Project Update: The Carbonator

cats inspecting carbonator

A year ago on Valentine’s Day, Erik gave me a homebrew carbonator so that we could sparkle our own water at home. It’s a wonderfully industrial looking item, and sturdy as all heck. I’m pleased to say after a year of hard use, it’s still doing going strong and has become an indispensable part of our life.

It has saved the use of…gosh…I don’t know…at least 100 San Pellegrino/Gerolsteiner bottles over the course of the year. Back in the day, I bought a couple of bottles of mineral water on every shopping trip. That’s a two-fold savings: bottles kept out of the waste stream (recycled, yes, but still) and enough in cash savings to reimburse us for the carbonator–which cost around $150 in parts.

The best thing is that the CO2 tank lasted for 11 months of constant use (sparkling maybe two gallons a week) before needing a refill. And when we did refill it–down at the local homebrew shop–it cost all of twenty bucks. Twenty bucks, my friends. That is our sparkling water budget for the next year.

Happy as I am with the device itself, we could be doing better exploring its possibilities. We could be experimenting with adding minerals to the water to imitate famous mineral waters–there are recipes out there. We could also be experimenting with force carbonating other types of drinks, but for the most part we’ve been pretty content just drinking the water straight with a twist of lemon, or a splash of shrub. Maybe this year we’ll step up to the plate and get more experimental.

Erik’s how-to post about how to put one of these things together, and how to use it.

•  My initial post, in which I bubble over with excitement.

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9 Comments

  1. DO you have a Reverse Osmosis system or are you just carbonating straight tap water? Our water in AZ is hard and it’s heavily chlorinated…… Our RO system makes some nice drinking water and saves $$$ on bottled water, the sediment filters aren’t too expensive and the $50 membrane lasts 3 years. I use my CO2 tank and regulator for dispensing homebrew,eh Erik….. Even more savings??? (;

    • While not great, like Marty says, LA water seems fine when carbonated. But I have thought about a filter for drinking water. It’s on the bucket list. And good to hear from you Dr. Brew!

  2. I don’t have a problem with L.A. municipal water and I just carbonate right out of the tap. I have a similar setup with the Liquid Bread carbonator.

    Where do you get your tanks recharged? I live within a couple miles of you, I think, so wherever you go would be convenient for me.

  3. so interested in making my own fizzy water! thanks for another info-packed article!!!
    i did start making kefir water – I’ve been doing that for maybe a year now?

  4. I just finished the audiobook of The Art of Fermentation (S.E. Katz). How about carbonating your beverage through fermentation? (though of course, water by itself can’t ferment). Any thoughts?

    • What Marty said (below). Not that I don’t love natural ferments, too. Isn’t Sandor Katz a great read?

  5. Carbonating through fermentation is separate from charging fizzy water from a tank. I make kombucha, but it’s still sweet and funky and whatnot from the fermentation process.

    Most of the time, I want just water and CO2 bubbles. That’s infinitely more innocuous and intrusive (and clean tasting) than other carbonated beverages (beer, kombucha, naturally carbonated beverages).

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