Sodastream Home Carbonator Review: One month later

July 15, 2010 12:45 pm
  • Pin It

SodaStream Carbonator

On the heels of our great debate about a Soda Tax, I thought I’d do a followup review on the SodaStream Home Carbonator.

Before I go any further, an embarrassing disclosure:  Coke Zero is one of my weaknesses.  I love the stuff, but I try not to drink it too often, making it a “luxury” in my life.  I don’t keep it stocked in the house, but about once (okay, twice) a week, I’d pick up a 20-ounce bottle from the corner store, for $1.85.

When we bought the SodaStream, I thought it would be interesting (and cheaper and easier) to try their “Cola Zero” flavor, so we ordered a bottle of the stuff.

They also threw in a free sampler pack of some of their other soda flavors, so it’s given us the opportunity to try a few other flavors without committing to the full jug.

Okay, so.  Having said that, here are my observations:

It Carbonates Water Really Well.

Yup, it does its job. However, it’s only for carbonating plain water (you can add stuff to the water later, if you wish).  It takes about ten seconds to take a bottle of water out of the fridge, attach it to the machine, and press the button a few times.

Faster than microwave popcorn, and certainly less greasy.

They’re adamant that you should never carbonate anything other than water, and doing so will void your warranty.  (Nevertheless, I’m sooo tempted to try carbonating milk.  It might be worth it just for the viral video marketing potential.  Maybe next St. Patty’s day we’ll carbonate green milk.  But I digress.)

It’s Eco-Friendly.

This is a no-brainer. It uses no electricity.  The bottles can be reused again and again, though they do have an expiration date about three years in the future.

The Gee-Whiz Factor.

Definitely gets a “10″ on this one.

It’s fun when you have people over for dinner and you can make seltzer instantly for them.  Great conversation starter, and fellow foodies get a real kick out of it.

It’s Cost-Effective.

I just finished our first CO2 tank.  I’ll guess I’ve averaged about two liters per day, so we’re right on par with their “makes 60 liters” claim.

At $15 per CO2 refill, that comes out to $0.25 per liter of seltzer.

Let’s say a liter of seltzer at the store is $1.50.  For $99 — my initial equipment investment — I’d get 66 bottles of the store-bought stuff.  So after going through just the one CO2 tank that came with the setup, I’m nearly break-even already.

For my next $99, I’ll get nearly 400 bottles of home seltzer.

If I had to actually buy that much seltzer from a store, I certainly wouldn’t drink as much of it. Lugging a 2-liter bottle home for every day of the week?  No thanks.  And if I had to pay a buck-fifty for each liter I drank, I certainly would think twice and have plain water a little more often.  Even with the increased consumption, though, it still costs less.

Then there’s the Sodamix Flavors.  For $5 to $7 you get enough syrup to make about 12 liters, so tack on another 41 to 58 cents per liter.   All told, a liter of home soda costs about 75 cents — which is still cheaper than the store-bought stuff.

Taste.

The seltzer tastes great. I use filtered water from my fridge, and it’s light, crisp, and refreshing.

The Soda flavors that we’ve tried have been hit-and-miss. The “Diet Cola” and “Cola Zero” taste more like RC Cola than real Coke products, and just don’t do it for me.  The “Pete’s Choice” tastes pretty darn close to Dr. Pepper, and the Root Beer flavor was good as well.

My favorite syrup flavor by far has been the Diet Pink Grapefruit.  I must admit:  Delicious.

Other things I’ve tried:  Sliced lemon & lime (classic!), sliced strawberries (summertime!), and crushed blackberries (delighful, but those seeds are crunchy!).

All The Soda Flavors Include Artificial Sweeteners.

Every single one of their Sodamixes flavors contains Sucralose (same stuff as Splenda®), and most of the flavors contain Acesulfame-Potassium.

Why?  The artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar that they need to use much less to achieve the same sweetness.

The bottles of syrup are about a pint, but if they used only sugar as a sweetener, they’d probably be about the size of a 2-liter bottle — which would make shipping and storage much more costly.  That would also require different-sized bottles for the regular and diet flavors, which would further complicate matters.

(Next time you’re at the grocery store, hold a box of regular Jello mix in one hand and a package of artificially-sweetened Jello mix in the other.  You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.)

Acesulfame-K requires special mention here.  Center for Science in the Public Interest claims that Sucralose is considered safe, but Acesulfame-K should be avoided.

Moreover, it’s been shown that Acesulfame-K can trigger insulin release, and may cause a reaction similar to low blood sugar levels (fatigue, disorientation, irritability).  Ironically, this could cause people to eat more, thus promoting weight gain — but that’s for another conversation.

Although the FDA deems it safe, it definitely seems that more testing of Ace-K is needed.

Though I haven’t tried them, they also offer “MyWater Flavor Essences” — which are unsweetened syrups containing “natural flavors.”

Careful, though:  “Natural flavors” are not real foods; they’re made in a lab just like artificial flavors.  (They’re allowed to be called “natural” because they are actually derived from the food they taste like, unlike “artificial” flavors.  More on this in future posts.)

Consumption & Availability.

Here’s the trick.  I’ve ended up drinking a lot more of these beverages.

They’re easy (and fun!) to make, and readily available.  It’s already in my house, and I don’t have to walk to the store (and shell out $1.85) every time I want a soda.

Even worse, since we’re making a liter at a time, I end up consuming about 32 ounces of soda instead of 20 every time I make a batch.

None of this is a problem when it comes to seltzer, of course, but it certainly is an issue when it comes soda syrups.

The Bottom Line.

I really like the Sodastream.  It’s a good product, well built, easy to use, and does what it says it does.

Although I plan on continuing to make seltzer (and maybe throw some real fruit in on occasion), after we use up the soda flavors in the house, we’re not going to buy any more.

When I want a Coke Zero, I’ll hoof it over to the store and buy a real Coke Zero (and perhaps just get a smaller, cheaper, 14-ounce bottle instead.)

Have you tried a Sodastream or other home carbonator?  What has your experience been like?

Visit SodaStream’s Store

This is a product I personally use and enjoy, and think you will too. If you click on the affiliate links in this post and then make a purchase from Sodastream, I’ll earn a small commission. Thanks for your support!

12 Comments on "Sodastream Home Carbonator Review: One month later"
  1. Comment left on:
    July 23, 2010 at 5:37 pm
    Steve says:

    Its interesting to see the resurgence of SodaStream. When I was a kid my grandad had one – it fascinated us and enthralled him. I guess we are talking around 1978-1980 time (in the UK)

    I thought it had died a death along with VHS tapes and Sony Walkmans, but here it is again, not looking all that different 30 years on. I might have to get one in memory of my grandad!

    • Comment left on:
      July 23, 2010 at 8:14 pm
      Andrew says:

      Interesting, indeed! I had no idea SodaStream has been around that long.

      Thanks, Steve!

  2. Comment left on:
    July 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm
    Steve says:

    Found this on Wikipedia – funny how the last sentence rings true with my earlier comment!

    SodaStream is the name of a brand of home carbonation systems that was invented by Guy Gilbey in 1903.[1][2] Later versions allowed the addition of concentrates to create carbonated flavoured beverages. It was popular in the 1970s and 1980s when there were a number of brand name syrups available,[3][4] and, after the company merged with Soda-Club in 1998, it was relaunched with an emphasis on healthier drinks. Soda-Club is currently head-quartered in Israel.[5] and has production facilities in the Mishor Adumin.[6]

    In the UK (where it was first sold) the SodaStream machine is strongly associated with 1970s/1980s childhood nostalgia.[7][8]

  3. Comment left on:
    August 10, 2011 at 10:17 am
    Kate says:

    You could try adding a dash of vanilla to the cola syrup – vanilla is the flavor that makes Coke so distinctive.

    Coke is also somewhat less sweet than Pepsi or RC.

  4. Comment left on:
    April 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm
    Monty says:

    Dear Andrew:
    I only have first impressions, having used the machine only for a week. The diet grapefruit, Dr. Pete, and root beer flavors are delicious! But I think reordering will only be the diet grapefruit; in other areas I still think we can do better. I remember an old cream soda recipe using honey and vanilla I’m anxious to try, and I’m ordering some after-market syrups for experimentation. And of course, the main reason my family bought the machine for me in the first place: chocolate ice-cream sodas! For that, you just need club soda, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate syrup.

    Thanks everyone!

  5. Comment left on:
    November 8, 2012 at 1:20 pm
    rkamara says:

    J’ai bu de grand coca.

  6. .
    September 4, 2013 at 10:12 am

    […] fresh idea is to carbonate these babies for a healthy, homemade seltzer.To do this, you’ll need a home carbonator, which is actually a pretty neat gadget and cost effective if you happen to be a fan of carbonated […]

  7. Comment left on:
    December 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm
    L. J. Williams says:

    I bought the machine and then was shocked and disgusted when I found out that the diet and non-diet mixes all have Ace K and sucralose in them! Ace K sounds like it could turn out to be the next notorious artificial sweetener that contributes to ill health! And Sucralose is not natural like they claim and can cause some problems for some people. So deceptive of the company to try to hide the fact that the non-diet mixes have artificial sweeteners! I’d be willing to bet that they are just concerned with maximizing their profits and don’t care at all that their soda mix products are not at all healthy or natural. I’ve only seen a single kind of soda mix they put out that has only sugar without those nasty artificial sweeteners. I’m looking for alternatives to those Sodastream soda mixes.

    • Comment left on:
      December 9, 2013 at 8:22 am
      Andrew says:

      Yep. We still love our Sodastream and use it regularly — but don’t go anywhere near any of their flavor mixes.

      A couple of years back I posted The Soda Stream Bar which has some flavoring options. (One note: A lot of the bitters used in those recipes have natural flavors — something I’m shunning now much more than when I wrote that post originally).

      Another fun beverage: In a pint glass, add: 2 Tablespoons maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar, and then fill with ice and soda. Tastes like a cream soda! :)

  8. Comment left on:
    December 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm
    L. J. Williams says:

    Thanks! I’m looking into some of the ideas for sodas!

Leave A Comment
Name (required)
Website Url (completely optional)
XHTML: feel free to use any of these tags.

Seeing unhealthful or otherwise icky ads? Please let me know.
© 2010-2014 Andrew Wilder / Eating Rules — All Rights Reserved.