If you drink a lot of seltzer and are tired of wasting plastic bottle after plastic bottle from the grocery store, you should get the Sodastream Jet. It’s the best soda maker we’ve found after our favorite—the Mastrad Purefizz—went off the market. It’s simple to use, easy to clean, and (besides the Purefizz) made the best-tasting soda water.
We spent more than 30 hours researching dozens of home soda makers, testing six models hands-on, and even building our own machine (we’ll show you how later) to ultimately decide that the Sodastream Jet is the best option for now. We don’t like how Sodastream locks you into their proprietary CO2 refills, which requires making a trek to Target or Bed Bath & Beyond (or a variety of other retailers—the full list is on their website). And they just can’t replicate the full-on fizziness of bottled soda. But if you’re in the market for a home soda maker, the Jet makes the bubbliest soda we’ve found that’s available today.
How we picked
Despite their resurgence in popularity (thanks to Sodastream), there’s just not much good information about home carbonation solutions. What little that does exist tends to be in the form of reviews for various Sodastream machines, but they seem to have cornered the market. Up-to-date comparative reviews were virtually nonexistent, so it quickly became clear that we’d have to do our own testing.
We eliminated all of the soda makers that were hard to find—many were no longer sold in the U.S. or have disappeared from production entirely. Unfortunately, Sodastream is the only company making proper soda machines. Cuisinart’s entry into the field, the SMS-201, has remarkably terrible reviews, and it appears the well-reviewed Primo Flavorstation is in the middle of being discontinued (probably due to their acquisition by Cuisinart last year).
For soda siphons, we eliminated brands like Mosa and Whip-It! due to poor reviews and mediocre availability. Plus, the Mosa appears to be an almost direct knock-off of the iSi siphon, just with less-enthusiastic user reviews.
In the end, we taste-tested the outputs of five off-the-shelf siphons and machines (the Purefizz, the Sodastream Jet, the iSi Soda Siphon, the BestWhip Soda Plus and the SodaSparkle) and one DIY solution, using a bottle of store-bought seltzer as the control.
Because the Jet is a soda machine, not a siphon, there’s no need to use a soda charger. Just fill up the provided bottle, screw into the machine, and pump once, twice, or three times, depending on the level of carbonation you prefer (although all but the most subtle of seltzer lovers will find anything less than three pumps to be “barely carbonated”). Unscrew, and ta-da—seltzer.
In our blind taste test, the Jet scored third, behind the Purefizz and the store-bought control. It’s neutral-tasting and not as fizzy as the store-bought version, but it still tastes effervescent and bubbly. Bubbles were definitely bigger than those produced by the iSi, the SodaSparkle, and the BestWhip, and the overall taste was better. As mentioned above, chilling your water will drastically improve taste.
The Jet comes with a 60-liter CO2 tank, which we found carbonated about 40 liters of water consistently, although this will depend on how much fizz you prefer. It offers the ability to use both 60-liter and 130-liter CO2 cartridges, which means you can spend less time going to and from the store for a refill, especially if you’re a frequent seltzer drinker. It’s nice not to think about your CO2, unlike with soda siphons, which require new 8-gram cartridges every time you charge them. Unfortunately, you have to take them back to big box stores like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond (more options on their website) to refill, meaning once you’re out, you’re stuck with their proprietary CO2 refills for $15 each. That’s costly and can add up over time. And if you’re a heavy seltzer user, we recommending keeping an extra gas tank in storage. When the Sodastream runs out of gas, it does so quite abruptly and with no real way of knowing when that will be, which can be a bit of a downer.
The Sodastream didn’t wow us in our first testing, but with our initial pick out of the running, it’s the best option we’ve found that’s available right now. No, the seltzer’s not as tasty as the Purefizz’s, and we’re really not impressed with the expensive, proprietary CO2, but if you want a seltzer maker, it still does an admirable job.
If you can find it
A DIY option
We spoke with Jeremy Faludi, a sustainable design strategist and researcher who has taught green design at Stanford, about the environmental impact of the steel cartridges used in soda siphons versus disposable aluminum cans and plastic bottles. He concluded that the steel cartridges are marginally less environmentally destructive because they’re easier to recycle.1
(Our top pick is no longer a soda siphon that uses steel CO2 cartridges, but many people still use them—and the Mastrad Purefizz may eventually come back in stock. As such, we decided to keep this section in the guide for informational purposes.)
That might be good enough for most people, but not if you’re serious about reducing your carbon footprint. Enter the build-it-yourself option, which is refillable and fully repairable.
Using instructions from our project manager, John Mahoney, I built my own soda machine using parts bought on Amazon and a CO2 canister rented from a welding shop. This method certainly requires a lot of tweaking: We had trouble getting usable soda from the machine, and it took a lot of fiddling with the psi level to get anything resembling the quality of the Purefizz (and even then, the quality was still drastically inferior; it barely fizzed and went flat quickly).
But your results can, and will, vary if you’re willing to take the time to tinker. And if you’re really, really serious about reducing your environmental impact without sacrificing your seltzer habit, it’s really the only option. A 5- or even 10-pound CO2 tank will last you forever. You’ll find lots of different sets of instructions on the web—here and here are two more. It’s more upkeep and work, but it can be a fun experiment and will go a long way towards reducing your eco-impact.
We tested the BestWhip Soda Plus hoping it would be a suitable replacement for the Purefizz. It’s also made of aluminum and uses the exact same cap and CO2 charge. Unfortunately, it’s also a lot larger—which means the soda isn’t nearly as strong and delicious as from the Purefizz or the Sodastream.
I initially had high hopes for the SodaSparkle, which looked like it might be a suitable replacement for the recalled iSi Twist ‘n’ Sparkle. However, it didn’t work with generic 8-gram CO2 cartridges and ultimately produced a weak fizz. It looks like the company is distributed and branded stateside by Cuisinart, but we couldn’t find any evidence or support on the website. Ultimately, the Sodastream beats it on taste alone.
The iSi Soda Siphon is ultimately better suited for bar use. Instead of untwisting the lid to pour out your soda, you use a nozzle to spray it out—often wildly, all over the kitchen. The soda itself is flat, not fizzy. Some reviewers say you can use two chargers to get more carbonation, but that’s more wasteful and requires extra effort that the Sodastream doesn’t.
The Mosa Soda Siphon got decent marks from Wall Street Journal, but reviewers say the soda tends to be flat—just like the iSi’s, which looks to be based on a similar design.
There are a lot of bad user reviews for the Liss siphon, many complaining of leakage. It also has the same finicky nozzle spray structure as the Mosa and the iSi, which means you should pass.
What makes a good soda maker anyway?
So those are our picks for the best home carbonators, but if you want to shop around, it helps to know what to look for.
There are two good ways to make soda at home: a soda machine (like the Sodastream), where the entire process is automated by pushing a button, or a siphon, which requires a small CO2 canister. At their cores, both work the same way, using pressure to add carbon dioxide to water and create the little fizzy bubbles that make soda water taste so delicious.
A good siphon needs a few things. First, it needs to be easily cleaned, especially if you’re using it to carbonate fruit juices or alcohol, which can be sticky. That means it should break down into parts: a dishwasher-safe canister and two caps, one that fits the charger for carbonation and one for storage.
It needs to hold enough water for a few drinks without holding so much water that two CO2 cartridges are necessary. We tested machines that held between 0.75 and 1.2 liters, and we found that the smaller siphons were better able to straddle the line between high carbonation and sufficient capacity.
It should also be simple to use. To get the CO2 from the cartridge into the water, the bottom of the cartridge must be pierced by a tiny spike. The best siphons require placing the cartridge into a plastic holder, which is then screwed into the lid, pierced by the spike, and released into the liquid below. Getting the soda out shouldn’t be complicated, either; some, like the iSi Soda Siphon, use a handle to spray the soda out of the lid in a thin stream, much like a bartender might use. This ostensibly keeps the water carbonated for longer, and it might be great for the bar, but the stream is too strong and often ended up spraying all over my kitchen during testing. A carafe you can simply pour water out of is a much simpler, and we noticed no drop in soda quality.
When you’re using high pressure to carbonate anything, whether it be water or alcohol or fruit juice, safety is of the utmost importance. The iSi Twist ‘n Sparkle, one of the most frequently-referenced models in early research, was recalled in 2012 for having a funny tendency to explode. You’ll find models with aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, and, in the expensive Sodastream models, glass carafes. Used properly, all of these should be safe, but steel and aluminum models provide an extra level of security. The cap does need to be attached securely, though, with strong threading and a plastic ring that prevents excess carbonation from forcing the top off and spraying all over your kitchen.
The economics of soda
Getting your own home soda maker might make environmental sense, but when it comes to economic benefits, the advantage over store-bought isn’t as strong. But it still comes out ahead—buying 100 one-liter bottles of seltzer from the store is a pretty simple calculation, so you know it costs anywhere between $100 and $200, depending on where you live and what store you’re buying from.
But to make seltzer at home, you’ll have to get your CO2 from somewhere—either small, 8-gram steel canisters, which cost about $97 (with shipping) for 300 (available in smaller but more expensive quantities as well) or a larger Sodastream canister, which costs $15 to refill at most big-box stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, and Target. Sodastream’s canister is supposed to last 60 liters, but I’ve found—and Amazon commenters back me up—that if you like your soda anything more than lightly carbonated, it’s closer to 40 liters.
(Aluminum cans cost about $1.42 per liter, giving the Sodastream an instant economical advantage, breaking even after about 130 liters.)
Care and maintenance
It’s important to note that the Sodastream bottles are not dishwasher safe, meaning you’ll have to clean them with old-fashioned soap and water. Sodastream also says you should replace your bottles every two years. Additionally, unlike the Purefizz, the Sodastream cannot be used (at least, within warranty) to carbonate anything besides water.
Wrapping it up
If you’re a regular soda drinker who wants something simple, safe, and delicious, the Sodastream Jet is the best choice right now. It’s not as delicious as our former top pick, which is currently and indefinitely unavailable, but it creates great soda easily and is super environmentally friendly.
Author of Homemade Soda, Interview,
Home Seltzer Makers, Cook's Illustrated, May 1, 2010
A Missed Pop-ortunity: With their promise of convenience and inexpensive soda, can home soda makers deliver the goods?, Consumer Reports, July 1, 2006
WSJ Test Kitchen: Seltzer Makers, The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2010,
Purefizz Soda Maker, The Kitchn
Gadgets: PureFizz Soda Maker, Serious Eats, August 15, 2013,
A Sleek Way to Add Fizz, but Not Much, The New York Times, July 31, 2013,
Product Review: Purefizz carbonated beverage maker, The Washington Times, August 23, 2013,