If you drink bubbly, this is for you...

A task that I find particularly odious is lugging my bottled water home. I feel like my Neanderthal forerunners hauling water up from the stream and my intelligence is further insulted by the healthy water delivered for just pennies through my ever-reliable plumbing. Were it not for my insatiable need for those blasted bubbles . And the niggling concern remains: is the water in my bottle subject to the same rigorous testing program I know is conducted throughout the day at my local waterworks? A home water carbonator is the perfect answer to the dilemma. There are many brands available operating on similar principles, but in my opinion, the Soda Club wins in the design category with a pair of models:
the cost-effective "Edition 1" in steel and black or the elegant "Penguin", which looks like a well, you know. If you live in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, or the USA, you can find these models in your market or coming soon.

Without electricity or batteries, the system carbonates tap water with a rechargeable cylinder of CO2, filling 50-60 liters with the original size or 100-110 with the new XL cartridge. The system has caught on widely in Germany since its introduction in 1994, with a quarter of German households boasting their own carbonator. Therefore, CO2 cartridges can be exchanged at any number of neighborhood retailers, which is profoundly less aggravation than transporting water and returning the bottles for the deposit or recycling. In the USA the need for consumer demand is clear: Soda Club is still targeting the boat and RV market, although a campaign targeting general consumers is planned. However, the Internet delivery model includes CO2 cylinder return, so the aggravation factor is even lower.

The "Edition 1" functions only with 1 liter PET bottles supplied by Soda Club due to the unusual diameter of the bottle mouth. This serves an important safety function by ensuring that normal bottles not designed to resist the high-pressure carbonation are not misused with the system. The bottles are quite robust but still suffer one curious design flaw: if you wash them in water which is too hot, the glue holding the base softens and eventually separates. The "Penguin" takes the ultimate eco-step, eliminating the plastic bottle in favor of a glass bottle, with a special bottle enclosure to ensure safety during the carbonation operation.

Pressing the top of the Soda Club machine shoots a stream of carbon dioxide, the same gas that makes store-bought sodas and waters bubbly, into the water-filled bottle screwed into the system. Your spouse likes it less bubbly but the kids want it strong? Three spritzes for lightly carbonated and five spritzes for full strength make control easy. Since replacement bottles are readily available, everyone can fill their own. Use chilled water if you really like a tingle on your tongue, since cold water can absorb more CO2.

For the full 'enhanced beverage experience', there are over 25 concentrates available, covering the whole range: ginger ale, raspberry, fruity isotonics, trendy mixtures, and reduced calorie flavors. However, be warned: the cola flavor will probably not replace the occasional fix for the hard-core fan of Pepsi, Coke or even RC Cola. My personal favorite, Melon, was dropped due to Soda Club's close monitoring of the market success of each flavor, but the competition is heating up and other suppliers are stepping in with new and exciting options. Or better yet: use a squeeze of fresh lemon or some mint concentrate you cooked up from fresh mint leaves: now that's an enhanced beverage experience. [by © C. Lepisto, 2005]