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The best soda maker

Surprise! It's from SodaStream.

The Sweethome
03.29.16 in Home
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By Anna Perling

This post was done in partnership with Sweethome, a buyer's guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

After nearly 200 hours of research and testing, we're confident the SodaStream Source is the best home soda maker you can buy. Over the past three years we've tested 10 soda makers and siphons, made our own DIY version, and talked extensively with home soda-making experts and scientists about carbonation. The Source makes the absolute bubbliest and best-tasting sparkling water, it's easier to use and clean than most of the competition, and its cartridge refills are among the most affordable.

How we tested

Clockwise, from top left, water from the Keurig, iSi, Bonne O, Jet, Source, and Power. Photo: Anna Perling

Soda makers work by injecting carbon dioxide into water to produce effervescence. A great soda maker will not only make fizzier water, but also increase its bite, the quality that sparkling-water enthusiasts love.

We weighed water before and after carbonating to see how much carbon dioxide was added in grams. We also did two long-term tests over 72 hours to see how carbonated the water would stay over time. All water was kept at a temperature of 39° Fahrenheit. After pouring the carbonated water into clear glasses, we looked at how many bubbles were in the water from each soda maker. We also took into account ease of use and storage, price, carbonator refill options, and ease of cleaning.

For our blind taste test, we asked four seltzer lovers to rank each soda maker's water (on a scale from one to 10) based on bubble size, taste, and overall fizziness.

Our pick

The Source makes the all-around fizziest water. Photo: Michael Hession

The SodaStream Source produced the fizziest water out of the soda makers we tested. Taste testers ranked the Source's water as the overall fizziest and best-tasting, too, and its bottle is one of the easiest to attach to the machine. For the price, the Source delivers the most bubble for your buck, and thanks to its simple design, the Source is also one of the easiest soda makers to clean and refill so you can keep carbonating with ease.

We do find it mildly annoying that SodaStream uses proprietary carbon dioxide cartridges, but their machines work better than any other store-bought option we've found.

Runner-up

The SodaStream Power.

If you can't find the Source, we also like the SodaStream Power. Its carbonator and refill systems are the same as the Source's, and it also has three levels of carbonation to choose from. But the Power requires an outlet and costs about $50 more than the Source. It also doesn't fizz water quite as well as the Source (it made the second-bubbliest water in our tests). For the money, it's the next best thing to the Source that we tested as it still delivers great fizz and is easy to use, store, and clean. But we would definitely grab the Source instead, if you can.

DIY alternatives

If you want to bypass SodaStream's proprietary refill system, you can purchase an adapter that allows you to refill a SodaStream canister at a local restaurant or homebrew supply store (or with your own larger canister). But if going this route, skip the refills at the paintball shop and look for homebrewing or restaurant suppliers; there's a lot of Internet chatter (see here and here) concerning whether or not it's safe to refill a carbon dioxide tank at sporting goods stores and whether that carbon dioxide has to be "food grade." We discuss this in more detail in our full guide.

Care and maintenance

To make the fizziest water, water should be cold. Chilled water carbonates more effectively, so using cold water will also extend the life of your cartridge. If stored in the fridge, our experts said that carbonated water will stay fizzy for several days. Our own testing showed barely any difference in fizz level after 72 hours in the fridge. However, the amount of liquid remaining in a bottle will affect how long water stays carbonated.

You will also need to periodically exchange your empty cartridges. SodaStream says that each 60-liter cartridge will fizz about that many liters. Because of carbon dioxide regulations, these cartridges are not recyclable. Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Staples, and a range of smaller stores have exchange programs, and SodaStream has a participating-store locator to help you find one near you.

The Source's bottle components need to be hand washed, and if the battery for the LED indicator lights dies, you will need to contact SodaStream's customer service (though it should last for several years, and the machine will still work without the lights).

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

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