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Soda Makers: Homemade Bubbly

Tuesday, 4 September 2012 | Tags: , , , , ,

If you like to experiment or have lots of control over the ingredients in your drink, a soda maker may be right up your alley. We put a few of these gadgets to the test on Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag to see which product bubbles up to the top.

THE BASICS

  • Carbonated water, the main ingredient in all soft drinks & sodas, is known by many names: club soda, soda water, sparkling water, seltzer, gas, or fizzy water.

  • Carbon dioxide is pressurized and dissolved into water to create the effervescence. The process is called carbonation.

  • Carbonated water can occur naturally under rare geological conditions (e.g. volcanic activity). Naturally carbonated water has high levels of dissolved minerals, making it highly sought after for its supposed curative properties.

  • Any type of water can be used for carbonation. Use tap water or filtered water depending on your personal taste.

  • Cold water (refrigerated) works best as it holds carbonation better. When you do your carbonation, keep excess in the fridge so it will stay carbonated longer.

Shopping Tips

  • Soda makers require the use of pressurized cartridges of carbon dioxide. There are several different types of gadgets:

    • Soda Siphons or Seltzer Bottles, which require shaking to help dissolve the carbon dioxide into the water.

    • Soda Machines, which work the same as above but are automated.

    • Soda Fountains, for the die-hard, are connected to your home’s plumbing and power and are similar to commercial soda fountains.

  • Be sure to consider the cost of your soda maker as well as the cost of replacement carbon dioxide cartridges over time. Some machines have refillable cartridges, which cuts down on excess waste.

    • Also consider the excess waste you’re creating with all the cartridges. Are they recyclable in your area?

  • Most manufacturers require you purchase their brand of CO2 cartridges. However, if you are purchasing off-brand cartridges, be sure it is *FOOD GRADE* CO2 that you are buying.

  • Most soda makers require you to add flavourings after you’ve carbonated the water.

  • Consider whether you want a portable soda maker. Some makers require batteries (additional cost), plumbing, and others require power. 

  • Some soda makers offer a range of flavour mixes that can be used with your machine.

Other Considerations

  • Is carbonated water bad for you? Since carbonic acid is formed when the CO2 is dissolved in water, some worry that it is harmful to your teeth. Research has shown that plain sparkling water is not harmful, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the ingredients in soft drinks and sodas aren’t bad for your teeth and bones!

  • Does carbonation help indigestion? Research shows that carbonated water does offer relief from indigestion, as well as constipation in some cases. However, if you suffer from acid reflux, the burping caused by carbonation may actually agitate your condition.

TEST CRITERIA

We invited award-winning mixologist Matteo Caneglia to help us put four soda making gadgets through the rigors of bubbly beverage making. We tested:

Fizz Giz Soda Maker & Home Carbonation Kit

  • $29 (USD) + shipping & handling ($16USD)
  • 16 g (2L) cartridges: $0.75USD each ($0.38/litre)
  www.fizzgiz.com   Amazon.com

Mosa Soda Siphon:

  • $89
  • 8g (1L) cartridges: $0.60/litre
 

www.cookworks.ca

www.browneco.com

  Amazon.com

SodaStream Genesis Soda Maker

  • $129 (starter kit)
  • 40g (60L) cartridges: $34.99 ($0.58/litre) or refilled at $16.99 ($0.28/litre)
  • Also requires brand-only carbonating bottles ($6.50 for 0.5L; $8 for 1L)
  www.sodastream.ca   Amazon.com

Usability Test

  • The Fizz Giz is a hand-held, portable machine and the smallest of our products in this test. You can use any cartridges (but remember to buy food grade CO2), or purchase refillable cartridges. Requires shaking to mix, and takes about 10 minutes to carbonate 1 litre.

  • The Mosa Soda Siphon allows you to keep the soda in the aluminum body (1 litre). It looks similar to the old time seltzer bottles. It was the easiest one to use of the three.

  • The Sodastream is more of a counter top appliance, so it takes up more space than the other two. You press the button on top of the machine and it dissolves the pressurized CO2 into the water. It was easy to use, but quite loud!

Bubble Measurements

We attached a balloon to the top of a freshly made bottle from each of our machines and compared to a freshly-opened commercial bottle to see which created the most fizz:

  • The Sodastream served up the most bubbly CO2s per serving.

  • The Fizz Giz came in second for bubbles.

  • The Mosa was a flat third.

OUR TOP PICK

We liked the Sodastream for the bubbliest water, but the price and size of the Fizz Giz made it our top choice.

 

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  • Robert Stine

    Based on the recommendation here from the two lovelies, Anna & Kristina, and because of it’s low-price, I bought a FiZZ GiZ kit. And I love it! I’ve made all kinds of carbonated soft-drinks with it. Never a moment’s problem. I had a SodaStream unit, but I was never satisfied with it’s carbonation level. Plus, the CO2 gas refills from Sodaream were expensive, I couldn’t afford them. Thanks, A&K.