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Soda Siphon help!

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My wife and I bought an ISI soda siphon so we could have a regular supply of seltzer (we don't own a car, and it's a drag to lug all that water home on my back!). I understand that the carbonation won't match store-bought. However, it's been hit-or-miss regarding our ability to get good, bubbly seltzer out of it and lately, more miss than hit. Any tips to make consistently good seltzer? Here's the model we bought:

http://www.isinorthamerica.com/consum...

Help would be greatly appreciated!

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  1. Are you using iSi's "soda chargers?"

    2 Replies
    1. re: GeezerGourmet

      Yes, we are.

      1. re: GeezerGourmet

        Where do we find soda chargers in GTA?
        Help!

      2. Ah the memories. The seltzer man delivered a case of glass siphon bottles every week when I was a child in Brooklyn. It was much more potent than anything you could buy at a store. Every now and then, someone starts a new seltzer business in Toronto, but the glass bottles are too valuable and get diverted to the antique market. I don't think they are made any more. My last seltzer man (in the nineties) charged $1.00 for the contents of each bottle (delivered by the case) and a $25 deposit on every one. He didn't last very long. The $300 deposit was just too much.

        I've tried every siphon bottle that appeared in Canada over the past 40 years, using every CO2 cartridge on the market. I was never satisfied and stopped trying. The answer appears on the iSi website, which reads "...a pressure regulating system for maximum safety". In short, you can't get enough gas into the bottle to make decent seltzer. You need at least 1 1/2 cartridges, which simply can't be done. The extra gas just vents off, sometimes leaving less than a full charge. I was able to rig an old bottle to defeat the safety system, but could never do it again after that one wore out.

        A few possible things to try:

        - Be sure that the gas pathway is completely clear.
        - Verify the condition of the water tube and the gaskets. If the tube is loose or the gasket is worn, you'll lose pressure.
        - It is easy to misalign the charger parts. You need to get the charger accurately into its holder and screw the charger holder accurately and fully into the bottle. It's easy to strip or cross the threads of both the charger holder and the spout.
        - If you screw the charger on too tight, the gas flow can stop and you'll need to back it off until you hear gas flowing again.
        - You must use extremely cold water, shake the bottle like mad after charging it, and then chill it again for a couple of hours before use. You also need to drink it all within a short time.

        5 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Hi embee,

          Thanks for the suggestions -- my most recent batch is certainly an improvement over what I was getting. Cheers!

          1. re: The Jeff Next Door

            Your post got me thinking and I emailed iSi. I had hoped that they might make models for use outside of North America that met different safety standards and perhaps allowed a stronger charge. No luck here. Their equipment is identical throughout the world. In fact, the person who answered said their bottles could not actually make "real seltzer", but produced a lightly bubbly water.

            I also got a lead on a more sophisticated and flexible device made by an Israeli company and available in much of the world. I have never heard of it before and don't know any users, but it sounds interesting. It's quite expensive to buy, though the cost per litre is likely fairly low. The website is:
            http://www.sodaclubusa.com/default.htm

            1. re: embee

              I've thought about getting the soda club stuff, based on the comments in this thread:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/285676

              But I don't want plastic bottles, and the glass version is REALLY expensive. Plus, they don't let you opt out of their soda flavorings, which I would just throw away. (They claim that the flavorings are "free", but ....) I just want a device for unflavored seltzer water.

              Anne

              1. re: AnneInMpls

                Are you sure about the flavours? I haven't contacted them yet, but the info I saw indicated that the flavourings are not required (or included) with seltzer packages or supplies.

                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Anne, If I understand the Soda Club offerings correctly, I agree with embee that it seems like Soda Club's "seltzer" start-up package might be the way to go for you. http://www.sodaclubusa.com/order_i_e1...

                  Unfortunately, yes, it seems to come with a "sampler" of syrup flavors and 2 plastic carbonator bottles. The plastic bottles are recyclable, so you could just recycle them from the outset, or give those and the syrups to a friend who could use them with just regular store-purchased seltzer. (Or you could try to offer them on freecycle or craigslist or something).

                  I see that Soda Club does offer stainless steel bottles in the "re-order supplies" for $15/ea (and plus $1 per cap--they sell the caps separately. What a racket!) So, you could get yourself a few stainless bottles if you're comfortable with that as an alternative... I know it's not as good as glass...

                  With a few of the stainless steel bottles, and an extra CO2 refill, you could still outfit yourself for less than $200.

                  http://www.sodaclubusa.com/reorder_i_...

                  ~TDQ

          2. I'm quite happy with mine. I use generic cartridges. But, I think that the key advice is to fill it with very cold water before charging. I keep another container of water in the fridge. Don't over fill it; the purpose of that thick sleeve thing; is to assure a large head room is left in the tank. Shaking vigorously helps as well. Meanwhile this page: http://www.truetex.com/carbonation.htm has more information about this than anybody needs.

            1. There's an alternative seltzer system called Soda Club that I've just ordered. It looks very impressive and some friends of mine really like it. I'll report back after I've tried it.

              Here's a link: http://www.sodaclubusa.com

              I've ordered the Edition 1 Seltzer Lover's value kit from them.

              30 Replies
              1. re: Nancy Berry

                Hi Nancy,

                I was looking at that system -- I'd love to hear what you think once you've had some time to play around with it.

                1. re: The Jeff Next Door

                  We bought the soda club system several weeks ago and we're thrilled with it. The carbonating process is incredibly easy and customizable (we like very fizzy water) which we like a lot. I couldn't reccomend it more. We have an inline water filter on the cold water line under our kitchen sink (filters only the drinking water to a separate small faucet next to the main faucet) and we carbonate that filtered water. Tastes great and we can carbonate only when we want it. The bottles they send hold the carbonation in very well for at least a week (that's the longest any bottle has stayed in the fridge before we emptied it).

                  When we got the first order of everything, we also got some of their soda syrups to try and we didn't like those a bit. They have some odd combiation of natural and artificial sweeteners even in the "regular" non diet flavors.

                  For basic, straight ahead carbonated water, we're totally sold and are amazed at how much money we're saving every week on it. It works out to about 17 cents a liter versus upwards of a dollar each at the store.

                  1. re: The Jeff Next Door

                    If you bought your soda club system in Canada, will you pass along your retailer information? I contacted Soda Club and they don't ship to Nova Scotia...and we've got no local distributor for Soda Club. I'm thinking a Canadian retailer might ship to me. Cartridges won't go air, I think, but I can wait for them to come ground if retailer will ship.

                  2. re: Nancy Berry

                    Nancy and ccbweb (and anyone else who has experience with Soda Club) I was wondering how this is working out for you now that several months have passed.

                    We drink about 4 cans a pop a day in my household (at work, usually) and I probably have a 1-2 seltzer beverages an evening. I'm feeling incredibly guilty about the number of cans or plastic pop bottles we have to recycle every week (from an environmental stand point) and thought the Soda Club would be a good alternative, but I'm wondering how much hassle it all is.

                    1) Is it annoying to have to keep a spare bottle of cold water on hand all the time?
                    2) Is exchanging the CO2 canisters a hassle?
                    3) Is the hand-washing of the bottles (because you can't put them in the dishwasher) a big hassle

                    ccbweb, have you found a good "cola" or diet cola flavor you'd recommend since you're not fond of Soda Club's? Any experience with Prairie Moon's syrups?

                    Thank you!

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Hi TDQ. We abjectly love our carbonator. To answer your questions in order

                      1) nope, when I bought the thing, I got the option that had a total of 4 reusable bottles. I've just gotten into the habit of filling any empties each night when I'm done with the dishes and setting up our timed coffee pot for the morning. I do think it'd be a bit more annoying if we only had 2 bottles because we'd almost always be running out of pre-chilled water. And, it will carbonate less than cold water, just not as well. Also, I think I noticed on their website that they're now offering smaller bottles than the 1 liter. Not sure of the size, but they looked handy.

                      2) Exchanging them couldn't be easier...you go on their website, place the order for the new one and stick the old one outside. They use a courier service that comes and takes the old one, leaves the new one and you're done. As with the reusable bottles, I ordered 2 canisters with our original order, so we haven't been without a full one as we just exchange the empty.

                      3) For us its not an issue at all, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that we don't make soda _in_ the bottles. So all that's ever in the bottles is water. A quick squirt of dish soap, bit of water, top on and shake, then rinse.

                      We've been blown away at how much money it's saved us and how many bottles we don't have to carry around and recycle. I really can't say enough good about it for seltzer.

                      As to the last question, I have tried Prarie Moon's syrups and they're pretty good. Honestly, though, I've gone almost entirely to just plain seltzer. The stuff flat out tastes better than bottled seltzers I've had. It's also difficult to put enough sugar in with the Prarie Moon syrups to make it taste like soda and still be willing to drink it. It's a whole bunch of sugar.

                      My wife mixes her fizzy water with juices a lot, or adds some of the "True Lime" powder.

                      So, I'm still totally sold on the thing. Best purchase in the last year.

                      1. re: ccbweb

                        This is fantastic news. Thank you for the update! I'm definitely going to order one.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          TDQ, which Soda Club model do you think you'll get - one of the cheaper models, or the $250 "penguin"?

                          I've almost bought a Soda Club machine several times, but each time I have talked myself out of it. If Soda Club used glass bottles for all models, I'd buy one for sure. But only the $250 machine uses a glass carafe - the lower-priced models use plastic bottles for the water.

                          The plastic bottles must be replaced every few years. Worse, they're made with PET, which makes the water taste bad (to me, at least) and might possibly leach bad things into the water. (The research isn't conclusive, but the taste makes me think that something bad is happening.)

                          I've almost talked myself into splurging for the glass-carafe model, but in addition to being a cheapskate, I REALLY don't want a stainless-steel penguin in my kitchen. My in-laws think we like penguins and have been giving us stupid penguin trinkets for years - they've almost stopped, but this would probably start them up again. And I hate stainless steel in a kitchen.

                          Ah, life is never perfect. But I would love to know which model you buy and how it works out for you.

                          Anne

                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            Anne, I saw your older post above and wondered if the stainless steel carafe would be an acceptable choice for you. (You can buy the stainless carafes for both of the cheaper models.)

                            I ordered the "soda lovers" "edition 1" value pack (it's the one on the right) and two of the stainless steel carafes. (And they have a "buy two, get one free" special going on the carafes, so, I'll really get end up with 3 stainless steel carafes.)

                            http://www.sodaclubusa.com/order_i_e1...

                            We are interested in trying the syrups, at least initially. My guess is we'll wean ourselves off them over time.

                            Since you aren't interested in the syrups or the plastic bottles, if you decide to move forward, I'm guessing the "seltzer lovers" kit would be better for you. Just the basic start-up kit on the left. http://www.sodaclubusa.com/order_i_e1... The bottles are recyclable so you could recycle them outright, or give those and the "sample pack" of syrups to someone who wouldn't mind using them with ordinary store-bought seltzer. Then you'd want to order one of the CO2 refills (so you'll have a spare) and some of the stainless steel bottles (and caps! they sell the caps separately) from the "re-order supplies" screen. http://www.sodaclubusa.com/reorder_i_...

                            I think that whole set-up (with the extra CO2 cartridge and the stainless steel containers) is going to cost you about $153.00 or so, plus tax. I'm not sure whether you'll have to pay for shipping or not. I thought the shipping on the kits is free, but that they charge shipping on the spare CO2 and stainless steel bottles..., but I see they only charged me tax--no shipping-- on mine. (The total for mine was just shy of $200.00).

                            I'll let you know how it goes for us. Incidentally, I'd never heard of soda club until I read Jeremy Iggers' new blog on The Rake. He's up and running there now! http://www.rakemag.com/today/foodnews...

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              All-stainless steel carafes? That sounds promising! But I can't find them on the web site - just plastic (PET) bottles with stainless bottoms and caps.

                              (On the "Re-Order Supplies" page, there's a "Stainless Steel Reusable Carbonating Bottle", but the description says "These reusable bottles are made of the same high strength PET as the bottles you received with your machine...")

                              Mysterious. Perhaps they offer different supplies to St. Paul vs Mpls zip codes? Nah.... I think I should call Soda Club and chat with them about non-plastic options. Perhaps their glass bottles would work with the Fountain Jet or Edition 1 machines (although it doesn't look like they would, at first glance).

                              Thanks!
                              Anne

                              1. re: AnneInMpls

                                Oh dear, I didn't notice that comment "These reusable bottles are made of the same high strength PET as the bottles you received with your machine..." I'm not even sure I understand it! I assumed they were stainless steel; perhaps they are just covered in stainless steel? That would be icky and weird and not a good use of my money. I guess I'll find out when it arrives. I'll let you know.

                                EDIT: oh, I get it. Just the base is stainless steel. Wah. I guess that solved one of the problems people were complaining about (the base of the plastic bottles apparently cracked easily), but it doesn't solve the "I don't want to store my beverage in PET plastic problem." Oh, I'm so bummed.

                                I don't get the impression that the glass bottles work in anything but the Penguin.

                                If you do call and chat with them, I'd be curious to know what you find out, although, I think I'm pretty deep in it at this point! HA! (They do have a 30 day satisfaction guarantee...so, I suppose I could return it all if I didn't like it...)

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                  Okay, my latest solution is that I think I'll probably buy a regular stainless steel soda siphon to store my seltzer in once I make it in the plastic "soda club" carafe. It's an extra expense, yes, (and darn, I so wish I hadn't bought those extra, somewhat expensive, carafes with the stainless base) but, I don't think the brief contact with the PET plastic during the couple of minutes it takes to make the seltzer is going to be that harmful.

                                  And, of course, you can definitely store the water in your fridge in a glass pitcher prior to turning it to seltzer...

                                  It's a little extra hassle and expense, though.

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Hey, now - that's a great idea! I'll bet if you super-fizz the seltzer, it'll survive being transferred to a glass or stainless-steel container for storage. If you try that, please let me know how it goes.

                                    Thanks,
                                    Anne

                              2. re: AnneInMpls

                                Sodastream now has a model called "Crystal," which uses glass like the Penguin + sells for $20 less. At $180, it's still quite expensive.

                              3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                We got the Soda Club system in June. I posted our initial experiences with it at:

                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/285676

                                To update:

                                We are happy with the seltzer. We go through about 1.5 litres a day and are still on our first gas cannister. I charge to 6 "buzzes", which is a lot, so the system is certainly economical to use. But cylinder exchanges are many times the cost of generic CO2 bought locally. Since I got a spare cannister, we haven't yet experienced the reorder system.

                                The local dealer in Toronto is Home Comfort Systems in Richmond Hill. Soda Club does offer their delivery/pickup service here, but it is priced in $US and is more expensive than the local dealer. However, the dealer is not conveniently located for us.

                                When the first cylinder is empty, I intend to at least investigate any refilling options. The fitting is non-standard and refilling violates the license and voids the warranty, but the gas costs almost nothing. However getting gas delivered to the door has its own attractions and the cost per litre is still very low.

                                The bottles have plastic bases that crack easily. We cracked one within days. The bottles screw into the charger, so the cracked bases don't affect the charging process, and they don't impact the ability of the bottles to retain a charge . If the base breaks off completely, though, the bottle would not stand up when placed on a table or a refrigerator shelf. The "stainless steel bottles" are just plastic bottles with a metal base. There are no actual stainless steel bottles.

                                The PET bottles do retain their charge. We have not noticed any losses when the bottles are properly capped.

                                The penguin bottles add the extra risk of breakage. They are much smaller and the charger unit looks very weird.

                                We have now tried quite a few of the syrup samples we were given. They range from merely bad to disgusting.

                                1. re: embee

                                  Thank you embee--it's good to know you're still enjoying your system.

                                  Our Soda Club system arrived today. Very exciting. We immediately rinsed and filled some bottles, then put them in the fridge to chill. After several hours, we charged three of the bottles, the first to five or six buzzes (very fizzy); the second to three buzzes (not fizzy enough); and the third to four buzzes (we put this away for tomorrow--we'll see.) We've tried the Vanilla Cola (weird aftertaste) and the Diet Cola (will take some getting used to.)

                                  We were unimpressed by the "stainless steel" bases, but if they don't break like the plastic bases, I guess that's good.

                                  I think I'm going to be very pleased with this system in the long run, though, I imagine we'll abandon the syrups like everyone else and start to use fruit juices etc. instead. And, I probably will experiment with transferring the seltzer into a stainless steel "soda siphon" bottle so I don't have to store anything in plastic.

                                  We'll see.

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I suspect that you won't actually be able to use that siphon bottle to dispense the seltzer. So you would probably be better off storing it in a sealed glass container. BUT the pressure caps on the Soda Club bottles are extremely effective -- much more so than the cap of a plastic branded pop bottle or any stopper I have ever used. If you drink an entire bottle at once, there won't be a problem. But if you are storing one for a few days, you'll want that Soda Club cap.

                                    I experimented with water temperature, which made a big difference when using iSi chargers. It's much less of a factor with the Soda Club system. The colder the water, the more charge it will accept. But I've discovered that refilling each bottle as it's emptied with filtered tap water and 5-6 buzzes of gas is just fine. We now just charge and chill, then drink.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      Charge and chill, then drink. Thank you for the short cut!

                                      embee, the problem I'm trying to get around with the stainless steel siphon bottle is that I (like Anne) don't like storing my seltzer in PET plastic. But I completely understand your point about the Soda Club pressure cap--most any other vessel to which you could try to "decant" your seltzer--especially if you were packing it in your lunch to take to work, for instance-- would leak, which is why I was thinking about a siphon bottle, because I assumed it could withstand the pressure without leaking.

                                      Hmmm.

                                      A couple of other comments:

                                      1) As others have said, the unit is pretty tall--too tall to sit on the kitchen counter AND slide under the cupboards. We're probably going to keep it in the basement, on a little table next to the keg-erator/fridge in which we currently store our pop. The Soda Club machine requires no electricity.

                                      2) The flavor "sampler" pack is 12 single-use flavor packets. Each packet is enough to flavor 1 liter. (ie., one Soda Club bottle.)

                                      3) When you buy a bottle from their replacement page, the bottle will come with a cap. You don't need to separately buy a cap for each bottle you buy. (They sell the caps separately, in case you lose them and need to replace.)

                                      That's it for now.

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        More comments. The Soda Club syrups are much more tolerable if 1) your beverage is icy cold (and, if it isn't, add ice) and 2) if you use less syrup than what's "recommended". I've been adding about a quarter inch less than recommended of the syrup when making Diet Cola and it's quite refreshing. I also like to add my packet of True Lime. We'll probably look elsewhere for a syrup supplier when our inaugural supply is gone, but I think we're managing it well now.

                                        As far as the stainless steel vs. PET plastic issue, I'm not having great luck finding the stainless steel siphons except online. I really want to hold one in my hands to evaluate it before buying one. Anyway, I'll keep looking, but, in the meantime, I'm not super freaked out by the PET plastic because it's just not in the PET that long. At home, we keep the cold water in our fridge in glass. Then we make the soda in the PET bottle, then serve it to ourselves more or less right away. Unlike regular seltzer, there's no reason to store it since you can make it so easily. When we take it to work, we make the soda in the morning, then drink from it all day. So, the longest the soda is in the PET bottles is about 8 hours. I guess it's an acceptable risk for now given all of the other advantages.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Just an update, now that I've been using my "Soda Club" for several months. We're really happy with it overall. Lots of people complained that the white plastic bases were breaking--I thought the stainless steel bases would help correct that problem, so I ordered those even though they were significantly more expensive (and, also, because I mistakenly thought the whole bottle was stainless, not just the base...) Nevertheless, we have not had any problems with the "white" plastic bases at all. On the other hand, we have noticed a problem with the stainless steel caps leaking and we've had to toss 2-3 of them out at this point. We haven't noticed a problem with the regular "white" caps leaking at all. So, I say, save your money, don't bother to pay the extra for the bottles with the stainless steel bases and caps.

                                          As far as syrups are concerned, I find that they are acceptable to me as long as I use them about about 80%-90% strength. I basically only drink the diet cola flavor, sometimes the diet lemon lime flavor, but that's about it. At this point, I'm so used to it that on the rare occasion I have a Diet Coke, it tastes "funny" to me.

                                          I really like to mix my selzer water with juices and toriani syrups, etc. I thought those "true lime" packets would be good, but, alas, they cause the soda to bubble over and make a big mess.

                                          Overall, I'm very pleased. We love the reduced hassle of not having to drag flats of pop home and of not having to have a bunch of cans and bottles to recycle. We've had to replace our C02 canister once, which process was pretty pain free and efficient, although the "new" canister is really loud and squeeky and doesn't "feel" the same as the first. It's annoying, but okay.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            We're still happy with the seltzer and have settled on 5 "buzzes" most of the time. The tone changes when the water has all the charge it can take, and sometimes we need to add a sixth.

                                            We're on our third cartridge since June, drinking 1.5 - 2 bottles a day. The cost per litre is, indeed, reasonable, but their gas price still bugs me. I'll confess, though, that convenience trumped economy, with some assist from the soaring Canadian dollar. Leaving the cannisters at the door for exchange is just so much easier than the alternatives.

                                            I'm also concerned that the spring in the charger mechanism will eventually need warranty repairs. The difference in "feel" from one cartridge to another seems related to an inherent weakness in that spring.

                                            We haven't cracked any more plastic bases, but we are being VERY careful. Our plastic caps haven't leaked yet.

                                            As to the syrups, we REALLY disagree. While some tasted worse than others, we'll never buy any Soda Club syrup.

                                            1. re: embee

                                              We only buy the diet cola syrups. Do you have another source for diet cola syrups (if so, please share!), or do you not drink diet cola of any kind?

                                              To be honest, I think diet cola tastes full of chemicals regardless of which brand I buy--once I've become accustomed to them, they seem less objectionable to me. But, I can't honestly say I think "Diet Coke" or "Diet Pepsi" tastes any better than Soda Club diet cola. It's all pretty hideous.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                I don't much like diet cola of any kind, and drink it only when desperate. That said, I can tolerate some of the Diet Coke products and the Cott Diet colas (which include many store brands).

                                                I can't stand Diet Pepsi - literally, I can't drink it. And I found the Soda Club version absolutely foul. I was expecting it to be much better, since I generally find Splenda a more natural tasting sweetener than the aspartame/ace-K used in Coke and Cott, but this was not to be.

                                              2. re: embee

                                                I may have missed it in the thread, but which SodaStream model are you folks using?

                                                I'm seriously considering the Penguin for my husband for Christmas, as we are very cautious about our plastics use. But, I'm not fond of the small size necessarily 620 ml = 21 oz). I'm really up in the air.

                                                Can anyone give guidance here? Also, I'd definitely go for buying a German connector for my local filling shop. If you could provide a link to the right type of item, I'd really appreciate it, as I'm not sure what I'm looking for.

                                                Thanks to all!

                                                1. re: MachKnockers

                                                  Mine is a Fountain Jet, and I do use the plastic bottles.

                                                  Note that I am utterly disgusted with SodaStream's new Canadian pricing, exchange, and delivery model and am currently investigating alternative sources of gas. If you are in the US, the situation is much better.

                                                  If you are willing to do some work, two sources of adapter parts are:

                                                  http://sodaclubrefill.com/
                                                  http://sodaco2.com/

                                                  I have not dealt with either of these companies - at least not yet - so I can't offer any guidance. There are many web postings suggesting that sodaclubrefill.com may not be reliable.

                                                  If you have room to store a very big tank, and are willing to refill your own SodaStream tanks from it, the cost of CO2 is so low that it's laughable. Alas, this solution is not suitable for us.

                                                  1. re: MachKnockers

                                                    I, too, have the fountain jet, and, use the plastic bottles. I don't know how it compares to the penguin, but, your beverage doesn't stay in the plastic bottles for long at all. For us, never longer than a couple of days, but, usually about 12 hours. We fill the bottles up with water in the evenings and make our pop in the mornings before work. The carbonator seems to work slightly better with cold water. However, you could also just use the plastic bottles for the short 30 seconds it takes to carbonate the water, then transfer it to whatever vessel you want to use+ice cubes.

                                                    Overall, I've been happy with soda club. The syrups are so-so, but you can use other syrups (Torani, etc.) or a squeeze of lemon or lime. I love not having to lug flats of pop home and having to deal with the recycling of all of the cans.

                                                    However, their online ordering lately has been crap. They changed their pick-up arrangements and whichever courier they've hired to do the pick-up keeps forgetting to pick-up the empty CO2 bottles. I'm accumulating quite a collection (that I remind them of every time I place a new order). If they don't get this kind of nonsense sorted out soon, I predict they will be crushed under the weight of their own incompetence.

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: MachKnockers

                                                      I have the Penguin. I dno't like plastic bottles either. I haven't found the size of the small bottles to be much trouble. We're a two person household so that contributes to the lack of trouble probably. we get two large glasses out of each bottle. I usually fill and fizz both bottles at once and keep them in the fridge. It's so easy to refill a bottle the size really hasn't been much of an issue for us at all. Plus the smaller bottles are easy to fit on several shelves on the door of my fridge which is convenient as well.

                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    We still love ours (had it about 10 months now, give or take). We go through about 1-1.5 bottles a day and I think we average about 3 "buzzes." We're closing in on the end of our 2nd cartridge since we got it. We haven't had any problems with any parts of the bottles breaking and the seals on all of the bottles are still holding as they did when new.

                                                    I agree with embee that we don't like the syrups at all. My wife puts "True Lime" in her glass of seltzer (not in the bottle) and I drink it straight. She also mixes hers with V8 Fusion juice.

                                                    The exchange worked wonderfully the first time and we're just exchanging another now. We're also trying their new liquid non-syrup lemon-lime flavoring for the water, I'll report back after we've had a chance to drink it.

                                                    Embee, what's the issue with price on the gas? I know virtually nothing about the price of CO2...$20 per canister seemed like a fair deal to me.

                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                      It's actually less than $20, at least up to a point. They offer real, but annoying, "deals". Their profit margin is so high that they can easily afford to do this, but the refill really shouldn't cost more than $5.

                                                      And, at the moment, they charge you - guess what - $5 to "license" an additional, new full cylinder when you order a refill. Then they actually charge less for shipping three cylinders than they charge for shipping just one or two. This makes it much cheaper to keep ordering additional cylinders than to simply order an equal exchange. But how many cylinders do you need in your home? There comes a point where convenience becomes absurdity.

                                                      In any case, $20 isn't a lot of money relative to buying bottles and dragging them home, and bottled seltzer doesn't contain enough gas for my taste. But, since you asked:

                                                      The Soda Club charger has proprietary connections that make using locally supplied gas very difficult. That said, you can fill about 1000 Soda Club bottles from a standard beverage supply house 20 pound tank for between $15 and $30, depending on where you live.

                                                      1. re: embee

                                                        Interesting stuff, thanks for the information. As you say, convenience trumps economy for us on this one. We have two tanks so that we can switch the tank in the base while we exchange the empty one. That's about all the space we can afford to spare for storage. And, like you, we were going through lots of bottles and carrying them all over the place, we're happy to not be doing that anymore.

                                                      2. re: ccbweb

                                                        Ah, she adds the "true lime" to the glass? HA! I've been trying to add it to the bottle, which creates a mini-volcano... Fun, but messy.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                  2. Anybody have any luck with the Mr Fizz stainless steel seltzer bottle?

                                    http://www.mrfizz.com/wip2/seltzer_bo...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: neoplop

                                      I have no personal experience with these products. However, I'd predict that they would perform similarly to the iSi bottles discussed above. The cartridges are identical, so the gas charge you could put into a bottle would be similar. I don't know whether these bottles permit the use of multiple cartridges (iSi products do not).

                                    2. I think you could also think about a CO2 Beer Kegging System -- the whole setup is a couple hundred dollars and can charge 1/2 keg's worth of soda at a time -- about the Penguin's cost. Keep it in the basement fridge..

                                      1. I recently purchased a Classic metal-mesh soda siphon. My intent was to make ginger soda (ginger juice, finely strained fresh lime, simple syrup) for my fast paced, high volume bar. Upon reading the insructions, "adding syrups or flavorings could be dangerous" and "preferable not to use after two days", I became frustrated. Has anyone added flavoring? How long does the carbonation last?

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: tuilui2000

                                          The carbonation actually lasts quite awhile. I don't know how long, but certainly for more than two days. I'm not sure what you mean by "has anyone added flavoring". If you mean, has anyone tried to carbonate anything but water, I have not. But I've done pretty well mixing carbonated water with other flavorings. That does, of course, reduce the carbonation though...

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Can you add syrups or citrus to the water BEFORE carbonation and get a stable product that will last?

                                            1. re: tuilui2000

                                              I've never tried it, unfortunately. They say you aren't supposed to so I've not done it. But, if you try it, I'd love to hear how it turns out!

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                I hate to ruin the damn thing! As you know, they are not cheap. I'll keep you posted.

                                                1. re: tuilui2000

                                                  I just asked my husband if he's ever carbonated anything other than water in our sodaclub and he said he's tried orange juice. He said it foamed over. He thinks you'd have to leave a lot more headspace in order for it not to foam over, in which case it won't keep as long... I don't know if that helps.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I recently tried ginger juice, fresh lemon, and simple syrup in my siphon. I fine strained the juice and let it chill before charging. I charged the siphon and just like your husband, all I got was foam! Plus there is very little pressure coming nfrom the nozzle. I think the sugar hyper reacts with the carbonation. Any ideas??

                                                    tuilui2000

                                          2. re: tuilui2000

                                            I have used a soda stream, not a soda syphon. The only successful flavouring pre-carbonation I've heard of and have successfully done so myself is tea. My educated guess is that tea with no sugar is a similar enough viscosity to water and acts similar enough that nothing explodes. I have heard messy stories of people trying to carbonate other things.

                                            Carbonated jasmine tea is quite nice. Make sure there is no sugar in it, make sure its cold before you carbonate it.

                                            1. re: tuilui2000

                                              Premix everything else (the ginger juice, syrup, lime juice) separately. If the bar is high volume, a siphon is probably not going to work well anyway, though, unless you have a bunch of them. To charge the water well, it needs to be cold, and it's better if the water has 24 hours for the charge to sink in.

                                              1. re: will47

                                                I recently premixed my ingredients and fine strained. I chilled, charged, let sit in fridge for 24 hours. All I got was foam coming lightly out of the nozzle! I think the sugar is causing the foamy reaction? Any ideas? I guess try leaving out the sugar?

                                                tuilui2000

                                              2. re: tuilui2000

                                                I'm confused about the carbonation of the siphon. Is it based on the siphon, on the charger or a combination of both? In this review, the metal mesh siphon sounds the best as far as strength of glass container + taste of seltzer. However, when I went to the Creamright site, they showed several chargers to buy with this container, one being Issi. And the review said that Issi had very small bubbles/weak carbonation.

                                                http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

                                                Please help me clarify. I'd like this siphon, as the Sodastream (formerly Soda Club) sounds much too large for my very small kitchen. I'd like to ask for the mesh siphon as a Christmas gift if I'd be sure I could get the taste/carbonation implied by the review. But $90 is a steep price to pay if I can not get good carbonation.

                                                Thanks in advance.

                                              3. I recently posted about added flavors to a soda siphon then charging. Has anyone added sodium bicarbonate (Baking soda) to decrease acidity and increase carbonation??