A few years ago, no one was asking about the best home soda maker; they just didn’t have that many choices. But, you might be surprised to learn that when SodaStream—the alpha of home soda-making—made its 2009 global debut, it wasn't actually a debut. It was a relaunch for a now 117-year-old company. SodaStream had been largely inactive for decades, but at certain points in the ’70s and ’80s you could have purchased the groovy, tangerine ancestor of today’s modern machine.
But now, the year is 2020, and SodaStream is no longer the only name in the game. In our mission to find the best soda maker on the market, I tested 7 machines from 4 different companies to see if any rivals exceeded the standards SodaStream had set. Read below for the winners. For more about how soda and seltzer makers work, and our testing criteria, scroll to the bottom of the page.
The Best Soda Maker Overall: The Drinkmate Spritzer
The Spritzer was easy to use and produced sharp and zingy sparkling water in a matter of seconds. But what stood out most is the increased control it offers its user as well as the greater range in utility.
First of all, the Spritzer, which is a portable seltzer gun of sorts, is built a little differently than other soda makers. The infuser has slow and fast pressure release tabs, not unlike the one on an InstantPot, making it easy to avoid any messes from an over-carbonated beverage. The Spritzer is also unique in that its activating mechanism is a trigger rather than a button, which allowed for greater control in the carbonation process. Despite these extra parts, the machine was still very easy to use.
Drinkmate is the only brand of soda makers that officially offers the ability to carbonate more than just water. Try doing so with a SodaStream and you could void your warranty, and possibly end up damaging the machine. I tested Drinkmate's all-beverages-welcome policy using white wine and a batched Boulevardier recipe and was pleased by the results. In fact, the Spritzer carbonated the wine so well that it deceived one of my colleagues into thinking they were drinking a glass of Crémant.
The Spritzer is also hand-held, small, and thus more portable than other stand-up models. You could easily slip it into a backpack, which opens up a world of opportunities for on-the-go soda making. Think of the barbecues, the weekend Airbnb getaways, your friend's underwhelming dinner party—all fortified by the wonders of carbonation! And before you say, "But what if I want my soda maker to sit on the counter sometimes?" Let me tell you, Drinkmate sells an adaptor that converts the Spritzer to an upright countertop model. It also is worth mentioning that the Spritzer can be used with both miniature and full-sized gas canisters and bottles. It is truly the most versatile option I tested.
While the Spritzer did not produce the absolute strongest fizz of our blind tasting, it lost only by a small margin, and still made very nice bubbles. Almost all of these machines are able to carbonate water to a pleasing degree, so choosing the winner came down to other factors. In this case, the portability, the carbonating possibilities beyond water, and the thoughtful design made it my favorite of the bunch.
The Best Soda Maker If You Want the Absolute Sparkliest Water: Soda Stream Fizzi One Touch
If versatility and variety aren't important to you, and all you're really after is the most enamel-dissolving, ear-ringing spicy water you can make at home, the One Touch will deliver. Using the maximum carbonation setting, it produced water that, in blind tasting, was universally deemed the most carbonated of the bunch.
The One Touch's fully automated capabilities also meant it was unmatched in terms of ease of use. All you have to do is click the bottle in, press a carbonation setting, and Bob's your uncle. If you want straight-forward functionality, and simply want a machine that makes (extra fizzy!) sparkling water and nothing else, this is the machine to go with. One warning: The One Touch, unlike most soda makers, needs to be plugged in to an electric power source in order to work. Got outlets?
How Do Soda Makers Work?
All but one of the soda makers I tested were gas canister carbonators, which rely on a canister of pressurized carbon dioxide to introduce carbonation to a liquid. The gas is released through a siphon and then forced into water in the sealed environment of a bottle. At-home soda making is a great alternative to buying seltzer, since it cuts down on the number of plastic bottles you're bringing home from the store and then recycling after a single use. While the bottles that come with most soda makers have expiration dates and must be replaced every couple of years, you will certainly get more use out of them than your average store-bought seltzer bottle. The gas canisters can be exchanged and refilled via retailer websites and at some stores. My coworker Cristina, a devout soda maker, told me that she got 60 liters of soda out of one gas canister in her Aarke Carbonator.
How I Tested and What I Looked For:
I first evaluated each machine by reading the assembly and operation instructions and taking notes on ease of use right out of the box. Then, using water that had been chilled overnight, I tested the highest carbonation setting for each model. I then had several coworkers do a blind tasting out of identical drinking glasses to assess the carbonation levels, and tasted the water myself. After that, I tested the machine's ability to carbonate liquids other than water, including a cocktail as well as a bottle of white wine.
During my tests, I found that there was little difference in noise level, carbonation time, and levels of carbonation between the different models. All of the machines I successfully tested were equally quiet, capable of lighter or stronger levels of carbonation, and took between 3–10 seconds to carbonate. Aside from the Spärkel (more on this below), all brands also used the same type of gas canister.
Overall, I looked for machines that were safe, easy to use, and effective at carbonating a variety of liquids.
Other Soda Makers I Tested
Drinkmate: This is Drinkmate's standard model. It worked well enough, but it's a less-versatile version of the Spritzer since it isn't portable.
SodaStream Fizzi: This delivers strong carbonation and is simple to use, but the machine's instructions are too vague, and it takes a while to get the hang of operating it, whereas the One-Touch model from the brand offered the same results, with much less headache.
SodaStream Aqua Fizz: This model had lovely glass carafes, but I found the design clunky, cumbersome, and not very intuitive. Taste testers also found the carbonation to be a bit underwhelming even at the highest setting.
Aarke Carbonator II While the Aarke is certainly a tall drink of fizzy water as far as looks go, with its basic functionality and middle-of-the-pack carbonation capabilities, its handsome bod wasn’t enough to justify the price.
The Spärkel: This machine uses citric acid and baking soda to produce carbon dioxide in lieu of gas canisters. Long story short, due to user error, this machine made a loud popping noise when I opened the canister and shot citric acid and baking soda into my eyes. When I attempted to use the machine again, my mistake had rendered it unusable. One of my colleagues tested the machine at a previous job and had a similar experience.
The Drinkmate Spritzer is the best home soda maker if you're looking for versatility: It's portable and can carbonate more than just water. For an easy-to-use, straightforward machine that also makes the fizziest water, choose the SodaStream Fizzi One Touch.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious