Instructables

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 liquid in about 30 seconds. Colder liquids absorb more CO2 carbonation.

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

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 recently taken to flavoring my soda water with lemon juice; I 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...

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.

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 apparently 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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ayushgarg2 months ago

How do I overcome pressure leakage from the bottle cap?

frkdante4 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
armorer2439 months 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?
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?
Rias881 year ago
can i use steel tank and regular CO2 regulator for this system?
waltbosz2 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
razldazl152 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.
whayden3 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.
asteadman1 year 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?
bearing11 year 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. 
breitung11 year 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!
ameno62 years ago
So, how do the bubbles compare with store-bought fizzy water?
letsapocalypso (author)  ameno62 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!
timbooth2 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.
Eddie_T2 years ago
Since we have to shake vigorously to carbonate I wonder how Sodastream accomplishes it without shaking?
llathrop2 years ago
http://stores.kegconnection.com/Detail.bok?no=245
everything but the co2 tank, in an assembled kit, including carbonator cap for less than the cost of parts everywhere else...and they shipped quick! they also have a kit with the tank.I happened to check these guys for the regulator as they were local to me, but it turns out they moved a few cities away. still the best price I found .
mugsisme2 years ago
Well, started gathering the supplies, bought a chuck at Pep Boys, opened it up and see that it says to wash your hands after touching it as according to the state of CA, it contains materials known to cause cancer, etc. Are they all like that?
stevenh4292 years ago
What exactly is a "plastic pipe clamp"?

I am going to make this soon
oh sorry, i was on a computer with out those picture notes :O, now i get it
joe.seltzer2 years ago
I love the idea of this and I actually am in the process of setting it up, but I would love to use bottles other than plastic 2 litter bottles. Those are the worst kind of plastic and using them over and over again doesn't sound very good and buying fresh ones all the time seems to defeat the purpose. Has anyone found glass or aluminum bottles that work with this system?

J
screamkitty2 years ago
You can get a generic dual-gauge CO2 regulator for $42 at SodaDispenserDepot.com.

You could also buy a used carbonator for $150

..And, you can add the final touch with a used soda gun for ~ $75 - $85
clibanarius3 years ago
Yes, we had our first glass of home-made seltzer tonight! I'd already had a 20oz paintball CO2 canister and a Gentec regulator (which I think is usually used for welding), so there were a number of different issues to solve. But so far so good! Still need to learn how to control the flow better with this setup.
gromit19433 years ago
Can an ordinary pop bottle safely withstand 50 psig?

I wonder what pressure a bottle of Coke, say, is at when opened.

--Terry
!00% of the bottles can stand well over 100psi, the reason for this is that Coca-Cola does not wish bad press and the expenses associated if a Coke bottle left it in the sun in the car while shopping would explode. The dissolved gas in a warm liquid is rather small (Henry's law), therefore the pressure increases to over 100PSI and the bottle has to hold. I read somewhere that 90% of the bottles can stand 150PSI.
rloomis Eurober3 years ago
Is there risk to having the water in plastic containers in terms of pollutants?
http://www.livestrong.com/article/131237-dangers-plastic-containers/


Just curious. I really like the idea of carbonation my water.
Thank you for your reply. I stand reassured.

--Terry
nitehawk863 years ago
Also a 20lb tank is massivly overkill. I use 5lb tanks that are easy to get at any beer distributor. I serve with the gas as well as carbonate, so I am not sure how much carbonation I could get out of a single tank, however it is quite a bit.
beehard443 years ago
do you think this'll work with a co2 air duster?
because i still need to travel just to get a small, expensive can of co2 but i can easily buy an air duster for $4
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