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Make-your-own soda -- worth it? Advice?

My husband will not give up soda. I hate the artificial sweeteners and garbage in diet sodas, but it's challenging to find sodas made with sugar instead of HFCS. After seeing the make-your-own soda machine at Williams-Sonoma, my husband wants to make his own. Chowhounders, what are your thoughts and experiences with home-brew soda? Any machines that are better than others? Where do you get the supplies for this venture? Should I just stock pile Dubln Dr. Pepper and Mexican Coke? And is it possible to break a life-long soda habit?

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  1. I can't answer your query with regard to (flavored) sodas. But I can say that we bought a carbonation machine a few years ago (we are seltzer water addicts) and we love it. There is nothing like being able to control the carbonation level. We sometimes add "flavorings" like a splash of cranberry juice but we've never used syrups to make regular sodas.

    I don't know what kind of machine Wm-S sells. If you are interested in a carbonation machine, there are several threads on the Cookware board. Search for "soda club" or "soda stream" and you'll find pros and cons. Personally, I love my soda club machine. We make and go through several litres of seltzer water each day. And we don't have all the plastic bottles which makes me feel doublely good about it.

    Good luck in your quest. We've been trying to get my mother to give up soda too and it has never worked.

    4 Replies
    1. re: LNG212

      I am not absolutely sure but W-S was selling the "Penguin" model by soda club/soda stream, the one with glass bottles. If so, do not buy this. I have one and it does not carbonate well and is a PITA and is expensive. On the other hand, the less expensive versions from Soda Stream with the plastic bottles work quite well, particularly the model with the larger CO2 canister. Some folks had distribution problems with them but I have been happy with the service. Search CH for Seltzer thread from a few years back.

      1. re: Sinicle

        No, we don't have the penguin model - it was too small for us and looked like it would be a pain too. (Thanks for confirmation on that!) We have the "edition 1" which takes the 110L CO2 which, for us, last about 3-4 months. We've been very happy with the delivery service too but I think I read the same threads you read about service problems (maybe there are issues in some areas and not others).

      2. re: LNG212

        I'm a seltzer fanatic but didn't like lugging the up 3 flights and the plastic. My mom bought me an ISI seltzer maker. I buy the co2 wholesale. Best gift EVER!

        If you want to feel tropical....I have a pineapple gadget that cores and removes the pineapple. I always thought it was a shame to leave the shell...Well now I blast it with my seltzer sprayer...I get this pineapple fizzy in the shell...It's a Gilligan moment:)

        1. re: rHairing

          That's funny - we're in a 4th floor walk up as well. And yup, lugging a case of seltzer up the stairs is no fun at all!

          The pineapple thing sounds awesome. And even Gilligan must have had a good idea one time or another! :)

      3. I can a lot of fruit so I save the spiced syrup that's left over (I can pints of that so it's shelf stable) and also left over syrup from the opened fruit jars to mix with seltzer for "sodas" when the grandkids are here. We don't buy commercial sodas. No fancy machines. Usually takes about 2 tablespoons to a 16 oz glass, or to taste. Put the syrup in the glass first, then pour chilled seltzer from a good height into the glass (no ice) to get it to blend without stirring and losing carbonation. I just feel better giving that to the kids to satisfy their soda cravings knowing that there's no HFCS in it and only the herbs and spices I've put in. They get entirely too much processed food/candy/soda in their daily lives (Mt. Dew for breakfast for 8 and 10 year olds? Please...) and don't seem to miss it when the rules change at grandma's.

        But my point is, spiced simple syrups are easy to make, easy to can (small canning jars and a large stock pot, 10 minutes in a boiling water bath), inexpensive, and mixed with seltzer are a satisfying alternative and you can control the amount of sweet. Oh, and you can double purpose the syrups as flavoring and sweetener for coffee, tea, lemonade, and sorbet.

        3 Replies
        1. re: morwen

          Morwen, what a great idea for the "leftover" syrup. I had not even thought of that use and we'll definitely be trying it. We currently have some of the peach/bourbon syrup and pear/amaretto syrup. Now I'm looking forward to that.

          (And we have the machine just because we don't want the plastic bottles and the expense for the amount of seltzer that we drink. It is both cost effective and environmentally friendly.)

          1. re: LNG212

            I looked at the machines with lust in my heart. But we really only have seltzer in the house when the kids are here so I couldn't justify it. We reuse the few bottles we get by contributing them to the annual cider pressing party to freeze the cider in and others become cloches in the garden.

            1. re: morwen

              An annual cider pressing party sounds like a whole lotta fun! :)

        2. We haveone of the soda stream with the large canister. We love it, but we don't use the flavorings they sell, they are awful. If you want to make soda, just make your seltzer and then flavor it with what ever your husband likes. Sometimes we just put a little lemonade,or limeade, or just lemon and lime. We really like it.

          1. Many thanks to everyone for your thoughts! We're going to get the Sodastream and try the expensive soda syrups at W-S. Looking forward to trying new flavors and making our own drinks!

            2 Replies
            1. re: mtbwustl

              I have the Soda Stream Fountain Jet and absolutely love it. You can use the 33 oz. carbonation canister with it which is a time and money saver. I also use their soda syrups which can be purchased at Williams-Sonoma or Kohls. I believe the machines at the retail stores use only the small canisters. Buy the machine from the Soda Club along with your initial supply of syrups. Your gonna love it. http://www.sodastreamusa.com/Fountain...

              1. re: Alfred G

                We also went for the fountain jet. Super purchase. I really think this should be in every American household. We bought ours from http://makeyoursoda.com as they offer a $10 saving coupon - which went very handy in buying extra syrups :-)

            2. Love my Soda Stream for fizzy water-never use syrups. When my first machine was approaching two years old, it was not carbonating well. I called Soda Stream to ask what I should do and they sent me a new machine at no charge. That's service!!!

              1. I had looked at the SodaStream thingies, then saw this webpage:


                and realized that I could have myself hundreds of gallons of seltzer water for less than the price of the little plastic gizmo. Instead of having to ship back those teeny little bottles, I could just go refill the CO2 cylinder at a number of places around town (would you believe paintball supply stores?) for less than $20 once every few years. Sure it doesn't look as pretty, but that's why garages were invented, right?

                Although now that you mention it, having stockpiles of Dublin Dr Pepper and Mexican Coke does sound awfully nice... both of those are quite the vice of mine.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                  I have one other piece of advice for prospective soda makes. The next time you go to a spice store, pick up a packet or two of cystalline citric acid (the common name is sour salt). Practically every soda made contains citric acid (as well as phosporic acid) so a soda syrup that doesn't contain one or the other (or more often both) usally tastes "flat". You can of course use actual citrus juice but 1 it will make any soda you make cloudy and 2. it will cut the shelf life of yours soda down to roughly that of freshly squeezed fruit juice, you'll have to keep it in the refigerator all the time and it will eventually start to ferment (and bear in mind that, as the beverage is already carbonated and hence already has bubbles, the first sign you'll have that its "gone bad" is when you actually put some in your mouth.) I sure there is somewhere whne one can purchase food grade phosphoric acid as well but none spring to mind.

                2. For those of you living in the Los Angeles area, I just found the soda stream maker for $89.99 at a store on the northeast corner of Olympic and Western. I just bought some new bottles, for 15 for two. They also have the cartridges for 15 with an exchange. They have the penquin for $99.99.

                  1. Many thanks to everyone for your thoughts on the soda maker! We decided to get the Penguin, because of the glass bottles and the availability of the cartridges. My husband loves it like crazy! We purchased the Sonoma Co. soda syrups in cola and root beer, and he spent hours perfecting his optimal recipe. Since the syrups are all-natural w/ cane sugar, he's avoiding the garbage in commercial sodas. And he's cut down on the amount he's drinking -- he makes one carafe in the evening and has only that, sometimes not finishing the carafe. I've been making tons of seltzer water and sometimes use fruit juices to flavor. All in all, we're really thrilled with the purchase.

                    1. I received a Soda Stream for my birthday and absolutely love it. I'm a seltzer addict, easily drinking 2 liters per day. This little gizmo is great. All the seltzer I want and none of the lugging of bottles, nor the waste.
                      Best. Invention. Ever.

                      1. We bought a Soda Stream last summer at an outlet mall, and our local Bed Bath & Beyond carries the cartridges, so it's been convenient and I think we've saved some money compared to buying 2 liter bottles of seltzer and club soda.
                        Usually DH and I just drink it straight or with a wedge of lemon, but now and then I'll half-and-half it with some fruit juice that may be overly sweet for me. I've found that adding seltzer to grapefruit juice makes a soda very much like Squirt, or Canfield's 50-50.
                        And it's especially nice to have an egg cream any time I want one!