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Building Better Mineral Water: Deconstructing Mineral Waters

In the Water Project here on Alcademics, I'm looking at what is in commercial brands of sparkling mineral waters and reconstructing them. 

To do so, first I looked at how to get all the dissolved solids out of tap water. Then I measured properties of commercial mineral waters - pH and dissolved solids- and compared them with publicly available information. 

The next step was to examine what each mineral in mineral water tasted like on its own. 

Again referring to the information on Khymos.org, I could see that the primary minerals in mineral water are Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium, and Potassium. The website also allows you to look at bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, and nitrate. 

Photo (1)

To taste each of these minerals/salts on its own, I looked up the mineral water with the greatest concentration of a particular mineral, then added the ingredient in the proper amount to mineral-free water to give me that water's amount of it. In other words, if Apolinaris water had the most Magnesium (it did), then I started with water with no minerals in it and added the magnesium-containing ingredients in its recipe (epsom salts and magnesium carbonate) without worrying about the other minerals in the recipe.

I measured the pH and total dissolved solids (TDS) of the new mineral water before carbonation, and the pH again afterward. This was mostly to make sure I wasn't adding anything that would put the mineral water outside of a safe range of pH for drinking. 

Single-Mineral Mineral Water Chart

Mineral Brand Added pH TDS pH after carbonation Notes
Calcium Contrex Plaster of Paris 9.9 244 4.8 Cleared up after carbonation. Nice fizz. Taste: powdery/dry but not flavorful
Magnesium Apolinaris Epsom salts and Magnesium Carbonate 10 132 5.1 Cloudy until carbonate, creamy, mineraly, soft carbonation though
Sodium Saint-Yorre Baking soda and Table salt 8.2 2170 5.9 Clear before carbonation, great fizz, tastes very salty
Potassium   Saint-Yorre Potassium Bicarbonate 8.4 158 4.8 Clear before carbonating, fizzes over with carbonation when charging, flavor is dryness; not much else
Sufate Contrex Epsom salt and Plaster of Paris 7.4 459 5.1 A little sweet. Really good carbonation. Nice texture. 
Chloride San Narciso table salt 6.9 876 6.9 Good carbonation but just salty, blech

It was interesting to see how these salts affected carbonation; not just flavor of the water.

The next step was to taste these one-mineral-rich waters with alcohol to see what happened. I thought they might bring out different aspects of flavor in booze and I was right. 

I made an equal-parts Vodka Soda with each of the soda waters above. My tasting notes were:

Mineral Notes
Calcium     Bright and flavorful
Magnesium     Not a lot of character; a little salty
Sodium Salty, way too salty
Potassium Chalky but kinda good
Sulfate Brighter and sweeter, but perhaps too much so
Chloride Salty

After this, I made a mineral blend of what I thought might work, using a combination of baking soda, epsom salt, and plaster of paris. This blend did make the flavor in vodka (and whisky) pop, but was too salty tasting. 

My next experiments will be to build other mineral blends to find one(s) that I like. There is much more work to be done!

 

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Water-project-logoThe Water Project on Alcademics is research into water in spirits and in cocktails, from the streams that feed distilleries to the soda water that dilutes your highball. The research for the project is supported by Bowmore Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. For all posts in the project, visit the project index page

 

 

Camper's Book: Tonic Water AKA G&T WTF is now available for sale.

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