Cool, carbonated drinks on tap at home

A home soda machine lets you make and serve your own cola anytime you want.

If I tell you how much soda my husband drinks in a day, you won't believe me. Let's put it this way: when he switched from Coke to Diet Coke and made no other changes in his diet, he lost 8 pounds in a month. And he's a skinny guy with a 32-inch waist. Five cans a day, sometimes six. And guess who gets to haul all those cans home from the store? Also, they aren't free, something I've been muttering under my breath for years.

I've heard of Soda-Club before--it was popular in Israel when we lived there. But today I took a closer look at their American Web site, and I think my husband and I may be having a little conversation this evening.

Choose from plain white or sleek black countertop machines. Soda Club via Amazon

For just over $100, I can get a sleek black and silver Fountain Jet soda kit that sits on the counter and will make my own endless supply of soda in just minutes. The system uses Alco2Jet carbonators to "fizz up" your water with CO2. The carbonators are made from lightweight aluminum and hold enough gas to carbonate about 110 liters--at about $20 a pop. Order refills online, and they'll send you free return labels to send back the empties.

If seltzer water isn't your thing, add some soda mix in regular, diet, and caffeine-free flavors. Each bottle makes 12 liters of soda and costs $4 to $5, with Internet specials often providing savings opportunities. Flavors range from cola, root beer, and ginger ale to cranberry-raspberry, grape, and diet pink grapefruit. There's also an energy drink flavor, but I'd personally never choose such a thing.

Store your soda in Soda-Club's special carbonating bottles, designed to be saved and reused for about three years. No materials used in the bottle-production process can produce phthalates or PCBs, and because Soda-Club doesn't use polycarbonate materials, its products don't have any Bisphenol-A. Cheers!

One major advantage of Soda-Club over the stuff you buy at the store: none of the flavors use high-fructose corn syrup, instead opting for a mix of sugar and Splenda in the regular flavors and Splenda (no aspartame) for the diet drinks. The mixes also claim they contain less sodium than the major brands. And Soda-Club is certified kosher, a necessity in my house.

Despite the name, there's no club membership or additional fees. Soda-Club estimates cost per liter at about $.50, which is comparable to a supermarket sale price, and less than I generally wind up spending. If you're a savvy warehouse shopper, you might find these prices less of a bargain.

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