Bringin' home the seltzer
August 7, 2009 7:52 AM   Subscribe

DIY Seltzer: We love seltzer/sparkling water at my house. We buy lots of it from the store. This seems wasteful. I've seen other questions asking about CO2 etc, but I'm interested in knowing what your experience has been with certain vendors/equipment.

I've heard of soda stream usa and soda club. Please tell me about others if they exist.

Have you used them? Have you instead made your own contraption? Do you use glass or plastic bottles? Big or small?

How did you flavor them if you just like the berry/citrus flavors? We're not interested in it tasting like coke or sprite.

Did you save money by DIY or was it just making you feel better about less trash?

posted by sio42 to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
It's been saving money for years for me with the soda stream devices and they're just fine. 1l plastic bottles, some flavours.

The system works just fine, go for it to try, it isn't too expensive after all.
posted by oxit at 8:16 AM on August 7, 2009

SodaClub and SodaStreamUSA are the same company, and we use them.

About a year ago, we decided that lugging two-liter bottles of seltzer and soda was just too carbon-footprinty for us. I did a little research, and found that there are basically two approaches to making your own bubbly water at home.

The first is the little spritzer type thing you would see in all the 1950s TV shows and movies. I've always been fascinated by them, but each liter of soda requires a disposable charger. Meh, that was too wasteful (and too much hassle) for us.

The other approach is, as you noted, SodaClub. You purchase a housing unit and a "license" for the charger bottle. Depending on the housing unit you select, the charger bottle is rated for either 60 or 110 liters. We are not so anal as to have actually counted the number of liters we get from a charger bottle, but their estimates seem about right.

You have to use their bottles, of course, since only they make bottles with the proper threading for attaching to the housing unit. But they're durable so it's basically a one-time purchase.

The fruity soda mixes they produce are pretty good and we use them quite often. (NB: We only use sugar-free, so I can't vouch for the sugary versions) The other way we flavor our sodas is by using Crystal Light (or other brands) of OnTheGo packets. Two packets are perfect for flavoring one liter.

The bottom line is that it is definitely cheaper to make sodas that way, especially if you have a cool-water dispenser in your refrigerator, but not knock-your-socks-off cheaper. But, of course, you are also reducing your carbon footprint by quite a lot if you make your own sodas.
posted by DrGail at 8:24 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sodastream and SodaClub are the same thing (on the Sodaclub website, if you click Shop Online>USA, it takes you to

And it is awesome. I've had one for a couple of years and it's my favorite thing. I often mix the water with juice, berries, etc for flavor. They also sell a syrup for "flavored water" (as opposed to their soda flavors) that is quite nice- a hint of orange or lemon/lime.

Mainly I bought it so I wouldn't have to lug bottles of sparkling water home from the store, but the money savings and environmental benefits are a nice bonus.

Getting carbonator refills is kind of obnoxious for me, because they expect you to leave the empty canisters on your front porch for them to pick up when they deliver the new ones. I live in NYC where that isn't possible. That may not be an issue for you. You can also exchange them at some stores if you live near one.
posted by doift at 8:24 AM on August 7, 2009

We have a basic Sodastream seltzer maker. It gets expensive ($25/refill, I think) to refill the little CO2 canisters that come with the machine if you do it their way. Their canisters have a non-standard opening to make it hard to refill them yourself from a big CO2 tank, but you can buy an adapter to make DIY refills possible. I don't remember where we got our adapter, but googling "Sodastream adapter" turns up a few promising results (feel free to MeMail me if you'd like me to dig up the name of the person we got ours from). Once you have the adapter, boating and concessions supply stores will sell large CO2 tanks that will last a long time and make refills incredibly cheap. You can refill the large tanks relatively cheaply as well when you eventually run out.

We definitely save money in the long run, but there were some costs up front--the Sodastream was something like $75 (we got a group discount ordering several with friends), the adapter was another $30 or so, and the I want to say the CO2 tank cost $50 (but I really can't remember because the tank was split with friends).

As for citrus--I frequently make lemonade using seltzer instead of flat water (keep the juice/sugar syrup mixture in the fridge, dilute with seltzer to serve) and it's incredibly tasty.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:25 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

My life has changed since I got the SodaStream - it is the BEST thing I have ever bought, I swear to god!!!!!
posted by tristeza at 8:28 AM on August 7, 2009

Soda Stream/SodaClub is great! I decided to get one to hopefully save money, but mostly because of the convenience. It's nice to have setlzer on demand without having to lug the heavy bottles from the store.

One proviso - I live in Manhattan, so the whole "leave the bottles outside your door for pickup" thing doesn't really work. Luckily, Williams Sonoma carries the replacement cartridges. BUT, they were having an issue with UPS not shipping the bottles to the store, and they were out of stock for 2 months. It's supposedly resolved, but may occur again in the future. If you don't live somewhere where you can safely leave the empty bottles outside all day, then make sure you have a Williams Sonoma nearby - and be prepared for them to be out of stock!
posted by melissasaurus at 8:37 AM on August 7, 2009

A big yes. We use the same sodaclub as everyone else here. No more plastic bottles! Easy to use and we will never run out of sparkling water again. The flavors are nasty. We just put a dash of actual fruit juice in the glass if we want flavor.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:53 AM on August 7, 2009

You can buy a CO2 cylinder for a beer keg and DIY it with this attachment.

Some alternate methods here.
posted by electroboy at 9:01 AM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

As everyone else has said, having a SodaStream is pretty awesome.

We spent the extra money for SodaStream's Penguin kit, mostly because it included two glass bottles. We prefer glass over plastic and having two bottles gives us more flexibility.

I'd also avoid the flavors. We just have bottles of fresh lemon & lime juice in the fridge. Combine that with a little simple syrup & you're set.
posted by iwhitney at 9:11 AM on August 7, 2009

I built my own carbonator with part referenced by electroboy. I bought a 15lb co2 cylinder new off ebay plus hose, gauges and the carbonator caps. I think the total amount came to around 120 (including filling the cylinder).

It took me about 15 minutes to assemble and I have been making seltzer since. Normally I just squeeze a lime into the bottle right before i carbonate.


At the rate I make seltzer (about 2 2litre bottles a month,) I dont think that I will have to refill the cylinder for a number of years

Online sites sell flavors that you can add to make your own soda also
posted by nuke3ae at 10:10 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has the SodaStream Penguin and it's pretty cool. He loves making sparkling water whenever people are over.
posted by pombe at 10:28 AM on August 7, 2009

Oh, I just thought of this--another thing to consider when you think about the cost is the amount of store-bought bottled seltzer you typically drink vs. the amount of homemade seltzer you're able to drink guilt-free when you have the machine. My husband and I basically don't drink flat water anymore because now drinking seltzer all the time just means a few cents per canister refill rather than a dollar or more plus plastic waste per purchased bottle of seltzer.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:14 AM on August 7, 2009

I also built the contraption referenced by electroboy and nuke3ae from the Instructables link. It took about half an hour and I have unlimited soda water with no plastic bottle guilt and no refill parts. Supposedly the 20-lb CO2 tank will last a year or more. I lovelovelove it.
posted by bendy at 11:49 AM on August 7, 2009

Jumping on the sodastream bandwagon - I'm a huge soda drinker, and it's so nice not to have to lug the bottles home. I can exchange my co2 cartridges at the local camping world, and get soda syrup there too, so that's a lot more convenient than doing it by mail. You can get all the soda stream supplies, plus adapters to use bigger (standard?) co2 canisters on ebay. I got my whole set up for incredibly cheap on ebay and even though I still throw in a 2 liter of diet pepsi every so often, I'm very happy with the purchase.
posted by lemniskate at 12:53 PM on August 7, 2009

so i discussed with the boyfriend and he really likes the DIY idea. he didn't want to buy into a product or specific company with the SodaStream.

we just bought a house (which if you have read my other threads means, no we're not moving to philly. for all sorts of reasons.). and said house has a wonderfully large basement where we then joyfully follow the Instructables instructions and create our own Tower of Zazz. (zazz being the name of the generic flavored seltzer sold at our local grocer).

thanks all!
posted by sio42 at 1:33 PM on September 8, 2009

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