David B. Thomas inquired recently about how hard it was to make your own Sodastream-style machine at home. For those unaware, Sodastream machines are home soda-making machines. They involve a countertop appliance, CO2 canisters, and specialized bottles to carbonate water and then add flavoring.
The answer to Dave's question is, not terribly hard - and much more cost effective in the long run. A two-liter bottle of regular grocery store soda will cost around US$1.50 - US$2. A bottle of Sodastream soda at equivalent volume (two liters) will cost about US$0.50. A bottle of homemade soda with the equipment below? Probably about US$0.03.
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. 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'll need to buy (some links through Amazon Associates):
- A CO2 canister. Most welding shops carry these. I paid $100 for a 10 pound canister. Unlike a Sodastream, this lets me make about two liters of soda a day for close to a year.
- A length of hose with clamps to connect the tank to...
- A dual 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!
Assemble these pieces in the order above.
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 turns into a giant ice cube.
Once thoroughly frozen, fill to the point where the side of the soda bottle begins to curve, near the top of the bottle where the label ends.
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-style soda maker!
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