Home CommentaryStudent Life A sparkling idea: home soda and seltzer-maker

A sparkling idea: home soda and seltzer-maker

By Archives November 13, 2007

Following the lead of hybrid cars and eco-friendly cleaning products comes a product aimed at preserving our planet. Home soda and seltzer makers are acclaimed as a solution to the massive waste and pollution caused by the consumption of bubbly drinks: the Messiah of aluminum cans and plastic bottles, if you will. However, owning such a contraption isn’t only good for the environment, it also has significant benefits for your health and wallet.
According to Statistics Canada, sales volumes of carbonated drinks amount to more than 3.1 billion litres annually. Available in plastic bottles or metal cans, these beverages also add up to a lot of waste when you take into account that one tonne of containers takes up 5.65 cubic metres of landfill space.
Using a home soda and seltzer maker can considerably reduce the number of these wasted cans and bottles. But despite this, students don’t seem prepared to make room on their kitchen counter for these machines any time soon.
“I care about the environment, but this isn’t the way I would choose to contribute to it,” said Concordia student Teresa Smith.
“I think recycling can be just as effective and it’s free,” said business student Keegan Kelertas.
But making your own carbonated beverages can not only heal the planet, it can also be beneficial to your health. The drinks offered by Soda-Club, the largest distributor of home soda and seltzer makers, contain about 2/3 less sugar than regular store-bought soda and are lower in sodium.
The 25 flavours, which come in little packets you add to the carbonated water produced by the machine, range from traditional favourites, such as cola, ginger ale and lemon-lime sodas, to fruit mixes and energy drinks.
A variety of diet and caffeine-free options sweetened with Splenda are also available. Both the regular and diet versions of the beverages are free of evil aspartame and have a considerably lesser amount of carbohydrates and calories, something to make Atkins followers rejoice.
However, considering the fact that many consumers have opted to keep buying the regular version of many foods, rather than the low-carb or low fat options, when it comes to taste, you might wonder how homemade sodas and seltzers measure up to the supermarket variety.
While the fruity flavours and energy drinks receive rave reviews on most client feedback websites (unrelated to companies selling the product), some people say the generic soda imitations fall flat in comparison to the real deal. Apart from this, users generally praise the overall advantages of carbonating devices.
Approximately the size of a blender or coffee maker, these machines are only available to Canadians via the Internet and come in several models. Soda-Club even offers a penguin-shaped model. The device consists of a carbon dioxide-filled tank connected to a reusable bottle you fill with tap water and mix the flavouring to. It requires no electricity or batteries and is quite simple to operate, but perhaps not simple enough.
“The good thing about soft drinks is the convenience,” said Dawson student James Shelter. “Making your own defies the point. You might as well make yourself something really healthy, like tea or something.”
However, the extra effort may well be worth it. When you consider that purchasing sodas, seltzers or energy drinks in a store you’re actually paying for water, sugar and CO2, it becomes obvious that making your own can be quite profitable.
“[My friend] was telling me he makes Red Bull type drinks for, like, $0.25. I tried it out and it is really cool,” said Ray Aguilar of Southern Illinois University in a college survey. This amounts to 15 cents per 8-ounce serving, as opposed to $1.99 for a can of the popular beverage of the same format.
The savings come in the long run, however, because these appliances aren’t cheap. The average cost is about $100. As Kristin Harp, Soda-Club’s bubbly marketing director, puts it “the drawback is of course the initial investment, especially for college students.”
Harp does have a solution to this problem. She proposes to “add the item to your holiday wish list.” After all, your parents might find the idea of a gift that serves the earth and humanity as a whole quite refreshing!