Are you concerned that you may be a seltzer fiend? If bottles of the stuff push out fridge-door condiments, or if a meal can’t begin without a glass of fizz, or if your friends are sick of hearing about your sparkling creations—egg cream? really? —you’re certainly fascinated with seltzer.
And that’s fine. According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research organization, Americans used more than 700 million gallons of the sparkling beverage in 2019, an increase of more than 60% from 2015. You do, however, have some control over your seltzer jones.
If you’re weary of lugging cases of seltzer home and want to quit adding empty bottles and cans to the trash stream, consider purchasing a soda maker and making the bubbly drink yourself.
Consumer Reports tested popular soda makers like Aarke, Drinkmate, and SodaStream to help you discover the best soda maker. We’ll go through some of the advantages that soda makers offer over store-bought seltzer. When you use one, you can do the following:
You’ll break even in five months if you spend $85 on the least costly device we tested and create one liter per day instead of buying seltzer at Walmart for 77 cents per liter. This includes purchasing two replacement carbon dioxide cylinders from a subscription service for $19 each, plus shipping. (At walk-in and e-retailers, replacement CO2 cylinders cost around $30 each; at that price, the break-even time is roughly eight months.) To determine how much seltzer you’d have to drink for a soda maker to be worth the expense, enter your consumption level into our soda maker calculator.
The bottles can be reused, and the CO2 cylinders can be refilled. One plastic bottle is included in the machines listed below. (You can purchase more bottles, including glass bottles for some brands as well as smaller personal bottles.)
Drink fewer chemicals
Assuming your tap water is safe, making your own soda may be healthier than purchasing it. Our new bottled water testing reveals that certain types of sparkling water have high amounts of heavy metals, which have been related to a variety of health issues, including learning delays in children and cancer.
Customize your fizz
You can customize the level of carbonation in all four variants here. You may even reattach a previously carbonated bottle to reintroduce fizz if it turns flat.
How Soda Makers are tested
To evaluate the four soda makers in our experiments, we prepared dozens of bottles of seltzer. We grade each model based on how simple it is to operate, including how easy it is to attach and detach bottles and utilize the controls. We utilize standard 14-ounce CO2 cylinders that are compatible with any soda maker.
To see if a soda maker makes equally bubbly bottles of seltzer, we start with ice-cold water, which carbonates better, and install a gauge on the cap to measure the gas pressure inside each bottle. “You can expect bottles with the same internal gas pressure to produce roughly the same quantity of fizz,”. For those who want a real spoonful of scintillation, we also assess the highest gas pressure that each machine can add to water.
We see how easy it is to relieve pressure from each brand’s gassed-up bottle without leaking soda everywhere in the bottle-cap test. “When a highly carbonated bottle sits for a while—or has warmed up or been shaken—some of the gas injected into the water enters the area at the top of the container, causing the gas pressure inside to rise,” Deitrick explains. “If the pressure is not released gradually, the soda may rush out quickly, resulting in a bubbly mess.”
In the icing test, we look to see if the CO2 nozzle ices up, which can alter the fizz level in some designs. When high-pressure CO2 exits the injector, its temperature lowers and some water on the nozzle freezes. When the injector is clogged, gas can be deflected to the bottle’s side rather than directly into the water, causing it to carbonate less effectively.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Soda Maker
Many soda makers, including the well-known SodaStream versions, are simply meant to carbonate water. After the carbonation process, taste can be added to the water in the form of fresh fruit, herbs, or flavoring drops.
Other soda makers may carbonate any beverage, including juice, tea, cocktails, and wine. These machines can also be used to restore bubbles to flat drinks.
If all you want is carbonated water, you probably don’t need a model that can also carbonate iced tea. If you want to entertain or experiment with new dishes, the extra adaptability may be worth it.
To carbonate your water and beverages, the majority of soda makers on the market use a carbon dioxide (CO2) cylinder.
To get started, check to see if your model comes with a CO2 cylinder. Because not all of them do, you may need to purchase one individually.
Alternatively, you may find soda makers packaged in beginning kits that include a couple of CO2 cylinders and/or extra bottles. A combined beginning kit may make sense if you intend to carbonate a big number of liquids or if you have a large family where everyone enjoys fizzy beverages.
The majority of soda maker water bottles or carafes are composed of plastic. If you want to avoid using plastic, opt for a soda maker that includes a glass bottle. Just keep in mind that models with glass bottles tend to be more expensive than their plastic counterparts.
Most manufacturers sell extra bottles, whether plastic or glass, so you can always have a clean bottle on hand.
Countertop units can usually take larger CO tanks, which means you won’t have to change them as frequently, although smaller variants, like a basic soda siphon, are ideal for stashing on a tiny bar cart, putting into a picnic basket, or transporting to a party.
There are both electric and manual countertop soda makers available. Manual variants are more portable and can be used anywhere without the need for an electrical source.
The electric models on our list include settings for different levels of fizz and the carbonation process is hands-free, whilst manual variants require you to press a button to get the desired quantity of carbonation.
Reviewers commend this elegant soda maker for being quick, straightforward, and simple to use. You may choose from three levels of carbonation (low, medium, and high) with the push of a button, and the machine will automatically add the proper quantity of bubbles to your water.
This soda machine is powered by electricity, and while its electrical requirements are minimal, you will need to have access to an electrical outlet in order to use it. The soda maker comes with a full 60-liter CO2 cylinder, so you won’t need to buy anything else to get started.
The supplied bottle has metal trim that gives it a more sophisticated appearance and can contain up to one liter of fizzy water. Extra bottles are available for buy separately from the manufacturer, allowing you to prepare multiple tastes or give each family member their own fizz drink.
The guarantee will be void if you carbonate anything other than water, but you can add flavor drops or handmade flavored syrups once you’ve added carbonation.
Check out the SodaStream Fizzi if you’re seeking for a high-quality machine at a fair price. It performs nearly as well as the top model in our evaluations (the Fizzi One Touch, below) in terms of producing seltzer with a consistent number of bubbles, but it costs $45 less. It’s also one of the simplest soda makers to use—just slide your bottle top into a clamp, push the clamp into place, and press the start button. When the contents are under pressure, the Fizzi’s bottle tops remain on well. The CO2 injector is located at the top of the water line to ensure that gas entering the bottle does not freeze the water in the nozzle and clog the system. You can adjust the carbonation by pressing the button for longer or shorter periods of time.
- Attractive design
- Consistent level of effervescence
- Snap-lock for easy loading
- Includes full-size CO2 cartridge
- Needs to be plugged in
- No drip tray
- Large footprint
- Plastic construction
If you want to store and serve your sparkling water in glass bottles, the SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker includes not one, but two glass carafes. The bottles each measure 22 ounces and have a ribbed design that’s attractive enough to serve tableside at your next dinner party.
The Aqua Fizz, like the other SodaStream models on this list, use a conventional 60-liter carbon dioxide cylinder that screws into place and is solely capable of adding bubbles to water. Because this model does not require energy or batteries, it may be used anywhere. To manually add carbonation, there is a single button on the machine’s top. You’ll have to experiment to see how many button presses add enough bubbles for your taste.
This soda maker is on the big side and stands over 17-inches tall, but it requires even more clearance when you open the device to enter a glass bottle. You should measure the area where you intend to store it to ensure adequate clearance.
The SodaStream Fizzi One Touch, the only machine we tested that needed to be plugged in, received the highest marks in every test. It includes three pre-programmed levels of carbonation, each with its own control button that you lightly touch to activate. Because it doesn’t require you to hold down a button or lever, the electric-powered One Touch wins our top rating for simplicity of use, and it’s great for someone with limited hand strength. According to Deitrick, the One Touch’s “medium” button makes soda around 112 times as effervescent as “low,” while the “high” button doubles the bubbles of “low.” However, no matter how much carbonation you want, the results will be consistent.
- Water bottles are made from glass
- Two water bottles are included
- No electricity or batteries required
- Bigger than other models
- No settings to control fizz levels
The Drinkmate is the only one we tested that claims to carbonate juice as well as a number of other liquids such as iced tea, wine, and cocktails. In our experiment, we utilized apple juice, and Deitrick found the results to be “delectable”—like hard cider without the kick. However, the Drinkmate’s other characteristics make it a mediocre choice. Icing is a bigger issue for this unit than for the others since the Drinkmate’s injection nozzle rests deeper in the water and can freeze more of it, causing it to carbonate inconsistently.
To manufacture seltzer, this model takes a little more effort than the others. Before you add gas to the Drinkmate bottle, you must secure it with a large, specially designed cap. After carbonating, you must release some gas by pressing a tab on the cap, wait for the hissing of the escaping gas to stop, and then replace the large cap with a small cap. Notably, once we put the little cap on after adding a lot of gas, we discovered that it was difficult to gradually release some of the consequent high pressure. As a result, the cap occasionally popped off, spilling seltzer everywhere.
One of the most appealing features of this soda maker is that it can carbonate any beverage. You may prepare sparkling orange juice in the morning, sparkling tea in the afternoon, and carbonated drinks during happy hour. This is a significant advantage over conventional soda producers, which are only built to work with water.
It has a tiny footprint, making it ideal for small kitchens, RVs, dorm rooms, or anywhere space is limited. It doesn’t need energy (or batteries), so you can keep it on the kitchen table and prepare fresh fizzy drinks anytime you sit down to eat.
The accompanying bottle has a clearly indicated fill line as well as low and high foam levels, allowing you to quickly assess whether you need more or less carbonation to achieve the perfect amount of fizz for your tastes.
It comes in black, white, or red and includes a 3-ounce carbonation cylinder to get you started. It accepts regular 60-liter carbonation cylinders from competing brands as well as DrinkMate-branded cylinders. To assist keep costs down, the manufacturer offers a trade-in program in which you can receive cheap CO2 cylinders in exchange for returning your empties.
- Carbonates any beverage–not just water
- Sleek design
- Compatible with any brand’s carbonation cartridges
- No batteries or electricity needed
- Doesn’t include a full-size carbonator
When you have a high-end kitchen, you want your countertop appliances to match, and this Swedish-designed carbonator is sure to stand out. It’s made of stainless steel with a copper finish for an exquisite appearance. If copper isn’t your thing, you can also have it in white, matte black, black chrome, brass, or stainless steel.
Although the stainless steel design will likely endure wear and tear from carbonation pressure better than plastic soda makers, our tester found that the actual carbonated water wasn’t any better than water made in less expensive versions.
But don’t be put off by the opulent design. This soda maker is easy to operate. To carbonate your bottle of water, simply press down on the single lever. The lever also removes extra carbonation for you, ensuring that you don’t wind up with a mess.
This soda maker comes with one carbonating bottle with a strong stainless steel cap and is compatible with ordinary 60-liter carbonation canisters, which are widely accessible in stores and online. Just keep in mind that this model does not come with a canister, so you’ll need to purchase one separately to get started.
- Sleek, stylish design
- Minimal footprint
- Many finish options
- Cordless design
- Very pricey
- Tedious cartridge loading
- CO2 not included
- Only plastic bottles available
This carbonator is an excellent alternative if you want to save money over the other SodaStream model on this list. The Fizzi Classic, unlike the Fizzi One Touch, does not require power to operate, giving you greater flexibility in where you use it.
There are no levels of fizz to choose from, and the carbonation process is not mechanized. Instead, a single button will be used to manually add carbonation from a 60-liter CO2 cylinder until the water has the desired level of bubbles.
Reviewers say there’s a learning curve to figuring out how much CO2 to add, but once you know how many button presses produce water to your liking, it’s straightforward to use. It comes in a variety of colors, including white, black, navy, and icy blue.
The Fizzi, like other SodaStream devices, can only be used to carbonate water for seltzer or the warranty will be voided. After carbonating, you can add flavor by using the brand’s flavoring drops or by adding your own syrups or fresh fruit.
- Easy to use
- Lacks fizz levels
- Learning curve to get preferred carbonation levels
A conventional soda siphon, like the ones used by professional bartenders, is the ideal choice for a soda maker that can be stored on your bar cart.
The carbonated water is “shooted” into your glass by the canister. This technology, when compared to other soda producers, makes the process of carbonating water feel and look more remarkable. When crafting elegant cocktails, a soda siphon really adds to the wow factor.
Our tester confesses that this carbonator is difficult to assemble and requires several tiresome processes to use, but the finished carbonation level was high.
The bottle can carry one quart of water, and a measuring tube makes it easy to add precisely the proper amount of liquid without overfilling it. A pressure control valve prevents the device from becoming overly pressurized. This makes use of little CO2 chargers, but they’re only good for one usage, so keep extra on hand.
- Sleek design
- No batteries or electricity needed
- Must order carbon cartridges separately
- Time consuming to assemble and use
For those who don’t want to deal with the hassle of returning, rebuying, or replenishing CO2 tanks, the Spärkel sparkling-water machine is the finest solution. Instead of a tank, this alternative creates and removes CO2 via carbonating packets comprised of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate.
Each time you make 750 mL of sparkling water with the provided bottle, you use a single packet. You get 10 packets in the box, which will make 7.5 liters of your favorite fizzy drink. A 90-pack of carbonators costs roughly $40. (This works out to about $0.45 per liter, which is roughly twice the price of a SodaStream.)
This option, like the SodaStream Fizzi One Touch, has five buttons on the front for changing the amounts of carbonation.
The soda maker’s best feature is that it can carbonate liquids other than water. Whether you want to carbonate wine or orange juice, or even infuse water with fruit pieces, the Spärkel makes it simple to get creative and create pleasant cocktails.
This model is available in six vibrant color combinations and must be fueled by an outlet.
If you haven’t bought a soda maker yet because you don’t want to deal with carbon dioxide canisters—keeping a few extra on hand, returning the empties by mail or to an approved merchant to recycle and replace—the Spärkel Beverage System could be the soda maker for you.
The device can carbonate water, tea, juice, and cocktails (a significant advantage over water-only models), but it employs a different technique of delivering CO2 to your beverages. You may also add fresh fruit and herbs right to the container, and the CO2 pressure will extract flavor from them instantaneously.
Instead of a typical CO2 cylinder, the Spärkel comes with A+B packs, which are separate packets of powdered carbonators. The “A” packet includes citric acid, whereas the “B” packet contains sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda. Each packet contains the exact amount needed to produce just enough CO2 to fizz one bottle.
The carbonator is placed in a chamber on the machine’s top, and tap water is fed to a tank on the machine’s back. They combine in a sealed room, producing CO2 inside the machine. Only the CO2 gas produced by the powder and tap water ends up in your drink. Any remaining carbonator ends up in another chamber, which must be emptied after each usage.
There are five carbonation levels to choose from, the machine illuminates the bottle as it carbonates, and a nice tune alerts you when it’s finished. The Spärkel comes with a 25.4-ounce container, 10 carbonators, and is available in a variety of colors. Additional carbonators are sold in packs of 30. Additional bottles can also be purchased.
- No CO2 cylinders to replace
- Five carbonation levels
- Completely automatic
- Can carbonate more than water
- Two water chambers to fill and empty
- Bottle lever tricky to lock into place
- Takes longer to carbonate than other models
While it is expensive, this top-of-the-line soda maker from Aarke is difficult to match. Its sleek, durable, and simple design is user-friendly while still having a high-quality feel to it. This is an excellent alternative for individuals who are new to the world of soda makers because it does not require much setup or experience. Simply screw the CO2 tank in, screw the bottle in, and pull the lever.
Rachel discovered that this soda maker produced great soda with minimal effort. The splash from this maker was minor to non-existent, and the spill tray caught anything escaped from the bottle. The bottle must be washed by hand, however it is the only portion of the machine that must be cleaned with soap on a regular basis.
The CO2 replacements are more expensive than other manufacturers, but they make up for it with their big size, which can easily produce several dozen carbonated drinks before running out.
Although we did not put the Aarke through its paces, we admire its industrial look and stainless steel structure. It almost appears to be contemporary practical art for the kitchen. It’s ideal for any countertop because of its compact footprint.
The elegant device uses a simple lever mechanism to carbonate water. Simply fill the provided bottle with cold water, insert it into the machine, push down the lever, and let go.
The Aarke carbonator’s most serious flaw is its high price. With a price three times that of comparable models, we would have preferred glass bottles instead plastic, and we were dismayed to learn that a Co2 cartridge isn’t even included. It is, nonetheless, quite lovely!