Seltzer Water, Fizzy Water, Soda Water, Carbonated Water, whatever you want to call it, it’s easy and cheap to make at home. There are many people that have outlined how they make it at home, and I’m here to add my 2 cents, which is coincidentally about how much it costs to make per 2 liters.
Many people have heard of Soda Stream, and for less than $100 for the initial machine, that’s not bad. But I think the CO2 cartridges are a little spendy to replace, at around $45 for a 60-liter charge cartridge. Then you’ll also have to buy their 1-liter (or half liter) plastic bottles as well. Ignoring the initial machine costs, the charge costs about $45 per 60 liters, or about $0.75 per liter. That’s astronomical!! If you exchange the cartridge, they are about $20 per 65 liters. That’s $0.30 per liter.
So with my carbonator machine, my costs were about $170 for the initial machine, and cost per 2 liter bottle, I have no idea. People estimate that this 20lb tank of CO2 is good for 1500 liters of carbonated water. At $20 per refill, that works out to about $0.01 per liter.
What this means is that the higher initial cost is offset by the far lower operating costs. Hmmm, sounds familiar, like printer ink, or toner, or a cell phone. I calculate that our zero point (crossover where our machine is cheaper than a soda stream) is about 120 liters. For me that’s about 60 bottles, which we’ve easily surpassed months ago. I’m guessing here, but we’ve probably made 200 2-liter bottles of fizzy stuff. That’s about 400-liters. When I run out of CO2, it’ll cost me $20 to refill for another 1500 liters.
Here’s the parts that I ordered:
- Kegco Premium Pro Series Dual Gauge Co2 Draft Beer Regulator ($46.95)
- 5/16″ Gas Line Assembly – Ball Lock ($10.58)
- The Carbonater ($12.69)
- Full 20lb tank of CO2. ($105 from a local gas supply store, google welding supplies)
Total cost= $175. The only other missing part was the bottles. This was easy. I just asked neighbors for used 2-liter pop bottles. I have now have 4 bottles.
To assemble the unit:
- Attach the regulator to the CO2 tank.
- Attach the hose to the output of the regulator.
- Turn on the CO2 tank, and adjust the regulator to about 35psi. Mine is set for 38psi.
- Fill 2-liter bottle 90% full which is about to the part where the bottle starts to curve near the top.
- Chill bottle in the refrigerator. I leave them in there overnight.
- Put on the carbonator cap, squeezing all the air out of the bottle first. The bottle should be just water and wrinkled.
- Attach the hose to the carbonator cap.
- Turn on the CO2 tank. The bottle will fill up immediately with CO2.
- Shake the bottle like a mixed drink for about 45 seconds. I just count to 45.
- Turn off the CO2.
- Shake for another 15 seconds.
- Disconnect the carbonator, and pull the purge valve on the regulator.
- At this point, I add whatever flavoring I want to the bottle.
Since we drink no pop, this is our replacement. I’ll juice a lime or a lemon and pour that into the 2 liters of water. Or, I’ll add some fruit juice like grape or apple to the water. It turns out kind of like the H2O waters. You can add more flavoring if you like.
Also, I generally have all 4 bottles going at once. We’ll use at least 1 bottle per day, sometimes 2 per day. So I’ll fill 2 with water and pop them in the fridge for tomorrow.
One last thing, we use Reverse Osmosis for our water filtration. (sorry the link goes to one of my other sites). Our RO water is also mineral supplemented.
UPDATE Feb 2017:
We are still running this same carbonation machine 4 years later. I am on the second tank of CO2 for about $20. The first tank lasted about 3 years, and we make a lot of carbonated water. We can drink a whole 2 liter bottle per day, but that’s mostly in the summer time. We probably go through 8 to 10 2-liter bottles per week during the summer, and 2-4 bottles per week during the winter. I would estimate that the initial tank lasted me (9 bottles * 32 weeks + 4 bottles * 20 weeks) about 365 bottles per year. That means that I ran about 1000 2-liter bottles on the first tank. So estimated cost is $0.02 per 2 liter bottle, or $0.01 per liter.
Current price on soda stream refills is $37 per 60 liters, or about $0.62 per liter! Or 62 times the price of what I am doing! This means the crossover point is even quicker. Current prices are:
Soda stream machine $69
DIY Carbonation machine $175
Crossover = 173 liters, or about 3 refills on the soda stream machine.