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Soda Club.Com?

b
Briggs Jun 6, 2006 03:49 AM

Is anyone familiar with the products from sodaclub.com that allows you to make your own seltzer/soda at home? They seem interesting and cost efficient. So while I love original NY style seltzer (but NOT market bought club soda or seltzer that goes flat), I'm also growing tired of lugging seltzer bottles home, as well as with the precarious future of independent seltzer dealers.

Any other recommendations for a simple home carbonated system?

Thanks for any advice.

Link: http://www.sodaclubusa.com/

  1. r
    rexmo Jun 6, 2006 08:00 AM

    Think homebrew (beer) supply sellers. CO2 bottles, regulators, 5 gallon soda kegs, quick disconnect fittings, tap hose, cobra faucets, 2-l soda bottle carbonator caps, etc.

    1. h
      HwyStar Jun 6, 2006 11:19 AM

      I've been a Soda-Club customer almost 10 years now. Bought a second soda maker a few years ago for summer home. Works great, taste great, kids love it. For large gatherings I still will go out and buy cans of soda, or you'll be playing bartender all day/night.

      1. h
        heidipie Jun 7, 2006 12:20 AM

        We love Soda Club. Not only is it great to not lug bottles of bubbly water home from the store, it's great to not put them into the recycling afterwards.

        If you drink a lot of seltzer, I recommend getting extra carbonating bottles. You have to have the water cold to carbonate it, and we like to keep a few liters in the fridge at the ready.

        1. f
          Fleur Jun 9, 2006 01:22 AM

          Home made soda and diet sida! It sounds wonderful. I love my Seltzer Man, but this sounds terrific. Has anyone tried the sugar free flavors? Splenda works great for this if you are avoiding Aspartame.

          1. d
            dashford Jun 20, 2007 11:01 AM

            The Soda Club machine is a good product -- I had another machine similar in concept by the Cape Cod Soda Company in the 1980s and 90s -- but the markup on CO2 refills is jaw-dropping. Upwards of $20 plus handling per canister -- the actual cost of a refill is a fraction of that. Unfortunately their equipment is propriatary and you void the warranty if you try to save money and have a non-authorized retailer refill the canisters. (They likely won't have the correct connector anyway, as it's a European standard.)

            You don't save that much money (and it's certainly much less savings than what you *could* have), but it's more convenient than store-bought and easier than building your own system.

            6 Replies
            1. re: dashford
              Scrapironchef Jun 25, 2009 09:26 AM

              You've pretty much covered my objection to the machine, I like the idea but hate the CO2 cost.

              1. re: Scrapironchef
                e
                embee Jun 25, 2009 01:48 PM

                Their CO2 price is extremely high, but it is still much cheaper than bottled club soda in addition to its other advantages (control over carbonation; no salt).

                If you really want to cheap out and have a local source of gas, you can order a German adapter over the net. I would guess the gas refill cost at well under a dollar per Sodastream canister.

                You can find detailed instructions on the net for adapting commercial canisters to use with a Sodastream charger and for installing commercial soft drink/beer systems (widely available used) at home.

                Between storing a full size gas canister, the annoyances you must deal with when using one, and the plumbing and refrigeration aspects of a restaurant system, we decided to pay the price of their gas. It's hard to put a dollar value on convenience, but convenient it certainly is.

                1. re: embee
                  Scrapironchef Jun 25, 2009 06:27 PM

                  I don't drink much soda, so the cost recovery time would be astronomical. I'm keeping my eye open for a CO2 bottle and a regulator, a 5 pounder would be a lifetime supply. If I could find some bitter lemon syrup I'd be a lot more motivated.

                  1. re: Scrapironchef
                    Caralien Dec 11, 2009 09:09 AM

                    Here's a recipe for bitter lemon:
                    http://drinkingtheworld.com/2009/08/1...

                    1. re: Caralien
                      Scrapironchef Dec 12, 2009 05:41 PM

                      Thanks, I've got to order some chinchona bark.

              2. re: dashford
                LNG212 Jun 25, 2009 11:11 AM

                I disagree with the "you don't save that much money" part of your comment. We were buying a case of bottled seltzer per week (plus bottle deposit) totalling about $24 per month. With the soda club, one CO2 canister lasts us about 4 months. At about $20 total that means we are now spending 1/4 what we used to spend (not to mention the plastic we are now not using). So, yes, the CO2 does sound expensive but, for us, it is a very big savings.

              3. ccbweb Jun 20, 2007 02:13 PM

                I couldn't recommend the carbonator from Soda Club more strongly. We absolutely love it. Personally, I can't stand the taste of Splenda (sucralose) and they have it in all of their soda syrup mixes (both diet and non-diet), so we skip those entirely. I use syrups from other makers if I want a soda type drink.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ccbweb
                  higgika Jul 31, 2007 08:39 AM

                  I have to agree with ccbweb - we love our Soda Club!

                  I just bought my 2nd c02 cannister - exactly 3 months and 2 weeks after purchasing the machine. I figured it out the costs and I have already broken even including buying the machine. I used to buy a bottle of pellegrino or equivalent a day and now I make my own out of bottled water.

                  In addition I haven't had to buy 100 bottles from the store, lug them home, and then out to the recycling. The refill cannister was under $30 and I expect to make about 100 bottles from it again. Plus there is the added convenience of never running out of fizzy water.

                  I do not use any of their flavoured syrups. I sometimes flavour the water in my glass by adding a tablespoon or so of fruit juice or a few drops of lemon juice and maybe even a little vodka! Love it with fresh mint!

                2. e
                  embee Jul 31, 2007 07:42 PM

                  We bought one of these in June and are happy with it so far. I like my seltzer very strong, as it came from the siphon bottles of my New York childhood. And you can't make a decent egg cream with club soda from the market.

                  Simply stated, there is no alternative to this product. It is the only consumer level unit that lets you charge the water as little or as much as you want. Other home carbonaters, including all of the ubiquitous iSi products, have safety releases that limit the charge to "a light bubbly drink". Soda Club lets you add as much CO2 as the water will physically accept.

                  Although I would recommend Soda Club to anyone sharing my tastes, it is nowhere near perfect. For example:

                  - While the system does pay for itself if you drink, say, a bottle a day, the "licensed" gas cannisters are still a ripoff. A local CO2 refill costs MUCH less than Soda Club's price for recharging the proprietary gas cannister.

                  - The plastic bottles are expensive and their bases break easily. The website advertises a metal base that could, theoretically, solve the problem (at double the price - $15 each), but the local dealer in Toronto has never even seen one.

                  - The carbonating nozzle on our Fountain Jet model does not seem solidly attached to the unit. It may be stronger than it appears, but we are being VERY careful when attaching/detaching bottles.

                  - There is only one local dealer. They have little product knowledge, limited stock, and are nowhere near where we live or work. They advised that products ordered from the website are charged in US dollars and shipped from the US, causing shipping cost, tax, and brokerage issues.

                  - While we bought it for the seltzer, the dealer did give us something like 60 flavour samples. We haven't tried many of them, but all of those sampled so far (regular and diet) have been absolutely awful.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: embee
                    davis_sq_pro Dec 13, 2009 07:28 AM

                    So it is possible to refill the canisters without going through them?

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      n
                      Nyleve Dec 13, 2009 08:20 AM

                      Apparently, yes. You can do it yourself if you're slightly mechanically minded (I'll have to find the link to the company that sells the adaptor valve and the gas) OR you can check out this company that refills for you (look about halfway down the thread to a post by steampunkninja:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/638141

                      I gave up on considering doing my own refilling because I have a huge aversion to adaptor valves and gas cannisters and I haven't yet tried the place that will refill for you. But next time I'm out of gas I'm going to try the refill place.

                      1. re: Nyleve
                        n
                        Nyleve Dec 13, 2009 09:54 AM

                        Here's the link to the place that refills Sodastream cannisters.

                        http://www.sodamistic.com./

                  2. c
                    casacove Jun 25, 2009 01:40 AM

                    Ok, I'm like 2 years late here on this issue. I LOVE the Soda Club!!! Like most everyone has stated the cost is made up with one/two canisters. My "Local" dealer (Boaters World) Refunds the deposit on the canisters. So, in the original cost of 26.00, 13.00 is a deposit on the canister. If I return them to him, my next canister is 13.00. Cost wise this ROCKS!!! However, I am now located in Toronto and wondering if anyone knows where there is a local dealer or do I have to drive to Buffalo and search there?

                    I have to agree the flavors are NASTY, but I do like the idea of fruit juice and Vodka!!
                    Thanks for the tip.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: casacove
                      e
                      embee Jun 25, 2009 04:50 AM

                      You'll find the info you need at:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/608593

                      If you live anywhere downtown, east, or west, you'll likely end up ordering from the Sodastream website. If you live to the north or in the northern burbs, you can check out the retail option. Be sure to investigate the online coupon site before ordering.

                      1. re: embee
                        n
                        Nyleve Jun 25, 2009 07:36 AM

                        Embee is absolutely right - I was buying the CO2 refills from whichever store (Home Comfort Centre) I happened to be in the neighbourhood of on my way in or out of Toronto. But I checked out the retailmenot website and got a coupon which made it cheaper (and easier!) to just order the refills online and have them delivered to my door. They picked up the empties to return at the same time. Brilliant.

                        1. re: Nyleve
                          c
                          caramos Jul 23, 2009 01:27 PM

                          Hi Nyleve,
                          Where do you order online? I checked the retailmetnot website but didn't see anything like that.

                          Thanks
                          Carolyn
                          Toronto

                          1. re: caramos
                            e
                            embee Jul 23, 2009 08:45 PM

                            There is no gas available in Toronto until September (according to the company). Given that it involves a cylinder "re-certification" issue with Transport Canada, September may be optimistic.

                            There are usually coupons available, which may or may not be valid at any given moment.

                            1. re: embee
                              n
                              Nyleve Jul 24, 2009 06:11 AM

                              Aagh! That's terrible news! I am now officially addicted to my soda thingy. Will have to import, maybe, from NY. Thanks for the warning.

                              1. re: Nyleve
                                e
                                embee Jul 24, 2009 09:55 AM

                                I suppose you could bring a few back yourself, but no carrier can bring them across the border until this is resolved. They used to send entire containers up here and the retailers apparently get their stock from the same supply.

                    2. alanbarnes Jul 24, 2009 12:02 PM

                      I'm torn here. I really want to start making my own seltzer water at home. Buying it from the store really doesn't seem like the most responsible option. Not only is there the issue of paying for a company to ship water around, the bottle is unnecessary waste.

                      The ISI system just doesn't do a very good job. There's not enough pressure, so there isn't enough fizz, and it costs a buck to semi-carbonate a liter of water.

                      SodaStream seems like a good system. Simple, compact, and reasonably priced. But they have you captive on the CO2 refills unless you buy an adapter ($60-100) and possibly a new valve for each cartridge ($50 each). Maybe it's worth the convenience to to pay $15 per replacement cartridge, but you're screwed if the cartridges become unavailable.

                      A carbonator cap seems like a good option. A cap and a connector for carbonating water in standard PET soda bottles go for about $20. But then there's the question of a CO2 source.

                      The doohickeys that charge using 16g cartridges are effective, but that's an expensive way to buy gas - looks like it will cost 40 cents or so to carbonate a liter of water. Plus the nature of the cartridge is such that relatively large batches (4 liters +) are required, and adjusting the level of carbonation requires a fine touch.

                      The most efficient (and most cumbersome) option is to use a small CO2 tank with a regulator. $20 will buy a near-lifetime supply of gas, but the startup costs are significant - close to $200. And the design factor of the tank is such that it probably shouldn't stay out on the kitchen counter.

                      Aaack. Decisions, decisions.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: alanbarnes
                        e
                        embee Jul 24, 2009 12:36 PM

                        You are more or less mirroring my decision process. Sodastream has a good thing going. You get the amount of fizz you want and their bottles and caps can hold it.

                        iSi products, using their own words, are designed to produce a "light bubbly drink". They vent off any additional pressure if you try to add more.

                        The various alternatives, most of them much more economical over the long term, all come with logistical and operational issues. It's possible to get service and supplies from beer distributors in some locations, though most won't deal with a residence - at least in large cities. The Soda Club adapters are not as easy to use as one might prefer.

                        I don't think anyone has mentioned that Sodastream chargers waste a lot of their expensive gas. They use their gas supply to saturate the liquid instead of requiring you to shake the newly charged bottles. I'd like to make that choice myself.

                        Where I live, all name brands and private labels are insufficiently charged and most contain salt. Sodastream is still cheaper than bottles from the supermarket. It's also extremely convenient - unless, of course, one lives in Canada these days.

                        1. re: embee
                          alanbarnes Jul 24, 2009 01:13 PM

                          If you're still thinking about going the DIY route, check out your local homebrew store. They should have all the gear you need, along with a more cooperative attitude than the distributors'.

                          I just went on craigslist and found a 5# CO2 bottle with a regulator for $60. I'm leaning that direction.

                        2. re: alanbarnes
                          f
                          ferret Jul 24, 2009 12:47 PM

                          The cost per liter with their cartridges is 20 cents. Can you get it cheaper through a DIY process? Sure, but for me, at least, I'm happy with the 20 cent price point and I'm not going to obsess over it. It's a great product and works exactly as advertised.

                          1. re: ferret
                            alanbarnes Jul 24, 2009 01:03 PM

                            Like I said, the thing that bothers me most about the SodaStream cartridges isn't the cost, it's the fact that you're at the company's mercy. Some Toronto folks above are saying that refills are unavailable there until September. That would kind of suck.

                            1. re: alanbarnes
                              f
                              ferret Jul 24, 2009 01:17 PM

                              I agree, it would suck if you're in Canada. However, if you're in the US there's no problem getting cartridges. You can swap them out at many Williams-Sonoma locations as well as ordering online.

                              1. re: ferret
                                alanbarnes Jul 24, 2009 01:22 PM

                                There was no problem getting cartridges in Canada, either. Until there was. It may never be an issue here; I hope it isn't. It's just my nature to be suspicious of proprietary systems.

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