Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Review

To all fellow SodaStream owners, my purpose is to evaluate the process of upgrading the SodaStream's carbon dioxide (CO2) supply using the CO2 Doctor's technology.  My purchased SodaStream Jet model came with a very small CO2 canister.  Once this tank's CO2 is used up, I will attach the FreedomOne+ adapter which increases the CO2 supply with a larger tank, which I purchased locally.  I'm also going to see if the new technology will reduce future gas supply costs over time.

As my biography states, I own a soda syrup business, Pittsburgh Soda Pop.  The Sales Manager of the CO2 Doctor, Dann Johnson, took note of our similar business interests (soda pop) and asked me to evaluate the FreedomOne+.  It was given to me free of charge and I was asked to give an honest evaluation.  As I am doing this, the CO2 Doctor's staff will conduct evaluations of the soda syrups that I sell.  See Links to the right.

Here's the setup:

The CO2 tank that came with the machine lasted for 32 one liter bottles. I  used the bottles supplied by Sodastream.  It claimed to make "up to" 60 liters (or bottles).  I like my soda pop fizzy, so I pressed the carbonating button 4 times for each bottle of soda.

Here's the FreedomOne+ setup:

Connecting the hardware to the SodaStream and 5# CO2 tank was simple. Complete and detailed instructions are found on the CO2 Doctor's website.  You can also E-mail and ask questions.  As noted by the Doctor's site, highly pressurized CO2 tanks are to be handled properly.  There is a lot of stored pressure here, so make sure the 5# CO2 tank is turned off and lines are emptied of gas while installing or uninstalling.  Note that once the CO2 tank is turned off, you can bleed the gas line by pressing the "gas button" on top of the SodaStream machine and verify by listening to gas streaming out of the white "needle like" dispenser.

Here's a detailed picture of installing the fitting onto the SodaStream.  This is the place where the original tank went.  After snugging the nut by hand, use a 1/2 inch open ended wrench and turn where shown in the picture.

Be careful, you are attaching metal to plastic!
Just snug the connection, don't over tighten.

Here's more detail of the 5# CO2 tank fitting.  Note that the white washer supplied is to be put inside the large nut before attaching.  You can turn this nut a bit harder since it's a metal-to-metal connection.
Notice the "quick disconnect" male end to the left of the pressure dial.  This is where you couple the tank to the SodaStream.  The pressure dial indicates the amount of CO2 in the tank, and it's nice to have.


Here's the completed setup:

Once this was completed, I turned the knob atop the 5# CO2 tank on - very slowly!
I listened for leaks and there were none to be found. 

So far, I'm satisfied with FreedomOne+.  It was quite easy to install and the quality & workmanship of the fittings are excellent.  This is well made.

The cost of the FreedomOne+ (CGAWG with a 72 inch hose) is currently $131.99 plus $7.83 shipping.
I chose the longer hose, 72 inches, because it gives me greater flexibility in placing the   5# CO2 tank out of the way in any given situation - at home or on the go. Other FreedomOne+ adapters start at a lower price.

My locally purchased 5# CO2 tank was $90.00.  The CO2 gas for it was $21.54. The tank purchase is a one-time deal - it's mine.  When emptied, I take it back in exchange for another and just pay for the CO2.

I will compare these charges to SodaStream refills.  I bought my SodaStream at a local Kohl's and noticed there were no CO2 tank refills available.  So, I will use SodaStream's on-line ordering charges.
The "60 Reorder Kit"  includes one spare tank and two exchanges for $68.98 including shipping. I figure that you should have a ready-to-go tank available when the current one runs out.   

Carbonating with FreedomOne+

36 Bottles and counting... 

As you can see, the gauge needle has hardly moved and the CO2 tank is still very full.  The supplied SodaStream CO2 tank emptied at 32 bottles.

One observation from making soda using the FreedomOne+ setup is its efficiency.  After the first blast (followed by the buzz), the next 3 bursts are very short.  The water is being more forcefully carbonated!

100 Bottles and counting... 

The gauge needle has barely moved into the green zone.  If I were using the SodaStream CO2 canisters, I would be on my fourth one.

The 5# CO2 tank I'm using is the smallest I could buy.  The sizes available are 5, 10, 20 and 50#.

It's Empty!

The 5# CO2 tank made 223 one liter bottles of soda pop. Comparing this to the original CO2 canister that came with the SodaStream, I would have had to purchase 7 of them.


Cost to make the first 223 bottles of seltzer:  using SodaStream  160.93
                                                                       using FreedomOne+  251.56 

Since each SodaStream canister costs $22.99 by mail, it would take   eleven of them to come close to the cost of the FreedomOne+ setup.  So, eleven SodaStream canisters of CO2 would be the break even point using the CO2 Doctor's technology.

After recouping the SodaStream CO2 costs by using the CO2 Doctor technology, you would be saving over $139.00 each time you use a    5# CO2 tank that's coupled with the FreedomOne+.  Seven SodaStream canisters would cost $160.93 if purchased through the mail and a 5# CO2 refill costs $21.54.
Of course, many other scenarios exist depending on how you purchase SodaStream canisters.  Purchasing them at a nearby store would cost less.  Also, your purchasing arrangements for external CO2 tanks and their refills can vary too.  Even with these varying cost scenarios, the CO2 Doctor technology wins out over time in providing quality carbonation for less.
I conclude that the FreedonOne+ is a winner!  It is superbly constructed, truly convenient and the quality of carbonation, along with the overall savings, is well worth the price when making your own carbonated water at home.

Update: October 3, 2011

I have now purchased a FreedomOne + for myself because I gave the one in this blog to my daughter.  My daughter is nearing her third 5# CO2 tank and continues to be satisfied with the SodaStream and her FreedomOne+ setup.  I purchased a new SodaStream Jet from Kohl's for $79.99 plus a 30% off coupon.  Don't ever buy this machine at list!

I have the Jet on a kitchen counter and replaced its small gas cylinder with a 20# CO2 tank which is in my basement - directly under the counter.  This tank connects to the Jet by way of the FreedomOne+ having a 6' gas line.  The fee to fill this 20# tank with CO2 is around $50.00, so I'm getting more bang for the buck using a larger CO2 tank.  I paid $22.00 to fill the 5# tank used above.  I expect to carbonate around 1000 one liter bottles from this larger tank.  

I continue to say that the folks at CO2 Doctor have a fine product that makes the SodaStream even better.