The gasogene (or gazogene or seltzogene) is a late Victorian device for producing carbonated water. It consists of two linked glass globes: the lower contained water or other drink to be made sparkling, the upper a mixture of tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate that reacts to produce carbon dioxide. The produced gas pushes the liquid in the lower container up a tube and out of the device. The globes are surrounded by a wicker or wire protective mesh, as they have a tendency to explode.
The earliest occurrence of the word noted in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1853, quoting a reference in Practical Mechanic's Journal on "Gaillard and Dubois' 'Gazogene' or Aerated Water apparatus".
In popular culture
A gasogene is mentioned as a residential fixture at 221B Baker Street in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia": "With hardly a word spoken, but with a kindly eye, he waved me to an armchair, threw across his case of cigars, and indicated a spirit case and a gasogene in the corner." One is also mentioned in "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone". The device plays a key role in Bernard Shaw's 1905 comic play Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction, Or The Fatal Gazogene.
Amelia Peabody pulls a bottle of whiskey, a gasogene, and glasses from a hamper in order to make herself a whiskey and soda after getting her family on a train to Luxor in the novel The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters, a pen name of Barbara Mertz.
- Mixing it up: A Look at the Evolution of the Siphon-Bottle
- "gazogene", Oxford English Dictionary (subscription required).
- Shaw, pp. 1113–19
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