Product Review: SodaStream Seltzer Water Maker

This, folks, is a soda water maker. I've wanted one for a long time, and now that I have one, you'd have to pry it out of my hands.

Well, make that my husband's hands. He's jealously guarded this thing ever since we received it; he absolutely loves "bubbling" the water, as we call it.

Which just goes to show how much fun this thing is to use. It's very fun, very simple, and so straightforward that I initially thought that we were missing a piece or two. This machine doesn't even plug in!

How the SodaStream Works

Here's how it works.

• The machine comes with a plastic support, which essentially just a casing and interface for a carbonator bottle. The bottle is filled with carbon dioxide.

• You insert the carbonator into the plastic SodaStream machine, push the top on, and you're good to go.

• The machine comes with two special 1-liter bottles that are designed to fit into it. They are plastic too, but they are BPA-free, as well as free of phthalates and PCBs. This is good, because the water needs to be chilled before being carbonated. So we fill these bottles with water and leave them in the refrigerator to chill.

• To carbonate the water, you screw a bottle into the machine. Then you press the button on top of the machine a few times and pffftthhhhh... it spits out bubbles into the water. You can adjust the carbonation to your taste, but three pushes of the button is, on average, what you need.

• Disconnect the bottle, pour and sip! Simple.

I like to transfer the carbonated water into swingtop bottles from IKEA; the stopper preserves the carbonation very well.

Pros and Cons of the SodaStream

Pros
My husband and I drink a lot of soda water, and we were getting tired of buying (and recycling) all those bottles and cans of water. This machine is a great improvement; we can make fizzy water at home, and cut down on all those recyclables. It's easy, and lots of fun to use.

If you are a soda drinker, these machines also let you make your own soda. They sent some samples of soda flavoring syrups that you can add to the water after it is carbonated. (They do not recommend carbonating anything but water; any flavoring or syrups should be added after carbonation.) We don't drink soda, though, so I haven't really experimented with these. If you drink soda, then you can improvise or create them as you want them, instead of buying lots and lots of cans and bottles.

Cons
You do, however, have to replace the carbonator cartridge; this is not a one-time purchase. Our cartridge lasted about 3 weeks (yes, we drink a lot of this stuff!) — or about 60 liters. If you swap your old one in, a replacement cartridge will cost $15; you have to send in your old one, or take it to a location that will do swaps. (We went to Sur La Table; Williams-Sonoma and other cookware retailers will also swap out SodaStream carbonators.)

You can also buy extra carbonators; these will set you back $25 each.

The ultimate drawback to these machines, though, is their total cost. SodaStream promotes these as a way to save money, but the model that we tried sells for about $130. I found this shocking — the entire setup is a $25 carbonator cartridge, a plastic casing for it, and 2 1-liter bottles. Really?? $130? This does not include shipping, which runs $20. There is a cheaper model at $99, but even this is at least two times what I would think of paying.

Yes, if you drink a lot of soda water, this will eventually pay for itself, but it will take awhile.

So, I do give two thumbs up to this gadget, on its own merits. It is slim and sleek and it sits unobtrusively in a narrow corner of my kitchen. It works perfectly, and the carbonator cartridges are easy to replace.

But the price gives me pause; it does not seem commensurate with the product itself.

Find it: Genesis - Seltzer Starter Kit, $129.95 at SodaStream

Do you use a soda maker? Is it from SodaStream, or elsewhere? What do you think of it?

Related: How To: Make Soda Water at Home

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

(Images: Faith Durand)

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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.

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