What are soda makers?
Soda makers are simple kitchen appliances that allow you to carbonate your water. They are broadly divided in two categories, soda maker machines (as the name implies, bigger appliances that you attach bottles to) and soda siphons (bottles with a special cap that allows you to carbonate the water inside). They range in price from $15 all the way up to $250 with differences in terms of quality, effectiveness, brand and special features despite the fact that they all serve the same basic purpose.
How can soda makers save you money?
As mentioned in the introduction, people spend lots of money on carbonated drinks through buying carbonated drinks Where I live, I’ve seen store brand sparkling water at as low as $1/L and brand name mineral water (Perrier, San Pellegrino) at roughly $1.25/L. Comparatively, refills with a SodaStream soda maker cost $0.25/L, meaning that if a family of 4 consumes 2 liters of sparkling water like mine, you’d save $182.5 after one year of use. Even including the cost of buying a SodaStream machine, you’d still save over $90 after the first year and, after 5 years, you would save $822.5. This is of course assuming you’re buying the store brand sparkling water at its cheapest price constantly. More realistically, you’d not always be able to get that price.
On the other hand, if you’re buying Perrier or San Pellegrino with the same level of consumption, you’d save $640 after the first year (including the price of the soda maker) and $3560 after 5 years. That’s practically a vacation just for switching to a more convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to your bottled sparkling water.
Unfortunately, the savings aren’t that drastic if you’re used to buying soda like Coke or Sprite. 2L bottles can be bought for $1 on sale giving us a cost per liter of 0.5. Unfortunately, the SodaStream flavor mixes come out to roughly $0.44/L. When combined with the cost of making sparkling water, it comes out to $0.69/L so you’re not saving money that way. There are alternatives to SodaStream flavor mixes such as Crystal Light, Kool-Aid and Rio Syrup which cost less than $0.20/L
What’s the best way to save money with a soda maker?
Unfortunately, there is no set best way to save money. There is however certainly a way that’s best suited for you and your needs. When choosing the best way, there are 3 things that need to be considered.
The actual soda maker
As mentioned before, there are 2 types of soda makers: soda siphons and soda machines.
Soda siphons have a lower upfront cost in the $40-60 range and have a smaller footprint. However, in the long run, they become more expensive due to the higher refill cost ($0.4 at the lowest) and take longer to carbonate the water. Here are some reviews for them. When buying a soda siphon, make sure it’s able to use any 8g CO2 cartridges as those who need specific brands are often more expensive to refill.
Soda machines on the other hand have a higher upfront cost, ranging from $70-250. They take up more space than soda siphons but are more efficient at carbonating water and have a lower refill cost (under $0.25/L when using SodaStream’s refill system). Reviews for them. To make sure your soda machine will save you as much money as possible, make sure to spring for a model that’s as durable as possible so that the upfront cost is spread out over a period that’s as long as possible.
The refill method
Depending on the type of soda maker you go with, different refill options will be available to you.
For soda siphons, you’ll need to use CO2 cartridges. If you have the option, the most economical are Leland’s which when bought in bulk cost roughly 40 cents each, with each cartridge making one liter. Or else, get whichever cartridge goes with your soda siphon.
For soda machines, if you have a SodaStream, you have a few options. You can go for the normal 60L carbonator exchanges that cost $15 each ($0.25/L). If your soda maker can fit them, you can also try the 130L carbonator for which exchanges cost $30 each ($0.23/L). You’d also have to make sure that your local stores accept exchanges for that size of carbonator. With a cost of $60 for the carbonator, you’d have to carbonate 3000L of water which means that it most cases it’s not worthwhile as an investment.
For bigger savings, you can switch to DIY refills. There are three main methods that exist. Using dry ice, you can bring the cost per liter down to $0.05/L with almost no upfront cost. However, this method is quite time consuming. You can also use an adapter and hook up your SodaStream machine to either a CO2 tank or a SodaMod tank with an adapter. Both these methods have high upfront costs ($80-$150) but they can also bring down your overtime costs to roughly $0.05/L (depends on local costs for CO2 refills). Using a SodaMod tank and adapter is the simplest method as the tank can often fit in the SodaStream machine itself and it has a lower upfront cost which means that it’ll only take 400L of sparkling water for the investment to pay for itself. Using a normal food grade CO2 tank takes up more space and has a higher upfront cost (750L before it pays for itself). However, you can buy very big CO2 tanks, meaning that you’ll only need to refill it once in a blue moon.
If you don’t drink regular sparkling water and need some extra added flavor, there are options other than SodaStream flavor mixes that cost less.
- SodaStream flavor mixes ($0.44/L). Come in a wide variety of flavors. Many users enjoy them even though they don’t fully replicate many name brand sodas (Coke, Sprite, etc.).
- Crystal Light ($0.28/L). Many basic flavors (strawberry, lemon, etc.) that users love and it’s on the healthier side seeing that they are only 5 calories per pack.
- Rio Syrup ($0.16/L). Once again, plenty of basic flavors. These syrups are usually used for snow cones but they work well with sparkling water to create flavorful drinks. You just need to mix the syrup concentrate with sugar.
The Bottom Line
Overall, if you or your family consumes sparkling water on a regular basis, it is definitely worth it for you to buy a soda maker. Not only will you save loads of money in the long term, you’ll also save time and effort by not having to lug heavy bottles constantly all the way from the grocery and you’ll contribute to saving the planet by lowering your production of plastic waste in the form of bottles.