Joseph Priestley discovered a way to carbonate water by placing a bowl of water above a vat of fermenting beer, which gave off carbon dioxide that was then absorbed by the water.
His paper “Impregnating Water with Fixed Air” was published in 1772. At about the same time, Swedish professor Torbern Bergman came up with another carbonation method, this time using sulphuric acid and chalk. He was inspired by the springs from which water emerges naturally carbonated.
Current carbonation techniques involve pressurizing carbon dioxide before adding it to the water—the pressure increases the amount of carbon dioxide that will dissolve. Opening the bottle of water releases pressure, allowing the carbon dioxide to form bubbles that hadn’t previously been visible. The size, spacing, and quantity of bubbles in carbonated water is governed by the amount of carbon dioxide added to it. Most artifically carbonated waters have 1 to 10 mg/l of carbon dioxide.