In a nutshell, that’s it. Pun intended!
I needed to buy some baking soda, and I saw this box on the shelf today. Intrigued? Why, yes–yes, I was. Also because look how clever they are with the logo, making the name just like the Nutella jar with its signature black first lower case letter and the following letters all in red:
A closer look revealed just what the picture seemed to show: the Ferrero people are selling packets of powder you can add to a bottle of water to transform it from what we call liscia or naturale (still) to frizzante, what my kiddos lovingly refer to as “fizzy water.” While I myself actually prefer fizzy water, and strangely enough my 4 year old girls and 6 year old son also prefer it, I just can’t be bothered to lug home packages of six 1-liter bottles of the stuff. Tap will do just fine, thank you very much. And yet! What have we here? A solution? Hmmm.
It was just under €3 for a box of 24 packets, which produces 24 liters of water. Yes, math wizards, that does come out to something like 12 cents a liter. And, it’s environmentally friendly because you’re not wasting all that plastic. I’d never seen it before, so I was willing to give it a go. Also, how to resist the yellow sunburst proudly proclaiming the proverbial “new and improved” fact that the powder packets now have the “little bubble saver” double-lining? I was sold.
The directions are clearly set out on each individual packet:
Basically you fill a hermetically-sealed bottle with 1 liter of water, you add the powder packet, you close the bottle, turn it upside down a couple of times, and then wait. As the packet instructs: “The water will be ready in a few minutes.”
I felt like I was back in 7th grade science class doing a lab experiment. I carefully poured in the packet, and turned the bottle over a few times, and then started the wait. At first the water was pretty white and cloudy:
But it settles into a nicely clear and bubbly appearance after a few minutes. The taste verdict? After a satisfying “pop” upon opening the bottle, it tasted like–well, like baking soda.
Yeah. Not super excited about Cristallina. Granted, this isn’t a new discovery. Back in the late 80s there were some hyper-happy kids and a Jane Fonda-eque woman who were all kinds of excited about Cristallina. So, you know. I’m not the authority on the subject. (And, I might add, OHDEARGOD if you watch that ad, I dare you not to have “Bevi, bevi, Cristallliiiinaaa!” rattling around your brain for the next, like, forever.)
Active ingredients, you wonder? Sure, happy to oblige: carbonato acido di sodio (E 500), acido malico (E296).
I learned something(s) new here, folks. Thinking I’d been duped into buying fancy packets of baking soda, I did a wee bit o’ research, and discovered that there’s this stuff called WASHING SODA. What? I know! And so, I feel justified in having purchased an entirely different product, because–people! It’s actually washing soda that they’ve packed here, together with malic acid as a food additive that I suppose gives it a tartness (to offset the saltiness, perhaps?). I also discovered that malic acid is the source of the sour part of “extreme” sour candy. Nice trivia, no? And as if that wasn’t already enough, I now know what an E number is. These are good pieces of information to have readily on hand at your next cocktail party, if conversation lulls.
So, if you aren’t fortunate enough to have Cristallina in your local supermarket, why not buy simple old baking soda and turn it into washing soda? Apparently it’s used as a water softener, or something. Don’t know where you can pick up your garden variety E296 malic acid, however. You’ve got me there.