When my kids were in elementary school, I was the “Health and Safety Committee” chairperson for the PTA. I advocated healthy eating, exercise and implemented programs to educate kids about preventing obesity. Now that my kids are older and are in different schools, I no longer hold that position but I still try to maintain healthy eating as part of our lifestyle and my kids have become relatively health conscious as result. I brain washed them good, I’m proud to say. My husband is another story. But I digress.
So when Soda Stream contacted me to review their home soda machine, I was in conundrum. Here I am preaching about staying healthy and avoiding junk foods, including soda, how can I justify reviewing a product that makes soda! That completely goes against my principles. Right? I mean, I do like some sparkling water once in awhile but the decent ones are expensive and the waste of glass or plastic bottles is prohibitive to frequent purchase.
Then, it hit me.
Having a soda machine at home where you can control how much sugar to put in your drinks sounded like a brilliant idea!! I mean, you are ingesting 40g of sugar every time you open a 12 oz. soda bottle. That’s a whopping 10 tsp of sugar! So I did a quick research on their website, and the company states that their syrup contain no High Fructose Corn Syrup!! Ha! Even better!! And they make unsweetened natural water flavors too! So, I decided to accept this challenging task, as I heard Emily and my hubby making whooping sounds in the background. Can you guess who are the soda lovers in my family?
I asked the PR rep to send me the top four flavors, cola, diet cola (although I fervently disagree with drinking artificially sweetened drinks, I had to sacrifice for you, the diet soda drinkers!), lemon-lime (Sierra Mist alike) and diet lemon-lime. And I also asked for energy drinks for my athletes and flavored water syrup for me. Coincidentally, the machine arrived just in time for a small family dinner we were having so we had about ten people tasting different flavors for this review.
How did the machine do?
I have some good news and bad news. Isn’t that how life always works?
The good news – I always like good news first – the ultimate optimist that I am.
1. Energy efficient – the soda machine does not need electricity to operate which is a huge plus. It works manually, only your thumb muscles are needed. You have to push down a button on top to release the CO2 into the bottles. Energy efficient. Excellent!
2. Quality fizz – CO2 retained its fizz so much longer. In fact, my family agreed that soda was definitely more refreshing because fizz was so fresh and not flat as even in newly opened store bought soda bottles. So, there’s something to be said about “fresh homemade soda”. And yes, there is a such a thing now. Ha!
3. Cost – Each syrup bottles makes 12 liters of soda and one carbonator makes 60 liters of soda – so I’ll be spending only .83 per liter. (I did the math for you. $5 per bottle of syrup x 5 bottles (for 60 liters) = $25 PLUS $25 for carbonator that yields 60 liters. That means $50 for 60 liters of soda and .83 per liter) That is at least 15 cents cheaper than the sodas on sale at the store and much more if you buy them at regular prices.
4. Less, much less, plastic – and this is the big environmental pitch from the company – you are NOT producing all that plastic waste. Imagine, 60 liters of soda will generate 30 of 2 liter plastic bottles and 180 of 12 oz. bottles!! But Soda Stream will generate 5 bottles for 60 liters of soda. That’s it! You can return the empty carbonator and exchange for a full one for less money so no waste generated there. How many times have you seen soda bottles strewn about in parks, oceans, roadways, and after concerts? And remember the dead birds’ stomach contents in these photos from Midway: Message from the Gyre by Chris Jordan? Not producing plastic would be so beyond eco friendly; it’ll be life and death issue for some animals!
Now the bad news – I warned you.
1. Splenda – The problem I have with soda is that you are consuming empty calories with a ton of carbs from High Fructose Corn Syrup. So, when I read that Soda Stream offered flavored syrup without High Fructose Corn Syrup, I was thrilled. Then, I read the fine prints. It contains Splenda! If you want some natural sweetness in your drink, Splenda is NOT the way to go. It is artificial!! It’s not natural. Splenda is Sucralose, chlorinated sucrose, and it is toxic. I rather have Agave or Stevia in my drinks. Even organic cane sugar will be OK if I was making this soda at home. But this batch of syrup contained Splenda. And it tasted like it too. So that was a big turn off. The concept of adding the right amount of sweetness was very appealing but not if I am adding Splenda.
2. Energy Drink flavors – contained caffeine! I was so disappointed. I thought energy drink would contain some amino acids that will boost energy naturally. Caffeine is a mere stimulant like coffee and does not help you to produce energy. It was no different then the “energy drinks” on the supermarket shelf that I avoid because they contain caffeine.
3. ABS plastic – ok, so Soda Stream touts their system reducing plastic waste but the low end model that I received for the review ( of course, I respect the company’s decision to produce various price point models) was made with all plastic made that I wonder if it’s worth buying it. I rather spend a little more money and buy their “deluxe” models that are made with part stainless steel like Pure and Penguin models. The machine that I received is made with ABS plastic (acrylonitrile, butadiene, and styrene), and albeit BPA-free and recyclable, it is still made with petroleum derived plastic. That was a turn off.
4. Plastic Bottles – these are the two high pressure-resistant plastic bottles that you use to make the soda. The company does say it doesn’t contain BPA but they suggest throwing them out after three years. What does that mean? Do they disintegrate over time? Where do the plastic particles go if they disintegrate? In the drinks? Also, since it’s not dishwasher safe, that means 1) it’s not so eco-friendly 2) plastic is not tough enough to withstand the hot temperature of a dishwasher, so, does that mean the plastic molecules are unstable? For their defense, they do make glass carafes that last indefinitely. That’s clearly a better choice. But the plastic bottles that are included in this starter kit, are not such a great option. And being that most cost conscious consumers would probably buy this model, more plastic will undoubtedly end up being produced, still. Not cool in my green book.
5. Usability – when I test or review a product, I also test for its usability. The plastic bottle that screws underneath to capture the CO2 was not that easy to screw in. The threading was a little clumsy and we had to fiddle around with it a few times before it threaded to the machine properly. We were nervous about having a gap or tightening it too tightly. I think it might have been the angle of the bottle while we were tightening it. Also, the button to release the CO2 was a little hard to push down. My 14-year-old daughter and I had trouble pushing it down. But my hubby had no trouble. So you need strong thumb/arm muscles for that. I also think the height of the machine gave less leverage for a shorter person, like me, to press down the button from the top.
Questions to Soda Stream:
To be fair, I contacted the PR rep for Soda Stream and asked if the company has any plans to add natural sugar to the syrup. And this is exactly what she said in her e-mail.
Funny you should ask about the sugars! Soda Stream is currently developing a new line of flavors that use no artificial sweeteners (most likely, the flavors will contain cane sugar). We should have a better picture of what the final product will be like in the spring, but I believe they are aiming to roll the new flavors out in July/August.
So that was great news……for the future Soda Stream lovers.
As for the My Water flavors you currently have, they are derived from fruit essences such as crushed oranges for the orange flavor.
Hmmm….that’s better than artificial flavors, right? I can live with that. And by the way, the My Water flavors were very crisp and refreshing. It was like drinking fruit flavored sparkling water but better. Lemon-Lime was my favorite, and Berry flavor? Not so much. Actually, I added a lemon wedge in the water and it was even more refreshing. One little thought on carbonated water…. There are conflicting stories about whether carbonated water or sparkling water causes osteoporosis or bone loss. This depends on what type of water you are drinking. Tonic water and club soda that you buy from the stores contain salts. Those type of carbonated drinks, as well as sugary sodas, have been found to cause bone loss due to excess acids in the soda causing calcium to leach out of the bones. But Soda Stream carbonation method will NOT cause that to happen because you will be using your own water. The carbonation process itself will not add salts into your drinks. Use filtered tap water, like I did and you will not have to worry about problems that usually arise from drinking soda or seltzer water. Oh and by the way, the diet soda flavors definitely had that artificial sweetener flavors but with refreshing fizz.
Back to asking Soda Stream more questions… I asked about the plastic model issue and that I couldn’t offer to giveaway the model I received in good conscience. The rep agreed with my point about the plastic. She AGREED to offer the Penguin model for the giveaway, which is made with stainless steel and has two glass carafes instead of the plastic bottles that you have to throw away in three years. You guys are SO lucky!!
So, to recap…
I like the fact of making your own soda at home and not producing all that plastic waste from soda bottles. But I wouldn’t recommend the starter kit model that I received because it was made with all plastic, still contributing to the plastic waste. If you are going to purchase a Soda Stream for eco-friendly reasons, buy the Penguin model that are made with stainless steel and comes with a glass carafe.
The concept of controlling how much sugar to put in our soda is very appealing from the nutritional point of view – if it is pure sugar and not Splenda.
How many green hearts?
Now, I’ve never done this type of rating before but considering all the factors for the starter model I received, I give Soda Stream, three green hearts.
The better models with less plastic and natural sugar instead of Splenda will make it five green hearts.
Now the giveaway rules,
- The giveaway is open to those who are my subscribers only. If you are not my current subscriber, you must subscribe by using the feedburner subscription for e-mail or RSS. Your e-mail address will NOT be shared with anyone or posted anywhere.
- You must be over 18 years old who lives within US.
- When you fill out the form, I can see your e-mail address; DO NOT leave your e-mail address with your comment.
- This giveaway will end at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday March 14, 2010
- One winner will be chosen at random, generated by a random.org, and will be announced on Monday, March 15, 2010.
- No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway.
- You must respond within three days after giveaway is closed to be eligible.
- There is no limit as to how many times you can enter. Each comment is one entry.
- If you don’t use one of the ways to enter as below, I will consider it to be SPAM and delete the entry.
- SRP is $199.95
Here is how you can enter and please only leave me a comment related to this product and giveaway:
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