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How to make Soft Drinks

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90 BILLION Bottles and Cans used in USA last year*


MAKE YOUR OWN SOFT DRINKS AT HOME


I have a CO2 Charger from Soda Club USA ( Soda Club International ) to carbonate filtered tap water. I buy concentrated syrup flavors from Prairie Moon Beverage Company in 4oz 120mL bottles. I sweeten with Generic Aspartame (Equal). I've never used sugar, so I'll provide a link to the syrup company's recipe page.

I estimate a 16oz 450mL Soft Drink costs me about 17 cents.

Supplies:

Soda Charger from Soda Club International
Concentrated Soda Flavors from Prairie Moon Beverage
Generic Aspartame, or Sugar, Sweet-n-Low, Splenda,...
Recycled glass bottle for Syrup (I use Snapple Bottles)

Cost:

Concentrated Syrup Flavors: Quantity discount ........ 24 - 4oz 120mL bottles @ $2.79 each
NatraTaste (same as NutraSweet or Equal) On Sale ...... 4.2 oz 120g 120 packets @ $3.00 each
CO2 Charger ...... $79.99+$19.99 S&H
* One Time Charge for Carbonation Machine & 2 Carbonating Bottles
* Includes 2 refillable cylinders of CO2 makes 60 Liters of Carbonated Water ea.
* Divide the start up cost of the charger it is about 83.3 cents per Liter for first 120L
* For gas refills the cost goes down to about 50 cents per Liter.
* Watch for sales - I got free shipping. Right now gas refills are on sale for 1/2 price

When I amortize out the cost of the Carbonater I am saving money

Here are the REAL savings that I love:

I don't have a car. Carrying home big bottles is a pain
Grocery delivery option costs too much also
I don't have to go to the grocery as often
I don't need as much fridge/cabinet space
I can sweeten to my preference
I can reduce the flavor for a lighter soda
No Caffeine (some premixed syrup is Caffeinated)
I can drink plain soda or any of 6 flavors right now (could easily be more)
* 61 flavors are available!
I can just flavor the soda water with a lime, lemon or orange
I also like unflavored seltzer
Fruit Juice and seltzer mixed half and half tastes great.
I don't have to deal with recycling
I don't need to store anything except the charger and back up cylinder
In the fridge
* 6 Snapple bottles of syrup,
* 2 1 Liter bottles of plain soda
* 12 - 4oz 120mL bottles of concentrated syrup -
* * lined up at the back, or side, of one shelf they consume 1.75" depth
Fridge savings aren't only space, but also electricity

Public benefits I like:

City doesn't have to deal with my recycling: driving to dump, separating etc
No factory recycling my bottles
Trucks aren't driving water from a factory, to a store, and then to my house.
Grocery isn't storing soda
Grocery isn't air conditioning soda space
* I think a rack of 4oz bottles could replace the space with maybe 3' width?
Bottle company employees, trucker, stock clerk & Cashier in grocery do not have to
lug around big bottles
Giving my business to entrepreneur (Prairie Moon) instead of huge soda companies

There are probably more reasons. That's just how it works for me and why I like it.

In the following steps, I'll show how I mix syrups, carbonate water and make sodas.

BIG NOTE ABOUT MEASUREMENTS AND COSTS

There are huge possibilities for cost differences. I like a lightly flavored, lightly sweetened, highly carbonated soda. If you like a different style your costs and measurements will be different.

Costs change drastically with quantity also. I can only tell you what it costs for me.

*I rounded all Metric conversions to what I think is probably the common size used.

* * For example the 4oz bottle of concentrate actually contains 118mL. I used 120mL for the calculations.

* * A single serving in the U.S. is 16oz, that is 473mL. I used 450mL for the single serving conversion as I think that is the standard size used in many countries.

Please let me know if you find a large error. Small mismatches in conversions are probably because of the simplification of measures.

*Soda Club USA
 
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Step 1: Ordering and using the Soda Siphon/Charger/Carbonater

Picture of Ordering and using the Soda Siphon/Charger/Carbonater
I bought my Carbonator / Soda Siphon / CO2 Charger from Soda Club USA ( Soda Club International ) to carbonate filtered tap water. Carbonater does not use electricity.

They have several different models to chose from. My model takes a 33oz gas cylinder. This will carbonate about 110L of cold water.

My original order included the carbonating machine, two gas cylinders and two carbonating bottles.

Soda Club's large gas cylinders are refillable. This is better than the most common type of soda siphon that uses one time use, individual charger cartridges for each Liter of water.

Soda Club sells the chargers with two cylinders so you can continue using the charger while waiting for an empty cylinder to be refilled. You can also purchase additional back up cylinders.

My order was delivered in 2 days. From what I understand, they have local folks as local distributors. These individuals will exchange your cylinder when it is empty. You do not need to ship, or mail it in anywhere. Place the order and you will receive a date when the delivery is scheduled. Leave the cylinder by your front door and it is magically full when you come back home. Reminds me of the Milk Man when I was a kid.

I suppose I might get faster service because I'm in San Francisco, an Eco friendly big city.

The system also came with two Soda Club bottles. These are heavy plastic bottles that I fill with (only) cold water and then mount on the machine and carbonate. There are suggestions on most Make your Own soda sites, to carbonate these full bottles of water and then add syrup to have a bottle of flavored Soft Drink.

I prefer to keep only water in the bottles. When I want a soft drink, I pour one ounce of syrup into a glass and fill it the rest of the way with carbonated water.

This way I can keep many different flavors of syrup on hand to make into a soft drink in an instant.
I also can drink the carbonated water as just clear seltzer, use a squeeze of lemon, or dilute fruit juices half and half. There are many suggestions to use carbonated water on stains (I haven't tested this).

If you would rather have full bottles of soft drinks, you can order additional charger bottles from Soda Club.

How to charge a liter of water


Warning - do not attempt to charge anything but water. Other liquids will cause a mess.
There is a line on the side of the bottle that shows the fill level.

Add cold filtered water to this line.

Screw the bottle onto the charger.

Depress the button on the top.

The charger will make a loud noise when fully charged. You can depress the button a few more times if you like more carbonation.

Unscrew the bottle from the charger and put the cap on.

Pretty simple.

Colder water holds more carbonation.

Machine service and maintenance


I've found the surface to be easy to wipe clean if I splatter it with something (It is on my kitchen counter). Because you only carbonate clean water, there is no cleaning of any kind necessary.

When the gas cylinder is empty:
* Unscrew the empty cylinder
* Replace with the full spare cylinder
* Put the cover back on the machine
* Put the empty cylinder in the box you just removed the new one from
* Order a gas refill by phone or on the internet
* On your delivery date, put your gas cylinder outside your door. Don't wrap or box it up.
* A full cylinder will be exchanged for the empty one

These cylinders are refilled over and over. This is so much better than the single use cartridges that are disposed or recycled.



BIG NOTE ABOUT MEASUREMENTS AND COSTS

There are huge possibilities for cost differences. I like a lightly flavored, lightly sweetened, highly carbonated soda. If you like a different style your costs and measurements will be different.

Costs change drastically with quantity also. I can only tell you what it costs for me.

*I rounded all Metric conversions to what I think is probably the common size used.

* * For example the 4oz bottle of concentrate actually contains 118mL. I used 120mL for the calculations.

* * A single serving in the U.S. is 16oz, that is 473mL. I used 450mL for the single serving conversion as I think that is the standard size used in many countries.

Please let me know if you find a large error. Small mismatches in conversions are probably because of the simplification of measures.

Step 2: About the Syrup

Picture of About the Syrup
MixSoda.jpg

MAKING YOUR OWN SYRUP


There are premixed syrups available for sale on several sites including Soda Club and Prairie Moon.

I prefer to mix my own syrups.

I purchase concentrated soft drink flavorings from Prairie Moon Beverage Company in 4oz 120mL bottles.

I sweeten my soda with Generic Aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet). You can use almost any kind of sweetener that you prefer. I've never used sugar, so I'll provide a link to Prairie Moon Beverage Companies Recipe Page.

Prairie Moon syrups can also be used to flavor coffees, ice cream, and in mixed drinks.

Prairie Moon offers 41 flavors of concentrated syrup flavorings. I'll include a list of these flavors on the last step. They are continuously adding new flavors to try out (they also drop the most unpopular - they can't all be hits).

They are sold in 4oz 120mL bottles. Although you can buy individual bottles of syrup concentrate, the price is reduced for larger orders. Order 24 bottles and the price is only $2.49 per bottle. You can pick any variety of flavors for the order. You could purchase 24 different flavors in that single order. The choice is up to you.

I ordered 12 bottles in an assortment of flavors with doubles of my favorites. Since it was my first order I didn't want to do the full 24 until I'd tasted them. Now I'd have no problem ordering 24. These flavorings are DELICIOUS. I can also mix them with my favorite sweetener and to the strength that I choose.



BIG NOTE ABOUT MEASUREMENTS AND COSTS

There are huge possibilities for cost differences. I like a lightly flavored, lightly sweetened, highly carbonated soda. If you like a different style your costs and measurements will be different.

Costs change drastically with quantity also. I can only tell you what it costs for me.

*I rounded all Metric conversions to what I think is probably the common size used.

* * For example the 4oz bottle of concentrate actually contains 118mL. I used 120mL for the calculations.

* * A single serving in the U.S. is 16oz, that is 473mL. I used 450mL for the single serving conversion as I think that is the standard size used in many countries.

Please let me know if you find a large error. Small mismatches in conversions are probably because of the simplification of measures.

Step 3: Recipe

Picture of Recipe
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My delivery of 12 bottles of syrup was in a box about 1/2 the size of a shoe box (I wear a size 12 shoe).

Syrups and sodas are mixed to taste. You may get more or less per bottle of concentrate, and you may use more or less sweetening.

I mix my soda with about 1/2 the sweetness of Prairie Moon's recipe. I also mix my soda with a little less syrup than suggested. I prefer the light, not overly sweet sodas that I can make at home.

MIXING INSTRUCTIONS


Syrup

1 oz (30mL) Concentrated Syrup Flavoring
30 Packets of Equal (Aspartame) The brand was on sale but I usually buy the generic
* I haven't found large quantity sweetener in anything but individual serve packets!
15 oz (420mL) Water 1/2 warm and 1/2 cold

1 oz (30mL) measure
16 oz (450mL) repurposed glass bottle - I use Snapple bottles mainly

Fill one half clean empty Snapple bottle with warm water.
Add 30 packets of Aspartame.

Cover and shake. Let bottle sit for a few minutes.
Then shake until sweetener is dissolved.

Add 1 oz (30mL) Concentrated Syrup Flavoring
Cover and Shake.

Fill the rest of the way to the top with Cold Filtered Water.

Refrigerate mixed syrup.

Syrup concentrate does not need to be refrigerated when unopened but will last longer if it is.

Mixing a single serving of Soft Drink


In a 16 oz (450mL) glass, add 1 oz (30 mL) mixed syrup (I use slightly less), pour in plain seltzer water from Soda Club bottle. Stir gently, add ice and top off with soda.

How Much does 4oz (118mL) Concentrate make?

32 oz (1.8L) Syrup

Finished soft drink -
*32 16oz 450mL servings
*3.75 gallons 14.5L

All estimates are based on my taste
Cost per 16oz (450mL) serving:
7 cents concentrate
1.3 cents sweetener
9 cents Soda Water (gas only)

Total 17.3 cents per 16oz 450mL serving of Soda



BIG NOTE ABOUT MEASUREMENTS AND COSTS

There are huge possibilities for cost differences. I like a lightly flavored, lightly sweetened, highly carbonated soda. If you like a different style your costs and measurements will be different.

Costs change drastically with quantity also. I can only tell you what it costs for me.

*I rounded all Metric conversions to what I think is probably the common size used.

* * For example the 4oz bottle of concentrate actually contains 118mL. I used 120mL for the calculations.

* * A single serving in the U.S. is 16oz, that is 473mL. I used 450mL for the single serving conversion as I think that is the standard size used in many countries.

Please let me know if you find a large error. Small mismatches in conversions and cost estimates, are probably because of the simplification of measures.

Step 4: Syrup Flavors

Picture of Syrup Flavors

Syrup Concentrate Flavors


41 flavors in 4oz 120mL bottles are currently available in concentrated from from Prairie Moon Beverage Company .

Some are meant to be used for other things like flavoring coffees, ice cream, snow cones,...

All can be used for Soft Drinks.
*Personal note: Cream soda is the best I've ever tasted

CURRENT FLAVOR LIST - Nov 2008


Almond Cola
Lemon
Pink Lemon Sour (pink lemonade)
Amaretto
Cotton Candy
Lemon Drop (lemonade)
Red Raspberry
Banana
Creme de Menthe
Lemon Lime
Root Beer
Blackberry
Cream Soda
Lime
Sarsaparilla
Black Cherry
Fruit Punch (hawaiian)
Mango
Sour Cherry
Blueberry
Fuzzy Navel
Maraschino Cherry
Sour Grape
Blue Raspberry
Fuzzy Peach
Marshmallow
Strawberry
Butterscotch
Ginger Ale
Margarita
Strawberry Banana
Caramel
Grape
Orange
Strawberry Daiquiri
Cherry
Green Apple
Orange Dream
Tigers Blood
Chocolate
Guava
Orange Pineapple
Vanilla
Chocolate Malted
Hazelnut
Papaya
Watermelon
Chocolate Raspberry
Irish Creme
Peppermint
Wedding Cake
Cinnamon
Kahlua
Pina Colada
Coconut
Key Lime Pie
Pineapple
Coffee
Kiwi
Pink Bubblegum
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Morris018 months ago

sounds amazing to drink but still looks expend!!!

debmce44 years ago
I have a carbonator and some Italian syrup. I would like to make soda at home and I have read that citric acid is needed to give it that soda tangy taste. Does anyone have a recipe for making soda from syrup?
s55 debmce41 year ago
I also use a sodastream carbonator but I was not impressed by the included soda syrups. I purchased Torani Italian soda syrups in multiple flavors, raspberry, lemon, ginger, ad hazelnut. to make a glass first pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the syrup in a glass of ice. Then fill it with carbonated water and add 1-2 tablespoons of half and half or heavy cream.
Not the same I like store bought better nice instructable though!
kitkat82 years ago
I have a SodaStream that looks almost the same as that. It is great you can even buy pre-made syrups with the sugar in them if you are feeling extra lazy! It was one of the best kitchen gadgets I've ever gotten! Making your own syrup flavours by boiling fruit juices and sugar down is fun too!
acabrera72 years ago
you can get Sodastream.
SodaStream has a refillable/replaceable gas bottle and
you can take it to the specialised shop (in my case, Australia has Big W)
and i'm pretty sure u can use any flavour....
you can get a SodaStream pack, which has a CO2 injector, flavour samples and a SodaStream soda bottle
neufuture5 years ago
"Generic Aspartame, or Sugar, Sweet-n-Low, Splenda,..." Should be a disclaimer here. Chemicals aren't meant for consumption
If you're drinking soda artificial sweeteners are the last thing you should be worriedabout.The studies on hfcs are much worse.By your logic food is not for human consumption.Being that everything in nature is chemicals
Do an internet search for Stevia Natural Spring Water Flavor.
Stevia is an all natural sweetener
You are right mate. Before using Aspartame you should Google it.
but when you buy a diet soda the sweetener is aspertame, equal and sweet-n-low are bot aspertame. I believe what he is referring to is store-brand fake sugar.
collard416 years ago
does it taste as good as coke? or does it taste homemade?
SFHandyman (author)  collard416 years ago
I like the flavors a lot. Coke, Pepsi and other colas all have little flavor differences. The Cola from flavor is also it's own cola taste. I like it just as well as the commercial brands.
Unfortunately there are "epicures" such as my wife who can tell the difference among the varieties of cola-flavored drink. About 20 years ago we were able to get authentic Coke syrup from the guy who sold us our old home soda maker (Scandinavian - I forget the name). We haven't found any distributors since who will sell Coke syrup in home-use lots. If anyone here has any information on whom to contact for genuine Coke Classic syrup, I'd be very grateful.
DynV The Eck4 years ago
You could contact a restaurant distributor, they are really big companies, the one the restaurant I worked for used provided for half my province, although I suspect they'd refuse you or charge prohibitive costs. The better way would be to become friendly with a restaurant manager that serve it in fountain and ask if he could get an extra syrup box for you next order although s/he might make some money off that so try a few places.
Check out warehouse stores (SAMs Costco) They have Bag in Box for Soda Fountains ... you can use that for your "home made" soda. Brand name will be +/- $100 generic +/- $40. This is for 5 Gallon size.
Dumbhead4 years ago
Hi there,
Thanks for a really great 'ible!
Perhaps some readers could help me with a related problem of my own...
I recently aquired some 20L containers of concentrated "sweet flavouring" (I assume for making sweets) and since its in flavours that I like as soda, I was wondering if they could be made to work as soda flavouring - admittedly my first attempts have been horrible, just turning to foam, and watery flavoured when I reduce the concentration.... but perhaps some readers have more experiance with the product?
dkiehl Dumbhead4 years ago
take 1 oz of water, add 1- 2 drops of your flavoring... try it. if it is ok then that is how to mix it before you carbonate your drink if it is 10 drops per ounce then add 160 drops per 16 oz bottle ( I would measure the 160 drops maybe it is a tablespoon)
Another tip is take your flavoring add it to the empty bottle & freeze it. Chill the water until it is almost freezing. Fill your plastic bottle to the top of the label, squeeze the bottle until it has no air ( almost none) inside & cap. Then fill with 50-80 PSI of CO2.
Enjoy
lil larry4 years ago
For some reason putting more sugar into soda makes it more fizzier (to me it did).
kay.4 years ago
Just FYI: in Europe (metric system and all), bottles usually come in 0.5, 1, 1.5 and 2 litre units. A regular "small" fizzy drink/juice/mineral water bottle would be 500ml. (There are also 0.33 bottles but they aren't that common..)
sharkh2o6 years ago
I've been making my own soda pop for years. It's great fun, saves money, and you can make some wild flavors - my own concoctions include dreamsicle, cookies and cream, and banana split soda pops! I bought a unit called SodaQuick for doing the forced carbonation method. They use the same canisters as paintball guns, so it's even cheaper to refill. Oh and don't believe that "food grade" CO2 nonsense - pure CO2 is pure CO2. Restaurants buy CO2 from welder supply companies for their soda machines - paintball suppliers buy their CO2 from the SAME welder supply companies! Another very cheap way to make soda pop is to brew it using champagne yeast, sugar, flavoring, water, and clean empty 2 liter bottles. Most grocery stores sell the flavors. For a cheap caffeine free homemade Mt. Dew knockoff mix 2 packets of lemon lime Koolaid with 1 pack of lemonade Kooaid, sweeten with sugar or Splenda.
are you from the south?
Uhm, yeah - how did you know? I didn't think I wrote with an accent...
because you say soda pop. On the west coast, we say "soda" or "coke". On the east coast, they say "pop". In the south, you say "soda pop"
SFHandyman (author)  Admiral Puffinfresh6 years ago
That's why I defaulted to "Soft Drinks".
Good choice. =D
Agreed! ^_^
In the midwest it is just Pop.
I say soda or else no one would know what i meant. I used to say Pop when i was a little kid.
Nah, in the south we say soda or coke. No one uses "pop" or any variety there of unless they're trying to make a point they're not from the area. But "pick up some cokes" normally means "pick up a coca-cola and something else as well." Ah, the subtleties of soda dialect...
Just like i know killerjackalope is british.
SFHandyman (author)  sharkh2o6 years ago
"Food Grade"? That's crazy. I wouldn't have fallen for that. I did know about brewing to get carbonation. The flavors sound fun. Thanks.
Yeah, the Soda Quick distributor tried to tell me that his CO2 was "food grade" quality lol! He was trying to get me to buy CO2 only from him. I forgot to mention another way to make soda pop - the dry ice method. (Dry ice is of course frozen CO2). Buying it could get expensive, you can get your hands on some free dry ice at your grocery store. Ice cream vendors ship their product packed in dry ice. The grocery store just throws it out, so if you're friendly with the manager he'll probably just give it to you. You have to wear gloves for safety and work quickly since dry ice melts fast, but all you do is break off chunks add it to plastic bottles with cold water and refrigerate. When you're ready to drink add flavoring and enjoy!
recipe for dry ice soda bomb? really?
Well, if you add too much dry ice it will explode - of course if you let the yeast ferment too long in the brewing method it will explode too. This is why you use PLASTIC bottles, if you screw up you’ll just make a mess.
SFHandyman (author)  sharkh2o6 years ago
So many fun Ideas. The SQ distributor maybe fell for it and didn't know the difference, or lack of difference in this instance.
If you us yeast wouldn't the "soda" contain alcohol?
Technically yes but it is a VERY small amount of alcohol – about the same amount you’d find in a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. You only brew it for a couple of days anyway. Of course you use champagne yeast because it produces a lot of CO2 and only trace amounts of alcohol during that time.
Something very cool that I found was an instructable about making your own carbinator (SP) It would work nicely with this :) I enjoy making carbonated watermelon kool-aid.  Very nice BTW :)
BustedFlush5 years ago
They do, but you're going to pay $5 for 12 liters worth. I think the Prairie Moon syrup concentrates are a much better value overall, but if you're a caffeine addict like me you'll need to find an alternative.
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