Travel Day: DIY Sodastream Soda Maker

David B. Thomas inquired, based on a Facebook post I’d made a month or so ago, about how hard it was to make your own Sodastream-like machine at home. The answer is, not terribly hard – and much more cost effective in the long run.

One of my annoyances at the Sodastream I owned was that I had to change out the canister every month or so; it made about 30 liters of carbonated water, which was okay. The cost per liter was about 50 cents a liter, which is still a savings over the grocery store.

In typical hacker fashion, I asked, what if I could do this myself? What if there were better gear? It turns out that of course, there is significantly better gear to be had – from the beer world. Beer kegs tap CO2 and/or nitrogen all the time to add that last little punch to a brew. The equipment is surprisingly simple.

What you need:

– A CO2 canister. Most welding shops carry these. I paid $100 for a 10 pound canister. Unlike a Sodastream, this should let me make between a liter and two liters of soda per day for over a year, possibly close to two years.

– A length of hose with clamps to connect the tank to…

– A pressure gauge regulator. This tells you how much pressure is in the tank, and lets you set the pressure for your soda water. I usually set mine to 40 PSI.

– A ball lock and hose. This goes from the regulator to your bottle of soda and connects to…

– The Carbonator. This plugs into the ball lock and is what connects your soda bottle to the whole business.

– A used soda bottle, clean and free of cracks. This is the best part: you get to recycle. Sodastream bottles aren’t dishwasher safe, so over time they can get nasty, and of course, buying a new one costs a fair bit for what’s essentially just a plastic bottle. A used soda bottle obviously can hold soda (at much higher pressures), so recycle!

When put together in order, you get this:


The trick with making soda at home is to have the water be ice, ice cold. I usually fill the soda bottle with about two cups of fresh water and then place horizontally in the freezer. This makes a giant ice cube. Once thoroughly frozen, fill to the point where the side of the soda bottle begins to curve. Then attach to the carbonator, turn on your gas, and shake vigorously while the CO2 dissolves in the water. After a minute of vigorous shaking, turn off the gas, remove the bottle, and enjoy!

Enjoy your DIY sodastream maker!

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DIY Nutella: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, and Kosher

It’s a Summer Friday, so let’s kick back and relax with some foodblogging. Today, we’re going to make a DIY Nutella, but one that’s marginally better for you. I say marginally because I don’t want you thinking it’s some kind of health food. It’s not. For reference, here are the official product’s ingredients:

Ingredients: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, whey (milk), lecithin as emulsifier (soy), vanillin: an artificial flavor.

There’s more sugar and oil in Nutella than there are hazelnuts, which is odd, because it’s a hazelnut spread.

So, what will you need to make your own Nutella-like chocolate hazelnut spread?


  • 8 ounces of hazelnuts, raw
  • 4 ounces of sugar, powdered (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1.4 ounces of cocoa powder, Dutch process (approximately 1/3 cup)
  • 1-4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil of your choice (olive, canola, etc.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract


  • A high-speed blender (I have a Blendtec, but any strong blender will do that can make nut butters)
  • An oven, toaster oven, or grill, if you bought raw hazelnuts
  • A silicone spatula
  • A storage container

Here’s the process. Put your hazelnuts in a pan or sheet and stick in the oven or grill:

Nutella Photos

Turn up the heat until the white meat turns brown, roughly the color of a latte. The skins by then will be a dark brown:

Nutella Photos

Meanwhile, while the nuts are roasting, prepare your sugar.

Nutella Photos

Instead of buying powdered confectioner’s sugar, I just put regular sugar in the blender until it’s powdered:

Nutella Photos

Next, put your hazelnuts in the blender and start grinding away at them. They’ll start out looking like this:

Nutella Photos

Blend until they start to get shiny and express a little oil. Then toss the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, salt, and powdered sugar in:

Nutella Photos

Scrape down the sides of the blender every so often and blend the heck out of it.

Nutella Photos

At a certain point, you’ll notice that it gets super dense and your blender struggles. Add a spoonful of vegetable oil and blend. Don’t add it all in at the same time, just a little bit until the mix loosens up and becomes shiny again.

When you’re done, scrape it out of the blender and put it in the container of your choice:

Nutella Photos

Chances are it will be hot, so stick it in a fridge, covered, to cool it off. Once cool, you can store it in your cabinet or pantry for a couple weeks. If you store it in the fridge, it’ll be hard as a rock, which may not be a big deal to you if you’re just going to eat it with a spoon anyway.

This Nutella-like recipe omits the soy and milk products as well as the palm oil. It’s therefore gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and as long as it’s made by a Jew or Muslim, kosher or halal respectively. If you buy all organic ingredients, then it’s organic, too. But most of all, it’s tasty. Enjoy!

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Unsolicited Review: Wacaco Minipresso GR

One of the questions I received recently was what my morning fuel of choice was. The answer is coffee, but the form it takes changes. We’ve got a massive Keurig machine at work, which does an able job of making coffee. It may not be the best quality, it may not have any cool factor whatsoever, but it’s included as a benefit.

That said, sometimes you want to step up your game a little. I recently saw the Wacaco Minipresso GR become available again, and decided to spring for one of the devices.

Disclosure: this is an entirely unsolicited review. I purchased this product out of pocket and the company has not reached out to me in any way.

The premise is pretty straightforward: a portable espresso machine. Of course, there’s absolutely no way a little handheld device is going to make the same quality of espresso as a countertop machine or the local coffee shop’s commercial machine. It’s delusional to even think it’ll come close.


That said, it does pull a pretty solid cup of coffee that tastes like espresso. The device is simple. Add coffee grounds in one end, boiling water in the other end, seal, push the piston, and you get a single shot of espresso.


When it says single shot, it means single shot. People expecting a full cup of coffee or a Starbucks-style massive cup are going to be sorely disappointed. If you compare the size of the output with an actual shot glass, it will make a full shot.


A couple of notes worth pointing out. Start with boiling water. Not hot water, actual full rolling boil water. I take the hot water from the office water tap and stick it in the microwave to finish the job and get it to temperature. If you have the time, warm up the device by running hot tap water through it, because cold, it’s not going to pull as good a shot. (or give the first shot to a friend)

Second, pack and tamp. Loosely packed grounds are going to give you a weak shot. Pack it in. Obviously, that makes the piston harder to use – I have to use both hands – but it makes for a solid, strong shot.

If you want to add a little espresso to your day, give it some consideration. At $49, if it saves you from $4 espressos at Starbucks, it’ll only take a couple of weeks to pay for itself.

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