How to open a siphon ? How to clean it ? What is the average price ? Can
it be used again ?
These are some frequent questions that may bother you, and are frequently addressed to us.
We will try to provide some answers and advices, taken from of our years of “siphon freak” experience!
How to open a siphon ?
Most of the time, we first try to activate the lever of the head. It is
a way to test if still works, if it is not blocked, as well as to allow the
potential remaining gas to get out of the siphon bottle.
Then, you can start to work on the dismantling of the siphon head. Sometimes, it is easy, and the head and the locking ring are not seized up, and you can easily unscrew them. But most of the time, with the years, the two pieces are strongly seized up together (this is due to the internal rubber ring becoming sticky like glue when aging).One option is to immerge the siphon head in very hot water (in which you may add some dish washing liquid) … this process allows to internal rubber ring to warm and get flexible again, as well as the dirt & oil to melt and get away. Beware when you put the bottle in the hot water to avoid any thermal choc (you may warm the bottle progressively in medium temperature first). (If the bottle is already partly damaged, you should not use this technique!) After several minutes, you can then try to open slowly the head with a combination pliers (protect the tin with a cloth or with some rubber first, to avoid the combination pliers to damage the metal). Unscrew slowly the locking ring, and once it is unblocked finalise the process with your hand. (An alternative and advice is to use some thick double side sticky tape around either the locking ring or the combination pliers. It is a secure way to avoid the tin, which is a soft metal, to be harmed.).
This process does not work all the time, and there is always a risk to either squeeze the tin metal or to break the top of the siphon glass. So one need to be careful, to take time, and sometime repeat the step of putting the top in hot water. One may also have to accept, that not all siphon can be open!
How to clean a siphon ?
The external part of the bottle can be simply cleaned with soap, dish washing liquid and a sponge. One should avoid any abrasive sponge or abrasive liquid.
To clean the tin siphon head, you can first wash it with water and soap. Be gentle, as sometime the head is chromed or silvered. A little tip, given by antique dealers, is to use iron wool (the triple 0, which is the finest) and gently brush the tin. Some also do this with a mixture of water & chalk. By doing so, the tin will fined its natural patina, and you will be able to easily get rid of the dirt. (Do not do this on chromed or silvered heads!)
Cleaning the inside of the siphon bottle is a more complex thing. You can
first start with a bottle brush, soap and warm water to get rid of the dirt
and oily bits. Most of the time, this is enough to get a cleaned bottle.
An alternative is to use the classical “coarse salt & vinegar » technique. Take to coarse salt, add white vinegar (some boil it first to have it warm) and fill the siphon bottle with it. Shake the bottle from time to time. You leave this in the bottle for ten minutes or several days depending of the dirt you want to get rid of. Finally, you may also use some modern anti-tartar products (like Viakal, Antikal, or StarWax anti tartar spray)
In all cases, you will have to clean the bottle with water and a bottle brush in the end.
Unfortunately, some siphons have the “white glass disease” ( a white milky stain on the glass, usually inside the bottle, with a round or oval shape). If this is the case, there is nothing you can do! Ensure the bottle is fully dry inside to avoid the stain to become bigger. (This disease is quite frequent on ouraline glass).
Can an old siphon function again ?
There is only one simple answer: NO! Except in UK & Spain, there is no manufacturer anymore in Europe where siphon can be refilled.
Remember, the main risk is bottle explosion. In France, the law has forbidden
the use of unprotected glass bottle for mineral gas water since 1952.
Finally, if you are desperately seeking with nostalgia for a “pschitt” experience yoy can find some modern metallic siphons, some glass wicker covered siphons, and in some countries some plastic siphons (Spain, Hungarian) which do function quite well … but without the charm of the old models, nor the same gas pressure.
What is the price of a siphon ?
It is OK to buy a siphon you like, but you should not be fooled by the price. So how to know what the reasonable price should be ?
Supply & demand define the price. Therefore you have to consider the uniqueness or not of the desired siphon, its global state (broken or not, complete or incomplete, etc) and of course the pleasure you will get to have it or not.
For a standard classical siphon, there are still so many available, that one should buy only those in a good state, not broken, not with too much tartar, complete and not too worn.