While home soda makers — the CO2-powered successors to the old-school soda siphon — aren’t the fad they were a decade ago, devices that produce sparkling water at the press of a button have evolved since, with a wide variety of electric or manual machines now available to add bubbles to everything from water to whiskey (we’d recommend the former before the latter).
Most brands have created subscription refill services, so you can swap out empty carbonation tanks or arrange for regular delivery of full tanks and the machines are better looking than ever, with streamlined and gleaming chrome models to fit modern and classic aesthetics.
We spent months testing 10 soda makers, carbonating water, apple juice and wine to find out which soda maker’s bubbly personality will win it a place on your kitchen counter.
The best soda maker overall
Easy to use, sturdily built and with a great blend of price and performance, the SodaStream Terra provided great fizz in our testing.
The best soda maker for juices, wine and more
The OmniFizz is a versatile machine that unlike many of the soda makers we tested can carbonate any chilled drink — including alcoholic beverages. And it's well-made and simple to use.
The SodaStream Terra is the right blend of price and performance with an intuitive design and small profile that fits on a bar top or in a cabinet. It produced medium-sized, assertive bubbles – the kind of sparkling water that should suit people who are daily sparkling water drinkers.
The Terra is made of sturdy plastic and was easy to put together and, more importantly, easy to use. After you remove the back cover, you lock the carbonation tank in place with a bright pink metal handle. It closes with a resounding ‘thunk’ to let you know you got it right, and you’re ready to go. You’ll want to take care when replacing the back cover — you need to insert it firmly into the bottom of the unit before snapping the top into place, otherwise it will pop back off.
The bottle slides in at an angle before you tilt it up and back to lock it into place. That’s something you’ll appreciate when you’ve got a bottle full of water and you don’t need to twist or otherwise move it around to attach or remove it, as you do with many other models, and this reduces the risk of spilling and making a mess. It’s also easy to wipe clean after use.
This is a manual machine, nice if you want to use it somewhere where you don’t have a plug handy. You depress the button on tap until you hear a hissing noise (after only a second or two). Three pumps created a strong, fizzy drink, even with the user guide suggesting that five pumps was “strong fizz.” The soda machine can only be used to carbonate water.
The Terra is affordable too, all the more so because the price tag includes a dishwasher safe, 1-liter bottle and a 60-liter carbonation tank. While this machine works with other .5- and 1-liter SodaStream bottles, it requires a proprietary carbonation tank only sold by SodaStream (that works with the Terra and Art models). That’s something to keep in mind, if you’re the kind of seltzer drinker that is using this machine a few times a day.
The soda maker – available in four colors (black, white, red, and misty blue) comes with a two-year warranty.
The best soda maker for juices, wine and more: DrinkMate OmniFizz
The DrinkMate OmniFizz produced drinks with gentle, rolling bubbles. It was a bit like drinking white noise. You depress the button on top multiple times in short bursts to carbonate water (there’s a max amount of carbonation that is still relatively mild) before releasing the built up pressure via the attached infuser.
If you want to add fizz to lots of different drinks, this soda maker is worth a look. It works with any drink that doesn’t include pulp. And more importantly, trying to infuse whiskey or wine doesn’t violate the two-year warranty.
The machine is made of nondescript plastic available in four different colors (black, blue, white and red): a streamlined stripped down design that’s like the interior of a Tesla (the metal carbonation button being the only decorative element). The DrinkMate is similar in design to the Soda Sensei. You pop the back cover off and then screw in a threaded carbonation tank (which is not included). The 60-liter tank slots in through a hole in the bottom of the machine that helps center the bottle and makes it easier to twist. It also works with smaller 10-liter tanks you have to purchase separately.
It was among the quietest models we tested. The DrinkMate OmniFizz comes with a 28-ounce bottle and 14-ounce bottle (nice if you’re looking to make a single serving of sparkling water) that are not dishwasher safe.
The versatile soda maker will carbonate any chilled liquid. It produced lively sparkling juice similar to bottles in the grocery store; but sparkling wine tasted a bit flat. The infuser does need to be hand washed after every use.
Soda makers can be spartan or sparkly. And they can be used to add bubbles to everything from water to wine — so what’s the best way to pick the right one for you?
The best place to start is to consider what you’re looking to carbonate, how often you’ll be using your soda maker, and whether or not you’re pouring drinks for a crowd. Most soda makers only work with water, but there are a handful (Spärkel, Drinkmate OmniFizz, Sensei Soda Maker) that can add bubbles to your cider or chardonnay.
Soda makers are either electric or manual. The electric models have pre-programmed carbonation levels and automate the carbonation process. With manual machines, you’re depressing a button on the top or pulling a lever to force bubbles into your drink.
Most machines are made of hard plastic with metal accents. A few higher end models used glass bottles, but plastic bottles (some of which are dishwasher-safe) are more common. The typical size is a 1-liter bottle; but with brands like SodaStream you can also purchase a .5-liter bottle (roughly 15 ounces) separately if you want a glass or two of seltzer. Water lost some of its fizz with all of the bottles after a day in the fridge.
While a majority of soda makers use a threaded 60-liter carbonation tank (the design used by previous generations of SodaStream devices and now common throughout the industry), the SodaStream Terra and Art use a different design: a ‘Quick Connect’ tank that locks into place rather than screws in like a light bulb. You can replace empty carbonation tanks either in person at a retail store or through the mail (Soda Sense, for example, offers an automated subscription refill service).
Over the course of several months, we made sparkling water, sparkling juice, and sparkling wine. We repeatedly attached and detached bottles to know if it was frustrating or simple to begin using a soda maker.
We chilled the water using a pitcher and ice (the juice and wine were chilled in the fridge) before adding carbonation. We consulted the manufacturer’s instructions and tested various carbonation levels. We also put full bottles in the refrigerator overnight to see if the water remained bubbly or became flat.
We considered the weight of each model as we lifted soda makers on and off the counter. We looked at the design – whether the carbonation tank was inserted behind a removable back cover or through a hole in the base – to assess how easy it was to attach or unscrew the carbonation tanks. And we made note of whether or not a soda maker worked with standard tanks or required a brand-specific option, as well as whether or not a tank was included with the purchase of a machine.
After all of the tests, we compared the performance of each model and factored in the price and warranty to determine which soda makers we would recommend.
The SodaStream Fizzi One Touch takes the guesswork out of one of the big questions raised by soda makers: how many times to push the button.
The electric soda maker has three pre-programmed settings indicated by a pleasing LED blue light in the shape of a water drop. It’s ironically a two touch machine: one touch to pick the strength and one to start carbonating. While there was a clear difference between the carbonation level in each of the settings, the bubbles lacked depth and there was a slight aftertaste to the water, almost like a thin coating on the tongue.
The dishwasher safe bottles (it comes with a 1-liter bottle and works with .5-liter bottles) snap easily into place, a nice touch when it’s full of water. A 60-liter threaded tank (included with the machine) twisted into place quickly. It was a bit cumbersome to find and feed the plug into its designated spot; but it was tucked out of the way once it was in place.
The SodaStream Art is an art deco one arm bandit that pays a jackpot of assertive bubbles. If you want sparkling water with bite – and this chrome-accented machine only works with water – you merely need to step up and pull the handle.
The glossy SodaStream Art, available in four colors, sounded like an aggressive librarian – a sustained shh-ing noise while in use followed by a clear hiss to let you know when to stop pulling the lever. It was easy to set up as you only need to tilt and push the bottle back to lock it in.
The soda maker does require a proprietary “Quick Connect” 60-liter carbonation bottle – the same as the Terra – which is a cinch to snap into place, but you’re locked into using SodaStream’s canisters. The bubbles in the included 1-liter dishwasher bottle were the fizziest of any model after a day in the fridge, likely because the SodaStream Art produced the most bubbly of the bubbly waters.
The distinctive design and 1-liter glass carafes of the SodaStream Aqua Fizz made it stand out from the crowd; but it fell to the back of the pack once we started using it.
Despite a modern design meant to look at home on a bar – the metal base resembles a cocktail shaker – the actual experience was a bit clunky. The back cover kept wanting to pop off and the front locking mechanism (the bottle is placed in the hollow base before you push and lock the top around it) chunked into place.
The distinctive hiss that lets you know to stop depressing the carbonation button wasn’t as clear as with other models. While we assumed that would lead to an overly bubbly drink, instead the Aqua Fizz produced small bubbles that dissipated quickly.
The Aqua Fizz comes with a threaded 60-liter carbonation tank and a pair of dishwasher safe glass bottles, which means it’s not compatible with any of the plastic bottles from SodaStream.
The MySoda Woody produces the closest cousin to canned seltzer – assertive, rolling bubbles that hit the front of your tongue and you almost feel in your nose.
The lightweight machine made of a biopolymer (pine oil and wood fibers) has a speckled appearance and slim profile. The rounded top and bottom gives it a cute face and, naturally, it comes in Hello Kitty pink. The soda maker is quiet, only hissing when it’s done carbonating like the brief release of air from a tire.
The upfront investment is more than it initially seems as the machine only comes with a plastic 1-liter bottle, the bottom of which is a bit tricky to handle (make sure it’s secure before filling) and which needs to be washed by hand. You can use threaded 60-liter carbonation tanks from other brands: the Carbon8 and SodaStream models both worked fine. The MySoda Woody also ships from Europe (MySoda’s headquarters are in Finland), so it will take slightly longer to arrive and at an additional cost that could be close to the cost of the machine.
$100 at Amazon
The Soda Sensei Soda Maker is the mayor of bubble town. It made water and juice – it works with any chilled beverage that doesn’t have pulp – with large bubbles that hit the back and front of your tongue akin to San Pellegrino.
It was straightforward to remove the back cover and slide the 60-liter threaded carbonation tank (not included) into place through a hole in the bottom. Attaching and securing the 28-ounce plastic bottle (it’s hand wash only) took a few more tries as it had to be slotted into an adapter. Carbonating drinks was faster than other models, often only a quick one-two count after pushing down the button atop the machine.
After a day in the fridge, the water had picked up a slight off flavor from the plastic; but the bubbles had slightly subsided, leaving a pleasant, softly carbonated drink.
The Spärkel Beverage System, available in five colors including seafoam green, is like a science experiment kit for adults. It doesn’t use tanks to force carbonate water or cocktails. Instead, you fill a back reservoir with chilled water before adding two “carbonate packets” (one is citric acid, one is sodium bicarbonate) to the machine.
You then lock the included 25-ounce bottle into place – the handle drops into place like the safety bar on a roller coaster – and choose one of five different carbonation levels to start. The sparkling water – apple juice and white wine to a lesser extent – does have a slightly acidic note at the end that fans of lemon or lime sparkling water will find familiar and might enjoy.
The electric Spärkel was on the loud side, similar to a coffee grinder, but not obnoxious. The plug is short, so you’ll need an outlet nearby. Once you’re finished, you have to empty the water cycled through the machine from a front tank.
The Aarke Carbonator 3 is a sleek soda maker with a solid handle that is why soda jerks must have gotten into the business in the first place. The soda maker produced gentle rolling bubbles for rounded bubbly water with a few, short pulls of the handle.
The carbonation tank (you’ll need to buy a threaded 60-liter tank separately) is screwed into the tower after you lay the machine on its side, while the 27-ounce plastic bottle (that needs to be hand-washed) is likewise twisted on to the top. It was one of the easiest models to set up.
The sturdy machine we tested was matte black a shiny chrome handle, bottle top, and drip tray. With 8 color choices – including copper and chrome – this is the soda machine to match your other kitchen appliances.
The machine had one of the highest price tags of the models we tested, yet you can find some comfort in the three-year warranty. You can also purchase 15-ounce bottles, water purifier, or flavor drops (cucumber lime, black raspberry, and pink grapefruit) separately.
The Aarke Carbonator Pro is a luxurious take on the soda maker concept. It’s a more effective version of the design featured in the SodaStream Aqua Fizz, and carries the price to match, which — while it’s a good performer — makes it harder to recommend as prices have come down.
The 27-ounce, dishwasher-safe glass bottle – a nod to the shape of classic seltzer bottles – is placed into the base of the machine before you lower and click the housing into place around it. One of the heaviest models we tested at 8 pounds, it took a bit of effort to slot the carbonation tank through the base; but if your soda machine has a dedicated spot in your kitchen, you won’t notice it once you’re done with set-up.
With a press of the top button, the Aarke Carbonator Pro produced slightly smaller bubbles than the Aarke Carbonator 3 and the water had a slight minerality (likely the glass bottle allowing us to taste the mineral content of the tap water). The machine also had a tendency to drip slightly on the base tray when removing a bottle.
The matte black option (sand and stainless steel are also available) we tested was attractive; but had a habit of collecting dust (a la a couch and pet hair). It did come with a cleaning cloth, which was effective, but not a carbonation tank. That added bit of expense felt like a let down with the most expensive model we tested.