Make Your Own Seltzer, Save the Planet

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If you drink a lot of pop or bottled water, then recent news reports have given you one more thing to feel guilty about. You have probably read about how producing all those plastic bottles requires millions of gallons of oil every year and that most of those plastic bottles wind up as landfill.

And you probably already know that a lot of those best-selling brands of bottled water, like Aquafina and Dasani, are really just glorified tap water, and you also know that Minneapolis tap water has beaten the bottled waters in blind taste tests.

So giving up plain old bottled water shouldn’t be too hard.
But if you are hooked on sparkling water, like I am, it’s a little harder to give up that habit. In hot weather, I drag home a six-pack or two of Mendota Springs every week, held together by those plastic carrier thingies that kill turtles and sea birds.

Or rather, I used to, until I discovered Soda Club, a seltzer and soda pop-making gadget. (Yes, folks, you read this far only to discover that this post is actually an unpaid, unsolicited info-mercial for sodaclubusa.com, which sells these gadgets.) I ordered the Fountain Jet Value Kit ($129 including free shipping) which includes a tabletop soda maker, two cannisters of compressed CO2 that screw into the soda maker, and four reusable one-liter plastic bottles, plus 18 different soda pop flavor bases, regular and diet. (It’s easy to make sparkling water or pop – watch the video on their website for details.)

The CO2 cannisters each make about 110 liters of sparkling water, so, if you figure that a six-pack of Mendota Springs is equal to three liters, then each cannister is equal to about 36 sixpacks, which run about $2 a piece. So, by the time you use up both cannisters, the kit has more than paid for itself. (You exchange the empty cannisters for full ones for $20).

I haven’t figured out yet how to make flavored seltzers, like Mendota Springs’ lemon and lime flavored varieties, but otherwise I am pretty satisfied. I don’t drink a lot of pop, but the homemade cola and root beer flavored pops I tried are actually pretty good, and I haven’t bought a six-pack of Mendota Springs since I got my my soda maker.

I did have a momentary panic when I thought I remembered reading something about cows contributing to greenhouse gases by belching CO2 into the atmosphere. Is my sparkling water habit creating similar harm? I’m still not sure, but it turns out that the real bovine emissions problem is not carbon dioxide but methane. I’ll save the problem of human methane emissions for another column.