This section is from the book "A Treatise On Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler", by Charles Herman Sulz. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise On Beverages.
The manufacturer of any beverage or compound which has water for its base, cannot be too well informed as to the article he is handling and manipulating; especially is this true of the maker of refreshment and other drinks. Of the thousands engaged in this line of business, how many are thoroughly familiar with the subject of water, or with the article itself as a base for a beverage.
The source and quality of the liquid which is to be carbonated are points which require and repay attentive consideration. It is not enough that the gas be carefully generated and thoroughly purified; the water must be selected with equal care and purified with equal thoroughness. The presence of organic impurities, such as frequently defile the Croton, and lake or river-water generally, must necessarily deteriorate the quality of the carbonated product. Even common air may be so mixed with the water that flows through pipes, as to hinder charging it with a proper amount of gas, except the air is most carefully removed.
Water freshly drawn from a deep, cool, sparkling well, situated in a good locality, healthy surroundings and well kept, is the best that can be obtained. The sparkling appearance often noticed in deep well-water is due to natural carbonic acid, and this, of course, is a point in its favor. Its coolness, also, materially increases the facility with which it can be impregnated. Next to the water from a good well, cool spring-water is to be preferred, while that from an ordinary lake, river or cistern is to be avoided, if possible. When used, it should be always filtered with the utmost care. It is advisable, also, to filter spring-water, and even that from wells, lest accidental impurities should have fallen into it. In New York there seems to be no alternative but to use Croton. The use of impure water has often led to epidemics, and, therefore, its use should not be countenanced by any mineral-water manufacturer.
* We are indebted to the National Bottlers Gazette, New York, for several valuable papers reproduced in this chapter I.
When one embarks in the business of manufacturing carbonated waters, it should be his principal and foremost aim to select a place where pure and healthy water can be had abundantly from a good well or a flowing spring.
Those of the numerous bottlers who are fortunate enough to strike such a place, are of course relieved of considerable care, etc., while to those who must be content with impure waters, we desire to give relief by furnishing them with practical hints, or a final and successful remedy; but before coming to the remedy it will be well to speak a few words as to the cause.
The worst impurities in water that we have to contend with are those soluble minerals, gases, vegetable and animal substances called organic matter, that are held in solution. The water at the same time may be as bright, clear and sparkling as crystal, and yet contain a large amount of foreign matter and appear perfectly transparent and apparently pure. The error, until lately universal, of esteeming clear water synonymous with pure water, has been exploded by science and experience, and corrected in the popular mind, to a very wide extent, by the incessant inculcations of sanitarians, chiefly during the past few years. There has followed a conviction, or, at least, a suspicion everywhere gaining ground, that water, however fair in appearance and pleasant to the senses, must be of doubtful wholesomeness unless in some way effectively purified for drinking. The most dangerous properties in water are its soluble impurities, and the highest medical and chemical authorities fully attest to this fact.
These impurities vary, and act variously; so, for instance, if the water contains much iron and the beverage which is to be made from it contain tannin, such as is found in birch extract (genuine), it would turn the whole mixture dark and inky. If much sulphur is present in the water, the mixture, after standing a while, will have a disagreeable odor or a bad taste. If the water contains much lime and is used for a beverage containing resin, like ginger ale (provided no acid is used), it will form a sort of a lime-soap, stringy, slimy and of a cloudy appearance. If citric or tartaric acid is used with the ginger ale or any other beverage, it will unite with the lime and throw down a precipitate of citrate or tartrate of lime, making the product in either of the above cases look unpleasant and disagreeable and often become unpalatable. Magnesia acts like lime if present in water.
These results are more common with well-water, and are what could be termed mineral impurities. With water derived from a different source than from a well or spring, the greatest trouble comes from decomposed vegetable and animal substances. Carbonated water made from the latter generally precipitates and becomes turbid, on account of the excessive amount of soluble impurities contained in the water. Such waters are usually tributary and entirely under the influence of the temperature or the fluctuations of the barometer; and even so much so that very exceptionally favorable results are obtained. The changes in temperature will often make mixtures look cloudy, thick and ropy, and will always look badly unless the water is free from soluble impurities, or well filtered and purified, and skillfully combined with good material.
To produce successfully a good article, all water should be purified, and how to do this we shall explain in this chapter, but let us first get more closely acquainted with our natural waters and their impurities. The so-called natural waters may be conveniently divided into four classes, viz.: rain, spring, river and sea, which differ in the chemical constituents to be found present in them. The source of water in a well may be rain or a spring.