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Carbonated water can be enjoyed plain or flavored, used as a cheaper and healthier replacement for sodas, or added to cocktails.
If you're hooked on soft drinks or seltzers, investing in a DIY soda maker could help you kick the store-bought habit. Besides saving you money in the long run, a soda maker puts you in control of the ingredients in your drinks and is an environmentally friendly choice resulting in fewer store-bought bottles and cans going in the trash.
Soda makers create sparkling water in seconds by injecting carbon dioxide into plain water from a replaceable cartridge. Some soda makers can even be used to add fizz to other beverages like fresh juices and teas.
Our in-house testers rated different soda makers on attributes like usability, convenience and fizziness—here are our top picks.
Best Overall: Drinkmate Home Carbonation System
Carbonates any beverage
Compatible with any brand’s carbonation cartridges
No batteries or electricity needed
Doesn’t include a full-size carbonator
One of the biggest draws of this soda maker is that it can be used to carbonate any liquid. You can make fizzy orange juice in the morning, sparkling tea in the afternoon, and carbonated cocktails for happy hour. That's a big differentiator from other soda makers that are designed to only work with water; testers noted that carbonating anything other than water could damage and/or void the warranty of other soda machines.
It's got a small footprint, which makes it a great option for small kitchens, RVs, dorm rooms, or anywhere space is limited. It doesn't require electricity (or batteries for that matter) so you can even keep it on the kitchen table and make fresh fizzy drinks whenever you sit down to enjoy a meal.
The included bottle has a clearly marked fill line plus low and high foam levels that let you easily eyeball if you need more or less carbonation.
The DrinkMate is available in black, white, red, and arctic blue and can accept standard 60-liter carbonation cylinders from any brand. To help keep things cost-effective, the manufacturer has a trade-in program where you'll score discounted CO2 cylinders when you send back your empties.
Power Source: Manual | Bottle Material: BPA-free plastic | Bottle Capacity: 1 liter | Carbonator Included: No | Dimensions: 5 x 8 x 16 inches
"It made hosting gatherings a little more fun and impressive by offering custom fizzy cocktails." — Meredith Hurd, Product Tester
Best Design: SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker
Consistent level of fizziness
Snap-lock for easy loading
Includes full-size CO2 cartridge
Needs to be plugged in
Large countertop footprint
This sleek soda maker is praised by reviewers for being fast, straightforward, and easy to use. With the touch of a button, you can select from three levels of carbonation (low, medium, and high) and the machine will automatically add just the right amount of bubbles to your water.
Although its electrical needs are small, you will need access to an electrical outlet to use this soda maker. A full CO2 canister comes with it—which makes up to 60 liters—so you won't need to buy anything extra to get started.
The included bottle features metal trim that makes it look a bit more upscale and can hold up to one liter of fizzy water. Extra bottles are available for separate purchase from the manufacturer so you can make multiple flavors or let each family member have their own fizzy drink.
Carbonating anything besides water will void the warranty, but you can add flavor drops or homemade flavored syrups after you've added carbonation.
Power Source: Electric | Bottle Material: BPA-free plastic | Bottle Capacity: 1 liter and 0.5 liter | Carbonator Included: Yes | Dimensions: 5.63 x 8.0 x 16.8 inches
"The Fizzi One Touch is extremely effective at carbonating the water. I tried out the various settings and really loved how bubbly the water was on the higher settings." — Julie Hershman, Product Tester
Best Budget: Soda Sense Soda Sensei
Carbonates any beverage
Eco-friendly canister exchange program
Compatible with other canister brands
No CO2 cartridge included
This soda maker has many users swearing it's better than the big-name SodaStream brand. Not only can it carbonate liquids other than water and use CO2 cartridges from any brand, it also seals in cartridges extra efficiently, which results in less wasted CO2. The design is sleek, compact and doesn't require batteries or electricity, and users note that it doesn't leak like some other brands do.
The Soda Sensei is easy to clean and easy to use. Its simple design doesn't feature different settings for different levels of carbonation—you just press the button more for more carbonation. An eco-friendly perk of this model is that you can sign up for a subscription program that lets you exchange old cartridges for new ones, but keep in mind that this soda maker doesn't come with any cartridges and you'll need to purchase them separately. Likewise, if you need extra bottles, you can order those through the company website. That being said, this model frequently earns higher praise than its higher-priced competitors.
Power Source: Manual | Bottle Material: BPA-free plastic | Bottle Capacity: 850 milliliters | Carbonator Included: No | Dimensions: 17.28 x 14.06 x 5.87 inches
Best Glass Bottle: SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker
Glass water bottles
Two water bottles included
No electricity or batteries required
Bigger than other models
No settings to control fizz levels
If you prefer to store and serve your sparkling water in glass bottles, you'll appreciate that the SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Maker comes with not one but two glass carafes. The bottles hold 21 ounces each and have a ribbed design that's good-looking enough to serve tableside at your next dinner party.
Like the other SodaStream models on this list, the Aqua Fizz uses a standard 60 liter carbon dioxide cylinder that screws into place and can only be used to add bubbles to water.
This model doesn't require electricity or batteries, so you can use it anywhere. There's a single button on top of the machine to manually add carbonation. You'll have to experiment with how many pushes of the button add enough bubbles for your taste.
Note that this soda maker is on the bulky side and measures over 17-inches tall, but requires even more height clearance when you open the unit to insert a glass bottle. You'll want to measure where you plan to store it to make sure you have enough clearance.
Power Source: Manual | Bottle Material: Glass | Bottle Capacity: 620 milliliters | Carbonator Included: Yes | Dimensions: 6.3 x 10.2 x 21.3 inches
Cold, filtered water will give you the best results with a sparkling water maker. Cold water carbonates better than room temperature water. It's best to skip the tap, though, since carbonation can amplify any impurities, making the water taste more metallic, acidic, or bitter.
Best Splurge: Aarke Carbonator III
Sleek, stylish design
Minimal countertop footprint
Many finish options
Tedious cartridge loading
Only plastic bottles available
When you’ve got a high-end kitchen, you want your countertop appliances to look just as nice, and this Swedish-designed carbonator is sure to stand out. It's made from stainless steel and has a copper finish for an elegant look. If copper isn’t your style, it's also available in white, sand, matte black, black chrome, gold, and stainless steel.
Our tester reviewed the previous version, the Carbonator II, and appreciated the durable all-metal housing. She noted that although the stainless steel construction will likely withstand wear and tear from carbonation pressure better than plastic soda makers, the actual carbonated water wasn't any better than water made in more affordable models. The newer version replaces some plastic components with stainless steel, has updated finish options, and features a refreshed bottle design.
Don't let the luxe design intimidate you, though—this soda maker is simple to use. All you need to do is press down on the single lever to carbonate your bottle of water. The lever also releases the excess carbonation for you, so you won't end up with a mess.
This soda maker includes one carbonating bottle with a sturdy stainless steel cap and is compatible with standard 60-liter carbonation canisters that are available in many stores and online. Just be aware this model does not include a canister, so you'll need to pick one up separately to get started.
Power Source: Manual | Bottle Material: BPA-free plastic | Bottle Capacity: 800 milliliters | Carbonator Included: No | Dimensions: 6 x 10.2 x 16.3 inches
Best Traditional Soda Siphon: iSi Soda Siphon
No batteries or electricity needed
Must order carbon cartridges separately
Time consuming to assemble and use
If you're looking for a soda maker that can be stashed on your bar cart, a traditional soda siphon is your best choice.
Used by professional bartenders, a siphon's canister carbonates the water and then “shoots” it into your glass. Compared to other soda makers, this method makes the process of carbonating water feel and look more impressive. A soda siphon definitely ups the wow factor when you’re making fancy cocktails.
Our tester admits this carbonator is tricky to put together and takes quite a few tedious steps to use, but found the end carbonation level was strong.
The bottle can hold one quart of water and a measuring tube helps you add just the right amount of liquid so you don’t overfill it. There's also a pressure control valve that prevents over-pressurizing the unit. This uses small CO2 chargers, but they're one-time-use only so you'll need to keep plenty on hand.
Power Source: Manual | Bottle Material: Stainless steel | Bottle Capacity: 1 quart | Carbonator Included: No | Dimensions: 3.5 x 3.5 x 12.25 inches
"I can see it being useful to a mixologist or to those that only need a soda maker on occasion because of its convenient portability." — Meredith Hurd, Product Tester
Best Innovation: Spärkel Beverage System
No CO2 cylinders to replace
Five carbonation levels
Can carbonate more than water
Two water chambers to fill and empty
Bottle lever tricky to lock into place
Takes longer to carbonate than other models
If you haven't pulled the trigger on bringing a soda maker into your home because you don't want to deal with canisters of carbon dioxide—keeping a few extra on hand, returning the empties by mail or to an authorized retailer to recycle and replace—the Spärkel Beverage System might be the perfect soda maker for you.
The system can be used to carbonate water, tea, juice, and cocktails (a huge selling point over water-only models) but it uses a different method of delivering CO2 to your drinks. You can even add fresh fruit and herbs directly to the bottle and the pressure created by the CO2 will instantly extract flavor from them.
Instead of a standard CO2 cylinder, the Spärkel comes with individual packets of powdered carbonators, called A+B packs. The "A" packet contains citric acid and the "B" sodium bicarbonate (baking soda.) Each packet contains the perfect amount to generate just enough CO2 to add fizz to one bottle.
The carbonator goes into a chamber in the top of the machine and tap water is added to a tank on the back of the machine. They mix together in a sealed chamber, creating CO2, inside the machine. None of the powder or tap water ends up in your drink—just the CO2 gas they make. Any leftover carbonator ends up in another chamber that needs to be emptied after each use.
There are five carbonation levels to choose from; the machine lights up the bottle as it carbonates, and there's a pleasant melody to let you know when it's done. The Spärkel comes with a 25.4-ounce bottle, 10 carbonators to get started, and is available in several colors. Additional carbonators are available in counts of 30. You can also purchase additional bottles.
Power Source: Electric | Bottle Material: BPA-free plastic | Bottle Capacity: 750 milliliters | Carbonator Included: Yes, 10 individual packets | Dimensions: 5.75 x 12 x 14.75 inches
"Since receiving a complimentary Spärkel Beverage System from the manufacturer to try, creating new sparkling water flavors has become a daily event in my kitchen. I love being able to add fruit directly to the water bottle for flavor and the process is fun to watch." — Sharon Lehman, Small Appliance Expert for The Spruce Eats
Our top pick is the sleek Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker because it can carbonate any liquid and doesn't require any electricity or batteries. Plus, it's affordable and compatible with other brands' CO2 cartridges. If you don't like the idea of storing and swapping carbon dioxide cylinders, check out the Spärkel Beverage System, which runs on electricity and is powered by powdered carbonator packets.
What to Look for in a Soda Maker
Many soda makers, including the popular SodaStream models, are designed for carbonating only water. Flavor in the form of fresh fruit, herbs, or flavoring drops can be added to the water after the carbonation process.
Other soda makers can be used to carbonate any liquid you like, including juice, tea, cocktails, and wine. You can also use these machines to add bubbles back to drinks that have gone flat.
If you just want carbonated water, you probably don't need a model that’s able to carbonate your iced tea. If you entertain or like trying new recipes, the added versatility may be worth it.
Most soda makers on the market use a carbon dioxide (CO2) cylinder to carbonate your beverages.
Before buying, check to see if your model includes a CO2 cylinder to get started. Not all do, so you may need to purchase one separately.
Alternatively, you may find soda makers bundled into starter kits that include a couple CO2 cylinders and/or additional bottles. If you plan to carbonate a lot of liquids or have a large household where everyone enjoys fizzy drinks, a bundled starter kit might make sense.
Most soda maker water bottles or carafes are made from plastic. If you'd like to avoid plastic, look for a soda maker that comes with a glass bottle. Just be aware that models with glass bottles tend to cost more than their plastic counterparts.
Most manufacturers offer additional bottles, whether plastic or glass, so you can make sure you always have a clean bottle ready to go.
Countertop units are usually able to accommodate larger CO2 tanks—so you won’t need to replace them as often—while smaller models, like a classic soda siphon, are perfectly sized for stashing on a small bar cart, tucking into a picnic basket, taking to a party.
You'll find both electric and manual countertop soda makers. Manual models are more portable and can be used anywhere without needing access to an electrical outlet.
The electric models on this list have settings for various fizz levels and the carbonation process is hands free, while manual models require you to press a button to achieve your preferred amount of carbonation.
How long does a CO2 cylinder last?
The exact length of time a cylinder will last depends on how often you use it.
Most of the soda makers on this list work with a 60-liter CO2 cylinder, which has enough gas to carbonate 60 liters. If you carbonate a liter of water each day, your cylinder should last about two months.
How do you know when your cylinder is out of gas?
You'll know it's time to replace your CO2 cylinder when you notice the gas going into your water seems to be less powerful than usual or splutters.
If the carbonation button(s) on your soda maker don't work, seem less forceful, or make an unusual noise, it's probably because the cylinder is running low.
What do you do with empty CO2 cylinders?
Cylinders should not be thrown away and are not accepted by residential recycling programs.
Most soda maker companies offer a cylinder exchange program. Cylinders can be returned to some retailers who sell soda makers for recycling or mailed back directly to the company.
SodaStream offers discounted refill cylinders as part of their mail-in exchange program. Drinkmate offers cash rebates for cylinders returned to them that can be used to purchase more cylinders. The details for these exchange programs can be found on the companies' websites.
Can you recarbonate flat drinks with a soda maker?
Yes, if your soda maker is designed to carbonate liquids other than water, then it can also be used to add bubbles back into flat soda or beer.
Not all soda makers are designed to carbonate beverages other than water, though, so be sure to check your product manual first.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, writer, and product tester for The Spruce Eats. In addition to reviewing more than 90 products for the brand, Donna has also written numerous roundups on all manner of small appliances, including the best blenders, snow cone makers, and pasta makers.
This roundup was updated by Katrina Munichiello, a writer and editor who specializes in the tea and food industries, and Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience as a professional chef.