When I made homemade mineral waters a few weeks ago, I probably scared off some folks whose memories of high school chemistry involved traumas of dumb-looking safety glasses and forced evacuations when somebody dropped a penny in nitric acid just to see what happens. It does not need to be complicated; it is just like cooking, measuring and mixing. It took me a couple weeks of working with the 6 salt solutions and enjoying a variety of mineral waters cheaply to get it down to the bare essentials. Here is your shopping list:6 1-quart canning jars with lids and rings
Some way of labeling them (sharpie works)
An empty one gallon plastic water bottle
Morton’s kosher salt (or sea salt – but measurement will differ!)
Epsom salt (from the pharmacy)
Gypsum (the only tough ingredient, can be ordered online or bought at homebrew supply stores)
Phillips Milk of Magnesia (from the pharmacy)
Pickling lime (from your grocery’s canning section)
Label the jars with the names of the 6 ingredients or just 1 through 6. Now let’s make the 6 solutions. Measurement should be close, but we’re not making reagent grade solutions and the space shuttle won’t crash if you’re off by a quarter teaspoon or so.
Solution 1: Salt
Measure 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (1½ if coarse, 1¾ for Morton’s kosher) and place in jar #1. Fill to ½” to the top, cover and mix thoroughly. Distilled water is preferred, but most tap water contains relatively insignificant amounts of sodium and calcium, so it’s okay and cheaper.
Solution #2: Baking soda
2 Teaspoons baking soda, add water and mix as with the salt.
Solution #3: Epsom Salt
2 Teaspoons Epsom salt, mixed as before
Solution #4: Gypsum
3 teaspoons gypsum (it’s lighter than the previous salts). Gypsum will not dissolve completely and the jar has to be shaken before each use. That is true for the two remaining solutions as well.
Solution #5: Milk of Magnesia
Shake bottle well. Measure 4 liquid ounces + 1 teaspoon. Place in canning jar, add water, and mix as before.
Solution #6: Pickling lime
3½ teaspoons pickling lime, mixed as before. Once again, Solutions 4-6 need to be shaken before each use.
You’ll need a 1-cup measure cup that has one ounce measurement and allows you to “eyeball” a half ounce. Again, the measurements are not super critical, a close approximation is good enough.
Into a one gallon container, making sure to shake and mix the ones that settle, add the following, mixing after each addition:
1 ounce of solution #1 (salt)
4 ounces solution #2 (baking soda)
1 ounce solution #3 (Epsom salt)
(no gypsum, solution #4)
3 ounces solution #5 (Milk of Magnesia)
8 ounces solution #6 (pickling lime)
Add enough water to fill almost to the top and refrigerate. Gerolsteiner is naturally carbonated and this mixture will taste pretty nasty if it ain’t – so avoid this one if you don’t have a SodaStream or seltzer bottle! If you use a SodaStream, remove the bottle very carefully since the added salts will allow the water to absorb more CO2 under pressure and it will make a mess and get you all wet if you release it quickly! But you won’t have to evacuate, it’s just mineral water.
Now let’s make a gallon of San Pelligrino!Solution #1: 1½ ounces
Solution #2: None
Solution #3: 7 ounces
Solution #4: 7 ounces
Solution #5: None
Solution #6: 1½ ounces
Add in order, Mix, top off to one gallon
And one more (one that is normally not carbonated, but works very well when it is - due to the relatively large quantity of baking soda), Apollinaris:#1: 2 ounces
#2: 15 ounces!
#3: 2½ ounces
#5: 3 ounces
#6: 2 ounces
Yada-yada-yada, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…
If you like your water flavored and not just “For 2¢ Plain,” you might want to try Kraft Foods new MiO flavors with your homemade mineral water. They ain’t bad and won’t kill you. I’ve tried Strawberry/Watermelon, Berry/Pomegranate, and Mango/Peach with carbonation, but have shied away from the iced tea versions which seem like blasphemy in the South. There are about 24 squirts (good for 16 ounces) in a $3.50 bottle, so it costs you about 15 cents a shot. They are greatly improved by adding a teaspoon of Darcy O’Neil’s Acid Phosphate (which he calls “the salt shaker of the drink world") to the glass before pouring in the conditioned/carbonated water, then squirt the MiO. The acid phosphate will cause the water to foam slightly when you add the MiO and it tastes significantly better – and it all tastes better from the salts you’ve added to the water. Hey WTF, let’s do one more, Vittel:#1: None
#2: ½ ounce
#3: 5 ounces
#4: 4 ounces
#6: 3 ounces
Now your refrigerator should be filled to overflowing, and surely goodness and mercy shall follow! A hat tip to the genius of Mr. Martin Lersch, the Prometheus of DIY mineral water, is due here. If you haven't checked out Khymos.org, you should do so now. It is on the cutting edge of culinary innovation, but spoken by one who loves messing around in the kitchen.