Naturally Carbonated Water

Naturally Carbonated Water: Soda Springs Geyser, Soda Springs, Idaho, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer
Soda Springs Geyser, Soda Springs, Idaho

If you like drinking carbonated water as much as I do, you’ll be happy to hear you can drink as much as you’d like, -absolutely for free- just north of the Utah border in Soda Springs, Idaho.

Idan-Ha Mineral Water, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer
Idan-Ha Mineral Water
Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer

Small Bubbling Soda Water Pool, Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer Small Bubbling Soda Water Pool
Courtesy & &copy Mary Heers, Photographer

When settlers heading to California passed through this area on the Oregon Trail, they saw the many bubbling natural springs.

In 1838 Sarah White Smith, wrote in her diary, This is indeed a curiosity. The water is bubbling and foaming like boiling water.” But the water wasn’t hot.

She also wrote how delighted she was when she made bread with the water. “The bread was as light as any prepared with yeast.”

All this stirred up some fond memories I have of my high school science teacher who always made interesting things happen in the classroom. She put a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (commonly called baking soda) in a dish and added a couple tablespoons of water and vinegar. Voila! The dish began “bubbling and foaming like boiling water.”

For centuries something like this has been going on under the ground in Soda Springs. The carbonate rocks are mixing with slightly acidic water, sending CO2 bubbles to the surface .

By 1887, Soda Springs had grown to a bustling town. Some enterprising residents came up with a plan to capture the CO2 gas. They built giant drums over one of the springs and then built a five-mile pipeline to their bottling plant. There they mixed the gas with clear water from another spring and bottled it. The soda water was called “Idan-ha” and was shipped out on the railroad far and wide.

A bottle of Idan-ha mineral water
Mary Heers, Photographer
It won first place at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and again in the World’s Fair in Paris in 1905.

A decade later, another group of businessmen went to work on a plan to build a mineral water swimming pool resort.

On Dec 2, 1937, drillers dug down to 315 ft. No luck. They went to dinner. Then they heard a gush of water shoot up outside the window. They said it was “roaring like a dragon.” The whole area was enveloped in water vapor and Main Street was flooded. It took them two weeks to cap it.

The water wasn’t warm, so the businessmen abandoned their plans for a swimming pool resort.

The town knew their geyser was accidental; it was man-made- but still a plume of water shooting 100 ft into the air was impressive to look at.

Engineers put a timer on the cap. Now the carbonated water shoots up for 8 minutes every hour on the hour.

You can watch it for free.

As for drinking the naturally carbonated water, the city has set aside three springs.

Mineral springs in Soda Springs, Idaho
Mary Heers, Photographer
My guide drove me to his favorite site just outside of town We scrambled down a grassy hillside to a small bubbling pool about the size of a basketball. He whipped out a cup and dipped it in. I drank. It was cold and fizzy.

“Good as Perrier,” I said.

He smiled, “Now I like you.”

I liked him too. Even more, I loved drinking this tasty treasure bubbling up from the ground.

This is Mary Heers and I’m Wild About Utah


Images Courtesy & Copyright Mary Heers, Photographer
Featured Audio: Courtesy & Copyright © Friend Weller, Utah Public Radio
Text: Mary Heers,
Additional Reading: Lyle Bingham,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Mary Heers’ Postings

Price, Mike, Soda Springs, We Are East Idaho, LLC, September 9, 2019,

Hooper Springs Park, California National Historic Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior,

A man-made CO2 Geyser in Utah:
Weaver, Lance, Crystal Geyser, Grand County, Utah, Geosights, Utah Geological Survey (UGS), Utah Department of Natural Resources, January 2018,

Map on page 43 shows water from Soda Springs flows into the Bear River and the Great Salt Lake:
Dissolved-Mineral Inflow to Great Salt Lake and Chemical Characteristics of the Salt Lake Brine, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and The College of Mines and Mineral Industries, The University of Utah, 1963,

Hot Springs

Utah Hot Springs
Click map for larger view
Map by H. Strand, Data from
Blackett and Wakefield 2002.

Hi, I’m Holly Strand from Stokes Nature Center in beautiful Logan Canyon.

Cold weather getting to you? Can’t swing a trip to Hawaii or the Carribean this year?

Fortunately for us, there’s a natural antidote to winter right here in Utah Hot springs abound in the Beehive State. According to a Utah Geological Survey database, there are 106 known springs with waters above 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest temperature recorded in a Utah spring is 91 degrees Celsius or 195 degrees Fahrenheit at Crystal Hot Springs in Salt Lake County.

Hot springs develop when rain and melted snow infiltrate into the ground. This ground water then sinks deep enough to be warmed by the heat contained in the earth’s interior. Because hot water is less dense it is pushed back to the surface by the continued sinking of incoming heavier, cold water. Replenishment through surface precipitation creates a continuous cycle.

Why do some areas have hot springs and others do not? While there is heat in the earth beneath any spot on the surface, in some areas, this heat is concentrated closer to the surface. For instance, in and around volcanoes–this is the case in Yellowstone area.

Luckily, we don’t know of any volcanoes lurking beneath us. But we know that the Basin and Range area of western Utah, southeastern Idaho, Nevada and eastern California, is expanding or spreading. This spreading movement leaves a relatively thin crust. And a thinner crust means heat is closer to the surface. Furthermore, crustal movement create surface faults that allow cold water to seep down and warm water to flow out. Thus with few exceptions, the higher temperature geothermal areas in Utah occur either in the Basin and Range Province or within the Basin and Range-Colorado Plateau transition zone.

Geothermal sources have many practical uses. The Blundell power station at the Roosevelt Hot Springs geothermal area near Milford produces commercial energy. There are several greenhouses and aquaculture facilities in Utah using geothermal resources. But my favorite application of geothermal waters would be the hot spring spa or swimming pool. lists 16 of these in Utah. And for those of us in northern Utah there’s at least ten more right across the border in Idaho.

For maps and sources of information on hot springs and spas, see
Thanks to the Lion’s Gate Manor in Lava Hot Springs for supporting research and development of this Wild About Utah topic.

For Wild About Utah and Stokes Nature Center, I’m Holly Strand.

Images: Map by H. Strand, Data from Blackett and Wakefield 2002.

Text:     Holly Strand, Stokes Nature Center

Sources & Additional Reading:

Blackett, R.E., and Wakefield, S.I., 2002, Geothermal resources of Utah, a digital atlas of Utah’s geothermal resources: Utah Geological Survey, OFR-397, CD-ROM. Available online [accessed January 10, 2010]

Blackett, R.E. Utah Geothermal Wells & Springs Interactive Map. 1:500,000. Utah Geological Survey, Cedar City Office. [ accessed January 10, 2010]

DeTar, R.E. Thermal Waters. Digital Atlas of Idaho. [ accessed January 10, 2010]

Oregon Institute of Technology. Geothermal Resources of Utah. Geo-Heat Center Quarterly Bulletin Vol. 25. No. 4. [ accessed January 10, 2010]

Utah Geological Survey. Geothermal Occurrences in Utah.

Lion’s Gate Manor in Lava Hot Springs. (208) 776-5118

Geothermal Springs in Idaho,