American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation




Club Soda from Soda-Club

Posted by Matt Cipriano | 9 Comments

I guess I first read about the Soda-Club seltzer maker on ApartmentTherapy: The Kitchn. I had seen similar products during a recent trip to Switzerland (back in November) and was intrigued. I am a big fan of seltzer, sparkling water, club soda…call it what you will, so I decided it was time to get one of these and write up a review for AM.

The first thing you are going to notice if you head to the Soda-Club website is that it ain’t that pretty. It is relatively basic and straightforward, and they clearly didn’t waste too many dollars on the site, which is fine by me.

That the soda maker is pretty nifty. Basically they created a housing for a large CO2 canister that allows you to attach a bottle and pump carbonation into it. The device is constructed out of plastic, which feels a little flimsy, but probably because a heavier casing, combined with the CO2 cannister would weigh a ton, and only contains a couple of moving parts. It is very easy to operate: screw the bottle (included) in place, pump and enjoy. This sounds like an infomercial, but making seltzer is really just that simple.

The Edition 1 comes with two plastic bottles (one with a metal bottom and cab, the other with a plastic bottle and cap, so you can tell them apart, I guess) and you can buy some extra bottles on the website. Since the bottles have a special screw top (which allows them to screw into place on the soda maker) you can’t just use any plastic bottle. You need to use their plastic bottles for it (though you can use theirs and then pour the seltzer into another container and make a nearly unlimited amount.

It’s a great device to have around. You want seltzer? You’ve got it in less then 1 minute’s time. Depending on the amount of times you pump C02 into the water, you can control the amount of carbonation in the water. It totally saves the hassle of lugging bottles from the supermarket, and you can even purchase some all-natural flavor essence if your preference lies with Lemon-Lime seltzer or Orange Seltzer (and they are only $4.99 and contain about 40 bottle’s worth of flavoring).

Everyone who has seen the seltzer maker in action is pretty amazed by it and, of course, want to taste the final product. They then comment: “Wow, that actually is seltzer!”

It is a pretty neat kitchen gadget and doesn’t take up a ton of space, either (although it is about 15″ tall, its footprint is only about 7″x 5″). It even has a release to prevent the seltzer bottle from getting over carbonated and exploding. The bottles themselves are constructed of heavy duty plastic and are pretty easy to wash and reuse.

They sent the seltzer maker with a couple of soda flavors as well: simple soda syrup that you add to seltzer, mix a bit and enjoy. I got to try the cola, orange, and lemon-lime flavors (they also sent root beer and a couple of diet flavors, but I do not drink diet soda and I am not a big fan of root beer so I won’t comment on those).

The orange flavor was by far the best, tasting exactly like your traditional orange soda should taste like, and easily could have competed with a leading orange soda brand.

The cola had a flavor similar to RC Cola. I like RC so I didn’t think this was a bad thing. I did find out that I am in the minority (at least in NYC) and most people prefer a Coke or Pepsi-type flavor. If you aren’t a fan of RC Cola, pass on it.

The Lemon-Lime flavor was reminiscent of Sierra-Mist, but a bad Sierra-Mist, plus I could never find a decent balance of syrup to seltzer, and it always ended up too syrupy or too watery. I would pass on this one altogether.

Now, I am not a huge soda drinker, so I made the sodas with my initial test and then the syrup containers sat for a little while (let’s say a month). When I made the sodas again (playing with the cola and orange flavors), they tasted off, like they were diet soda. Maybe they went bad over the month or maybe they should have been refrigerated (though I didn’t see that on the label). Maybe they expired (I probably should check the date on them), but, if you are not someone who drinks 40 liters of soda in a month you might want to take a pass on them.

Now, as much as I liked the Seltzer maker, there are a couple of drawbacks. When making the seltzer, the gadget has a pretty loud and annoying squealing sound that is emitted when you begin to overcarbonate the drink (which you pretty much have to do in order to reach full carbonation). It’s kind of like the sound of an inner tube being rubbed against a hard wood floor (I know, not the most commonplace sound in the world, but that is what comes to mind). It would also be nice if there was a gauge to tell you how carbonated your water has become: right now it is just kind of a guess every time. And finally there is the price.

It is time now for the math portion of this review: If the seltzer maker initially costs you $79.99 and comes with one C02 bottle that is good for making 110 bottles of seltzer water, and if each additional C02 bottle costs $27 and makes 110 bottles of seltzer, how many bottles of seltzer would you need to make to come out ahead (taking into account that I can buy 4 equally-sized bottle s of seltzer for $1.20*$2.20, including bottle deposit)?

At the supermarket, 110 bottles of seltzer is going to cost me $33: 110 x $0.30 (25 cents + 5 cent deposit) $60.5: 110 x $0.55 (50 cents + 5 cent deposit).

You’d need to drink about 990 less then 220 bottles of seltzer before you actually start to save money. As you pump that 990th bottle of seltzer, you can smile, knowing that instead of having spent $297 on 990 bottles of soda at the supermarket, you only spent $296. That is less then then 1 refill.

Full economics here!

Overall, I like this product. I would have been happy to receive it as a gift and will probably continue to use it (or pass it off to my parents to use). While it might seem a bit ridiculous at first it actually is pretty cool. I’d recommend staying away from their Soda-Club soda mixes, but the flavorings for the seltzer are winners.

Might be the type of product that you think twice before buying though, especially if you are only considering it because it will save you some money (it does however save on having to haul bottles of seltzer from the supermarket home and from having to store extra bottles of seltzer (prior to getting the Soda-Club seltzer maker we usually had 1 or 2 bottles of seltzer on the floor in our pantry), but I’ll let you guys make that call for yourselves.

*Josh questioned the 4 bottles of seltzer for $1.20 so I took a trip to my old supermarket today to double check the price. He was correct, the seltzer is actually 4 for $2.00 (plus the $0.05 deposit on each bottle), just ignore the crossed out section and check the revised math 

Comments

9 Responses to “Club Soda from Soda-Club”

  1. Paul Woodland
    May 20th, 2008 @

    OMG! Pressurized canisters of poisonous C02. Duck! Run for cover! This thing could kill us all. It’s global warming in a bottle and you make it sound like a child’s toy. I hope you are buying carbon credits for this lethal instrument.

  2. sophie
    May 20th, 2008 @

    i want it! i LOVE seltzer and fizzy water and spend a lot of money buying it over here. gimme gimme!

  3. Paul Woodland
    May 20th, 2008 @

    This is probably the most extensive review that this product will or should ever get.

  4. Josh Friedlander
    May 20th, 2008 @

    Paul, you crazed hippie, this is SOOOOO good for the environment. We’re saving mad loads of plastic and glass, yo.

  5. Josh Friedlander
    May 21st, 2008 @
  6. Josh Friedlander
    May 21st, 2008 @
  7. Anonymous
    May 23rd, 2008 @

    Paul,

    Adding on to Josh’s last comment:
    http://www.sodaclubusa.com/news.htm

    Apparently many others disagree with you!

  8. Aaron Dalton
    July 4th, 2008 @

    Wow. This is certainly an extensive review.
    I’ve just posted a review on the Soda-Club machine on my own site (http://1GreenProduct.com).
    I’d just like to point out that your financial calculations should probably include the gas you’d burn going back and forth to the store for soda.
    And/or that an environmental calculation should take into account the glass and plastic used to package traditional sodas (as one of the other comments states above) plus the shipping and manufacturing costs of creating and distributing those sodas.
    If you drink lots of soda (which I don’t do either), the Soda-Club probably makes sense from both a financial and ecological perspective.

    - Aaron Dalton, 1GreenProduct.com

  9. Matt Cipriano
    July 9th, 2008 @

    Hi Aaron,
    Lots of good points in there, though your suggestion to include the cost of gas to and from the market is faulty.
    As a New Yorker, if a supermarket isn’t in walking distance I am not going to it.
    For those of you outside of a major metropolitan area though, it is worth keeping in mind.

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