A Review of Popular Soda Makers
Feb 18, 2014 12:36AM
● By Erin Frisch
Do you drink a lot of soda or seltzer, or just crave something carbonated occasionally? If you’d like to avoid all the waste created by purchasing bottles or cans, consider a soda machine. Home soda machines work by introducing carbon dioxide into water from a pressurized cylinder to produce fizzy drinks ranging from plain seltzer water to different soda flavors and even reproductions of popular energy drinks. These appliances are efficient and cut down on environmental waste resulting from bottled and canned seltzers and soft drinks. Read on for a review and comparison of three popular home soda makers.
Sodastream is one of the best-known home carbonated beverage makers on the market. This company offers numerous models, from the simple Fountain Jet ($80) to $200 machines with bells and whistles that will tell you how much CO2 is left in your cartridge and let you choose your level of carbonation with the push of a button. The Fountain Jet, their basic model, is reliable, durable, and easy to clean, although it’s a little light in weight. It sits on your kitchen counter and comes in three colors to match your decor. This model offers the ability to use both 60L and 130L CO2 cartridges, which means fewer trips to the store for refills. The only downside is that you are locked into using their brand of cartridges, which can be hard to find (they are available at licensed shops only, though Bed, Bath, & Beyond usually has them). Replacement cartridges will run you around $15 each if you bring your old one in to be returned. Sodastream offers BPA-free half liter or 1 liter bottles, some of them dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Their syrups can be expensive if you are using the machine primarily to make soda, and all syrups should be added after carbonating because the warranty on their machines is voided if you attempt to carbonate anything besides water. You can adjust the carbonation level by using more “pumps” of CO2 or fewer, but beware—no matter how carbonated, your fizzy water/soda will stay fizzy only for a day or two before it goes flat. A big downside to the Sodastream is that it is not portable.
Mastrad’s Purefizz Soda Maker is simple and portable, so you can make carbonated beverages on the go. It’s small enough to fit in a kitchen drawer and easy to carry along to picnics or parties. Easy to clean and dishwasher friendly, it comes with a stainless steel bottle that holds 24 ounces of liquid. Since it is portable, it uses smaller CO2 cartridges that come in boxes of 10 (their brand) for about $7 a box, though there are ways to buy them in bulk (see amazon.com). You can get approximately three drinks per cartridge, depending on the amount of carbonation you prefer. Unlike other soda makers, the Purefizz’s warranty does not restrict you to solely carbonating water—you can carbonate anything. They even suggest recipes for beverages (including the adult variety). It’s easy to use; just pop in the cartridge, attach the bottle, dispense the gas, and then shake for about 20 seconds. Release the extra gas, and there you have it—the carbonated beverage of your choice. This machine will run you about $80, but it’s currently on sale for $60 at Mastrad’s website.
Hamilton Beach Fizzini
The Fizzini by Hamilton Beach is a compact carbonation system that fits in a kitchen drawer like the Purefizz. This hand-held carbonator is portable and easy to use. It uses small CO2 cartridges that will run you $7 for a box of 10 (again, there are likely bulk options available), but in this case, one cartridge will carbonate a one-liter bottle of water. Just screw the unit onto the included one-liter bottle, pop in the cartridge, and with a quick turn of your wrist, the carbonation is dispensed into the bottle. The company recommends shaking briefly after carbonating for full effect. This brand also suggests adding flavors after carbonating in order to prevent the wand that disperses the CO2 from getting clogged and gunky. The bottle should be hand washed. This one costs about $60 for the unit and the bottle.
With any carbonated beverage maker, for best results use very cold water. Do you have a favorite soda maker that isn’t included here? Leave us a brief review in the comments!