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Home Carbonation System...Cheap, Healthy, and Green.

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The cost to convert water to soda water is less than $0.04 per 2-liter bottle,

and a single fill of a 20lb tank will charge over 500 bottles!


Here's a quick demo of how it works...



For those looking for the "Cilffs Notes" summary of how this works: Take a 20lb CO2 Tank and regulator, attach a tube, and stick a 99 cent locking ball air chuck (tire inflator) on the end of the tube. Pop a cheap snap-in tire valve (schrader valve) into a plastic soda bottle cap and you're ready to carbonate any cold liquid in about 30 seconds. Colder liquids absorb more CO2 carbonation.

If you're intrigued, explore the steps on subsequent pages for more details...

I've recently taken to flavoring my soda water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice; when we have a bumper crop I also freeze a bunch of ice cubes of freshly juiced lemons, then take out and zap a cube for 15 sec. in the microwave to throw in my drink...Really tasty, low calorie, and no added sugar...


As far as a "soda substitute," you can easily add a splash of orange, cranberry, or other fruit juice, a twist of lemon or lime, alcoholic mixed drinks, commercial or homemade soda syrups,or whatever you like...Our family drinks a ton of sparkling water; as kids, we always preferred it to regular tap water, and it's much healthier than soda.

I've also experimented, with amusing success, at carbonating cheap wines (read: Charles "Two Buck Chuck" Shaw from Trader Joe's) to make dirt cheap champagne...Just make sure the bottle is chilled first, try not to get any wine (or sugared drinks) in the air hose, and be careful opening it after carbonating!

I had been toying with the idea of buying a home carbonator, but I was leery of the idea of being locked into a proprietary, closed system of buying expensive refill cartridges from a retail manufacturer like Sodastream...

I knew there had to be a better way. After all, this is just mixing CO2 and water.

In my research, I came across an incredibly detailed essay on carbonation by Richard Kinch, without which I could not have completed the project...I highly suggest reading over his opus before embarking on your own carbonation exploration.

http://www.truetex.com/carbonation.htm

All of this can be done for around $100, plus the deposit on a CO2 tank...

Given that the cost of a 2-liter bottle of sparkling water is now over $1 (California just doubled their CRV surcharges), and based on the volume of water that we drink, it's a no-brainer. Plus, there's the feeling of liberation of being able to drink as much sparkling water as you want (much like digital photography vs. wasting actual film).

I'm not an EnviroNut, but since we're all supposed to pitch in and make a last-ditch effort to save the planet, these facts on the effects of plastic water bottles on the environment were of interest:

- Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil - enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year - are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles to markets burns even more oil.

- According to a 2001 report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year.

- The growth in bottled water production has increased water extraction in areas near bottling plants, leading to water shortages that affect nearby consumers and farmers. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the bottles.

- Nearly 90 percent of water bottles are not recycled and wind up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.

Personally, it's really just nice not to have to lug a bunch of 2-liters home from the market anymore, carry them all in, and find places to store them. (I'm sure she'll find other chores for me to do soon enough...)

Enjoy!


- Ben


Alternatively...

If money is no object, and/or the carbonation system is under consideration for use by elderly / disabled (or simply lazy) individuals, there IS another option that doesn't involve shaking the bottles yourself...

- Purchase a Sodastream (from Bed, Bath, and Beyond with a 20% off coupon, or somewhere even beyond-er), procure a Co2 tank as described above, and purchase a Freedom One (or Freedom One+ system) from Co2Doctor.com to connect the Sodastream with the larger Co2 tank. (choose the CGAWG or CGA option if you're on their order page.) While the initial investment in the supplies is not quite as cheap (about an extra $200), and it's not quite as DIY, I recently set up both sets of my grandparents with this system, and they absolutely love it.

 
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GeoffwaG2 months ago

I just finished setting up my rig and everything works perfectly. My next pursuit is to make smaller bubbles like that Italian water that is served in glass. Any tried and true ideas? Thank you in advance. Peace.

G

Wondering if anybody's ever tried using a CO2 tank from a paintball gun.

1) It depends on your level of paranoia. When you finish filing it's safest to keep all the pressure in the cylinder when not in use with all controls at zero, better if the tank is supported and can't fall down.

2) Had the same problem then pulled the collar back on the female end before installing, like uninstalling but in reverse.

Yes, this can be done; however, you will likely need some kind of an adapter.

Most paintball canisters have a pin-valve, with which a regulator won't work. The simplest solution is to get a specially-made paintball to CGA 320 (or paintball to regulator) adapter.

Here are a couple links:

Aquatek AQUATEK CO2 Paintball Tank CGA 320 Adapter: http://aquatek-california.web.officelive.com/AQUATEKAccessories.aspx (available for sale on eBay, Amazon and other stores)

Unknown brand: http://cgi.ebay.com/Adapter-PAINTBALL-tank-conversion-CO2-Regulator-/350362950038?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5193425996

Good luck!
MDavisUSF7 months ago

I cant find a stainless steel schrader valve (tire valve) anywhere I have looked all over. I have the chrome plated ones however after about a year and I made some lemon drinks in them the chrome plating fell off into the water and the bottom of the cap is rusted.

KellyCraig7 months ago

I lucked out and picked up a twenty pound CO2 bottle with a gauge and a valve for five bucks at a garage sale. Starting there, I ordered the Carbonator cap and the quick disconnect it connects to via Amazon. Then, with a ten foot, clear hose and couple clamps, I was off and running.

It cost me eleven dollars to swap the bottle for a full one. Sure beats the price I paid for a Sodastream refill (around twenty dollars). Too, I get better results carbonating drinks, and can carbonate anything I want.

In the end, the price of everything would have cost me about the same as the Sodastream, a few bottles and four refills. Of course, the refills only give you about sixty charges, versus nearly a thousand with a twenty pound tank.

Thanks for being part of the collection of information which got me going. Now my Sodastream sits on the counter, waiting for me to list it on Amazon.

armorer2438 months ago
Also a little hint for everybody, if you have a fire extinguisher supply/service business they will have CO2 tanks and be able to refill them. I purchased (not rented or leased) my 20# bottle for $15, refills cost me $4. I own the bottle and can resell it if I ever want to.
armorer2431 year ago
Instead of the quick-coupling tire inflation chuck, I used a Prestacycle Schrader Hose Barb fitting, found here: http://www.amazon.com/Prestacycle-Schrader-Hose-Barb-Prestaflator/sim/B005DVE6YC/2

Clamps to the hose, screws into the schrader valve. Presto. I used some nickel-plated screw-in valve stems found at Advance Auto Parts for $4 per two-pack. No rubber flavor or risk of corrosion. Works great.

A little side note, I am having trouble when carbonating some fruit juices, they seem to want to foam like crazy when I unscrew the lid. Any suggestions?

Sodastream (I got one for $5 at a yard sale with most of the bottle of CO2 and 4 bottles) recommends carbonating only plain water, then adding the flavoring when served.

In Europe, I found a lot of people who poured half a glass of juice and then added half a glass of carbonated water.

verbatin018 months ago
Nice job putting together this Instructable! I've had trouble getting proper carbonation with the 60 psi regulator, even with the water being right out of the fridge. I'm looking for a 120 psi regulator right now, but I was wondering if you have had any problems with your beverages being flat at 60 psi.
BenTheMakerBot (author)  verbatin018 months ago
Not at all...For how long are you shaking the bottles?
Actually, I already had a SodaStream that I modified to work with the tank. The SodaStream bottles are also proprietary and stiffer, so the technique to squeeze the air out of the bottle wouldn't work. Shaking the bottle is also something i don't want to attempt with the SodaStream still attached. I've found that with the SodaStream mod, you can get away with your method, a higher pressure regulator, a couple of different pneumatic connectors, and an adapter for the SodaStream (~13 bucks on ebay). Your Instructable has been very helpful for me, so THANKS AGAIN!
verbatin019 months ago
You are totally on the same page as I! I wasn't going to spend the money with the SodaStream refills, either. So I did some poking around on the Internet and ultimately ended up going in a similar direction. I just received a brand new 20 pound tank this weekend and need to get it filled. So far everyone is closed for the Thanksgiving weekend, so I'm a little anxious!
MichaW10 months ago

i found this item very helpful!

http://www.aliexpress.com/snapshot/6266147432.html

Wingloader11 months ago

No comments below? Holy crap! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!! I just starting drinking flavored seltzer water and it runs about 3.50 USD for 12 cans. I drink a LOT of it. This is going to save me a freakin fortune! It will probably pay for itself in about 2 months at the rate I drink this stuff. Your under the sink installation is something to be proud of. Very nicely arranges and out of the way.

ayushgarg1 year ago

How do I overcome pressure leakage from the bottle cap?

frkdante5 years ago
Anyone know if there is a thing as CO2 pills? Sort of like seltzer tablets? If so, one would be able to drop a few in a water bottle.
Dry ice?
Available at Ice Creameries, certain grocery stores. It's frozen CO2, it doesn't melt - it sublimates into gas.
Chunks of dry ice will work, but it's relatively expensive, and if you drop it into a PET soda bottle and tighten the cap, you have little control over the peak pressure. The results would be bad for your health and others around you if the bottle should burst. Moreover, dry ice is very cold and will result in severe frostbite injury unless handled with tongs. It's much safer to work with a regulated gas supply from a cylinder.
you could use a tiny bit of yeast in a sealed bottle but be very careful, unattended for long enough and it WILL explode
skyline73492 years ago
I have this setup right now with the carbonator but it has be wondering. Restaurants are able to mix water and CO2 at the same time. Is there a way to carbonate water without having the shake it?
Rias882 years ago
can i use steel tank and regular CO2 regulator for this system?
waltbosz3 years ago
I really recommend for anyone that wants to do this Instructable to spend the extra money to get the Carbonator Cap that is mentioned. I started with the tire stem and I found it to have a number of problems. 1. The chuck did not secure onto the valve stem very well which resulted in a lot of wasted CO2. 2. The stem left a bad rubber taste to the water. 3. The carbonator cap and ball lock really do lock together well for a good secure fit which is important while shaking the bottle to mix up the water & CO2.

Other than that, this is a great Instructable. I love being able to make seltzer at home. I was able to get a 20lb CO2 tank, regulator, hoses, and 2 beer taps for $150 off CraigsList.
The Carbonater cap from Liquid Bread, Inc. has apparently been redesigned so that the ball-lock connector can no longer be locked in place.  All one can do is press the connector onto the Carbonater cap for a short burst of CO2, whereupon one is to shake the bottle and repeat the process 5-7 times.
Also, I've been thinking of upgrading my setup to use an industrial carbonator like the ones used in restaurant soda fountains. This Instructable shows you how to set one up http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Install-a-soda-fountain/ , or you can visit that author's original web page http://www.boneville.net/soda/start.htm
are standard welding gas cylinders food safe and do they contain food safe co2?
Carbon dioxide gas is carbon dioxide gas. It all comes from the same place, whether it's used for welding, paintball guns or pressurizing a soda system
razldazl154 years ago
I just cam across "BOB’S ENDLESS SELTZER SYSTEM" http://www.gravikord.com/seltzer.html ; from the picture it looks like a soda syphon connected to a CO2 tank. Has anyone tried some similar setup? This would negate the whole plastic bottle use and maybe even some of the shacking.
The Bob's Endless Seltzer System page is a bit skimpy on details. It appears to use a large external stainless steel keg as a water reservoir, pressurized with a regulated CO2 source, to force carbonated water through a cold plate mounted in the refrigerator via some tubing that passes through a hole one must drill into the refrigerator wall. That means the keg needs to be periodically refilled with filtered water and one would need to wait 24-48 hours for gas to diffuse into the water before it's ready to use. Something the size and weight of a stainless steel beer keg filled with water is almost certainly too heavy to pick up and shake to accelerate gas absorption. It's not clear if the siphon bottle needs to be continuously left connected to the hose in the refrigerator, or if one can disconnect it to carry it to the table and elsewhere. The current price for the siphon bottle is about $166, and they say one can assemble the complete system for about $400, depending on where one gets the parts. This Instructables project comes in quite a bit cheaper.
whayden4 years ago
I've copied this set up and it works pretty well. My questions is why we need to shake the water bottle, whereas the Penguin or Soda Stream just squirts the gas in?

The shaking is a pain in the butt. How do we get our system to work (shake free) like theirs?

Shaking the bottle vastly increases the area of contact between the gas and the liquid, accelerating the absorption of CO2 into the water.

If you have a secure, leak-free connection to the CO2 supply, all you need to do is pressurize the empty space above the liquid to 60 psi, or so, and the patience to wait 24-48 hours.  The gas will diffuse into the liquid without shaking until a saturated solution is produced.  It's the exact reverse of uncapping a soda and leaving it on your counter at ambient pressure, allowing the CO2 to come out of solution and dissipate in the air.
Their system wastes gas by injecting it into the water, which mixes the gas and water so that the gas can mix into the water. But, since such a small amount of gas has any chance to mix with the water (it's in the water for milliseconds, then it bubbles out the top) you have to press the button over and over again until enough gas has been mixed into the liquid... which wastes gas.

This system does not waste any gas, because it is a closed system. You shake the bottle to get the gas to mix with the water. That's why you have to shake it. If you don't like shaking it, then by all means buy the more expensive products that do all the hard work for you. I won't, but you can do whatever you want.

I suppose in THEORY that if you had a long tube put from the bottom of the inlet valve that had a very small air bubbler from a aquarium store you COULD get away from not shaking so much, but you would have to inject the gas, open the lid, and inject more gas until you had the right pressure--but you would still be wasting gas and the major point of this entire Instructable is that by doing a little bit of work you can save huge amounts of money

It is also slightly more dangerous (although, not much more dangerous than brewing beer at home which many people do) because there is no valve to release the pressure from the bottle except for the cap. However, this is a minimal risk, as soda bottles have to be tested to some crazy high number like 150PSI without exploding because people leave bottles in the backs of cars all the time.
asteadman2 years ago
Great Instructable!

I built this exactly as written. Had a couple issues with product numbers, but got enough info to get the right parts.

Had friends over and got to impress their kids buy making "Coke" from scratch. Too much fun!

One question... Once in the glass, the cola loses fizz VERY fast. 5 minutes maybe? Any idea what I'm doing wrong? I do live in Montana. Could elevation be an issue?

Thanks again for posting. Fun weekend project while waiting for my cider to harden. :)
Forgot to mention that I DID use the pre-fab cap from your link. Seems to work well, but it does leak under pressure. Anybody else experience this?
bearing12 years ago
Well Done
Great to see someone making their own seltzer and not using the store bought and chintzy method. I have been doing it for years. Only I have been refilling the old antique bottles from the 20's and 30's. Almost the same method but use a 35 PSI pump to fill the bottles with water, invert them bleed out the air usually it takes to times to fill the bottle. I use chilled water when filling then pressure with the C02. I normally shake while injecting the CO2 for more fizz. This puts to use my old and wonderful bottles. Now they are not just to look at but use on a regular basis. The water will stay "charged" indefinetly as it is sealed and the C02 is the propellant and shoots the water out when pressing the lever. 
breitung12 years ago
Nice instructable. I've basically done the same thing using a lot of your method. The RUBBER based stem, however, degrades in the CO2 atmosphere making the water taste like rubber.

I solved this by moving to METAL based stems - I found bent ones used for motorcycles to help the bottles fit in my fridge. Instead of 2L, I use 3L because the caps are larger and allow the fitting of the metal stem into the cap.

Rather than using a rubber gasket, i was careful to not tear the thin polymer film that's on the underside of every soda bottle. Usually available for about $1/bottle if you buy one with store brand orange soda. Using stainless steel washers and a nut to press the thin film against the underside of the plastic of the cap, i easily got a good seal.

I've been using the same bottles for at least 3 years - it's probably time to switch, but it's a great system.

Also - the metal fittings will allow for the insertion of a tube that can go to near the bottom of the bottle so you don't have to shake!
ameno63 years ago
So, how do the bubbles compare with store-bought fizzy water?
BenTheMakerBot (author)  ameno63 years ago
MUCH more bubbly...(Like at least 1.5 - 2x as carbonated)...Which also means that it lasts longer in the bottle before it goes flat!
timbooth3 years ago
Regarding the questions below on shaking by us compared with injecting by Soda stream.
I hold my bottles upsidedown whilst bubbling the gas in, thereby causing the gas to pass through the water, this reduces, but does not eliminate the shaking requirement.
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