[Editor’s Note: As I was writing this article, SodaStream emailed me with a couple of Cyber Monday deals. All SodaStreams are 20% off with free shipping. There’s also a deal that if you buy 2 you get one free (good for gift giving). Finally, their outlet store has everything 50% off. Just go to SodaStream’s website. You may have to use the promo code of CYBERSODA14 to see the savings.]
All the way back in 2010, I named SodaStream my Product of the Year (Read the review). In fact, I invented the Product of the Year category specifically for SodaStream…. that’s how awesome SodaStream is.
While it didn’t prove to be a savings in terms of providing cheaper soda, it had other advantages:
- Health, Flexibility, and Savings – Instead of making soda, I make lemon-flavored seltzer using the equally awesome True Lemon. When I drink this, I avoid drinking soda and the health issues that come with it. Making seltzer with SodaStream is cheaper than I can buy it in the store.
- Environmental Impact and Laziness – Lugging a bunch of 2-liters of soda around isn’t fun and doesn’t help the environment.
- Space Saving – Rather than needing to dedicate a place for soda, I only need to store the small amount of syrup that I use.
Water is cheap. True Lemon is cheap.
That leaves one more pricey component, the price of carbonation. With plentiful $5 coupons at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I’ve gotten the price of the carbonation down to around $11 (including tax) for 60 liters of carbonated water. That’s about 37 cents for a 2-liter, a good savings over the dollar of soda at my local supermarket.
However, it’s always worth asking the question, “Can I do better?”
And you can… a lot better.
When I first wrote about SodaStream, several commenters suggested that I get a FreedomOne from Co2 doctor which allows one to use CO2 tanks from sources other than SodaStream’s custom tanks.
While I recognize the savings, I was hesitant to buy into it. My wife wouldn’t want a big CO2 tank hanging around in the kitchen. I wouldn’t want to go to the basement to make the SodaStream from a tank. I didn’t know if the CO2 that I’d buy from my local welding shop is really the kind of thing I want to consume. And there’s the risk in using pressurized gas incorrectly.
However, all these concerns proved to be overblown. I’ll explain, but first here’s my SodaStream set-up:
Let’s start with the CO2. That 20lb tank came from a local “indoor plant growing hobby shop. I’m pretty sure that’s code for Weed-R-Us. I thought I’d be the only person to go in there for carbon, but beer enthusiasts get CO2 for their kegerators. It’s definitely a consumable grade gas.
Second, the design is very safe and the instructions were easy. I think the warnings are just to cover the manufacturer’s behind in a legal sense.
Third, my wife is a fan of this new set-up. I found that it fits under the sink in the bathroom. Now the SodaStream doesn’t sit on the kitchen counter. I don’t have to the basement to make it either, which is a big plus.
The SodaStream bottles expire every few years, so I make a liter in one good bottle and transfer it to several expired bottles that I have. This way I can make 5-6 liters at a time.
“Show me the Savings!”
That’s what you are here for right? Okay, let’s dig in.
Commenter Brian realized that SodaStream’s gas costs 4 times as much as what it cost to fill his 5lb tank. Here are the details of that math, but don’t spend a lot of time on it, because we’re moving on quickly:
You don’t need a huge 50lb tank to make buying your own gas practical. I bought a 5lb tank (equivalent to 5.5 of your 14.5oz bottles) and fill it up for $13 total. Let’s assume your $10 / 14.5oz. That gives:
$10/14.5oz vs $13/80oz
$.69/oz vs $.16/oz
If it’s $15/14.5 oz, the savings becomes:
$1.03/oz vs $.16/oz
Assume 14.5oz/60-liters = .24oz / liter
$.17/liter vs $.04/liter (plain sparkling water – I don’t use the mixes)
~50 cents a liter(supermarket) or
17 cents a liter(SodaStream) or
4 cents a liter(DIY)
It costs 4 times as much to use their gas!!
@ 1 liter/day:
$47.45 savings a year.
His math for a two-liter of SodaStream using their CO2 canisters comes out to the same as mine (which is always reassuring).
With his modification, his price is down to 4 cents a liter. As he points out, that if you drink a liter a day, it’s $47 of savings a year.
That’s good for Brian and his puny 5-liter CO2, but what about my 20lb tank?
The economy of scale grows quite a bit, because you get four times the gas with the 20lb tank vs. the 5lb tank (yes, I did that math in my head), but the price to fill either tank is typically between $20-25.
That $20-25 will make appropriately 1,324 liters of carbonation. That brings the price down to about 1.8 cents a liter. So for around 3.5 cents, I get a 2-liter of seltzer. I was paying 37 cents for the same amount using SodaStream canisters. And to think one could pay a $1.00 for a 2-liter of Seltzer at their grocery store… Yikes!
This may sound like pennies, but at a liter a day, it adds up. Instead of paying $62 a year for carbonation, I pay under $5. However, since it’s not unusual for my wife and I to each drink a liter a day (I’ve drank two some days), we end up paying around $120 a year in SodaStream carbonation (still a bargain over what most people pay in soda). That $120 can be reduced to about $10, for a savings of $100 a year. Our sons of 26 and 11 months are too young to drink carbonated beverages, but at some point our demand will rise and the savings will even be larger. Plus it will be nice to not have to go to Bed, Bath, Beyond for refills any more.
There’s one thing that dampers this double rainbow of savings: the start-up costs of the system. This one-time cost shouldn’t be ignored, but in the long run, it doesn’t amount to much. The tank itself cost me $125 and the FreedomOne was another $100. The combined total of around $225 means that it will be two years before the savings kick in.
If you run the numbers for 20 years the savings are fairly significant. The cost of a liter of soda (or seltzer) per day is comes to around $169 annually. That’s $3380 over 20 years. After buying the SodaStream machine, the tank, and the FreedomOne, the annual cost for a liter of seltzer with True Lemon is around $23.28. With the one-time costs, the total cost of drinks for 20 years is around $750 That’s a savings of $2629.
Now, you might not jump and down about saving $2629 over 20 years. I thought it would be more myself. However, giving all the other advantages, saving any money at all is a nice perk.