Be forewarned: This post is going to come off as a product endorsement, and maybe it is, but I'm thrilled with a new home soda maker I purchased a few weeks ago and think it's worth knowing about if you're paying for high-priced mineral water.
If you've visited this blog before you may have read the entry on water (see 8 Glasses a Day Advice Doesn't Hold Water, posted May 1, 2008). My wife and I started drinking juice diluted with water a few years ago, shifting to sparkling mineral water to make it a little more interesting. Recently, while taking all of our recycling bins to the curb, I reflected on the massive bin of mineral water bottles, most of which had traveled half-way around the world (Gerolsteiner and San Pelligrino being our two favorites).
So much for reducing my carbon footprint by biking!
Following a little research on the web I came across a company called Soda Club (www.sodaclubusa.com). They make home carbonation machines, and there are remarkably few companies that seem to compete with them. Because I'm concerned about the petrochemicals associated with plastic bottles I had to suck it up and pay for the more expensive glass bottle carbonator.
When it first arrived, Ethan (our 8-year old pre-engineering student) wanted to assemble it. Fortunately it's quite a simple unit. It's all mechanical (no electricity required) and consists essentially of a large CO2 cartridge which screws into the base. A bottle of regular tap water (or filtered water if you prefer) is simply placed inside the unit, and the carbonation jet is brought down on top of it. You pump a lever a few times, and voila! Soda water!
Now, some people prefer mineral water because it actually possesses minerals, and some because they prefer the flavor. Since I take my vitamins every day, and because I mix the water with juice any way, this machine is perfect.
Many others purchase these devices to save money on soda. Soda Club offers a wide variety of syrups and sends you a package of samples. I drink the water because I want a healthy alternative to soda so I don't typically purchase these, but simply mix soda water with a little fruit juice.
Of course, the company does require you to purchase their proprietary CO2 replacement cartridges through them, but that seems fair enough. It's still a lot cheaper (by my estimate, at least 75% less than bottled water) and much more environmentally friendly.
So, if you drink a lot of mineral water and want to a) reduce your carbon footprint and b) save money, you should consider buying a home carbonation system. Finally, if you know of other companies offering these products please tell me.