An Inexpensive Home Soda Maker That You Can Build
*quickly make your own homemade soda*

comic on soda bottle recycling

Ever wanted to make your own carbonated beverages inexpensively? Why not build this very inexpensive home carbonation device. This home soda maker allows you to carbonate any beverage for about 15 cents per litre (33 US Fl. Oz). With this device, you can make your own homemade soda (sparkling water or seltzer), or soft drinks sweetened with pure cane sugar instead of the widely used glucose-fructose engineered sweeteners. In addition, you may wish to carbonate your own fruit juices, which existing soda machines are not able to do. Specifically, you can carbonate any beverage of your choice and avoid unnatural sugars, and preservatives such as sorbates or benzoates typically found in commercial carbonated beverages. The soda recipe page gives you some ideas about soft drink ingredients.

Not only are your drinks healthier, you will also help the environment by reducing the fuel that is consumed when commercial soda is shipped to stores and further to your residence. Reusing the soda bottles will also greatly reduce the number of empty soda containers that get shipped to landfills or recyclers. This carbonator device is both a health, and environmental product.

Testimonials:

A number of builders have provided positive feedback on their homemade carbonator. Below are comments I have culled from my carbonator emails:

I want to congratulate you on a truly ingenius idea.
Making soda this way is really a lot of fun...RJ USA

We finally completed the carbonator and made a batch of fizzy water today!
It worked great, though we probably could have left it going for a bit longer...LJ USA

I am very impressed with your plans and I hope my small contribution to
the bulkhead fittings will make it even better, or at least give people
another option...GH USA

I have successfully downloaded your instructions. Now... looks like a little challenge to collect the materials
and put this together, but you have excellent directions...DD USA

My primary use for the carbonator will be for club soda (2Liter Bottles).
I really enjoyed constructing your system...JC USA


On the Market:


Counter-Top Soda Makers:

Now, there are counter-top soda making machines available on the market. They use highly pressurized CO2 cylinders. Unfortunately with these devices, you cannot carbonate anything other than water. Once you carbonate your water, you add a syrup concentrate to make the soda. Attempting to carbonate something else such as fruit juice will plug the valves and damage the unit. In addition, once the CO2 cylinders are empty, they must be shipped back to the manufacturer for refill... a great inconvenience. Cost with shipping comes out to typically $0.30/litre and that is if you are in the vendors service area.

Soda Siphons:

You may also come across soda siphons. These use very small non-refillable steel CO2 cartridges that get used once and are only able to carbonate one small bottle of beverage each. The cylinders are non-re-usable and must be thrown out in a wasteful manner. They are also rather expensive costing up to $1.00 per cartridge.

Home-Rigged Carbonation System:

While the cost to carbonate is lowest here, amounting to a few cents per litre, the setup is non-portable, cumbersome and space consuming, not to mention the industrial appearance of the hardware. Larger CO2 tanks are usually employed along with a combination of high pressure hoses, valves, and a pressure regulator. Leaks are a constant threat, and the tanks must be hydro pressure tested every several years in accordance with safety regulations pertaining to the storage of pressurized gas.

This Home Soda Maker:

This device now in its 7th version, generates CO2 through a chemical reaction between food grade Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate), and Citric Acid (or vinegar). These ingredients can be purchased inexpensively from grocery stores, bulk food stores or various mail-order houses. Citric acid is also used in most soda pop that you purchase as it adds tart. This comes in handy when you make your own soda recipes. The Home soda maker can be built in a few hours and requires only basic mechanical skills and a few tools such as a hand drill. You can carbonate a 1, or 2 litre bottle of beverage in a matter of minutes.

There are also a few soda recipes at the soda recipe page here.

Benefits of this home soda maker:

  1. Carbonate at low cost
  2. Inexpensive to build - the readily available parts typically cost around $20-$30
  3. 2 to 3 hours of construction time
  4. Very little trouble making a carbonated beverage-similar in skill to making a pot of coffee
  5. Fully serviceable device since replacement parts are readily available...no ties to a product manufacturer ...carbonate forever!
  6. Carbonation powders do not affect flavour because only CO2 is carried over
  7. Carbonates beverages in existing soda PET plastic bottles -reusable
  8. Customizable design to allow for force carbonation of any soda bottle size or even a beer kegging system
  9. Carbonation is very fast taking only 1.5 to 3 minutes per 1 or 2 litre bottle
  10. Able to carbonate beverages such as fruit juice, or re-carbonate flat beer or soda.
  11. Highly portable device will fit in a shoe box and can be shipped without concern for highly pressurized CO2 tanks
  12. Reaction ingredients are safe food-grade products and are freely available -no need to be tied to a supplier of CO2 cartridges or tanks

Below is a photo of the complete system.



Seen in the photo is the GENERATOR on the left and MIXER on the right with hose assembly.


  Downloadable Construction Article

I have made the building plans for this device available for download in electronic form (Acrobat). The article is called "A Home Soda Maker You Can Build- A Guide to Building Your Own Inexpensive Home Carbonator Using Readily Available Materials". It is 44 pages long and includes many step-by-step photos. There is also helpful information on soda ingredients, making concentrates, and inexpensive web based mail-order sources of Baking Soda, Citric Acid, and soda concentrates.





 

 

 


Design Considerations


There were a number of challenges that had to be overcome in order to make it work effectively. Namely, these were:

  1. Keeping the carbonation powders separated so there is no CO2 produced prematurely
  2. Use of inert materials to ensure that the beverage is not contaminated with metals or other impurities
  3. Regulating the reaction rate so that the GENERATOR does not overflow into the gas tube and beverage
  4. Ensuring a gas tight fit so CO2 does not leak from the fittings
  5. Choice of components that are able to handle the pressure required for effective carbonation
  6. Calculating the optimum proportion of the carbonation powders in order to minimize waste
  7. Minimizing losses that occur due to headspace volume and CO2 gas solubility

Safety

See the Safety First! page for more information.

I decided to make the building instructions a saleable item. The cost is minimal and is quickly recovered by the savings from not buying commercial soda. Income from the sale of this e-article helps to offset hosting costs. If you purchase a copy, I will personally email the instruction document to your email address. I check emails frequently so you should receive your copy shortly thereafter. The Paypal button below, allows you to pay by Paypal or credit card, if you do not have a Paypal account.

(purchase price is $9.95 Canadian Dollars per copy)



Thumbnails of Construction section found in article


Table of Contents


A Carbonation Chart

Included, are numerous charts in metric-kitchen and imperial-kitchen units, eliminating the need for calculations. These make it very fast to determine the amount of carbonation powders. I rarely reference these chart because I have written the amounts that I typically use, on the containers that I store the powders in.

 

My experience with the Soda maker:

I have run 100s of carbonation cycles with this model. I replaced the beverage bottles just past their one year anniversary not because they did not work, but because they started to look a bit scratched up and creased -more aesthetic than anything, I guess. I replaced the GENERATOR bottle after 1.5 years of use because I wanted to avoid plastic fatigue, which will eventually weaken the bottle. I did replace one of the hose assembly caps recently because the threads showed a little wear although it continued to function normally. I replaced it with a longer lasting cap- the ones I find on Pepsi, or Coke bottles (ones with continuous threads versus segmented threads). The bottle threads have shown no visible wear probably because they are of a harder plastic than most caps.

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Questions? You can email me at:

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