I'm trying.
March 23, 2008 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I've tried making my own seltzer - and it just isn't happening. So which is the least bad environmental choice, drinking it from 1 L bottles or aluminum cans?
posted by DenOfSizer to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
According to this fact sheet from the University of Florida (pdf), it is better to drink from aluminum cans than 2L bottles, so aluminum cans are sure to be better than 1L bottles.

Is there a reason why a soda siphon won't work for you?
posted by ssg at 9:02 AM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yar. I half-second the soda siphon (of which I am a proponent), since I'm assuming we're talking plain old unflavored seltzer now, and that you don't have a source of basil-infused seltzer available in both bottles and cans. Or are you experiencing gasket problems with your unit?
posted by mumkin at 9:22 AM on March 23, 2008

To the people who recommend the soda siphon... Do you find it more economical than buying cans/bottles? I priced it out a while back and with the cost of the cartridges it seemed like it would actually be a lot more expensive to make it myself than to continue buying cases of club soda.
posted by sanitycheck at 11:33 AM on March 23, 2008

I can't honestly speak to the economy of it, but there are questions of style, practicality, and environmentalism in addition to bottom-line. If you're having a good-sized party and serving drinks calling for soda, then certainly your best bet is to stock up on a case of club soda--the volume in a single siphon will be insufficient to your needs, and making more in mid-party isn't desirable. If, on the other hand, you just need the occasional glassful for yourself and others, I find the siphon preferable. The contents remain under pressure much better than opened liter bottles, it's easier to store a wee box of cartridges in a drawer than to store a case of bottles. You're much more likely to have a cartridge on hand than to have unopened bottles (well, I am). The steel cartridges are recyclable where I live. And honestly, how many thousand times more awesome is it to top up that highball with a spritz from a seltzer bottle than with a glug from a wide-mouth bottle of Canada Dry? Ten thousand times, I say.
posted by mumkin at 12:03 PM on March 23, 2008

Incidentally, if you like seltzer, I recommend the podcast and blog of Barry Joseph, Give Me Seltzer. It's been slow of late, but he's dedicated to the study of seltzer throughout history, with an eye to its importance in Jewish-American culture. Good stuff.
posted by mumkin at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

DenofSizer I can't tell from the thread that you linked to what you ended up doing to make your own seltzer. What have you tried? Single-use CO2 tabs? Countertop-appliance seltzer makers? My understanding is that the single-use option is less satisfactory --- less fizzy, fizz doesn't last --- and that the appliances do quite a nice job. We go through a lot of seltzer in our house so it makes sense for us financially and ecologically to make our own. There is a very thorough review (and some other reviews) of the soda club appliance here.
posted by headnsouth at 12:30 PM on March 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

ssg: I call bullshit on those (uncited) University of Florida stats. According to their numbers (80BTU/fl.oz and 114BTU/fl.oz) it would take 960 BTUs to create one aluminum can and 7706 BTUs for one 2L bottle. The process to manufacture an aluminum can is ridiculously long so even with their estimate that 50% of the aluminum is recycled, I wonder how it can be so low. From strip mine, to ingots, rolling, stamping, shipping, painting...

I've always wanted to get a commerical-sized CO2 tank to make my own seltzer from tap water, like what bars have. I assume a single (reusable) tank would last years so that would have to be the best environmental option. Anyone have experience with these systems?
posted by kamelhoecker at 1:41 PM on March 23, 2008

Well depending on where you live you, and your cost vs. environmental calculations, you could get it delivered say from:

Here in Marin, CA

or if you're in Brooklyn, NY you could try these various options.
posted by brookeb at 3:20 PM on March 23, 2008

kamelhoecker, I followed these instructions to set up a home carbonation system with a commercial 10LB CO2 canister. After about 6 months, the canister is markedly lighter, but because I didn't weigh it initially I don't know how close I am to empty. (the tank pressure gauge reads nearly the same as when I got it, but this is true through 90% of the lifetime of a CO2 canister, according to things I've read)

The starting costs are high (the biggest single item being the CO2 canister) -- I think I was out about $200 before I had my first carbonated water, but the ongoing costs are low (the refill will be about 1/10 as much as the new canister).

Consider buying one carbonator cap for each person in your household who will be drinking carbonated, so that you can each have your own choice of flavor, and take the bottle to work or school without opening it to change the carbonator cap for a regular cap.

Our favorite flavors are plain, lemon, lime, and cranberry. We also occasionally carbonate fruit juices (either 100% or diluted). I haven't perfected a ginger-flavor drink yet. :(
posted by jepler at 3:49 PM on March 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

The article ssg linked certainly looks like a pretty clear answer, but I can't recommend the sodaclub seltzer maker highly enough. Besides cutting down on waste due to the reusable bottle, and being significantly cheaper after the approx $100 startup cost, the seltzer I am able to make myself tastes better than any seltzer I've ever been able to buy in stores. The home made equivalent may be cheaper, but the sodaclub thing makes it so simple and easy.
posted by vegetableagony at 8:56 PM on April 4, 2008

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