Since the advent of home soda makers, people have often wondered whether making your own craft soda or sparkling water at home would actually save you money in the longer term. We all know buying soda every day from the store isn’t exactly a cheap habit. The costs of Sodas are also on the up so let me answer this question…
So is SodaStream really cheaper than buying soda or fizzy water?
That’s a question with a complicated answer because it depends on how you actually compare the costs between the soda maker or store-bought soda. SodaStream machines have a high upfront cost that makes buying a liter of soda at a supermarket the clear economical choice. But soda makers provide cheaper cups of soda over time once the economy of scale comes into play.
Put simply, SodaStream is cheaper than buying soda or sparkling water only if you drink a lot of either type of beverage and if you pay attention to the lifetime costs associated with the machine.
You have to learn how to purchase new carbonating cylinders, a little machine maintenance, and replacement flavor bottles wisely to maximize the savings over time.
Let’s look at this in a little more detail.
Does SodaStream Save You Money?
To fully answer this question, we need to look at how much money it costs to use a SodaStream machine and how much various supplies and flavors cost, as well. Next, we should examine how much it would cost to drink soda bought from the store or online rather than using a soda maker. Then we can look at the money you will theoretically save by making a custom soda at home.
For easy math, let’s assume that you drink one cup of soda per day or about 16 ounces. Therefore, each time you make a new bottle of custom soda using a sparkling drink maker, you won’t go through that entire bottle in just one day. The bottle will last for several days at least resuming the same 1 cup per day limit.
To start, you need to consider the cost of the soda maker machine. We’ll start with a basic SodaStream model, the Fizzi Classic (check out my 5 setup tips on this model here).
This package comes with the soda maker, a 1 L bottle that fits in the machine, a single carbonating cylinder, and a three-year warranty plus free shipping for $89.99.
While there are more advanced soda makers that are more expensive, we’ll stick with the basics so we can get a general idea of how much you have to spend on a soda maker at a minimum.
So right off the bat, you have everything you need to start making soda by purchasing the initial package. The carbonating cylinder included with the start-up package has enough gas to carbonate 60 L of sparkling water or 60 separate bottles of custom soda.
But what about flavor? If you want to make actual soda rather than simple sparkling water, you’ll also need to pick up at least one flavored bottle that goes for $4.99 on the SodaStream website. Each bottle can enough flavor to fill about 12 L of sparkling water. This adds up to about 24 servings of 16-ounce cups of soda.
So to start with, you’ll need to spend $89.99 on the soda maker and $4.99 on the flavoring to get your first cup of fizzy delight.
It sounds expensive so far, but these are only start-up costs.
Once you got all the materials, how much does it cost per cup of 16 oz of soda?
Since there are about 34 fluid ounces in a single liter, a little fudging of the math lets us work out someone’s theoretical basic soda consumption rate of one 1 L bottle of soda every two days. Since the carbonating cylinder has enough gas for 60 bottles of soda, that works out to 120 cups of soda provided you maintain the rate of drinking 1 cup per day.
A single flavoring bottle will only last for about 1/5 of the time of the carbonating cylinder before you need to purchase a new one. If the initial start-up cost is $94.99, and it yields 24 servings provided you don’t purchase another bottle of flavoring just yet, and it works out to about $3.95 per cup of soda. That doesn’t sound too bad, but it’s not fantastic, either.
You also have to consider the price overall if you choose to drink all the soda possible from a single carbonating cylinder. If a single flavor bottle provides 12 liter’s worth of flavor, then you need to purchase four extra to fill out all 60 L provided by the carbonating cylinder. At $4.99 each, this adds up to another $19.96.
So the real initial cost to use your soda maker and drain all of the CO2 gas that comes with the purchase to make flavored soda as opposed to sparkling water is $114.95. This makes 120 cups of soda, so it brings your total cost per 16-ounce cup to just $.95! That sounds a lot better, so it’s clear that the longer you use the soda maker the cheaper overall each cup becomes.
Now it’s time for us to compare how much it would cost to go down to a grocery store and get your soda the traditional way.
A quick check on a price-matching website indicates that a typical 1 L bottle of Coke costs somewhere around the ballpark of $1.25. If you drink one cup of 16 ounces of soda per day, your price per cup comes out to just $.62. This is just about half as expensive as the price per cup from a soda maker.
However, it’s more complicated than this initial equation. You can usually buy larger packages of soda at the supermarket or online for discounted prices. For instance, the same price matching website indicates that a 2 L bottle of Coke costs around $2.27. This brings your total price per 16-ounce cup of soda to just $.57.
It’s clear that, even with the initial high start-up costs, soda makers aren’t cheaper than purchasing regular bottles of soda from either supermarkets or online sources.
Add in the fact that you’ll have to pay lifetime upkeep costs to maintain the machine’s supply of CO2 gas and flavorings and you never stop really fully paying for using the soda maker.
What about sparkling water rather than flavored soda? To make sparkling water, all you have to do is purchase the initial SodaStream machine, which comes with a carbonating cylinder and 120 servings of plain sparkling water as a result. The total cost per cup of 16 ounces of sparkling water is just $.75.
Meanwhile, it’s difficult to get plain sparkling water in single liter containers except at grocery store or restaurant iceboxes. Amazon sells sparkling water in packs of 12 for about $16.65 per pack. This adds up to about $1.38 per liter of sparkling water or about $.69 for 16 ounces. As you can see, just buying sparkling water seems to be a little more economical, at least at first.
It seems that the decision is clear: using a soda maker isn’t a good idea if your goal is to save money. Soda makers require a high initial start-up cost to purchase the machine, and later you’ll have to continue to spend money on carbonating cylinders or flavoring bottles. But let’s see how the costs even out as you drink more and more.
How Much Does SodaStream Cost in the Long Run?
When it comes to carbonating cylinders, SodaStream has several options available for your convenience. You can purchase a new cylinder entirely or you can send in your empty 60 L cylinders and have them refilled for a lower price. This costs just $15 plus a small tax and your cylinder will return in at most 30 days from the order date. Even the UPS label is prepaid.
These 60 L cylinders can provide you with another 120 servings of sparkling water. Let’s imagine the math when we combine the initial start-up cost of the soda maker plus two 60 L cylinders. The total cost, therefore, comes up to $89.99 plus $15, or $104 and 99. Now let’s divide this by 240 servings since each carbonating cylinder gives you 120 servings of 16 ounces of sparkling water.
The total cost per cup? A mere $.43! That’s definitely cheaper than the cost per cup from Amazon or other retailers.
This pattern continues as you purchase more carbonating cylinders and keep your soda maker in good condition. Adding a third $15 carbonating cylinder to the equation brings the total cost per cup down to just $.33! The savings continue to pile on.
What about flavored soda? Let’s start by imagining that you purchase a second carbonating cylinder and five flavoring bottles to fill out all additional 120 servings of soda. This brings your total cost to $154.89.
Now let’s divide that by 240 servings, since there are two carbonating bottles being used in this scenario, and you get a total cost per 16 ounces of soda as just $.64! That’s only two cents higher than the market price you would get if you purchased single leaders of soda from retailers.
As you can imagine, adding a third carbonating cylinder and five more flavor bottles to accompany all 120 servings would bring the price down even further and make each cup cheaper than the retail equivalent.
So it’s apparent that the more you use a SodaStream, the more cost-effective it becomes in the long run.
In this way, soda makers are great choices if you drink soda as frequently as every day. There are also excellent if you like to mix-and-match your soda flavors every now and again since you can make each new leader of sparkling water a different flavor by simply purchasing different flavor bottles beforehand.
There’s a lot of value in the versatility and convenience that a soda maker can provide. While the initial start-up costs are much higher than if you simply walked down to the store and bought a bottle of Coca-Cola, it’s a lot easier to cross the room to your kitchen and retrieve a custom bottle of soda that you can also carbonate your desired level of fizziness.
It’s even more valuable if you enjoy drinking sparkling water or making fizzy beverages and adding a little bit of lemon or lime to zest things up. It’s a little more difficult to find good sparkling water than it is to find sugary soda, so sparkling water enthusiasts might get a lot of value out of the soda maker both economically and in terms of peace of mind.
You’ll never have to worry about your store stopping selling your favorite sparkling water brand, as you can fine-tune your own sparkling water from the comfort of your home.
This is also true if you have a certain flavor of soda that you really enjoy but which retailers don’t carry with any consistency. Let’s say you had a hankering for grape soda, but your store only carries it infrequently? You can always rely on your soda maker and purchase your own grape flavoring and enjoy your favorite fizzy beverage whenever you like.
But what about maintenance costs?
So long as you take care of your SodaStream, you shouldn’t need to pay any extra fees or have any high costs aside from the initial purchase. The carbonating cylinders can be bought for $15 if you use the refilling program as we’d recommend, and the flavor bottles can also be purchased from the SodaStream website in batches or in single bottles.
Both the cylinders and the flavor bottles are the only two consistent costs that carry over in the process as long as you don’t break the soda maker while you’re using it.
To make things better, all SodaStream’s come with some form of warranty that covers any factory defects or any catastrophic damage that arises as a result of poor manufacturing.
While they won’t replace your soda maker if you drop it on the ground on purpose, the warranty is still a great additional value since it guarantees you won’t waste your money during the initial purchase.
Are There Ways to Make SodaStream Cheaper?
Now that we know how much it costs to use a SodaStream, are there ways to make things cheaper and tilt the scale even further in the soda maker’s favor?
There are methods to buy CO2 cylinder adapters that let you refill the gas tanks from other sources. The CO2 gas isn’t particularly expensive if you know where to look; lots of restaurants or food supplies have CO2 tanks of huge proportions so they can make their own soda. If you work for a restaurant, it’s possible you could siphon off some of this CO2 back into your own soda maker canister.
Be aware that you should never try to use a different carbonating cylinder with your SodaStream. The machines are optimized to only fit cylinders of a particular make and model, and trying to force another cylinder to work with your machine is a recipe for disaster.
Depending on where you get your CO2, you might be able to make the price per cup of sparkling water down to lower than $.10.
You can also save money by using less than the recommended amount of flavoring for your sodas. Let’s face it; soda isn’t the healthiest beverage, and the flavoring bottles are filled with extra calories that no one really needs. If you find your sweet tooth isn’t as powerful as the manufacturer predicted, feel free to use less than the recommended amount of syrup per liter of sparkling water.
Your flavor bottles will stretch out for longer periods of time and you’ll have to purchase fewer of them overall.
This is a great way to save money with your SodaStream.
You can also sometimes find larger packs of the syrup bottles on Amazon or other websites for discounted prices than what SodaStream sells them for on its own website. All of these measures will drop the overall cost per cup of soda down by cents at a time.
Overall, you’ll be able to save something around $.20 or so per liter of soda or sparkling water if you use your soda maker frequently and you take steps to minimize the lifetime costs of the carbonating cylinders and flavor syrups. This doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up to a lot of savings over time if you’re a soda fanatic.
Imagine saving just $.20 on your soda purchases for 365 days out of the year. This adds up to $73! It’s not a life-changing amount of money, but it can let you do a lot of things. It can even let you purchase a better model or try out some new flavors!
Or even pick up a homemade soda book like this one and go crazy making your own flavor combinations.
Whatever your preference, SodaStream is definitely cheaper than buying soda or fizzy water in the long run.
But you have to overcome the initial costs and drink a lot of soda for it to be worthwhile in the end.
But before we conclude you should also check out my Sodastream vs Drinkmate post – just to consider your options and including how interchangeable their accessories are.
Get Busy With The Fizzy & Happy Slurping!