Whipping siphon: how it works

Siphon was invented a long time ago and was mainly used for seltz. Briefly, it was a rapid way to add sparking water into cocktails.

More recently, another type of siphon has gained popularity: the one to make foams, better known as whipping siphon. As a symbol of molecular gastronomy, it was widely used by Chef Ferran Adrià, to become then common in all professional and home kitchens. In this post, we will talk about the whipping siphon.

What does it make it so special?

Whipping siphon makes instant foams. It is commonly used to make whipped cream, but we can go further and use it to create savory or sweet recipes.

How is it made?


A whipping siphon


A siphon basically consists of 4 parts:

  • A metal bottle (1) where the liquid (e.g. cream) is poured.
  • A metal cap (2) that must be tightened to the bottle. This part has two valves: one for the gas in (3) and one for the gas out.
  • A long cap (not shown in pic), where the gas (usually N2O) cartridge is inserted. This part is tightened to the in-valve (3) on the metal cap.
  • An extruding spout (4). It is tightened on the extrusion valve and can come in various shapes.

How does it work?

  • The gas cartridge is pierced as soon as inserted in the cap and tightened to the in-valve. The gas is inflated in the bottle and binds to the fat molecules of the cream.
  • The bottle is gently shaken for a few seconds to let the gas mixing with the cream.
  • The siphon is then turned upside down. The handle is pressed and the extruding valve opens. The gas, mixed to the cream, reaches the atmospheric pressure and expands, generating an instant mousse.

Cartridges of N2O


What can limit the functionality of a whipping siphon?

  • The presence of solid particles, even very small ones (e.g. berry seeds) can block the valve. As a rule of thumb, always filter the liquid to whip.
  • If the O-rings are damaged, the gas can leak out and the pressure in the bottle decreases. The liquid might not be pushed out of the bottle.

A few precautions...

  • When handling a siphon, remember you are dealing with a pressurized gas. Be careful: do not hammer it, do not make it falling down, keep it away from heat sources…
  • Be careful also when you handle N2O cartridges: you are still dealing with a pressurized gas.
  • Choose a high-quality siphon. Apparently, the best are those with the cap, the one holding the cartridge, in metal, because it tolerates high pressure better. My cap is, actually, in plastic and I am trying to replace it with a metal one. Worst case scenario, I will get a new siphon with that part in metal.
  • Last but not least, always read the instructions provided by the supplier/vendor: they explain how to use the siphon and clean it properly.

Here, a test I did with my new siphon:


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