Whipped Cream Chargers - History & Use

Nitrous Oxide and the use in making whipped cream.

This page is dedicated to explaining the history and use of whipped cream chargers.

Here are some of the topics we'll discuss:

- History and use of nitrous oxide in whipped cream
- History of Whipped Cream Chargers
- Overview various brands of Whipped cream chargers

History and use of nitrous oxide in making whipped cream
Whipped cream chargers, containing nitrous oxide, have been manufactured and used to produce whipped cream since the mid 20th century.  The use of nitrous oxide in the making of  whipped cream was discovered like many things, by accident.

A dairy man by the name of Martin Prucha was a well known bacteriologist in the early 1900’s. Prucha was involved in the discovery of contaminants in dairy equipment and utensils, which led to the wide use of chlorine as a cleaning agent to eliminate bacteria in the distribution of milk and dairy products.

Before retiring in 1948, Prucha played a significant role in a very important discovery.  G.F. Smith was a Chemistry professor at the University Illinois. Smith had a student by the name of Goetz.  Goetz was studying the preservation of cream with chemicals under pressure, specifically carbon dioxide.  Goetz complained that every time he released the pressure from the can to take a sample, the cream would whip.  Prucha and Smith hit upon the idea of making whipped cream from a can, but using nitrous oxide instead of carbon dioxide to minimize flavor problems.  Nitrous oxide is colorless, odorless and flavorless.  Smith, Prucha and Goetz obtained a U.S. patent for this idea.  Deciding this idea had no commercial potential, they released it back to the inventors.  Smith later formed a company called Aerated Products Corporation to market this invention, while Goetz went on to become head of chemistry at the University of Iowa.

Aerated Products Corporation then funded a position at the university specifically to further develop the aeration process. Harry Pyneson was hired in 1946 as assistant professor of dairy manufactures to work on whipped cream applications. Pyneson was also involved with Extension activities, teaching off-campus courses. Ironically, Pyneson left the university and went to work as Director of Research for Redi-Whip, a competitor of Aerated Products. Redi-Whip had developed a single-use container and a different type of nozzle. In contrast, Smith's original concept was a refillable whipped cream dispenser that had to be returned, an inconvenience in those days when "disposable" was a key marketing strategy for consumer goods.

Perhaps Smith was ahead of his time as far as reducing packaging waste was concerned!

Redi-Whip eventually became the market leader in aerosol whipped cream.

Use of whipped cream chargers gains popularity
Whipped cream chargers continue to gain popularity versus disposable cans in allowing people to quickly make their own whipped cream in a re-usable whipped cream dispenser or  whipped cream maker.  Whip cream chargers have certain advantages over their single use, 
disposable counterparts.  If the nitrous oxide is let out of the disposable can, the entire batch, canister and contents must be discarded.  On the other hand, if a re-usable whipped cream dispenser loses its charge, simply insert another charger to re-pressurize the cream and you’re 
ready to go!

Whipped cream dispensers allow you to add your own unique flavoring, coloring and refined taste to your whipped cream.  Add a little more powdered sugar for extra sweetness, some food coloring for green whipped cream during St. Patrick’s Day.  Finally, how’s about Vanilla, 
Strawberry or Caramel flavored whipped cream?  Just add a dash of your favorite extract or flavored syrup and have some fun testing!  Pre-made canisters also contain certain ingredients like mono and diglycerides, artificial flavorings and carrageenan.  What’s this you say?  Just 
make your own whip cream with Heavy whipping cream, sugar and a nitrous oxide whipped cream charger.

Nitrous oxide whipped cream chargers were first made in Europe and are now made throughout the world.  The standard whipped cream charger measures about 2.5” in length and less than an inch wide.  These steel chargers are cylindrical in shape with one end narrower 
than the rest of the body.  Commonly known as screw-valve chargers, these chargers are inserted into a metal or plastic charger holder and then screwed into place on the whipped cream dispenser.  A permanently fixed piercing pin punctures the thin tip of the charger, 
releasing the nitrous oxide into the content of the whip cream canister.  Although used chargers are not refillable, they are 100% recyclable where certain recycling programs exist.

It is highly recommended that you stay with chargers made in Europe as cleanliness standards tend to be better than other countries.  Many chargers are now being made at cut rate prices in China, but consumer beware!  There is no agency testing the quality and cleanliness of these chargers.  You need only look at the recent rash of recalls on many other products made in China.  Remember the old saying, “you get what you pay for”?  The same is true with whipped cream chargers.  Especially these days with the proliferation of cheap, self-regulated imports, it  is important to stay with name brand chargers like Whip-It! and ISI.

Beware of companies making unfounded claims like having 8.5 grams of nitrous oxide in their chargers.  Buy a box, look at where these come from and then think twice about putting them into your whipped cream.  You may also notice a black film or residue from toxic machining oils 
remaining in the charger.  This can be caused by a lack of strict, cleaning guidelines that are practiced in European manufacturing facilities.

Whipped Cream Chargers

Various Brands of Whipped Cream Chargers on  the market

ISI Cream Chargers
Cafe Creme
Xtra Whip Cream Chargers
Creme 24
EZ Whip
Mr. Creamy