If you have a SodaStream machine, or at least a machine like it, you already know how convenient it is to be able to make a variety of seltzers and sodas in your own home. However, if you’ve had to purchase CO2 refill cartridges for that machine, you also know that your SodaStream can become costly over time.
The CO2 cartridges for SodaStream soda machines are designed to be difficult or impossible to refill. Originally, customers needed to mail in an empty cartridge to receive a new one, which left them without soda for long periods of time. SodaStream upgraded that system to one where customers could take used cartridges into local stores and exchange them. This system is a little more convenient, but it still isn’t ideal.
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Luckily, there’s a way you can save money on CO2 and also reduce the number of times you need to purchase a new SodaStream cartridge or exchange an empty one. By using a CO2 cylinder with a CGA320 valve (as well as a valve adapter that lets you use the cylinder with SodaStream machines and cartridges), you can keep your home soda machine running for months on end.
Using CO2 Cylinders with CGA320 Valves With Your Soda Maker
Large cylinders of CO2 have plenty of uses–you can find them in breweries, hospitals, restaurants, and welding establishments. Because purchasing a CO2 cylinder essentially means you’re purchasing the gas in bulk, buying this way can save a considerable amount of money over time. A SodaStream refill cartridge costs around $30, and for many people, buying and using a SodaStream doesn’t actually save much money over just purchasing soda from the store.
While you’ll need a valve adapter to use a CO2 cylinder with your SodaStream, these adapters are inexpensive (usually around $20), and they’ll pay for themselves over time. You can use these cylinders in a couple of different ways–you either connect them to your SodaStream using an adapter (this effectively lets you use the larger CO2 cylinder in place of a replacement cartridge) or use the cylinder to refill individual SodaStream cartridges with the help of an adapter.
Option 1–Connecting a Cylinder to Your Soda Maker
Connecting a CO2 cylinder to your SodaStream does require some tools and some time, but once you’ve connected the cylinder, you won’t need to replace it for a while.
Before you begin, you’ll need to make sure you have an adapter kit–these usually consist of a hose, the adapter itself, and a pressure gauge. The kit will have specific instructions, but the general installation process looks like this:
- Step 1–Drill a hole in the back of the SodaStream machine. It should be big enough to let the hose through.
- Step 2–Following the instructions that came with your kit, screw in the SodaStream fitting, connect the hose, and thread the hose through the drilled hole.
- Step 3–Again following the kit instructions, connect the cylinder fitting and pressure gauge to your CO2 cylinder.
- Step 4–Connect the loose end of the hose to the cylinder fitting.
This option effectively lets you use a large CO2 just like you would use a SodaStream cartridge–the larger cylinder just lasts a lot longer.
Option 2–Using a Cylinder to Refill SodaStream Cartridges
If you would rather not drill a hole in your SodaStream machine, you also can use a CO2 cylinder to refill your existing SodaStream cartridges. With this option, you can continue to use your SodaStream as normal–you just have an easier (and cheaper!) way to refill your CO2 cartridges.
If you’d prefer to go this route, make sure that you purchase a refill adapter (and not the type of adapter that connects the CO2 cylinder to your SodaStream itself). Refill adapters don’t usually include tubing–they usually are brass fittings that can be connected to your cylinder’s existing valve.
Each refill adapter type will have slightly different instructions. Be sure to follow them carefully–remember that you’re working with a pressurized gas that can be dangerous if not handled properly.
With these adapters, you’ll be able to connect an empty SodaStream cartridge, use the CO2 cylinder to refill it, and then use the newly-filled cartridge with your SodaStream.
What Size Cylinder Do You Need?
Now that you know how easy and time-saving either refill method can be, you might be thinking of purchasing your own CO2 cylinder. What size cylinder you need depends on how much money you have to spend, how much space you have to store the cylinder, and how much soda or carbonated water you drink. A single SodaStream cartridge will make about 60 liters of soda or carbonated water, while a five-pound CO2 cylinder will make around 100 liters. If you have the space for a larger cylinder and the money upfront to purchase one, it’s a good idea to buy the largest CO2 cylinder you can find.
There isn’t too much of a price difference between the sizes of CO2 cylinders. Empty cylinders tend to cost roughly $70-$140 depending on size. Cylinders that hold more than 20 pounds are more expensive, but we’re guessing most home soda enthusiasts won’t be looking at even larger tanks. Filling a CO2 tank will usually cost anywhere from $15 to $50. If you want to get an idea of exact costs before you buy, it may be wise to call around and determine exactly how much it will cost to fill up your tank.
Our Best Cylinder Picks
If you’re new to purchasing CO2 cylinders, you may not be sure where to start. We’ve found some quality choices in different sizes for you to choose from. As you shop, it’s important to understand that federal law prohibits full tanks of CO2 from being shipped–any cylinder you buy will be empty. Once your tank arrives, you can have it filled locally. Filling a tank is usually very inexpensive, and you may be able to get yours filled at a sporting goods store, a welding supply company, a home brew shop, or anywhere you can get a fire extinguisher filled. The major investment is the cylinder itself–as long as it’s protected from damage, your CO2 cylinder should last for many years.
Before you buy, make sure that there’s a business near you that is willing and able to fill a CO2 cylinder–otherwise, you’ll be stuck with an empty tank. While many businesses will fill any type of tank, some only fill their own cylinders and then let you exchange an empty cylinder for a full one.
Best Five-Pound Cylinder: Zebra DNA Luxfer L6X Aluminum CO2 Tanks with CGA320 on/off Valve
When you’re storing compressed gas like CO2, it’s very important to be able to trust the cylinder you use. This smaller cylinder is made by Luxfer, one of the leading manufacturers of compressed gas containers. While this cylinder is the smallest on our list, it’s a good option for those who don’t have enough space to store larger cylinders. This option is 14.2 inches tall (excluding the valve, which adds about five inches) and has a 5.3-inch diameter.
That said, this cylinder has an attractive brushed aluminum body, so it won’t be an eyesore in your home. Aluminum also has the advantage of being lighter in weight and more corrosion-resistant than steel. The CGA320 valve is made of brass and is approved by the Compressed Gas Association for safety and efficacy. The handwheel above the valves is made of durable plastic. It’s designed to melt in the event of extreme heat exposure, which the manufacturer says is a safety feature–if the cylinder is exposed to high heat without your knowledge, a melted handwheel will let you know that the cylinder isn’t safe to use.
This cylinder seems to have great reviews everywhere, and the combination of its high-quality build and the manufacturer’s reputation means it’s a worthy choice.
Best Ten-Pound Cylinder: Beverage Elements 10lb CO2 Cylinder with CGA320 Valve
Beverage Elements is another manufacturer that provides quality CO2 cylinders to homeowners, hobbyists, and businesses alike. The company’s 10-pound cylinder is the right size for many at-home uses–it’s big enough to last for a while, but not so large that it takes up too much space in your home. Like the Cyl-Tec cylinder listed above, this one has a quality aluminum alloy build. Since a filled cylinder at this size can be heavy–it’s 20.5 inches tall (including the valve) and has a 6.9 inch diameter–a lightweight build material is a must. However, for only a slight price increase, you can also buy this cylinder with an attached ergonomic carry handle that makes moving it around much easier.
This cylinder also has very thick walls, which are a must if you want to protect it from dings and scrapes. These issues are more than aesthetic, though–a very dented CO2 cylinder will often stop working properly, requiring you to purchase a new one. Like the other cylinders on the list, you can either connect this one directly to your SodaStream or use with an adapter to refill CO2 cartridges as needed. Either way, it’s an investment likely to pay for itself over time.
Best 20-Pound Cylinder: Luxfer CO2 Cylinder with Handle and CGA320 Valve
If you don’t work with compressed gases on a routine basis, you may not be familiar with Luxfer. However, this company is the world’s largest manufacturer of cylinders for compressed gas. Luxfer manufactures cylinders for industries where bulk CO2 is a necessity, but they also make cylinders that are small enough for the average homeowner or hobbyist.
Because it can hold a remarkable 20 pounds of pressurized CO2, this is the largest cylinder on the list. It’s 28.2 inches tall and has an eight-inch diameter. While this size doesn’t approach the very large sie of some industrial cylinders, it may be too large for some people to keep at home, especially if they live in smaller apartments. That said, this Luxfer cylinder is a great choice for those who want to make sure they have enough compressed CO2 to last for months or even years. Some customers who have compared it to the SodaStream cartridges estimate that this one is about 20 times the size of a single SodaStream refill.
Like others on the list, this cylinder is made of lightweight and corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy, and the brushed aluminum exterior gives it a sleek appearance. To make moving it around easier, it comes with a sturdy carry handle that doubles as a valve protector. This feature is especially important–if the cylinder tips over and the valve breaks, the release of trapped CO2 could effectively turn the cylinder into a missile that causes property damage and death.
A Note on Safety
If you’re considering purchasing a CO2 cylinder, be sure that you avoid siphon-equipped tanks. Gas cylinders with a siphon have a tube that draws from the bottom of the tank first. The siphon ensures that liquid is dispensed first (as opposed to gas).
In a CO2 cylinder, the CO2 is stored as a liquid, since carbon dioxide becomes a liquid under high pressure. As it’s released through a regulator valve, it turns to a gas. Using a siphon-equipped cylinder could cause some liquid CO2 to be released into your beverages. This can potentially cause health problems. Similarly, storing the cylinder on its side can also cause liquid CO2 to be released. Make sure that you keep your cylinder upright at all times.
If you’re tired of time-consuming and expensive CO2 refills for your SodaStream, purchasing your own CO2 cylinder is a way to save. Of course, always remember to handle pressurized gas with care (and be sure to thoroughly understand how to safely operate the CGA320 valve and any valve adapters before you use the cylinder). By investing a little more money and time upfront, you’ll be setting yourself up to save in the long run.