If you’re looking for a bright, refreshing new beverage to enjoy from the comfort of your home, you don’t need to look any further than a soda machine. These convenient beverage makers are your gateway into making sparkling water, customizable pop, and fizzy cocktails or mocktails. Choosing the right one for you or your family will help you stay hydrated and refreshed.
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What is a soda machine?
There are two types of soda machines:
- The kind that dispenses cans of soda in locations like schools, rec centres, and malls, and
- The kind that makes soda for you in your home. These are very similar to the soda machines used in soda shops, but miniaturized for convenient home use.
The history of soda machines
At-home soda machines are a modern update of the original soda fountain, which are thought to have been invented in the mid-1700s. They create soda water, which may also be called sparkling water, fizzy water, seltzer water, or club soda depending on your location. People have been drinking carbonated water from natural sources since long before soda machines were invented, but as the Earth has a limited number of natural sparkling water sources and carbonated beverages were difficult to transport until very recently in human history, humanity had to find a way to do it ourselves!
How soda machines work
Soda machines add carbonation to beverages by injecting carbon dioxide into pressurized canisters of water. The process takes seconds and involves the press of a button or the push of a lever. Some require AC power while others can run manually, without any electricity.
The carbonated water that you can create at home with a soda machine will slowly lose its carbonation, but just like the original soda machines that you’d find in an old apothecary or ice cream shop, you can use your soda machine many times to create fresh, sparkling water whenever you get a craving.
Where you can use a soda machine
- Soda machines are safe to use in the home. Most machines are powered by air pressure, not electricity, so they can be stored and operated in wet areas such as poolside bars.
- Safety – When using a soda machine or sparkling water maker, remember that pressurized canisters are sensitive to extreme temperatures. Don’t store your soda machine in extreme heat, such as in a hot car or next to a stove or oven. Make sure to keep your CO2 canisters under 50°C at all times, and for the fizziest results, use chilled water in your soda machine in a comfortably cool room.
Why use a soda machine?
- Customization – Soda machines are a great way to create tasty, customizable beverages for the whole family.
- Flavouring – From sparkling water to fizzy cocktails, you can add as much flavouring as you want to any of your drinks. You can also add fresh fruit, vegetables, or even herbs like mint.
- Cost-saving – Soda and sparkling water machines help you cut down on your grocery bill
- Reduced waste – With fewer cans, bottles, and transportation costs, soda machines create tasty drinks while producing less household waste. (Plus, each CO2 canister is refilled and reused by the company, further minimizing waste.)
- Healthier option – For those who love sugary sodas, using a soda machine and playing around with added flavour combinations can encourage you to ditch the sugary pop and opt for flavour-enhanced water instead.
Beverages you can make in a soda or sparkling water maker
What you can carbonate with your soda machine depends on the manufacturer and pressurized beverage container used in your at-home setup.
- Sparkling water machines – Many brands of soda machines, like SodaStream and Aarke, recommend that you only use your machine to carbonate water. These machines are also referred to as sparkling water makers, as any juices, flavourings, and concentrates are added after you finish using the machine.
- Soda machines – To carbonate more than water in your soda machine while still staying covered under warranty, opt for a brand that advertises its products as being able to carbonate any liquid, such as Drinkmate.
Enjoy sparkling water at home
If you’re going through a lot of store bought sparkling mineral water or club soda, a soda machine can help you save a lot of time, waste, and hassle. You can carbonate as much or as little sparkling water as you desire every time you use your appliance, and it lasts overnight in the fridge!
For the best-tasting sparkling water possible, find your perfect level of carbonation with your specific machine. Use shorter presses for light-tasting, fine bubbles, or hold down the carbonation function for longer to achieve deliciously bracing bubbles. Colder liquids hold their carbonation better, so for the cleanest, brightest carbonation possible, use filtered, chilled water in your soda machine bottles.
Add fizz to your favourite beverages
If you want to use your soda machine for even more, try adding the sparkling water it makes to beverages like juice and cocktails. Try easy, no-measure recipes like:
- Fresh orange juice with a splash of fizzy water is the perfect way to start a beautiful Saturday morning.
- Adding sparkling water to your mint mojito will take you to a whole new level of refreshment.
Create a bubbly cocktail or mocktail
- Try your sparkling water with tonic water syrup, mixers, and more to create a light-tasting version of your favourite cocktails and mocktails.
- Muddle or infuse sparkling water with fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
- Add a dash of bitters for flavourful water infusions.
- Adding sparkling water is also a great way to reduce the alcohol content of drinks you already enjoy, while adding a fresh-tasting fizz. Add sparkling water to your favourite wines, sparkling wines, and cocktails at events like summer parties to help stay hydrated while you enjoy.
Create sodas at home with syrups
- Flavouring drops – A great way to get the most out of your soda machine is to use flavouring drops from your favourite brands. Add these flavourings after you fizz your water, but before you enjoy.
Powered vs battery-free soda machines
One great thing about at-home soda and sparkling water machines is that most designs don’t require power. The carbonation is powered by pressure. So, your soda machine doesn’t add any cords or clutter to your countertop, and it doesn’t need to be placed next to a plug-in.
- Battery-free soda machines can even be taken camping and on car rides to the lake, and are a great way to make sure your new college student is drinking enough water in their dorm room! Select from models with features such as easy-press buttons, carbonation level lights, and more.
- Powered models are also available. Some models of soda machines do need to be plugged in to support additional features like carbonation level pre-sets, so make sure to check the product’s description or reference its Common Questions section if you’re not sure.
Can you make healthier choices with a soda machine?
Soda machines are a great way to make healthier choices part of your everyday routine. Because they fizz with each use (instead of each can or bottle), they can help you control exactly how much soda and other beverages you choose to consume. To make a healthier choice, you can also decrease the amount of syrup or juice in each glass if you want to cut back on sugar. If you’re worried about things like acid erosion, make sure to talk to your dentist and rinse with flat water after enjoying sparkling water to help rebalance the pH of your mouth.
Like many things, staying healthy while drinking soda is about moderation. Soda machines create fresh, sparkling water, and you can choose when and how much to enjoy. Whether that means trying new recipes with your soda water maker to eliminate things like sugar or artificial food colouring is up to you.
Soda machine syrups, flavourings, and more
With a soda machine, you can control both the sweetness and bubbliness of your favourite classic sodas.
- Buy branded – Select from flavourings from brands like Bubly and Pepsi and choose from the regular and diet versions of your favourite flavours.
- Customize – Fizz your water more before adding your flavour drops for a more intense carbonation, and control how many drops of flavour you put in to control intensity and sweetness.
- Blend your favourites – You can also mix and match your favourites to create a swamp water soda!
Want to try something that’s new to your palate? Lots of smaller brands make soda machine syrups as well. Try handcrafted recipes from boutique companies or head to the farmer’s market to look for locally-sourced syrups to enjoy with your soda machine. Or, make your own syrups and flavourings at home. Try playing with syrup recipes using ingredients like mint, ginger, cinnamon, berries, and tea to find your perfect flavour combination.
CO2 canisters: How long do they last for and how do you exchange them?
At-home sparkling water makers are a great way to enjoy crisp, sparkling water with less waste. They work using a replaceable, recyclable carbon dioxide canister that threads into the back of your machine. Many of these canisters or cylinders are interchangeable between brands, but check with your specific make or model before purchasing.
How long will your carbon dioxide cylinder last for?
Carbon dioxide cylinders and canisters are typically measured by how much soda they can make rather than their volume of CO2. Your average CO2 cylinder used in an at-home sparkling water machine makes 60 litres of sparkling water. That’s the same as:
- 240 cups of sparkling water,
- 169 cans of soda, or
- About 14 12-can cases of pop.
Depending on how much sparkling water you or your family drinks on a daily basis, one CO2 cylinder generally lasts for 1-2 months. (If you’re replacing your carbon dioxide canister every month, that means that you’re drinking around 2 litres of sparkling water every day!)
Before opening, CO2 cylinders are shelf-stable for 3 years. Store in a cool, dry location.
How do you exchange CO2 canisters?
When it comes time to replace, make sure to exchange your old carbon dioxide canister through Best Buy’s CO2 Exchange Program, which is applicable to SodaStream Cylinders exchanged in-store. You’ll receive a discount at the till for each cylinder, as your empties are sent back to SodaStream to be sanitized and filled to reduce waste. Compressed air can’t be shipped by air for safety reasons, so you’ll need to purchase and exchange CO2 cartridges for any kind of soda machine in-store.
Soda machine accessories
Choose from a selection of different carbonating bottles and accessories to get the most out of your soda maker. Select from small bottles for single servings or large bottles for higher-volume consumption, and match your bottles to your needs. Some brands offer bottles that are top-rack-dishwasher-safe, while others need to be hand washed every time.
Unlike CO2 cylinders, most carbonating bottles are not interchangeable. You’ll likely need to stick with the same brand as your soda maker, or even stay within the same product line for specialty models. However, making sure you have more than one carbonating bottle on hand is a great way to ensure that you have sparkling water on hand whenever you need it. Feel free to add flavouring right to the pre-fizzed bottle, or simply store bottles of still water in the fridge so they’re pre-chilled and ready to be carbonated.
Take the next step
Now that you know everything you need to about soda machines, you’re ready to reach new levels of hydration. Select from your favourite brands and models to choose the one that’s right for you. Soda machines and sparkling water makers are available in plenty of different styles, colours, and finishes, from simple white models that are budget-friendly for dorm rooms to rose gold machines that are perfect for a luxury kitchen or bar. Check out your options today at Best Buy.