Simple syrup was made by dissolving granulated sugar in filtered water in order to produce a basic, thick sugar solution.  Syrups were produced by either hot or cold processes. 

Hot process syrup was made by dissolving sugar at a ratio of 50 pounds of granulated sugar to 4.5 gallons of warm, filtered water.  The mixture was heated very slowly and never boiled.  Perfectly clean, twenty to forty gallon, tin-lined copper tanks were used to mix and contain the syrup.  A spigot at the base of the tank was used to draw off the contents after mixing and the syrup’s strength was measured with a hydrometer.  The syrup was strained or filtered thru felt, flannel, or silk before it cooled, and again before use.  Most bottlers made their own syrups, but purchased their extracts.  Fresh fruits were often mashed and mixed with the syrup for flavoring, but this type of syrup was highly perishable and could only be used on the day it was made. 

Cold process syrup was made by dissolving granulated sugar in cold, filtered water by stirring the mixture.  Cold process syrup wasn’t as desirable as hot process syrup because undissolved sugar often crystallized and clogged the syrup gauge valves.

James W. Tufts provided strong guidance on “The Manufacture of Syrups” in his 1888 book, The Manufacture and Bottling of Carbonated Beverages, including:

The most important point to be observed in the manufacture of syrups is scrupulous cleanliness.  This point cannot be too strongly insisted on, as upon it depends the ultimate success of many manipulations.

Even the smallest bottling establishment should have a place set apart as a laboratory.  Both the quality and cost of various beverages depends upon the care and accuracy with which the various ingredients are compounded.

In order to have a uniform and even quality of goods, it is necessary to have proper measures, filters, tubs, etc.  If a spoon is used for a graduate, an old sieve for a filter, and the household wash-tubs and boiler instead of tanks and kettles specially provided, the goods cannot fail to be of poor quality…The cost of the necessary articles is not great, and with care they will last for years…

The laboratory should be supplied with a jacket-kettle or similar contrivance for making simple syrup.  It is not safe to use dry heat in preparing syrup, as it is easily burned…

The hydrometer, a closed glass tube, graduated and weighted at the end, for determining the density of liquids, is a necessary instrument in the laboratory.  The various hydrometers used by the bottler, are the alcoholometer, for liquid lighter than water, and the sacharometer and acidimeter for liquids heavier than water…

A graduate glass for fluid measures should also be supplied.  These articles enable the bottler to dispense with the use of scales for weighing, which require so much care to keep clean, besides saving time and labor in handling.

Filtering paper, large-mouthed bottles for salts and extracts, and earthen jars for holding syrups, are also necessary adjuncts of the laboratory…

A wooden spoon or stick should be used in stirring syrup which contains acid…

To make Syrup Brilliant…(and) produce a perfectly transparent beverage for use of bottlers and others, it is simply necessary to…Mix one ounce of powdered carbonate of Magnesia with each gallon of flavored syrup, and filter through fine flannel.  A little of the first run should be filtered a second time until it runs clear.  The improved appearance of the beverage makes the process a most desirable one…

No inflexible rule can be given for the use of color.  Always color to suit, and use care not to get too high a color.  Acid and color should not be added to syrup one immediately after the other.  Add the flavoring or foaming extract between the two.  Use good extracts.  There is nothing in which more deception can be practiced.  Always purchase extracts from thoroughly reliable houses. 

Here are two examples of Tufts’ typical syrup formulas: 

Strawberry Syrup.

Simple Syrup = 1 gallon

Tufts’ Strawberry Extract = 1 ounce

Fruit Acid = 1 ounce

Soda-Foam = 2 ounces

Fruit Color = 2 ounces

Cream Soda.

Simple Syrup = 1 gallon

Tufts’ Cream Soda Extract = 2 ounces

Tartaric Acid = 1 ounce

Soda-Foam = 1 ounce

Tufts also provided mixing and storage advice for Soda-Foam, Fruit Acid, and Tartaric Acid, helping to better understand the usage of these frequently added ingredients:


Tufts’ Dry Soda-Foam (one package) = 4 ounces

Alcohol = 4 ounces

Water = sufficient

Place the Dry Soda-Foam in a pint bottle and fill with water; place the bottle in hot water for several hours; when cold, strain through cloth and allow to settle until it becomes clear.  Decant; add the alcohol and enough water to make it measure 1 ½ pints.  This will never spoil.  Be careful not to use enough to taste.  Never add foam to syrup until about to use it.

Fruit Acid.

Citric Acid = 4 ounces

Boiling Water = 8 ounces

Dissolve thoroughly and strain through a flannel cloth.  Keep this acid solution in a glass or stone bottle or jug, well corked.  Prepare in small quantities, as it will become musty if kept too long.

Tartaric Acid Solution.

Tartaric Acid = 3 ounces

Hot Water = 8 ounces

Dissolve the acid in the hot water and filter through paper.  Never keep much of this solution in stock, as dissolved tartaric acid is a very unstable article, and apt to deteriorate on short notice.

The following illustration and list of suggested lab supplies accompanied Tufts’ discourse on syrups:

The following page of measures and funnels offered for sale in Bishop & Babcock’s 1909 Bottler’s Machinery – Bottler’s Supplies catalog illustrates the typical variety of laboratory supplies utilized by many bottlers:

Here’s an advertisement for a syrup tank (also referred to as a “syrup can”) that James W. Tufts was selling in 1888:

Charles Sulz included the identical syrup can illustration in his 1888 book A Treatise on Beverages or The Complete Practical Bottler and cautioned:

Syrup Receptacles…are the necessary conjunctions of the bottling machine with syruping arrangement.  They contain the ready-made and previously flavored syrup which feeds the syrup gauge or syrup pump, and is intended for flavoring carbonated water.  It is necessary or at least advisable, where different beverages by a continuous bottling process are being produced, to have for each kind of flavored syrup a separate syrup can or tank, which can be quickly and without delay connected with the syrup gauge and bottling machine…

It is highly important to avoid any exposure of flavored syrups to copper, lead or zinc, as its chemical action on such metals results in a contamination which not only destroys its beneficial effects, but renders it positively noxious.  Ordinary tin vessels should be banished from the bottling establishment.  Galvanized iron tanks are unfit for syrup receptacles, as the syrup would be contaminated by the zinc, which is the coating of such tanks.  To secure perfect purity it is necessary to use syrup tanks lined with good block or sheet tin, thus making any contact of the syrup with injurious metal absolutely impossible.

Porcelain-lined syrup tanks or slate tanks or glass vessels are the best, as even tin will be gradually attacked by the syrup and the citric and tartaric acids it contains…No metal faucets should be attached to syrup receptacles; faucets of glass or porcelain are the best.

Glazed earthenware vessels should not be used, since it is known that into their finish chemical compounds, lead, etc., enter, which injuriously affect the syrups and even destroy their flavors.

Tufts also supplied this combined sacharometer and acidimeter:

Flavorings were added to the syrup before use.  The 1910 W. H. Hutchinson and Son Bottlers’ Supplies catalog recommended:

When flavoring syrup, put in one ingredient at a time and mix thoroughly before adding another, using a wooden spatula or stick to stir.  Never use metal.  Use only the best flavors and coloring, and beware of cheap dealers and fraudulent goods.  Do not confound quality with strength.  The essential qualities of bottlers’ flavors are delicate fruitiness of flavor, rich aroma and solubility.  Too great concentration impairs these qualities and injures the bright, clear, sparkling appearance of the beverages…Coloring should be used very carefully.  Avoid high colors.

The 1889 W. H. Hutchinson & Son Manufacturers and Dealers in Bottlers Supplies catalog offered the following advice to bottlers concerning syrups, flavors, and general cleanliness:


1.  Never flavor Syrups when hot.

2.  Stir each ingredient as soon as put into the Syrup, before adding another, and stir well.

3.  Follow directions explicitly, and then if you require a stronger flavor, or anything different, add to suit yourselves and the locality you are in.

4.  You cannot mix your Syrups and flavors too much; the longer you stir them the better; and be sure you strain them well.

5.  Have the tubs and everything used in making Syrups very clean.  It would be well to keep lime water on hand, and every two weeks at least, wash thoroughly all the utensils used in connection with the Syrups.  This will prevent them from getting musty, and kill all animal matter that may have accumulated…

6.  We would advise all bottlers to use a weak solution of sal. Soda and water in washing their bottles…After washing the bottles in this water, rinse with fresh water, and your bottles will be bright and clean as a new silver dollar.