Making seltzer at home is a little off-topic for the Food Forest blog. That said, cutting waste, being environmentally responsible, and saving money is what we're all about. While we don't drink any cola, I'm ashamed to admit that we were going through 6 liters of carbonated water every week before I set up this water carbonation rig. That was 300 bottles per year! Looking back, it was a terrible waste!
So just how do I make my own club soda? I mean, how hard could it be to make carbonated water? It's just 2 ingredients: water and carbon dioxide. But how does the CO2 get into the water? And what if we want to make carbonated water with just a hint of fruit flavor? Can't we make that at home, too?
The answer is "yes". You can make your own carbonated water, or spritzer, or flavored cola, by carbonating your own filtered water and simply adding fruit juice or flavored syrup. I'm doing it now, and it costs me less than 3 cents per liter to make my own seltzer at home. That's right, less than 3 cents! That is, once you've paid off the price of the carbonation rig - which is about $180 (with shipping). At this price, it will take me about 9 months to break even. After that, my cost is just pennies.
Before you buy a counter top soda maker, do the math. It's going to cost you about ten times what I'm paying with this DIY rig, and how many years is it guaranteed to last? My rig is sturdy enough to last a lifetime with a new hose every few years. Each 20 lb. CO2 tank I swap ($11 at my local hydroponics store) should make us over 500 liters of seltzer water. (according to http://www.truetex.com/carbonation.htm). After expenses, that's about 2.2 cents per liter!
Before I give you the parts list, I want to warn you that this is a DIY project and might be dangerous if done wrong. Before making this video, I had never built one of these before. To be cautious, you should research the entire process on other websites. While my final choices for parts were a little different, I found lots of helpful information on this website: https://jeffreymorgenthaler.com/how-to-build-your-own-carbonation-rig/ and this website: https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/06/pros-cons-diy-carbonation-rig-how-to-carbonate-cocktails-at-home-equipment-how-to-build-cheaper-sodastream-replacement.html
Another warning before we go on: pressurized CO2 may cause parts to go flying if they are not connected properly. If you use a glass bottle instead of a plastic one, you could also seriously injure yourself when it explodes. In my video, I briefly shake the bottle while the top is pointing at my face. This is not a good plan. You may even want to use safety goggles when you are making carbonated water, just in case something goes wrong.
So here are the parts I used:
- 20 lb. CO2 tank, $85 – bought refurbished, empty. Smaller tanks cost more to refill. My first tank was swapped at a hydroponics store. Buy used because you'll be swapping it, like the propane tank for your grill: https://beveragelements.com/beverage_elements_shop/gas-cylinders-regulators/co2-cylinders/20-lb-co2-cylinder-with-handle-aluminum-reconditioned/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw2PP1BRCiARIsAEqv-pS56uAGwouhFw988XWN0j3PLJtDZU5aIhFKNPNS_yYta-Pgv792M-gaAq4xEALw_wcB
- Dual valve Tap-Rite Regulator, $50: https://beveragelements.com/beverage_elements_shop/gas-cylinders-regulators/gas-regulators/taprite-co2-regulator-dual-gauge/
- Ball valve quick disconnect with 4-5 feet of 5/16” Inner Diameter (ID) food grade gas line, barbed connectors, and hose clamps, $13: https://beveragelements.com/beverage_elements_shop/beverage-dispensing/pigtails-tubing/ball-lock-gas-line-pigtail-barbed/#
- Stainless steel carbonator cap, $13 - or you can get 2 plastic carbonator caps for about the same price: https://www.amazon.com/Carbonation-Hombrew-Filling-Stainless-Cleaning/dp/B07D2W1D34/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=stainless+carbonator+cap&qid=1589478038&sr=8-3
- Empty plastic bottle – 2-liter bottles work best. I use a 1-liter bottle in the video.
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