Review: Penguin Home Soda Maker

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You probably don’t need an entire review to help you decide whether or not you want a soda-making machine, but if you’re at all interested in making your own carbonated beverages then the Penguin Home Soda Maker is a good bet.

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Overview and Features

The Home Soda Maker starter kit runs $219.99 and includes the machine itself, two glass carafes, and two big bottles of CO2 which should provide you with about 120 bottles of carbonated water. There’s also the “Plus Package” which costs $269.99 and includes one extra bottle of CO2.

You can use the machine to simply make fizzy water, but the real fun starts when you mix in various flavors. These “SodaMix” bottles cost $5 each and make 12 liters. Aside from soda flavors, you can buy mixes to make flavored water and tonic as well.

I just noticed that there’s even an Energy Drink mix that costs $6.99, so I’ll need to budget its recurring purchase from now until the day I die.

Pros

If you drink a fair amount of soda, carbonated water, tonic, and the like, then the Home Soda Maker is a god-send. It’ll save you from running to the store constantly and you’ll be creating far less waste, if that’s important to you. Plus, the non-diet soda flavors are made without high fructose corn syrup and the diet flavors are made with Splenda instead of aspartame. So if you don’t want to quit drinking soda cold turkey, this machine provides a relatively reasonable alternative.

You’ll also end up saving money in the long run. After the $229 equipment price, carbonated water will cost you 20 cents per liter and soda will cost you under 60 cents per liter, according to the company.

Cons

The $229 price tag may be off-putting to some. After all, it’s basically a machine that taps into a bottle of CO2 and transfers some of that CO2 to a bottle filled with water. And even though the machine only takes 30 seconds to fizz up the water, the whole process of buying mixes and CO2, along with the cost of doing so and the fact that it’s not going to taste exactly like your favorite brand-name beverage may keep people from getting involved. However, it might be that you like the homemade stuff better.

The CO2 bottles, too, seem kind of cumbersome to get refilled. You can either buy two new bottles for $50 or send your two empty bottles back and get two new ones for $25. You don’t actually send the empties back, though. Here’s how it works:

“Ordering a full Exchange Carbonator requires that you currently have an empty Carbonator to return to Soda-Club. Please have your existing empty carbonator ready for pick-up at the time of delivery of your full exchange carbonator. Most deliveries will be made between the hours of 6AM – 6PM. Please leave your empty carbonator outside by your front door beginning on the morning of the weekday following your order. For example, if you place your order on a Tuesday, leave your empty carbonator outside your front door as of Wednesday morning. Do NOT place in a shipping box. If you place your order on a Friday, leave your empty Carbonator outside your front door as of the following Monday morning. However, please be aware that it may take 5 – 7 business days to receive your order.”

Luckily there are retail distributors in most states, so you could handle the exchanges in person while you’re running errands. I’m not sure how long two empty bottles would last on my sidewalk in the middle of Boston.

Conclusion

Like I said earlier, you probably already know whether or not you want something like this. If the idea of making your own soft drinks and carbonated water is appealing to you, then the Penguin Home Soda Maker is great. It looks cool, it’s really easy to use, and the end product tastes good. And if your household already consumes a lot of carbonated beverages, you’ll end up saving time, money, and you won’t be constantly throwing away empty bottles and cans.

Penguin Home Soda Maker [SodaClub]

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