How to Decarbonate a Drink

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Soda and fizzy drinks, in general, are a big part of the food industry due to how many people buy and drink them every day. For some people, it is all about the flavor whereas other people drink it for the caffeine that is in a lot of them. There are a few people, however, who do not like them because the fizzy nature of the drinks causes discomfort. Thankfully, you can easily decarbonate drinks!

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seven assorted-brand soda cans

What is Carbonation?

In the simplest explanation, carbonation is what makes soda fizzy and gives it the bubbly feel that it is so famous for. This is done by adding pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) into a carbonator which then creates bubbles. The bubbles eventually dissolve into the liquid due to the pressure inside the can. Once the lid is opened and the pressure decreases, the CO2 is released from the liquid and starts to escape. This is why the drinks are really fizzy at first but then slowly start to lose their fizz until they are flat.

Is Carbonation Healthy?

You hear all the time that people refuse to drink Coke because of how unhealthy it is. While this is mainly due to the insanely high quantities of sugar it has, some people may question if it is the carbonation that makes it unhealthy.

The most common claim from people is that fizzy drinks cause tooth erosion. This is not to do with the carbon dioxide and is instead from the acidity of the soft drinks. Even flavored sparkling water causes some tooth erosion as the flavorings, which make the drink fruity, are also capable of making the drink more acidic than it naturally is. Tooth erosion is when the enamel on your teeth starts to wear down. Drinking soda and flavored sparkling water may accelerate this but not to a high degree where you’re at risk. Soda is perfectly healthy in moderation.

Another claim about carbonated drinks is that they rob calcium from bones and result in lower bone mineral density overall. The cause of this is from the phosphoric acid found in soft drinks. Also poor bone health is related to people choosing to drink soda over calcium-rich beverages, such as milk. If you were to still intake as much calcium while drinking soda then these would be fine, the soda is not directly harming this, people are just opting to drink soda instead of calcium-rich drinks.

Carbonation is not to blame for any discoloration of teeth, either. This is still related to the high sugar contents in soda. The discoloring can be countered by either reducing your sugar intake or using whitening strips.

Health Benefits of Carbonated Drinks

While there is no direct effect on your health from the carbon dioxide in drinks, there is a silver lining that a lot of medical professionals have found.

People who struggle to drink water sometimes prefer to drink carbonated water instead. It has been shown that carbonated water is just as efficient at hydrating you as normal still water is. This means anyone who dislikes still water yet enjoys carbonated water, can drink enough to remain hydrated.

clear carbonarted drink

Decarbonization

As you may be able to guess from the word, this is the process that reverses carbonization.

While the carbon dioxide can be removed from the liquid, that does not mean it will be exactly how it was before. By this, I mean that the flavor of drinks can change after the carbon has left.

How to Decarbonate a Drink

There are many ways in which a drink can be decarbonated.

The most obvious method is by letting it naturally go flat. When the pressure inside the can or bottle is released, the carbon dioxide that was dissolved into the liquid is also released and can slowly escape. As soon as it opens, this process is started but it does not happen too quickly. The drink will remain fizzy for a while after initially being opened yet it will get less and less fizzy over a duration of time. The time it takes to naturally decarbonate is long enough that you should be able to drink the soda in time before it goes flat.

Another method of how to de-fizz a can of soda, or any fizzy drink, is quite simple yet requires you to have a sports bottle of some kind. As long as the bottle has an airtight seal and can withstand the pressure of the soda, it will work.

To do this, you want to transfer all the contents of the soda into your bottle and shut the lid. Shake vigorously until you can feel the pressure build. Then let the lid open enough for the air to come out. Once the pressure has gone down, you can repeat this step over and over until it is noticeably less fizzy. You can keep going until it is completely flat. This method is essentially the same as how soda would naturally decarbonate. But it is at an accelerated speed as you are constantly building pressure and letting it release.

A more simple method of decarbonating a drink, or at least making it less fizzy, is to drink it with ice. This works best at a restaurant or pub where you do not have access to a bottle. While it does not help as much, the action of pouring soda over ice is enough to allow some CO2 to escape from the soda. If you don’t mind about being subtle or not, ask the bartender or server for 2 glasses with one filled with ice. With these, you can keep pouring the soda from one to the other. This will soon release enough CO2 that it is flat, or flatter.

How to Decarbonate a Drink Fast

There is one method to really quickly decarbonate a drink. That is by adding a teaspoon of salt or sugar into the drink. This is best done with sugar as it allows for you to still drink it, although it will be a fair bit sweeter now.

The reason sugar accelerates this process so much is that carbonation is classed as the liquid being oversaturated. When a liquid, such as your soda, is oversaturated then the CO2 will be trying to escape yet it can’t due to it being trapped in the liquid. When you add sugar into the liquid it creates points of contact with the CO2 known as nucleation sites which allows them to be free from the liquid for just a moment before forming bubbles and rising to the top. This is why sugar, and also Mentos, make fizzy drinks really fizzy for a moment before calming down again.

A good solution, albeit a tad over the top, is to create a lot of nucleation sites using a paper towel. It may seem crazy but it works. Take a square of paper towels and fold it into quarters, dunk this in your soda. This is assuming the soda is in a glass and not a can. The paper towel will create a lot of nucleation sites which allows for the CO2 to disperse quickly. You can then wring out the soda from the towel and back into your glass. This is a quick method and works similar to the sugar, yet does not flavor the drink at all. Although, your hands may get messy.

How Long Does Decarbonation Take?

Depending on what method of decarbonization you choose, it will have varying times. Using a natural method of letting the soda sit and breathe can take a few hours at least before all of the CO2 is gone. It will be noticeably less fizzy in under an hour but will have hints of fizz for a while.

If you go for one of the nucleation site methods then the effect will be almost immediate. Once you pour in sugar and see the increase in fizz, you will know it is working. As soon as that fizz wears off, it will be done. That means this method takes moments.

Using the ice method or bottle method is quite quick, too. However, it can take a few cycles until the drink is properly decarbonated.

cold beer

Does Decarbonation Work for Beer?

The main difference between soda and beer when it comes to carbonation is that beer is naturally carbonated. The yeast produces CO2 whenever it consumes sugar. So the perfect amount of sugar is added just before bottling to ensure that the beer is perfectly carbonated.

Despite it being natural, the carbonation in beer still works just the same. At the point of consumption, the yeast in beer is mostly inactive. This halts the production of CO2. By this, I mean CO2 still saturates the beer, but the yeast is not making any more. As no more CO2 is being made, it will all eventually escape, similar to a soda, and go flat. The trick of transferring containers and building pressure will still work to decarbonate it.

Can you Turn Sparkling Water Into Still Water?

If you seem to have sparkling water when you are really in the mood for still water, then you should be able to reverse the carbonation. While you can try naturally flattening the water, or even shaking it in a bottle and releasing the pressure, it will still taste off even when completely flat.

As much of a hassle as it is, the best way to get sparkling water as close to still water as possible is to boil it. Boiling the sparkling water allows for the gasses’ solubility to decrease to a point where they break down and leave the water.

This method is effective and scientifically reliable. Yet it’s not possible for other carbonated liquids, such as coke or other soda products. This is mostly due to the high amount of sugar found in these drinks. Boiling them will reduce the water content and make the liquid thicker until it is just a mess of sugar and flavorings. You can see this commonly when people demonstrate how unhealthy soda is. They will pour a bottle of Coke into a pan and boil it to then reveal the amount of sugar that was inside it.

As (unflavored) sparkling water has no sugar or additives in it, you can boil it without anything solidifying.

Why Decarbonate a Drink?

There are a few reasons someone may choose to flatten their soda. A lot of them are to do with personal preference. Some people may not like how it feels but still want to consume it for the taste or caffeine. A notable reason for this is people with certain conditions, such as autism, are prone to overstimulation. This can make an experience like drinking soda quite overwhelming. They may choose to flatten it so they have a more comfortable time drinking it.

Another great reason to flatten soda is so that you can stomach it while you are sick. If you are constantly throwing up, your body is losing a lot of nutrients which can lead to dehydration. One of the most important nutrients you lose during this is sugar and salt. Sodas such as Coke or Lucozade are great for replenishing this. But they can cause you to throw up more as the CO2 is likely to upset your stomach further. If you flatten the drink then it will be easier for your body to accept it. It can be a very helpful way to keep your salt and sugar levels up.

Final Thoughts on Decarbonation

Whether you want to decarbonate a drink for personal preference or because you can’t stomach the fizz, there are lots of ways you can remove the fizz from the drink.

Some methods take longer such as naturally letting it depressurize and decarbonate, yet other methods are a lot faster and almost instant such as creating nucleation sites with sugar or paper towels.

FAQs on How to Decarbonate Soda

What leaves a fizzy drink to cause it to go flat?

The chemical that leaves soda is carbon dioxide and with it, the fizz from your drink will also leave. Carbon dioxide is added to the soda at high pressure to make the bubbles that give it a fizzy texture. As soon as the soda is introduced to a lower pressure environment the carbon dioxide is slowly released.

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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