We are not nor have ever been huge consumers of soda drinks. By far the majority of soda purchased by us is for use when entertaining. My husband enjoys Pepsi as an occasional mix for rye & coke but even there the choice tends to be half & half aka Arnold Palmer (half lemonade, half ice tea). Once in a blue moon he will have a Mountain Dew. I don't drink flavoured sodas. My carbonated beverages of choice are club soda, Perrier and occasionally all natural ginger beer or sparkling grape juice.
I have moderate to severe year round allergies. One of the most annoying symptoms is the insides of my ears and into the back of my throat intensely itching. I don't take an antihistamine or leukotriene blocker unless absolutely necessary. Both club soda and Perrier with the carbonation is one way I get relief but there is a catch to both. Any soda in cans contains trace amounts of mold which isn't a problem for some but for folks like me who react to mold it is a problem. Club soda is made with sodium bicarbonate which adds 20 mg to 85 mg of sodium per 355 ml serving, definitely not for those on sodium restricted diets. Perrier is a carbonated natural spring mineral water. All mineral waters can cause urinary tract problems. Most sodas in general contain benzoic acid that can cause kidney stones. Flavoured sodas are high in HFCS and/or sugar, artificial flavours and colourants, and calories. In short, sodas are not a healthy drink of choice. I wanted an alternative carbonated drink without a high sodium content and the option to flavour as desired so had considered a home soda machine for quite some time.
I bought the Sodastream Jet Titan starter kit ($109.99) that came with the machine, 1 L bottle (BPA free) and 60 L CO2 canister. It also came with instructions and license for the canister. Additional bottles are available in a 3 pack for $17.99 and should be changed out every 2 years. The CO2 canister is $34.99 if you purchase a second one so you don't run out. Empty canisters can be exchanged for $18.99 saving the core charge fee of $16. The beauty of these machines is they are completely manual so are ideal to cart along camping or when traveling. The CO2 canister are not allowed on airplanes either in carry-on or checked bags. The machines and canisters are sold world-wide.
2 canister will carbonate 60 L of water. No other liquid should be used. If paying for a full canister plus core charge ($34.99) the cost works out to 58¢ per L but using the exchange program, the cost is reduced to 31¢ per L. To use, simply fill the bottle to the fill line with cold water then screw the bottle onto the machine. Press the top button and quickly release three times. You can add an extra press if you want the water a bit heavier carbonated. Optional flavouring can be added after the water is carbonated.
Club soda comes in at 84¢ per L and Perrier is about three times that cost so if making simple fizzy water you will realize a savings. Sodastream has a line of flavouring syrups in popular flavours at $6.99 for a 500 ml bottle. Each bottle makes 12 L so this adds a cost per L of 58¢ so the total cost per L will range from 89¢ to $1.16 depending on whether you pay the core price for the canister or not. A sampler pack of 12 Sodastream flavours is available for $11.99. Syrups used for flavouring coffee (eg. Torani, Jordan's Slender Syrups) can be used as well as homemade flavourings.
Vanilla syrup, a fruit syrup like peach syrup or an herb (eg. mint, lemon balm. lavender) flavoured syrup can be used as flavouring.
I used fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices to make lemon lime unsweetened soda. This is a refreshing, sugar free, zero calorie drink I often make using club soda or Perrier that is similar in flavour to Sprite. I like it without any sweetener but if you wanted it sweet without calories, adding a bit of stevia would work nicely.
The Sodastream is a frugal option for us. I'm getting a healthier product that meets my needs without a high sodium content or ingredients that have the potential to cause more health problems. I am saving a bit of money in the process and less waste will be going into the recycle bins. So for us it is a win:win. These machines are getting favourable reviews. It is a great way to enjoy soda without all the additives and calories.