Introduction: Make Your Own Soda - - Cheap!

Picture of Make Your Own Soda - - Cheap!

So I like carbonated beverages. Soda, Beer (especially beer), Champagne, whatever bubbly.
So I found this Lindsay Press deal about how to make your own soda.
There are three options
1. Spend a lot of money and buy a commercial soda fountain or it's parts. Expect to pay at least $200 even on ebay for a carbonator unit (a pump and a chamber probably without regulators)
2. Ferment. Take sugar water, add yeast and wait. This is definitely the lowest cost solution, but I don't like to wait.
3. Follow the instructions that follow
4. OK There is a fourth option: Buy the premade stuff (but hey, this is "instructables" right? We like to Do it ourselves.

So Stuff you will need: CO2 canister - If you can't afford one (or don't drink enough beer to have a kegerator) then troll the streets. Restaurants often leave these out in back to be exchanged with new ones. Choose a large chain restaurant to steal from. No, don't steal. CO2 is useful for other projects. Buy a cylinder. They last a long time (essentially forever) You will need to buy a regulator. $40. buy a new one.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
I chose this method since I had a CO2 cylinder, regulators, hoses, fittings and whatnot already in my possession. If you don't have stuff like that, then fear not. The total cost will still be less than that of the in-line carbonator devices.
So gather your materials:
*Plastic 2-liter bottles - they must have that ring below the neck
  • There are 2 neck sizes , and I have built this for the smaller, more common size.
  • Metal plate - about one square foot should be plenty. Stainless steel is probably ideal. I used plain old mild steel, and aluminum could work if it's thick enough not to bend easily.
  • Pipe Fittings - I'm using 1/4" pipe fittings
  • short nipple (i used brass)
  • valve (also brass)
  • quick disconnect air fittings (2 male, 2 female) and some air hose
  • teflon tape
  • CO2 cylinder ( you can get a very small one which will last a good long time at a beer brewing supply store, or a welding supply store)
  • CO2 regulators (also available at brewing supply store or welding supply store)
  • wing nuts and carriage bolts (1/4" are good) about 2 inches long.
  • some kind of gasket material. -- silicon aquarium sealant is probably best, but I have used bike innertube successfully

Step 2: Metalwork - Make the Plates

Picture of Metalwork - Make the Plates

First measure and cut two plates of your metal.
Mine are about 1.5 inches by 3 inches.
Notice the image below. You are planning to make the bottom plate with a slot in it to fit around the neck of the plastic bottle below the "shoulder", and the bolts will run up through both plates to secure the top plate against the opening in the top of the neck. The top plate will have the hole for the CO2 to be delivered into the container full of cold water.
Before you get started, put the container filled with water into the refrigerator.

Then cut your plates.
measure for the u-shaped cut out.
The neck of the plastic bottles is almost exactly one inch, so my plate is cut out to about 1 1/8 inch, which is a bit large, but still works.

So then cut the u-shape however you can. I used a cutting torch to do mine. You can use a hole-saw perhaps to start then a hack saw to finish, or perhaps you use a jig-saw or recip-saw. Whatever you have.

Next you need to drill the holes for the clamping bolts. Stack the plates, and drill both plates at once. This way your holes will be sure to line up even if they are not perfectly spaced.

Last, drill and tap the hole for your CO2 fittings. Mine are 1/4" Pipe.

Step 3: Assemble Fittings

Picture of Assemble Fittings

You now are ready to assemble the fittings.
The CO2 will enter the assembly through a quick-release air coupling. These are commonly used in workshops for air tools, blow guns, and tire fillers.
I added a valve so that I could detach the supply without blasting out all of the gas. It is a nice feature but not required.
See the picture, it's pretty obvious.

Step 4: Add a Gasket to the Plate

Picture of Add a Gasket to the Plate

in order for the gasses to stay in the bottle during carbonation, you'll want a gasket.
I tried
automotive RTV gasket maker
100% silicon sealer (caulk)
glued-on bike inner tube

the bike inner tube works the best. It's not pretty.
It imparts no flavor to the product, and if you have a more food-grade gasket, that would probably be better.
I contemplated cutting up my wife's silpat cookie sheet, but I like being married.

Step 5: Make Soda

Picture of Make Soda
so now you are ready to make it.
Get your bottle of water from the fridge.
Open the cap
Attach the assembly and screw the clamping screws on tight. Just tight, not overly tight.
close the valve
attach the CO2 line
open the tank valve
adjust the pressure on the regulator to about 50 PSI
open the valve on the bottle.
Check for leaks, and hisses.
Shake the bottle for about 30 seconds to a minute (more shaking == more fizz )
close valve on bottle.
Disconnect quick-release
close CO2 tank valve.
open bottle valve slowly
remove assembly
enjoy bubbles.


dalesql (author)2014-05-17

The only quibble I would have with your setup, and it is fairly minor with the way you use it, is the potential for metal poisoning. Carbonated water is by itself a weak acid, and if left in contact with copper, brass, or bronze, will leach copper from the metal into the carbonated water. The copper can have adverse effects on your body, and if there is enough consumed, it is quite toxic. It will also corrode the steel, but iron in this form is much better tolerated by our body chemistry.

The way you use this setup, the contact of carbonated water and the brass fittings is fairly brief and should not cause any problems. IF this does still bother you, or want to have carbonated beverages on tap, then change over to stainless steel or food grade plastics for the surfaces that are in contact with the carbonated water. Cola flavors are more acidic and this is more of a problem with them. If you have small children or pregnant ladies, or nursing moms in the house, be more careful, as metal poisoning is very bad for developing nervous tissue.

juggler (author)dalesql2014-05-30

You are right ! I have since switched over to full on keg sized soda making for most of my soda water needs, and I agree that people should definitely heed your advice. Perhaps I should remove this instructable...

Now I use this product to make 2-liter batches

hossmonkey (author)2011-02-12

Can either of these regulators from Harbor freight be used for the project? If not could you explain why?


I would assume this hose would work since adding the pressure from the regulator doesn't excede 90PSI?


tradergordo (author)2007-12-22

The method in this instructible:
Is better, easier, and cheaper.

bluefringes (author)tradergordo2010-11-18

I disagree because the tire valve is made with copper that is not food-grade. It contains lead and it will leach it into your drinks.

juggler (author)tradergordo2007-12-24

Well, I don't know how you are qualifying "better, easier, and cheaper" because it is exactly the same method except for where you connect to the water bottle... whatever.

tradergordo (author)juggler2007-12-24

Sorry, was just putting the comment there for someone that might be looking to do home carbonation so they knew there was easier ways. I don't know why people make this more complicated than they have to. Heck even the other instructable makes it more complicated than it has to be. Just stick a 1/4 inch barb onto your regulator if it doesn't already have one, attach a tube, and stick a 99 cent tire inflater on the end of the tube. Then stick a cheap schrader valve in a plastic soda bottle cap and you are done. You can carbonate any liquid in about 5 seconds. Better, easier, cheaper, faster, whatever...

bluefringes (author)tradergordo2010-11-18

Yeah, except that the copper in the tire valve is not food-grade copper. It contains lead and will leach lead into your drinks. Toxic stuff!

Jwoody69 (author)tradergordo2008-09-11

I noticed in the original article that a kegerator is referenced but I have also noticed that soda regulators have pressures of 160 PSI but beer regulators only go to 60 PSI. I have found really nice beer regulators at some of the lowest prices at but they only sell beer regulators and beer kegerator equipment. Is it enough for soda too?

tradergordo (author)Jwoody692008-09-12

60 is plenty. A two liter soda bottle is supposed to be able to handle up to 200 psi but in testing they can burst around 140 psi. Of course in the real world you don't want to get anywhere near their burst point. Most people do not like having more than 30 psi carbonation for their soda, and commercial soda products never exceed 30. Its actually hard to drink (and annoying) at much higher levels of carbonation (you'll be burping continuously).

Jwoody69 (author)tradergordo2008-09-12

hmmmm maybe I do need a soda regulator so I can make some special 120 psi soda for my mother-in-law and sit back and watch the show.....

fiducianullus (author)juggler2010-04-26

lol - be nice dude.

fiducianullus (author)2010-04-26

This can be done with dry ice too. Maybe I'll  'ible that

loqk (author)2008-12-07

By the way, I notice a lot of people seem to carbonate warm liquids. It is known that gasses (non polar) dissolve more readily in cold water and salts (polar) dissolve more readily in warm water. So for maximum absorption of CO2, make sure your drink is ice cold before adding CO2

nanonot (author)2008-09-30

Can i use any kind of tubing from the CO2 tank to the bottle?

BuilderboY (author)2007-07-09

haha, is that that one effect in photo booth?

Oompa-Loompa (author)BuilderboY2008-07-31

ya i saw that on my mom's new laptop.

dave48858 (author)2008-07-30

perfectly safe as far as the bottle holding up, I put 180 pounds on my setup (20 oz, 1l, 2l, & 3l bottles). your contraption for the top, I'm not too sure about. when I made mine, I just used a valve stem, took the valve out, drilled a small hole through the cap, attached the valve stem there, 1/4 in hose to a couple ball valves and it worked fine, much cleaner and quicker. also turning the bottle upside down in introducing the co2 made it carbonate much quicker. best of luck, Dave

Matt D655 (author)2008-07-19

you should use a mix of 70% nitrogen and 30% Co2 for crbonation, co2 is ok but nitrogen is better.

sneigke (author)Matt D6552008-07-21

Oh, and it's the CO2 which actually carbonates, not the nitrogen...

sneigke (author)Matt D6552008-07-21

For Guiness, yes... Soda... NO! The N gives Guiness beer that heavy, lingering, cool looking head. I don't think I'd want that in my rootbeer!

Wired_24_7 (author)2008-06-23

wow... that video looks pretty dangerous! Not sure if I would try that without protective gear, you have a little bottle rocket in your hands.

casper.707 (author)2008-02-23

I are ben, you are cheap! A pack of napkins is only like two dollars at wally world

i are ben (author)casper.7072008-02-29

what is a good brand of napkin then?

Rishnai (author)i are ben2008-05-26

The kind that doens't look like truckstop toilet paper--a.k.a. 40-grit, translucent, and won't absorb anything. If it looks fluffy, it's probably a good napkin. Get six dollars together and buy three brands if you're not sure.

i are ben (author)2008-02-10

Were can I purchase a napkin without buying a whole pack?

HHAHAHAHAHAHAHA try wendy's, McDonalds, or any other fast food resteraunt, they give them out free.

ValdezB (author)2008-01-17

Your loundry dryer sounds great :)

cprmichael (author)2007-12-26
Two quick comments. 1) Keep in mind while shaking that even though it's a closed pressurized system, gravity is still in effect and if you shake the bottle higher than the regulator, the "water" will tend to run down the tube and into the regulator where it (conceivably) could mold and contaminate the next batch. I learned this the hard way, carbonating home brew. 2) Keep an eye on the regulator pressure and resist the temptation to crank the pressure way up for a quick carbonation. I don't know the bursting pressure of a PET bottle but when they go, they tend to explode big time.
davidlaska (author)2007-07-05

I have these parts:
1 - A navy CO2 extinguisher, looks and feels like older diving heavy air tanks

2 - An empty water extinguisher with a build in pressure gauge and tire valve and rated refillable. (big silver stainless steel ones that spray water under air pressure)

3 - A few new high pressure propane hoses with air valves for filling tire.

4 - An access to brass fittings for conversion and etc.

Can I put a tire air filler on the CO2 bottle and Carbonate water in the water silver container and shake it after the pressure guage reach 100 psi, (recommend refill pressure)?

The key concern is skipping the regulator. Larger canisters seems to reach over-pressure limits at a slower safe speed while watching the pressure gauge

It is not safe as a routine without a regulator but maybe monthly with a clear head and cold CO2 tank?

I do not have money to go shopping and I am dying for carbonation. That would be a luxury.

juggler (author)davidlaska2007-07-05

I would definitely worry about the purity of the co2 in a fire extinguisher. I have never used or played with one so I don't know if they add any other chemicals. It seems like they might. If you are having it filled, then you could make sure it holds only pure co2. Otherwise, the only thing to worry about is over pressurizing the water extinguisher if you don't have regulation. Probably be worth a try, though. If you're careful, you should be able to stop filling the water extinguisher in time to not over do it...

kamu11 (author)juggler2007-11-19

You do not add any chemicals or anything at all to a fire extinguisher filled with co2. The co2 for fires and carbonation are exactly the same

davidlaska (author)juggler2007-07-28

I found some information about people buying old CO2 extinguishers and using them up and changing the valve of the bottle. My project worked, but I never did get the it as bubbly stating as soft drinks.

davidlaska (author)juggler2007-07-06

I did it and I liked seeing it done in person. I did remove the stop in the tire filler so the CO2 canisters hose would not blow (since it was designed to direct co2 out. But the water extinguisher is leaky and now I am worried about what the Navy added to the their extinguishes 40 years ago.

LasVegas (author)2007-04-23

Great Instructable. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. The first picture was that of a modified refrigerator, much like what my dad had done. Instead, it was a cool way of processing a 2 liter bottle. Good idea, but the 1st picture doesn't show it. I suggest adding a picture of a class a iced charged (soda) water with a slice of lemon or lime as the intro picture. I've been wanting to repeat my dad's process for years. I even bought an old refrigerator for that purpose. It's been sitting on my back porch for about 10 years now... I think I'll need a new one.

juggler (author)LasVegas2007-04-27

I have made soda water in soda kegs before, but only use my kegerator for beer... Perhaps I should post instructable on making a kegerator? It is really just drilling holes in the fridge, though.

squeakpickle (author)juggler2007-09-27

Augh! I was swearing to a friend that I would be able to find an instructable for a kegerator, and your mention is the closest thing on the site. So, pretty please, post a kegerator instructable, or I may never be able to face my again.

Punkguyta (author)LasVegas2007-04-27

You mean you run the pop through the comprressor? That can't be good seeing as you probably wouldn't be able to get all the freon out?

LasVegas (author)Punkguyta2007-04-27

Absolutely not! The fridge is simply used as a cooling device. The CO2 tank is kept outside and lines are run into the refrigerator to charge two cans of water. Another line from the cans is fed out of the refrigerator to the tap (replaced the rinse attachment on the kitchen sink).

Punkguyta (author)LasVegas2007-04-28

Oh, I was going to say there for a moment "what the fuck?". I get it now though, sorry about that.

chickenliver123 (author)2007-08-21

not cheap... expensive

BenTheMakerBot (author)2007-07-25

Looks interesting...I've come up with my own instructable with a different method (using a tire chuck and valve)...check it out, and let me know what you think!

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

xeroxmop1 (author)2007-05-31

This is really neat. I just scored a free CO2 tank from my work and I'm trying to find a place that sells "the carbonator", a regulator and will give me a CO2 fill so I can get the errand done in one fell sweep! Is it me or is the carbonator one expensive 16 dollar piece of plastic?... lemme know! thanks

Scurge (author)2007-04-30

definately cool! gives me an idea..... anyone know the bursting pressure for those bottles off hand?

juggler (author)Scurge2007-04-30

Looks like someone in wikipedia thinks around 200PSI, but I recall it being higher than that from a mythbuster's episode ...

What's your idea, if you can share?

Scurge (author)juggler2007-05-01

i havn't done an instructable yet so i was gonna do one on it. i just gotta build it first (i'm in the process of movin, so....)

the_joat (author)2007-04-29

If you already have a kegging system with ball-lock connectors (that's the kind of connector on a Coca Cola style Cornelius keg), you can get a plastic top for plastic soda bottles called The Carbonator for about $10 or so. It's a male ball-lock connector with screw threads that fit standard soda bottes. All you have to do is connect your CO2 line to the bottle and shake. That's what I did, and it didn't require any fabrication at all. An even cheaper method is to put a regular air chuck on the CO2 line. Then all you have to do is drill a hole in your bottle's cap and attach a metal tire valve. Those valves only cost a couple of bucks.

juggler (author)the_joat2007-04-30

Now that two comments have pointed to that much cheaper solution, I must confess that I built this device probably 5 years ago, and I was not aware of this screw-top carbonator at the time. Indeed, I did this because I had literally ALL of the parts on hand. So it goes.

schlammbad (author)2007-04-29

After seeing a picture of the Soda Club carbonator, I noticed they have a tube that releases the CO2 several inches under the water surface instead of just exposing the top to CO2. I wonder if your device could be modified to include this and thus shaking isn't necessary at all.

papa-g (author)2007-04-21

Hey Juggler, can this be modified to work as the fluid passes through a hose (kinda like in a fountain)? That would be ideal, as I am lazy and don't feel like shaking each bottle for fizzzz.

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