Carbonated drinks have been a popular choice for consumers for decades. However, in more recent years, sparkling water has begun to replace drinks like soda for consumers to get their fix of fizzy drinks. The rise of personal carbonation machines has allowed consumers to make sparkling water and soda without having to leave the house, saving a trip to the grocery store. A very well known company making these products is SodaStream, which has grown heavily in fame since its creation in the early 2000s. But it is rare for a product to last long without competition, and SodaStream has begun to see its share of rivals. One of the newest competitors for SodaStream is Sparkel, a new brand that hit the market in 2019.
While the machines have some similarities in their looks, there are definitive differences. The SodaStream Fizzi measures at 5.5 x 8 x 17.5 inches, with a thinner base and larger top to allow for easy access to place the bottle before use. The Fizzi uses a 1L bottle, which slots into place without any extra equipment. The Sparkel measures at 10 x 5.7 x 15 inches with a base and top that are about the same thickness, allowing the bottle to sit comfortably in the machine. The Sparkel uses a 750 mL bottle, slightly smaller than the bottle used by SodaStream. There are five different options for carbonation on this model, each allowing the user to pick their level of fizziness before beginning the process.
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The carbonation process also varies between these two brands. With the SodaStream, the machines use 60L cylinders of CO2. These cylinders are snapped into place after removing the back panel of the machine, which can then be used for carbonation. The Sparkel does not use CO2 cylinders at all. Instead they use a 2-pack of packets, labeled “A+B” packets. These packets hold citric acid and sodium bicarbonate, which acts as a natural carbonator when mixed with water. Placed into a sealed chamber in the Sparkel, this formula allows for carbonation without the use of a canister.
Operation of the SodaStream Fizzi is very simple. Users only have to slot the bottle into place to create a seal for the carbonation. With the touch of one button on the top of the machine, the machine will begin to do its work. Holding the button down longer allows for more carbonation, while a short burst gives a lighter fizz. The Sparkel also requires only a few steps to operate. After inserting the bottle, push down on the lever just under the top of the machine to lock the bottle in place. Once you’ve chosen your level of carbonation, the Sparkel will pressurize the bottle while carbonating to give just the right amount of fizz. However, since the carbonators are one use only, there is the additional step of adding more carbonators before the Sparkel can be used again. With the SodaStream, the cylinder does not have to be changed until it runs out.
As both of these brands are carbonation machines, their biggest selling point is being able to make your own drinks in the comfort of your own home without needing to go to the grocery store. With SodaStream, the company has their own line of different flavored syrups that can be added to the carbonated water. This includes their own line of syrups made to taste like soda, with flavors like cola, diet cola, and root beer. There is also a line of fruit based flavors like lime, strawberry, and combinations like apple cranberry. SodaStream does not encourage users to try and carbonate anything but water with their products. However with Sparkel, the options are less limited. Sparkel encourages users to use their machines to fizz up whatever they like, including juice, tea, wine, and even cocktails. They also encourage infusions using ingredients such as fruit, herbs, and spices. With Sparkel, there are more opportunities to use the product in various ways.
Both the SodaStream Fizzi and the Sparkel offer similar bundles. These bundles each come with the machine itself, the bottle, and carbonation. However, the amount of carbonation offered is different. With the SodaStream, you get a full 60L carbonation cylinder within the starter bundle, which is the same size that comes in each replacement. But with the Sparkel, the starter bundle only comes with 10 carbonator packs. That is enough for only 10 drinks before you will have to look into ordering another bundle. There is also a large difference in price. For the Sparkel starter bundle, the price is $100 on Amazon. But for SodaStream, the similar starter bundle for the Fizzi only costs $69. That is a difference of $30 between companies just for the starter set.
There is also a difference in pricing when it comes to replacement carbonation. Sparkel sells replacement packs of carbonation packets that come with a 90 drink supply. This box of 90 packs costs $49.99 on Amazon, and since each pack only makes a single drink, how long this box lasts depends on how often the Sparkel is used. With SodaStream, there are two options for replacement cylinders. Customers can either buy a single carbonating cylinder for $29.99, or they can choose to participate in SodaStream’s cylinder exchange. When using the exchange, customers send in their used cylinder with a UPS shipping label provided by SodaStream. In return, the price of the new cylinder is reduced to only $14.99. Each of these carbonating cylinders lasts on average 6-8 weeks, depending on the frequency that it is used.
Both SodaStream and Sparkel have overall positive user reviews. On Amazon, the SodaStream Fizzi has 4 out of 5 stars. Out of 415 customer ratings, 64 percent of the reviews were 5 stars, and 10 percent of the reviews were 4 stars. One of the 5 star reviews reads, “How did I not own a SodaStream before? I love carbonated water, but my town is awful with recycling so I hated buying a 12-pack of cans all the time just to toss in the trash. Best buy I’ve made in a long time! I think the Fizzi design (especially the white) is the classiest, but that may just be me!” One of the 4 star reviews reads, “I found using the SodaStream very easy. I seem to have some trouble getting the bubble amount each time the same. I found out I need to try my water before I add my flavoring, since they say not to add bubbles to your water with the flavoring in it. That way if I need more bubbles then I do. Overall I am very satisfied.”
The Sparkel has an overall rating of 3.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Out of 83 customer ratings, 59 percent of the reviews are 5 stars, and 8 percent of the reviews are 4 stars. One of the 5 star reviews reads, “Thank goodness I bought this. I love sparkling water but hated the waste of cans whenever I bought it from the grocery store. I’m also VERY picky about the types of bubbles in my drink and if they are too harsh I won’t buy it again. Sparkel allows you to pick the intensity of bubbles (I’m a 3) and you can infuse whatever you want in the water, very easy! I’m excited to try and make a mimosa with it this thanksgiving.” One of the 4 star reviews reads, “Works great, could be more solidly made when it comes to the handle and lid closer. Feels flimsy like it might not last long.”
Overall, which product you prefer comes down to what type of drinks you want to make, and how often you plan on using it. Those looking for a cheaper option who are willing to buy flavored syrups would likely prefer SodaStream, and those who want a product that does more and don’t mind a few extra expenses will likely gravitate to Sparkel. As new technology and innovations continue to be made within this industry, even more options for this type of product may come our way in the near future.