda bottle. With a full, closed, plastic quart bottle dispense the soda thus:

Pick up bottle.

Invert it.

Place it over your glass or other chosen receptical.

Slowly unscrew the top until water hisses out.

Screw the top back on tight.

Turn the bottle right side up again.

That trick takes a little practice at mastering the art without spritzing fizzy water all over the place before it hits your glass. Worth knowing, since you'll never have to deal with flat fizzy again.

Works to a lesser degree with sugary things... but they seem to lose their fizz when treated this way, while plain water retains fizz. Don't know why. Speculation is encouraged,

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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I think a glass siphon is a must. And you have to make sure you keep it sparkling clean, including all the parts.

I have one of the metal ISI siphons, and after a while all the water from it started to taste like water out of a musty old Boy Scout canteen, and nothing I did could get rid of that taste. So, I eventually threw it out.

Of course, around here we go through seltzer like... er... well, like water. So having a bottle of the stuff go flat is never an issue.

--

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I'm a self-confessed whiskey and soda lover so please bear with me and forgive any excess of information and heretical thoughts. Until the age of five I thought all cars tinkled when they turned, until I discovered the source of that delightful sound - the 24 bottles of carbonated mineral water (in a wooden crate) my father always carried in the boot, to swap the empties for new.

A love for drinks like gin fizzes, mojitos and Camparis and sodas has since convinced me that the whole question of carbonated or "aerated" water is criminally neglected, since the type of whisky or whiskey or cocktail determines an intelligent choice of the fizz. It's a tragic mistake to use only one "soda water" for all drinks.

Syphons, for instance, are lightly aerated and important because you can choose the mineral water you're carbonating. Some whiskies (I'm not only referring to the classic European light Scotch and soda in a highball glass, full of ice, but also to more delicate whiskies for which only a brief spritz is indicated) are better with saltier or heavier waters; others with lighter, more demineralized waters.

Syphons allow one to choose from the whole gamut of bottled waters - a particularly forbidden pleasure was adding a little spritz to the water Glenfiddich used to bottle to go with their malt! - and so mix and match according to the weather, time of day, mood, etc.

When I want a lot of aeration - as in a mojito, where I use only a little water, or in a summery pre-lunch gin fizz, because the density of the lemon juice weighs the drink down - I think Schweppes soda water is by far the best, as it's so damn bubbly. It's also keeps its bubbles very well and so appeals to the cheapskate in me. An old trick is to transfer remaining soda to a small, tight screw-top bottle, making sure it's filled to the very top.

Aeration is also easily downgraded if you want less fizz - by refrigerating or, if one's desperate, by stirring it up a bit.

However, for good spirits an appropriate water is essential. The best, in my opinion, are the naturally - always very lightly - carbonated waters, i.e., not artificially gassed up like Perrier, San Pellegrino or 99% of them. These naturally fizzy waters are quite salty and heavy but delicious with the better whiskies. Look out for the Portuguese Água das Pedras Salgadas or its lighter version Vidago. For an eye-opening sulphurous clean-out, guaranteed to wipe out the worst hangover, the Azorean Água das Lombadas is about as "heavy metal" as you can get. A good alternative is the French Badoit. These waters have the added benefit - probably unscientific - of being good for the liver...!

Not to knock Perrier and other similar waters - they're nice on a hot day with a light Scotch. Every European country will have two or three brands that have been traditionally preferred with whiskey. Appolinaris, for instance, is superb and the Italians alone have at least twelve magnificent waters. They must be proper mineral, deep-sourced waters, however - not just fizzed up purified or distilled water disguised as mineral waters. In Portugal, where I live, the best is undoubtedly Água do Castello, from Pizões-Moura but Vimeiro, Carvalhelhos and Campilho are also superb.

Generally, it is always best to trust the local bartender, wherever you are.

In Madeira there's an excellent water for accompanying Scotch whisky (in a sub-tropical climate): it's called Miles and you can only get it *sigh* on the island. It's been made since the 19th century (the founder was Scottish, of course) and the bottles are really cute too.

A syphon is important because most bottlers tend to over-carbonate their waters and quite a few of them only offer the "still" version. The only caution is not to let the water sit around for more than a day (or the gas capsule), as it will become stale and even brackish. Syphons should be used as you would a jug of spring water. Fill them up, click in a new capsule and serve. After use, throw the water out or use whatever's left for silly games.

Until recently, Schweppes used to exchange full syphons for empties - but, unfortunately, they no longer seem to provide this service.

Hope this has helped confuse and complicate the issue, JAZ!

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I've been considering getting a soda siphon but have a question about how well the carbonation holds over time.

I don't use that much soda, so I usually buy the small bottles of seltzer or soda, because even the quart size tend to go flat before I'm even halfway done. That, however, gets expensive. A siphon would be ideal if the contents stay carbonated, but if not, it would be a waste. We carry the Isi brand at work, but the instructions say nothing about how long the carbonation lasts.

Does anyone use one? Any insights?

I have a trick with the soda siphon! If you add one sheet of gelitan per litre of liquid it will hold the bubbles alot longer and actually give a litle foam on top. I have a gibson here at the restaurant that I use the siphon with.

Todd Thrasher

The Guy who says YES CHEF and Sometimes makes a cocktail or two.

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Gibson?  Soda?  Do tell......

New Age Gibson

Saffron Infused Vermouth (which I put one sheet of gelitan with) in the soda siphon.

Saffron infused Pickeld Pearl Onions (House Made)

Bombay Saphire Gin Bruised

Todd Thrasher

The Guy who says YES CHEF and Sometimes makes a cocktail or two.

Restaurant Eve

110 S. Pitt St.

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 706-0450

Eamonn's A Dublin Chipper

PX (Upstairs)

728 King Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 299-8384

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..an excess of information and heretical thoughts...

Miguel, thank you for the most excellent excess of information. I can't say that as a home-only bartender I'll be putting much of it into practice, but I will certainly be more aware of my waters!

I had a syphon for a while, but as others have reported, eventually it got nasty and I tossed it. Perhaps I'll consider another at some point. How does one keep the inside of such a narrow necked bottle clean?

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Another trick that is very effective for making very bubbly water in a siphon is to keep it in the fridge. CO2 remains in solution in relation to the temperature of the water (for example, softdrinks produced in bulk (a dying art) and beer are both force carbonated before packaging). The CO2 is injected just above the freezing point and by doing this it makes for a much more consistent packaging process, as the foam up during bottling is very small. In fact, in the case of beer, a tiny stram of hot water is usually shot into the bottle to MAKE it foam, as that is needed to clear the head space of ambient air space-as air is the number one enemy of bottled beer (aside from light).

So keep your GLASS siphon in the refrigerator and the stuff will stay nice and bubbly.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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  • 1 month later...

Here's a silly question: once one has charged the soda siphon is the charger removed immediately? I assume so but google didn't turn up a definitive answer.

I'm also assuming that once the charger has been tightened to the siphon sufficiently so that it creates bubbles in the water that it's work is done. Yes?

Also, the box of chargers mentions something about proper disposal of the spent charger. What do you do with your spent chargers?

Please forgive the ignorance behind these questions. I've never seen a siphon used in real life. If it weren't for the Three Stooges and other old movies I might not even know they exist. :blink:

Thanks much.

Kurt

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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...once one has charged the soda siphon is the charger removed immediately?
Yep.
I'm also assuming that once the charger has been tightened to the siphon sufficiently so that it creates bubbles in the water that it's work is done.  Yes?
Yep.
Also, the box of chargers mentions something about proper disposal of the spent charger.  What do you do with your spent chargers?
Hmmmm.... I just toss mine in the garbage. Never thought about "safe displosal" Since by this time all they are is a sealed metal canister they should be safe for simple disposal as a spent arasol can, but you wouldn't want to toss them in a burn barrel!

-Robert

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Also, the box of chargers mentions something about proper disposal of the spent charger.  What do you do with your spent chargers?
Hmmmm.... I just toss mine in the garbage. Never thought about "safe displosal" Since by this time all they are is a sealed metal canister they should be safe for simple disposal as a spent arasol can, but you wouldn't want to toss them in a burn barrel!

-Robert

Thanks very much, Robert. I appreciate your help.

As for the disposal of the chargers, I'm sure you're right. Mine are standard issue iSI. I'll take a closer look at the box to see if I can decipher any deeper meaning in the somewhat vague warning. I'll report back if I learn anything.

Thanks again.

Kurt

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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Also, the box of chargers mentions something about proper disposal of the spent charger.  What do you do with your spent chargers?

Thanks much.

Kurt

I would put them in for recycling, most of them are made from aluminium.

Living hard will take its toll...
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  • 1 year later...

is it possible to get co2 containers for any of the vintage soda siphons I keep seeing on ebay? I'd love to get one, but none of them seem to mention any possibility for refilling them. The whip-it brand makes new ones, but I don't think they look quite as nice as the older glass ones.

Does anyone here use one of these things, or just pick up the schwepps at the corner store?

Thanks,

Sean

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You should be able to use the regular iSi chargers. But, I have to tell you that the antique glass bottles with the cool wire netting, of which I have several, are almost never in working order (usually the rubber seals in the headpiece have failed). So don't buy a vintage glass soda siphon on eBay unless the seller can confirm that it they have charged it and it works without leaking.

--

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i've been contemplating buying one of these (non-vintage) from the local kitchen supply store. but, what exactly would i do with it? can i actually make my own soda? like, ginger simple syrup soda-fied for "ginger beer"? seems cheaper and fresher than buying it by the bottle.

sorry for my ignorance, but i've never actually seen one of these things in action.

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You should be able to use the regular iSi chargers.  But, I have to tell you that the antique glass bottles with the cool wire netting, of which I have several, are almost never in working order (usually the rubber seals in the headpiece have failed).  So don't buy a vintage glass soda siphon on eBay unless the seller can confirm that it they have charged it and it works without leaking.

As you might expect Sam's right about the iSI chargers and about checking on the working order of an eBay siphon. Apparently my luck is better than Sam's as re eBay siphons though. I've purchased two older siphons and both were in good repair. However, in my ignorance I purchased siphon #1 without realizing that it was missing the piece used to screw the CO2 cartridge to the siphon. Despite being in good repair it's unusable without the cartridge holder. I suggest that the presence of a cartridge holder should be item number one on any checklist used when browsing for used siphons online.

I've since purchased an older glass and wire mesh siphon and a brand new iSi siphon. The chargers (aka CO2 cartridges) are standardized but each siphon has a different size cartridge holder and neither of those fits #1. Gaskets, cartridge holders and other replacement parts can be found online but aren't necessarily standardized so don't count on finding the right parts after the fact.

I bought my first chargers from Amazon when they had 'em for $5 (and they counted towards the $25 total purchase needed to get free shipping). That was no longer the case last summer when I needed to restock so I found an eBay seller selling 'em in bulk at $5 per box (incl. s/h).

I don't use the siphon much in the winter but I'm glad to have it when gin rickey weather rolls around. It also can be used to make a tasty soft drink out of fruit nectar or freshly squeezed citrus. Passion fruit nectar and charged water was particularly delicious.

Overall, I can't say a siphon is indispensable but beyond the initial expense it's cheaper than bottled fizz water. Perhaps more important, it's infinitely cooler than twisting off the cap on a bottle of club soda.

Kurt

“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields

The Handy Snake

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I don't have any experience with Ebay regarding soda siphons, but as others mention be wary about getting one that is in working order. Of all the vintage siphons that I have come across and found at antique fairs, like Brimfield, none have ever worked - usually missing pieces for the housing and the rubber gasket.

ISI makes a sold, well-built modern version that performs admirably. Buying and changing the CO2 is super easy, the small cartridges seem to be a universal size and can also be purchased in sporting good shops, same are used for paintball guns. The internet is the cheapest way to go and likely to find a complete siphon at a discounted rate for the suggested retail is close to $40.

I found mine (turquoise, I know but not my first choice) for $6 at an inventory close-out sale at a cooking and kitchen store. Brand-new, is was sold at a cut-rate because it was missing the top black screw cap that holds the cartridge. I had an extra from a Whipped Cream dispenser made by ISI and took a gamble on it being the same size and dimensions.

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My wife got me a soda siphon for Christmas, and so far I'm really enjoying having it around.

Aside from the retro thrill of being able to whip up a real highball or ice cream soda, there is a pretty stark difference between soda from a siphon (especially the first few doses) and sparkling mineral water. If you grew up with a soda fountain near you, it really takes you back.

The only real downside is each siphon only holds about a quart, and you need to use a pesky CO2 charger for each batch. If you have cocktail parties regularly, I could see it being convenient to have more than one around.

Be sure and shop around for the 10 packs of chargers. They should be around $5. Some gourmet shops will double that price.

I like to juice a half a lemon or whole lime, mix in some rich simple syrup and a couple dashes of bitters, add ice, and top it off with the soda siphon. It's a great refreshing (high fructose corn syrup free!) beverage.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I had a huge collection of siphons, newer and vintage, until recently. I unloaded them all on eBay. Why? Because, to be very honest about it, I have NEVER found the home siphon product to be as good as what you can get at your local supermarket for .99 cents US for 2 liters. Everyone can wax eloquent all they want, a home siphon does not give you the carbonation that commercially produced sodas have. After feeling very precious for over 16 years, I've finally been honest with myself about it, and gone back to the bottled stuff. However, if you're going to have a wet t-shirt contest at home, a siphon is FAB!

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The only real advantages a soda siphon has over bottled in terms of straight carbonated water are 1) you can use only a few ounces at a time without losing the carbonation, and 2) a soda siphon dispenses charged water in a strong concentrated jet, which is a significant advantage over pouring from a bottle when it comes to making a Fizz.

I've had good results decanting bottled seltzer into a soda siphon and then adding an additional charger.

--

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Also, you may find (you will find) that you will get much better results when the water that you charge is cold-the colder the better. Keep the thing in the ice box when you aren't using it. You'll see the difference on the first try.

Unlike with many broad and entertaining anecdotal claims that I am prone to make, this one is based on science and years and years of operating breweries-where, in a way, the bright beer tanks are the largest soda siphons around. You can make thousands and thousands of gallons of carbonated anything in a bright beer vessel.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Thanks all for the replys.

I guess I'll just have to search a little harder and ask prying questions of the sellers. I have no immediate need, but it seems like a very cool way to have soda at parties and get togethers. I like the wet t-shirt idea too. :biggrin:

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