Those hardcore gaming geeks among you know that there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of an intense late-night gaming session and running out of you favorite caffeine-rich soda beverage. At two in the morning, Mountain Dew tastes like the nectar of the gods when you need that extra push to get through a Diablo III session.
Many of you have found and switched to the money-saving joy of the SodaStream system, a simple device that allows you to make carbonated sodas right in your own home without having to run to the store. While the various SodaStream machines put the power of fizz into your hands, the downside of the system is that the required CO2 canisters don’t last very long, especially if you’re a heavy soda drinker.
With a 14.5 oz refill canister costing anywhere from $15-$20, the process of making your own soda can get a bit pricey, not to mention cumbersome if you live in a rural area like I do. However, there’s an easy, affordable modification you can make to take advantage of a larger tank called the Freedom One, which is sold by a site called the CO2 Doctor.
I was able to get my hands on one of these units and documented the simple installation below.
As you can see above, there are only three things you will need to put together to make this mod work. A SodaStream device (my family owns a Genesis), a Freedom One connector with plastic washer, and a Co2 tank of some type. I borrowed a 20lb tank from a friend who has a soda fountain in his place of business, but you can pick up a 5lb tank on Amazon for around $60. I would recommend getting the biggest tank you can afford, simply because of the math involved. You will save a tremendous amount of money over the long term if you have a large tank. Let’s break down the math using the 20lb tank as an example.
In a Genesis SodaStream unit the company saw fit to place a 14.5 oz cartridge that is supposed to be able to carbonate 60 liters of soda (depending on how much fizz you like in your drinks). In a 20lb tank you would get the equivalent of 22 of these smaller internal tanks, which would add up to a whopping 1,324 liters. The best part? It only costs about $17 to fill a 20lb tank at a local gas merchant, which is a huge saving when you are looking at spending $330 for the equivalent SodaStream-branded refills. Your savings will go even higher if you add in shipping or fuel to drive to a store to do an exchange. It’s not hard to see the advantages here.
Once you have the required components, it’s time to put them all together. The first step is to remove the top of the Genesis, which is an easy process since it’s made to come apart. Placing the top upside down on a counter means you can see a small threaded port where you would normally screw in the smaller canister.
Take the large end of your Freedom One device and screw it in until it’s hand tight. You want to make sure you don’t over-tighten here as it may crack the plastic thread. This is very simply and requires absolutely no physical modification of your SodaStream device, so you won’t void the warranty.
The next step is to thread the Freedom One’s cord through the body of the Genesis, then turning it right side up to get it ready for action.
Last but not least, you take the end of the Freedom One with the pressure gauge and connect it to your CO2 tank. It’s very important that you don’t forget to put the plastic washer between the tank and the brass fitting, as it acts as a seal between the two pieces of metal so you don’t lose any of your precious gas. After it’s connected you simply open the valve on the top of the tank and attach a SodaStream bottle to the unit and carbonate as normal.
The total cost for this piece of kit is right around $317, including the SodaStream device and a gas fill. The Freedom One costs $129 for a 6 foot high-pressure hose and gauge, while the tank can be had for around $60. If you wanted to pick up a new 20lb tank it would be $100, bringing the total cost up to $357. While that seems a bit steep at first, remember that the Freedom One and the SodaStream will pay for itself over time. If you were to buy 1,324 liters of soda it would cost you roughly $827.50 depending on the market prices around you. Right off the bat you would save $470 over the life of your first 20 pounds of CO2, which makes it worth the investment.
If you wanted to save even more money, you could get a book like “Make Your Own Soda,” which has 200 recipes for making your own syrups to use with carbonated water. I have picked it up and tried some of them, and honestly prefer the taste of homemade to the mixes you can get in a store. If making your own syrups sounds daunting, but you still want that homemade taste, you could try Pittsburgh Soda Pop, a company that specializes in making tasty syrups. The Freedom One unit I received came with a sample of the company’s root beer mix, which was outstanding.
With the Freedom One you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of CO2 for your soda or breaking the bank keeping up with your soft drink habit. You can even install the device in your counter-top to hide the canister and hose–a small project that should take you no time at all.
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