A Guide to Selecting the Best Carbonated Water Maker
It’s estimated that 482 billion plastic bottles are used up every year worldwide, with the United States alone using 50 billion bottles per year. What’s more disconcerting is that only around 9% of those bottles actually get recycled! Environmentalists recommend going with a reusable water bottle to cut down on waste. But, if you still would like to indulge in carbonated beverages as well, there are carbonated water makers that can provide you with sparkling water and other interesting cocktails and beverages!
A carbonated water maker will also save you money. There are states in the USA where you’re paying an extra 5 or 10 cents on each bottle, which you’re refunded only if you recycle the bottle. Also, making your own sparkling water can be healthier for you than drinking commercial soda. You can control how much sweetener you add to your drinks, or flavor them as you like!
We’ll go through some of the best carbonated water-making machines on the market. Some companies make several models, including manual and electric machines. And there’s even one company that doesn’t even require you to purchase pressurized carbon dioxide canisters to make your own soda! A carbonated water maker is an all-around win for both you and Planet Earth!
What’s the advantage of buying a machine that makes carbonated water?
Less plastic waste: A carbonated water machine cuts down on plastic waste. For example, the reusable bottle that comes with a SodaStream can last for 3 years. Estimating at one bottle per day, that comes out to over 1000 plastic bottles that you’d either have to recycle, or that would end up in a landfill!
Less sugar: Also, instead of drinking a commercial soda that’s high in sugar or corn syrup, a carbonated beverage maker allows you to make sparkling water and flavor it with fruit concentrate or herbs to your liking.
Control level of carbonation: These soda makers also give you the option of controlling how carbonated you’d like your drink to be. Electric soda makers can have 3 or 5 levels of carbonation, and the manual ones let you pump in as much CO2 as you like.
Types of Carbonated Water Makers
We can distinguish between carbonated water makers by whether they’re powered by electricity, or whether they’re manual:
Electric: These soda makers work on electricity to pump CO2 into the water. An example is the SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker. You’ll have to place the One Touch next to a power outlet.
SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker
Manual: These work on a manual pump action to carbonate the water, and don’t require AC current or batteries. An example is the Aarke Carbonator III. It allows you to adjust the bubble level, by pumping more CO2 into the bottle.
Aarke Carbonator III
We can also distinguish between soda makers by how the appliance injects carbon dioxide into the drink:
With a 60L CO2 canister: The SodaStream and Aarke appliances both require a large 60-liter CO2 canister. It has enough compressed CO2 gas to make 60 liters of carbonated water. Of course, if you want your sparkling water to be extra bubbly, you’ll use up the CO2 canister more quickly. A safe estimate is that you’ll need one canister around every 2 months. One company, DrinkMate, makes a similar carbonated water maker, the DrinkMate Omni Fizz. But it comes with a 3-oz CO2 test cylinder. After you finish that small gas cylinder, you can switch over to the 60 L CO2 cylinders.
DrinkMate Omni Fizz with starter CO2 canister
With a small CO2 canister: Some carbonated water machines use a small, single-use CO2 canister. One example is the iSi North America Soda Siphon Sodamaker Classic. You fill the bottle with water and insert a gas canister in the top of the device. Every time you press the trigger, it carbonates the water as it goes out through the nozzle.
iSi North America Soda Siphon Sodamaker Classic with single-use gas canister
Without any gas canisters: Spärkel’s carbonated water maker machine, the Spärkel Beverage System, is a unique device, in that it uses sachets of sodium bicarbonate (=baking soda) and citric acid. You pour the contents of the sachet into a water compartment in the appliance. The baking soda reacts with the citric acid, releasing carbon dioxide bubbles. When you operate the Spärkel Beverage System, it drives carbon dioxide into your drink. The baking soda-citric acid mixture doesn’t get into your drink, only the CO2. Also, this device allows you to carbonate any beverage: wine, juice, tea, cocktails, flat beer or soda, and more!
Spärkel Beverage System with sachets of powder
What reviewers say
Here are some customers’ impressions about the carbonated water maker that they purchased:
Use refrigerated water: It’s recommended to put cold water (around 4 ℃, which is the temperature of refrigerated water) in the water bottle before carbonating it. Cold water will retain its “fizz” for longer, while warm water will let the gas bubbles escape more quickly.
Ability to carbonate other beverages: Some customers said that taking orange or lemon juice and carbonating it will give a stronger flavor than just carbonating water and then adding a flavor concentrate. That’s a reason to prefer soda makers that allow you to carbonate beverages other than water.
Proprietary bottles: Many machines will accept the 60 L CO2 canisters. But beware: very often, the reusable bottle that stores the soda water is particular for that device. Trying to use a SodaStream bottle on an Aarke Carbonator or DrinkMate may not work!
Here are some tips to help you select the right carbonated water maker for your needs:
Time it takes to carbonate the drink: There is a difference between the different devices in how long they take to carbonate 1 liter of water. While the SodaStream devices usually take around 15-20 seconds to get you 1 liter of sparkling water, the Spärkel Beverage System (which doesn’t use pressurized cartridges of CO2) takes around 3 minutes.
Carbonating other drinks besides water: Some soda machines, such as SodaStream, explicitly say to only carbonate water with their machine. Any attempt to carbonate anything other than water will void the device’s warranty. This is because trying to carbonate any other drink (juice, wine, tea, etc.) will cause it to splash upwards and get into the device’s mechanism. There are machines that are constructed so that you can carbonate other drinks. The DrinkMate OmniFizz Sparkling Water Maker allows you to carbonate water, lemon or orange juice, cocktails, wine, and even flat soda or beer!
Refilling carbon dioxide cartridges yourself: Carbonated water makers will ultimately save you money since you don’t have to constantly buy water or soda bottles. But, there is the inconvenience of having to buy CO2 canisters every couple of months. You can order them in advance in bulk. But there is also the possibility of refilling the cartridges yourself with a large balloon of CO2 gas.
Adding flavors: If you purchase a SodaStream machine, you can only use it to carbonate water. But that might get boring. So, they also offer you a range of different flavors, including cola, strawberry, grapefruit, blackberry, lime, orange, cherry, and more! After carbonating a liter of water, add around ¾ teaspoon of their concentrate, and you have a delicious soda drink!
SodaStream's Bubly Drops of flavored concentrates
We went through some of the best and most popular carbonated water makers in the Best Reviews Guide list. Some of them are manually operated, while others require you to be near an electrical outlet. After the initial expense of buying a machine, you’ll undoubtedly save money by not having to buy bottled water or soda, as well as all of the effort of dragging six-packs of soda along with you from the store! A carbonated water maker will ultimately save you time, money, and effort, and contribute to limiting the amount of plastic waste in the environment!