I Make Sparkling Water At Home (& Save Money Doing It) — Here's How
When I wanted to cut out diet soda, I turned to sparkling water. The carbonated beverage gave me the same fizzy satisfaction without the hidden chemicals and artificial sweeteners, and I began obsessively testing every brand for the best. My requirements included maximum fizz with minimal artificial flavoring.
After a decade of testing different brands, I have strong opinions about every variation of sparkling water stocked in my local grocery store—but I also have an awareness of the impact of my sparkling water obsession on both my wallet and the environment. So I began seeking out a sustainable and cost-effective solution nearly two years ago, and my search ended with the Spärkel Beverage System.
Why I chose Spärkel.
My biggest hesitation about at-home sparkling water machines were carbonation tanks. Although these tanks are more cost-efficient than buying carbonated beverages from the store, they often have to be sent off for refills. As a result, you not only have to spend time mailing the tanks to the company, but you'll also need to invest in multiple tanks to ensure you always have a full tank on hand.
I also like my sparkling water brimming with bubbles; I want that satisfying "ah" right after the first sip. Most at-home machines use a lot of carbon to reach that level of fizz, so I would likely run through tanks faster than the average person. In the end, I just felt the carbon tank route wasn't for me, even if my friends were obsessed.
Enter: The Spärkel Beverage System. It produces carbon by combining water, citric acid, and sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda. The chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide in a sealed chamber, which is then released into the pressurized bottle. The result is delightfully fizzy water that rivals most bottled sparkling water, which I find even bubblier than aluminum cans. (Don't worry: The leftover carbonation ingredients are collected and dispensed into a wastewater chamber, so you're not drinking water filled with baking soda.)
How the Spärkel Beverage System works.
The process is relatively hands-off. You simply fill the Spärkel bottle with cool water, pour the two carbonator packets into the top of the machine, pull down the level to seal the machine, and pick your desired level of fizziness. Selecting one adds subtle bubbles, while the highest sparkling level is powerful enough to add carbonation to cocktails or wine, a suggestion straight from the brand. Once you push the start button, you can walk away and tend to other tasks.
The entire process takes less than four minutes, and the machine beeps when it's finished. You can leave the bottle as long as you want, but cooler water will hold the carbonation better—so I like to get it into the fridge right away.
Beyond ditching carbonation tanks, the design has another perk; it can be used to carbonate liquids other than water. The pressurized bottle can hold juice, cocktails, mocktails, and everything in between. You can also add herbs and fruits directly for an infused flavor that surpasses any artificial flavoring. Personally, I keep it simple and add a little lime juice directly to my glass—but one day I'll turn sauvignon blanc into prosecco.
Spärkel Beverage System$130
How the Spärkel Beverage System cuts down on waste.
Swapping my weekly 12-pack purchase for the sparkling system has drastically reduced my weekly waste—but the eco-friendly swaps don't stop there. The machine ships with minimal packaging and comes with your first round of carbonators tucked into the system's water tank to maximize shipping efficiency.
Not to mention, the only excess waste left from the carbonation process is the carbonator powder's plastic packaging. Luckily, it's curbside recyclable in New York City. Some reviewers also suggest swapping in bulk purchases of citric acid and baking soda to further reduce waste (and save money). However, it's not recommended by the brand.