For some women, shoes and purses inspire spending sprees. But Allison Barnett found herself blowing bucks on bubbles. “I’ve been obsessed with sparkling water for five years,” says Barnett, 27, who writes for the blog Endlesssimmer.com and is a grad student at Howard University. “I was buying so much, I had to budget for it.”
But now that she’s started making her own bubbly H2O, she’s gotten control of her liquid assets. About a year ago, she bought the SodaStream Pure (see it after the jump), which uses tap water, reusable plastic bottles and a refillable CO2 cartridge to carbonate water. “It just made sense,” says Barnett, who makes about six bottles of her fizzy fix a day. “It’s convenient; I wake up in the morning and can immediately have sparkling water.”
Many other people are whipping up carbonated concoctions at home, too, in part because they want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle — aka dumping fewer Poland Spring leftovers into the recycler.
To do that, fizz whizzes make a small up-front investment in sparkling water and soda gadgets, and net a big savings in the long run: DIY bubbly water runs about 25 cents a bottle, as opposed to 80 cents or more at Safeway and Whole Foods. Dispensers cost about $70 to $250.
Hill’s Kitchen (713 D St. SE; 202-543-1997) started carrying SodaStream, one of the carbonating devices, in March. Shop owner Leah Daniels says it’s been a big seller. “If you’re a soda-water drinker, it does save lots of money. People like not having to lug things in the city. If you’re renting a Zipcar to go buy water, what a waste.”
Waste was one reason Alice Weiss and Steven Badt got their SodaStream. The Columbia Heights couple went through about 12 bottles of seltzer a week, and all those empties in the recycling bin were not pretty. “You can really see the impact,” says Weiss, 41, a deputy director at the National Academy for State Health Policy.
Making your own beverages also provides control over what you sip, from carbonation levels to the amount of sugar or flavoring added. For some people, a splash of juice or slice of fruit works. Others mix their own versions of Pepsi or Sprite with SodaStream syrups.
If you really want to impress pals, create a cocktail with homemade seltzer. For those just interested in playing bartender, Daniels recommends the Soda Siphon from iSi, which is smaller, cheaper and better suited for less frequent use than the SodaStream. And you’ll save cash mixing mojitos or G&Ts. “A drink that would cost $15 at a bar is not going to cost one tenth of that at home using a Soda Siphon,” says Rick Agresta, president and CEO of iSi North America.
Once you’ve mastered the process, don’t be surprised if you find yourself showing off your skills any chance you get. “Every time a friend visits, I say, ‘Can I make you a spritzer?’ and pull it out like an infomercial,” says SodaStream owner Badt, 42, director of kitchen operations at Miriam’s Kitchen. “And most of my friends then go out and get it for themselves. It’s like a cult.”
Thirsty yet? Here are the details on the gear that’ll help whet your whistle.
Includes soda maker, 60-liter carbonator and two reusable plastic bottles.
» Looks: Like a skinny coffee maker. Available in silver and white.
» Get it at: Retailers such as Hill’s Kitchen, Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table, and at Sodastreamusa.com.
» Price: $169.95 on Sodastreamusa.com; $149.95 on Williams-sonoma.com and Surlatable.com.
» Cool fact: You can exchange the carbonators at any of the retailers mentioned above. (Otherwise, you need to send them back to SodaStream for refilling.)
Includes soda maker, two 60-liter carbonators and two glass carafes.
» Looks: Like a sleek, stylish ocean-dweller-meets-kitchen-appliance.
» Get it at: Retailers such as Hill’s Kitchen and Williams-Sonoma, and at Sodastreamusa.com.
» Price: $249.95 on Sodastreamusa.com and $199.95 on Williams-sonoma.com.
» Cool fact: The carafes are dishwasher-safe (unlike the plastic bottles, which must be hand washed).
iSi Soda Siphon
Includes an iSi soda charger that makes about 32 ounces of soda water.
» Looks: Like the spawn of a cocktail shaker and a water bottle. Comes in a variety of colors.
» Get it at: Retailers such as Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and Hill’s Kitchen, and at Lsi-store.com.
» Price: $69.99 at Isi-store.com and $99.95 for a stainless-steel version from Sur La Table.
» Cool fact: The chargers can be recycled with your home recycling.
Written by Express contributor Beth Luberecki
Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma