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How to Make Your Own Sparkling Water

Buying your own kit means you need to carbonate it in a fridge or freezer since Carbon Dioxide best dissolves at temperatures around zero. 

I have been making my own sparkling water for about a month now. 

It started with a love for carbonated water, but being appalled by the price - about KSh. 80 per 700 ml recyclable glass bottle. Sparkling water is sold as a premium drink. 


This got me researching into what it really takes to make your own sparkling water. 


The easiest way to make your own sparkling water is to buy a DrinkMate or SodaStream Soda Makers or Carbonator. They are available on Amazon,  easy to use and the gas is available at Carbacid along Lusaka Road. 


After considering the reviews of the DrinkMate and Soda Stream, I decided to get my own kit. This includes a  5 litre keg cylinder for carbonating the water, a 600ml or so carbon dioxide cylinder,  a valve/regulator and connecting gas pipes. 


I bought this kit on AliExpress that goes for about $120 and an equal amount for shipping (https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4001122763012.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.22124c4dylFSa6) The tax on the kit came to about $50,  bringing the total amount to just about $300. 


It took about a month to ship in the kit and unfortunately,  my first regulator was faulty and would let in gas at full pressure blowing the pipes and emptying the cylinder in minutes. The gas you get is pressurised. It took me about one more month to get a working replacement. 


It costs KSh. 900 to refill the 600 ml carbon dioxide cylinder at Carbacid. So far I have done about 3 to 4 batches of sparkling water and the cylinder still has gas, coming in at more than 15 litres. 


The commercial price for 15 litres of sparkling water would be KSh. 1,500 for disposable plastic bottles and about the same for the returnable glass bottles. 


So indeed the kit saves you money since you do more than 20 litres of sparkling water, and it is more environmentally friendly since you no longer do the disposable bottles. You however need to either buy your own glass bottles or reuse plastic bottles. 


One other thing - carbon dioxide dissolves better in colder water. While SodaStream/DrinkMate seem to work well at room temperature, if you decide to get your own kit you will have to get some space in your fridge or chill it in the freezer.  


If you don’t have enough space in your fridge/freezer, a fifty-fifty hack is to carbonate at room temperature under high pressure  (20 to 30 psi on the gauge) then bottle the water and chill the bottles so the water dissolves. 


The tap gasket can be quite troublesome when it gets offset. 
On the right is the pressure release valve and on the left is the 
carbon dioxide input valve. These need some familiarity before use!

If using your own kit, it’s a bit of a learning curve. You need to figure out how to release the ball valves by pulling the bottom back then pulling the valve out. Failing to do so ruins their springs. 


Equally, the tap gasket may get misaligned and become troublesome such that the gasket can let out water at pressure when you try carbonating the keg. The solution is to use a sharp tipped object such as a knife to reseat the gasket such that the valve is in the middle and well supported by the spring. You get some space rubber gaskets though, but managing a leaking gasket can be a pain. 


All in all, a keg carbonator/soda maker is a labour of love. It is more hands on than a SodaStream or DrinkMate kit, but once you have it figured out, then it’s a breeze in the park. 


The toughest bits are topping up water - it can’t be full otherwise it won’t carbonate properly. You then have to learn how many times to carbonate especially when the keg is full. You need to run the gas a couple of times, then you can shut it off or leave it open, but it takes hours to dissolve. So if you shut it off you need to run it again or at least twice for it to sparkle enough when full. 


As for cleaning - I will recommend a solution of bleach and water to about 0.5% or so bleach. While bleach is corrosive especially for metal, it makes for an excellent cleaning compound. 

You'll need to figure out how to cleans your kit. 
A solution of bleach and water works quite well!


Is it worth it - I would say yes, especially if you’re a fan of sparkling water. I’ll however issue a disclaimer - only get the kit if you find yourself buying a lot of sparkling water. You don’t want your $300 investment sitting idle, do you? 


Should you be interested in getting your own kit, you could always let me know and we could exchange notes.

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