Carbonating Water with Soda Machines

Wow - these were great tips. I did know about cold water because carbonation in brewing beer is similar.

Only gas very cold water, because the gas dissolves best in very cold water. (We always have a bottle of cold water in the fridge ready to pour into the Sodastream bottle for gassing.).
Wait a few seconds between each gas injection to allow more time for the gas to dissolve.
Wait about a minute after final gas injection before removing the bottle from the machine and putting the top on the bottle in order to allow more time for the gas to dissolve.
Only gas water, because the gas dissolves better in water than in juice, etc.

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Great that Choice has done work in this area. I started the conversation EXPERIENCES CARBONATING WATER WITH SODASTREAM because of initial great disappointment with the number of litres (not the same as bottles) carbonated water obtained with a 60L bottle of CO2.

What i discovered myself and from others was that how you carbonate the water has a big effect on the number of litres obtained per bottle of CO2. All the tips are in the conversation.

FYI following the tips my current gas bottle in my bottom of the range manual Sodastream model has carbonated 71 litres and it is still not empty. Later I’ll weight it and estimate how much CO2 is still in it.

Other factors that might influence performance and which i have not investigated include: gas leakage from the CO2 cylinder, gas leakage from the water bottle during carbonation, and underfilling of the gas bottle.

My overall assessment is that if keeping cost per litre of carbonated water low is the top priority (which it is likely to be for many people) the way to do this is go for a low cost machine and follow the carbonation tips in the other conversation. However, I do recognise that not having to carry bottles of carbonated water home, reducing the use of plastic bottles, having an instantly available source of carbonated water, appearance, and convenience of operation are also factors to take into account.

Maybe there is case for merging the 2 conversations?

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@ijarratt, good suggestion. Done. I also updated the topical title to be generic to soda machines.

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Kim
The cost per litre of carbonated water seems to have been calculated only in relation to the cost of CO2 which of course is not the only cost since the cost of the machines vary greatly and maybe also how long they will last…

But, I guess taking account of these factors, plus how many litres are carbonated a year or over the life of the machine, would greatly complicate the calculations. So, on balance, I think CO2 only cost is OK, but anyone considering buying a machine, and who is interested in the costs, should still think about the other costs. .

If this exercise is ever repeated I suggest also calculating and publishing the cost per litre at various levels of carbonation not just at the highest setting on the automatic machines because the cost will vary greatly and that may influence how much carbonation people choose.

Finally, I presume that the cost of bought bottled carbonated water did not take account of the 10c refund on the empty bottle that some people may get back?

Great that CHOICE has done this review which i found very informative and helpful

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Thanks for the comments @ijarratt - correct, this is just calculated on CO2 rather than the initial upfront cost of the machines and drinking bottles. We did consider whether the 10c refund should go into the equation of the cheap supermarket soda cost but in the end, it wasn’t included (as not everyone will claim it but perhaps the article “Should you buy a Soda Stream” should make this clear; I will see if this can be added). Even with the 10c refund you can still save money out of it if you don’t use high carbonation. Also, you help the environment, it saves you from carrying 30L of bottles as opposed to 30L from a soda maker, and you have more control over the amount of carbonation.

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Kim. Great to see your article in the CHOICE magazine recently about the soda machines currently available, and that it also included some tips on use, such as using cold water to increase CO2 absorption.

Also, since this is the time of year when machines are likely to be most used and be bought for the first time (they seem to have been widely sold before Christmas this year), below are my tips on how to maximise the litres of carbonated water obtained from CO2 cylinders.

Plus, people who are buying many refilled 400g exchange CO2 cylinders for $19 should consider buying a 450g Kegland CO2 cylinder that many brewing supplies shops will refill for about $5.

TIPS TO MAXIMISE USE OF CO2

  • Only add gas to plain water, NOT to juices, cordials, flavours, etc. Add these to the water AFTER it has been gassed.
  • Use very cold water because the gas dissolves much better in it than in water at tap temperature. So, keep in the fridge a bottle of cold water ready to pour into the gassing bottle or a spare gassing bottle containing plain water. Or use water from the fridge’s cold water dispenser.
  • If using a manual machine, wait a several seconds between each gas injection to allow more time for the gas to dissolve and after each gas injection, shake the bottle while it is still attached to the machine. (This will further increase the amount of gas dissolved in the water.)
  • Wait about a minute after the final gas injection before removing the bottle from the machine and putting the top on the bottle. (This allows the gas more time to dissolve in the water.)
  • Store the gassed liquid in the fridge, make sure the bottle top is screwed on tight, and use the liquid soon after being carbonated.
  • To maximise the fizziness of drinks, serve them as close as possible to fridge temperature.
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An update - I contacted them, they sent me a new design, I got 2 ridged lids for free !
Thumbs up to Sodastream, I can open the bottles again.

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Were these in addition to the ones you previously said they gave you about a year ago and are the ridged lids black? The photo of the black ones on their website seems to show ridging, but it is not very clear?
They did not give me any when i suggested that they change the design. Did you specifically ask them for replacements that had ridges to facilitate bottle opening? If so I’ll also do so because I often have difficulty opening the bottles even when I turn the bottle base (which is ridged), not the top.
IMO, the current lid design is dreadful - the lid looks good and is easy to clean but awful to use, even if you have a strong grip.
BTW on their website 2 black (ridged?) lids cost $6 plus postage. It also says “Please Note: Caps only fit PET Carbonating Bottles (1 Litre and 500ml) and Fuse Bottles.” I am presuming that my bottles which have a 840mL fill-line are 1L bottles.

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The ones they sent me are white. Yes I asked about ridged lids because of arthritis.
You could email them a pic of your bottles - mine are 1L but the fill line makes them less.

That info about the ridged lids wasn’t on the website, I think when I contacted them they were a very new development. Strange it took them so long, as the others were so smooth and slippery.

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Thanks for the additional info. I have looked again at the black ones on the website and they are NOT ridged.
Good if SodaStream has recognised the problem and now makes ridged caps for the regular machines. I wonder if these are now standard on new machines? I’ll check next time I see them on sale. Can you post a pic of a new ridged SodaStream cap?
The caps on bottles for Soda King and Aarke machines shown on their websites are smooth. Can not see the detail for the caps for bottles for Philips machines. Will check them in store.

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Sure, hope it helps.

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Thanks for providing a photo.
It’s a definite improvement! and SodaStream should make it standard on all bottles that currently have smooth caps.
And other manufacturers of carbonating machines should follow suit.

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Wondering whether the tips in my original post viz:

  • Only gas very cold water, because the gas dissolves best in very cold water. (We always have a bottle of cold water in the fridge ready to pour into the Sodastream bottle for gassing.).
  • Wait a few seconds between each gas injection to allow more time for the gas to dissolve.
  • Wait about a minute after final gas injection before removing the bottle from the machine and putting the top on the bottle in order to allow more time for the gas to dissolve.
  • Only gas water, because the gas dissolves better in water than in juice, etc

and those suggested by other contributors, have helped people to make better use of the CO2 cylinders.
They are certainly working for me. My last gas cylinder provided over 116 litres (142 x 0.84L bottles) of medium fizz carbonated water.

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Do that one only as have the electric Soda Stream.
Never bothered checking the volume it makes.
I use small amount of Coles or Woolworths Lime Juice Cordial in the bottle prior to gas injection.
Bought a bottle of Pepsi flavouring (made in Israel) this year as had visitors. Surprised how authentic it was.

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Thanks for the reminder that there are also electronic machines which provide less control of length and timing of CO2 injection than manual machines. I have a manual machine.
I realise now also that I updated the original tips and the new ones (below) suggest that, to maximise the use of the CO2, you add juices etc after carbonation.

TIPS TO MAXIMISE USE OF CO2

  • Only add gas to plain water, NOT to juices, cordials, flavours, etc. Add these to the water AFTER it has been gassed.
  • Use very cold water because the gas dissolves much better in it than in water at tap temperature. So, keep in the fridge a bottle of cold water ready to pour into the gassing bottle or a spare gassing bottle containing plain water. Or use water from the fridge’s cold water dispenser.
  • If using a manual machine, wait a several seconds between each gas injection to allow more time for the gas to dissolve and after each gas injection, shake the bottle while it is still attached to the machine. (This will further increase the amount of gas dissolved in the water.)
  • Wait about a minute after the final gas injection before removing the bottle from the machine and putting the top on the bottle. (This allows the gas more time to dissolve in the water.)
  • Store the gassed liquid in the fridge, make sure the bottle top is screwed on tight, and use the liquid soon after being carbonated.
  • To maximise the fizziness of drinks, serve them as close as possible to fridge temperature.
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Does anyone know how the SodaStream methodology compares with the industrial scale processing used to provide fizzy drinks? At one end of the production scale Coke, Asahi, etc. At the other the remnant last few small scale locals.

Well briefly small scale.

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It seems that the industrial gassing is not very similar at all. According to the American Chemistry Society the mixed drink is cooled in a tank and then pressurised in bulk and then the bottles are filled rather than gassing the bottles.

You would think that at industrial scales CO2 would be very cheap so they could save the cost of chilling the drink by over-pressuring the mix a little and accepting the loss when it is bottled. Apparently that is not so, they have to chill the mix to get the required amount of gas dissolved.

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Pricing is an interesting issue with sodastream.

The other day I went to ‘exchange’ 4 cylinders at Woolies - the price on the shelf was 35$ per cylinder, the exchange price was 35$ per cylinder. After staff had a number of attempts at scanning the exchange cylinders and the replacement cylinders it became apparent they were the same. I said I’d like to just buy two cylinders and the staff seemed confused - I walked away with two full cylinders at 35$ each and 4 empty cylinders - what is the incentive to recycle/exchange if they are the same price (I was convinced they were wrong, and I needed a couple of cylinders, so wasn’t going to surrender my empties for no benefit).

I wonder if they had a ‘pricing issue’ as I can’t find reference to individual cylinders onlne now … except in the ‘app’ it still shows this:

‘unit pricing’ is a bit of a laugh as well …

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I would have thought so as well. Up until now with an exchange cylinder the price was $19.00. That is what I paid two weeks ago at Coles.
On Coles website now says nothing about exchange.

Will be an appalling waste if there are no longer exchange cylinders. Not happy if price is going up from $19.00 to $35.00
Will be in Woolworths tomorrow morning and will have a looksee. The staff in my nearest Woolworths are excellent - all due to the excellent manager. Manager had his 40 years service with Woolworths few weeks ago.

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They were wrong, you were right.
Phoned Soda Stream in Melbourne on the phone number on the website. Great to get good service. The lady said nothing has changed and handing in your old cylinder they scan it as the barcode for returns is in the system as we know, and you pay $19.00 for the full exchange refilled cylinder.

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