Met sparkle!


You’re going to tell me I can’t say the phrase “little jaunt to Amsterdam” without sounding like some tracksuited reject from a Wes Anderson film.

Fair enough.

So on our little jaunt to Amsterdam last year, Jenn and I and our compatriots soon discovered that when you ordered water at a restaurant, the price was the same whether you got sparkling water (“met sparkle!”) or the flat, dull, Dutch answer to Aquafina (“holyschoonmoederneebier.” I think.)

Point is, we drank a lot of carbonated water those two weeks. Because, on a level playing field, who wouldn’t choose met sparkle? This is ground I’ve maybe already covered well enough.

So the real point is, we developed a taste for the bubbly. And already I’d  been eyeing a DIY carbonation system, thanks to John Mahoney’s post on Popular Science.

Sure, SodaStream makes a device that does this too, but they sell their formula in packets (strike!), make you bottle in their non-standard plastic bottles that you must purchase for $10 each (strike!), and require you to swap out their teensy, proprietary CO2 tank for $15 or more (strike!). And, oh, they don’t let you dial up the carbonation to a level high enough to make a good seltzer for a mixed drink (strike! strike! strike! strike!).

Sorry SodaStream, you’re out. You’re, like, double out.

But I was able to piece together this little setup for about $100 — including a full 5-pound CO2 tank that will last about 9 times as long as the SodaStream one and refills for 20 bones. (Cheaper than Mahoney’s rig, despite an increase in the price of the pressure regulator. I got a great deal on my tank and found a cheaper, but shorter rubber tube assembly.) As a bonus, we get to refill it at a nearby supply center that bears what is possibly Jenn’s favorite company name ever: Airgas.

What happens, when we make some, is this:

  • I fill an empty liter bottle of carbonated water mostly full of chilled tap water.
  • I squeeze all the extra air out of the bottle and screw on a special valve fitting to the bottle top.
  • I scare the dog off with a little blast from the CO2 tank (which has the added benefit of ensuring the line is clear).
  • I fit the hose from the CO2 tank to the bottle top’s fitting. With a punchy little “POOSH!” the bottle expands with its new bubbly goodness.
  • I shake the bottle, still attached to the hose, for about 30 seconds to make the H2O bond with the CO2 . I can hear the gas seeping in as I shake it, so I keep doing this until it stops.
  • Then it’s just shut off the gas, undo the cap and enjoy.

The contraption also looks all badass and industrial, without any added steampunk accouterments — though I have been sorely tempted.

So far we’ve only carbonated tap water, some ginger-infused tap water,  some water steeped in lavender, and a lavender-blueberry concoction. But theoretically  we can carbonate any liquid.

I’m crushed we didn’t have this contraption in place before we poured out about a gallon of peachy water from canning earlier this  year.

Lemonade soda? You’d better believe that will happen soon.

Bubbly tomato juice? I must admit I’m intrigued.

I think could even directly carbonate gin, and remove the need to dilute the stuff with a pesky mixer.

Look for some of my favorite recipes in the near future, along with hopefully not one “hilarious” tale of me scraping tomato juice off the ceiling because of some unforeseen combination of carbon dioxide  and vegetable matter.

Until then, cheers, chin-chin or, as the Dutch say, “Genieten van de kleine eekhoorntjesbrood!”

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