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>Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 14:19:45 -0700
>From: Cliff Lundberg <cliff at noevalley_com>
>What is the function of the baking soda in DIY CO2 setups?

I think I may have started the baking soda addition, so I'll answer this
question to the best of my knowledge.

A couple of years ago, I followed the instructions on rec.aquaria for how
to create my own yeast CO2 generator.  There was plenty of discussion on
whether brown sugar was better than white, and on whether bakers' yeast or
brewers' yeast should be used.  I experimented a little, but found that my
cultures generally didn't last more than 2 weeks, and it seemed like they
were just getting started.

I came across the idea that since CO2 lowers tha pH of the water in the
tank, it probably really crushes the pH inside the CO2 generator.  Thinking
that this could possibly be killing my yeast too early and causing them to
fail before their time, I tried adding a teaspoon of baking soda to my 2
liters of yeast generator solution.

The results were notable.  CO2 production leveled off at a lower level
initially and it lasted 3-4 weeks (depending on what amount of CO2 flow is
considered acceptable), ending completely after 6 weeks.  This was in
comparison to the 2 week life of my previous generators, ending completely
in another week or two, with sweet water left over.

The recipe I give out: 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp yeast, 1 tsp baking soda, fill
to 3" from the top, will turn into a pinkish-amber liquid after all
production stops (in about 6-8 weeks) and although I didn't drink any, I
did taste it, and found it to be roughly equivalent in flavor to really
cheap champagne. 

Now, I tend to change my CO2 generators when they start to look pinkish and
on the clear side (about once a month).  If it's still cloudy, it's still
producing plenty of CO2.

David W. Webb           Corporate Business Systems
Texas Instruments Inc.  Dallas, TX USA
(972) 575-3443 (voice)  dwebb at ti_com
(972) 575-4853 (fax)    http://www.dallas.net/~dwebb
(214) 581-2380 (pager)  2145812380 at alphapage_airtouch.com