How To: Make Soda Water at Home

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We have sworn off bottled water and drink our water straight out of the faucet - with one exception: seltzer. We love the bubbly stuff, especially in the summer. It's a great palate cleanser, and we drink gallons of carbonated water and lime with our meals. Plus we really like to add fresh juice or flavors for a healthy alternative to soda.

The expense adds up, though, at nearly a dollar a bottle, and the packaging and transportation bother us. So we've been doing a little research into home carbonation. From pre-packaged to homemade, here's a range of options with pics and links for those of us who can't get enough seltzer.

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Do It Yourself: For those comfortable working with things like regulators, tubing, and clamps, here is a great Instructables tutorial for building your own bar tap-style setup for carbonated water. He takes most of his process from this very thorough article. Final cost: about $100 setup and $.02 per liter.

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The 1-Touch Method: The system offered by Soda Club USA is an easy, streamlined way to make soda water at home. You buy a Fountain Jet soda appliance along with a startup kit that includes gas chargers, flavors, and bottles for about $80. The chargers give you about 110 liters, and charger refills cost $20.

Read a review of this system. This leaves you with one more big, one-use appliance sitting on your countertop, but the cost is not bad - $80 startup, then about $.18 per liter.

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The Old-Fashioned Way: In the past, soda water was made at home and the bar with a seltzer bottle - you can still find vintage glass versions of these on eBay and in antique shops. They're often very beautiful. It's a simple system: a soda siphon with an attached gas canister carbonates water. It's a similar system that is used in whipped cream dispensers, and you can buy these through Fantes and other online shops.

There's some danger with these; you need to follow instructions precisely or the bottle could explode. Also, with the cost of cartridges you're still looking at about $.50 a bottle.

Here's a review from a blogger who uses a seltzer bottle, with a helpful chart comparing storebought seltzer and homemade, contrasting cost, fizziness, liberal guilt assuaged, etc.

And for Bay Area dwellers... You can also buy your seltzer water from the Seltzer Sisters - they'll deliver straight to your door.

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.