I have always enjoyed a good bubbly drink. I started out with Coca-Cola when I was a kid (strictly regulated by my mom), and then I slowly graduated to sodas with less sugar, like Izze. Eventually I landed on kombucha, but that was expensive and I drank so much of it that I worried it actually had a negative effect on my gut rather than the intended positive effect.
Then I discovered Spindrift, sparkling water flavored with actual fruit juice rather than that zero-calorie stuff. It’s the only sparkling water I’ve ever liked, and I finally understood what the big deal was about seltzer water. I haven’t missed soda or kombucha since. But I noticed that our recycling bin was always full, and I started feeling the weight of the waste we were creating by drinking literally cases and cases of this stuff per month, even though we were recycling all the cans.
I finally decided to invest in an at-home carbonated beverage maker, and after a lot of research, I decided to go with Drinkmate. About a month ago, I ended up switching over to the SodaStream Aqua Fizz. Here’s my experience with both machines, why I decided to switch from Drinkmate to SodaStream Aqua Fizz initially, and why I decided to switch back again.
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Video of Drinkmate and SodaStream operating at the same time
In the video above, each device’s bottle was filled to its maximum capacity. The CO2 canisters in each were brand new. The difference in completion time is pretty minimal in terms of how long it takes to carbonate a bottle of water with a full tank.
If you don’t count how long it takes to release the pressure, the Drinkmate is the clear winner.
*Update* Why we switched back to Drinkmate
After 10 months with the SodaStream Aqua Fizz, the 2 major reasons that pushed us to dig the Drinkmate out of the closet were the following:
- Operating difficulties
- Machine maintenance
The video above shows that the SodaStream is actually pretty comparable to the Drinkmate when it comes to making a bottle of carbonated water. But the operating difficulties come when the tank is not as full, and it’s a lot harder to tell on the SodaStream when the tank is nearing empty for a couple reasons. First of all, you can’t see the bottle as you’re carbonating it. Second, when the tank is not completely full, carbonating the bottle takes a lot more than 3 quick presses like in the video, but it’s not a predictable number. Sometimes I would stand there and press 7 times to give it a chance before finally deciding to switch out the tank. And the tanks were never totally empty as with the Drinkmate, so that was wasteful and meant more trips to get full canisters.
In terms of maintenance, I don’t know if you can hear it in the video since we have sound for both machines, but when the SodaStream finishes the cycle, you can hear a little gurgle. That gurgle is water getting into the mechanism at the top, which is not supposed to happen. This happens when you press the button for too long, but if you don’t push the button down long enough, it takes forever to carbonate the bottle. The SodaStream is super finicky, and after 10 months of regular use, I still haven’t figured out the sweet spot — and not for lack of trying.
What ended up happening with the SodaStream was that we dreaded making water. It became a bit of a thorn in our sides, the thing that no one wanted to do, which meant we used it less and the bottles were usually sitting empty. Plus, because of the carafes are smaller than the Drinkmate’s plastic bottles, if both of us wanted sparkling water, one of us would have to fill both carafes to give us each a full glass. We would also buy other carbonated drinks (like ginger beer) to top up the glasses instead of carbonating the second carafe.
Granted, using other carbonated beverages was my husband’s brilliant idea, but it might be defeating the purpose of the drink maker: you’re adding cost, waste, and sugar.
If you don’t have the time or patience for a finicky switch, try the Drinkmate instead of the SodaStream. If you’re not sold yet, read the full comparison below.
The full comparison is below with a few updates.
Quick comparison of Drinkmate Sparkling Water Maker versus SodaStream Aqua Fizz
I created a table below to compare the different features of Drinkmate and SodaStream Aqua Fizz.
The CO2 canisters are interchangeable, so it doesn’t matter if you have a Drinkmate and use SodaStream CO2, which is what we did for about a year.
|Category||Drinkmate Sparkling Water Maker||SodaStream Aqua Fizz Premium|
|Price||$100 (1 plastic bottle, 1 60L CO2 canister)||$136 (2 glass carafes, 1 60L CO2 canister)|
|Liquids||Any beverage||Water only|
|Machine size||16″H x 8″D x 5″W||21.3″H x 10.2″D x 6.3″W|
|Ease of use||Hold button until hissing sound||Press button in short bursts until buzzing sound|
|Ease of cleaning||Bottles are hard to clean, machine needs very little cleaning||Bottles are easy to clean, machine is difficult to clean|
|Bottle material, care||BPA-free, food-safe PET, hand wash only||Glass, dishwasher safe|
|Bottle lifespan||Up to 3 years||Only needs replacement if damaged|
|Bottle capacity||1000 milliliters (33.8 ounces)||620 milliliters (about 21 ounces)|
|CO2 exchange||Receive gift card for next purchase||Discount upon purchase|
|Accessories||Other bottle sizes available||None|
Drinkmate Sparkling Water and Soda Maker
The Drinkmate is made of mostly plastic. It doesn’t need electricity, so you can keep it anywhere in your kitchen or whatever room you choose.
You attach the carbonator nozzle to the bottle, slide it into the slot, then push the entire bottle towards the machine. Once that’s all set, you just press and hold the button on the top of the machine until you hear a hissing noise, and that’s it! Pull the bottle towards you, give it a little shake, then release the pressure valve before opening the bottle. Pour and enjoy or screw on the cap for later.
One more benefit of this machine over the SodaStream Aqua Fizz is that you can see what’s going on in the bottle when you hold the button down, so it’s easy to tell when you’re out of air. It still blows bubbles, but they look different.
We chose this one specifically because it could carbonate any beverage. At first, we took advantage of that feature and carbonated everything we could think of. One of the reviews said not to carbonate almond milk (it clogged the nozzles), so we didn’t try that, but everything else was fair game. You have to be careful with sugary drinks since they tend to foam up more, but monitor the bubbles as you press the button, release if they get to high, and you’ll be fine.
This was fun at first, but in real life we found that, most of the time, we only used it for water and generally added flavoring afterwards. This was to keep our bottles clean because honestly we’re pretty lazy about anything that needs hand washing.
We found that the bottles didn’t hold carbonation as well as the SodaStream carafes, but it was mostly fine because we drank them pretty quickly anyway. One bottle was enough to fill two of our drinking glasses (16oz wide-mouth Ball canning jar).
3 reasons I switched from Drinkmate
Drinkmate is a fine carbonated beverage maker. I don’t have any complaints other than the these 3 reasons that I decided to make the switch:
Since the whole point of this was to reduce our waste, I’m opposed to replacing the plastic bottles every 2-3 years. I suppose it’s not a TON of waste to replace 2 bottles every 2 years, but it’s not like I could reuse or resell them since they would be expired and are not supposed to be used anymore. They are marked as recyclable, but I’m trying to reduce our overall plastic usage even if it’s recyclable.
Hand-wash only sucks
Much like with my rule about not buying clothes that need dry cleaning, I generally shy away from kitchen items that can’t go in the dishwasher (exceptions are made for knives, cookware, and a few other tools). Items that are hand wash only are usually not allowed in our kitchen because that usually means we either A) don’t use it or B) don’t clean it as often (see #3 below).
Bottles require disassembly to clean
See that plastic part at the bottom of the bottle? I assume it’s to keep the bottle stable when you’re carbonating, but it detaches from the bottle. It’s fallen off a few times randomly, but the worst part is that it’s another place that water gets into and must be cleaned. If you don’t clean it, this is what happens:
Of course this can easily be avoided by washing and drying thoroughly, but I didn’t notice until it got to this state. Plus, it’s an extra thing to clean and dry on this item that already 1) is hand wash only and 2) requires a bottle brush to clean properly.
Should you buy the Drinkmate Sparkling Water Maker?
If none of the negatives above bother you, the Drinkmate might be for you instead of the SodaStream. The main reason I chose the SodaStream was because I prefer the glass carafes, but the Drinkmate is easier to use. If you don’t mind plastic, hand washing, and replacing the bottles every few years, I’d use the Drinkmate for sure.
SodaStream Aqua Fizz
The SodaStream Aqua Fizz is definitely premium compared to the Drinkmate. The Aqua Fizz is still mostly plastic except the bottom part that you set the bottle into is metal. Like the Drinkmate, it doesn’t need to be plugged in.
This carbonated water maker operates differently than the Drinkmate. Rather than attaching the carbonator nozzle directly to the bottle, you place the filled glass carafe into the cup on the machine, then lower the top and lock it by turning the lever to the left. Use short pulses of the button on the top until you hear a buzzing noise that tells you it’s done. Unlock the top, add your flavoring as desired, then pour or twist on the cap for later.
One drawback is that you can’t see what’s going on in the bottle while you’re carbonating. For example, if your CO2 canister is empty, it’s hard to tell. Instead you have to go by sound or waste your time pressing the button until you’ve pressed it 7 times and finally figure out that it should have carbonated by now.
Are SodaStream Aqua Fizz’s glass carafes worth it?
One major concern I had with switching to the Aqua Fizz was the smaller carafe size, which is almost 10oz smaller than the Drinkmate’s bottles. We need to carbonate both carafes to fill two 16oz drinking glasses for a meal, for example. This does result in more refills of the carafes, but that does not equate to more CO2 since the glass carafes are smaller. We’ve used the same amount of CO2 in one month with the Aqua Fizz that we used with one month with the Drinkmate.
I’ve also noticed that the glass carafes keep carbonated much better than the Drinkmate bottles. My husband had to tighten the Drinkmate bottles almost to a point where I couldn’t open them, but the SodaStream bottles can be closed normally and still hold the fizz better. But holding carbonation longer is a bit of a moot point since the carafes need to be refilled so often.
Cleaning the carafes is a breeze. We just toss them in the dishwasher whenever we run it. It’s definitely my favorite part of the SodaStream, and I like not having to worry about when the bottles will expire, washing them by hand, or having to fiddle with that extra plastic bottom.
The biggest issue I’ve found so far with the SodaStream is not with the glass carafes but the metal cup on the machine.
When you refill your bottle with water to carbonate, you’ll inevitably get water on the outside of the bottle unless you use a funnel every time. Sure, no problem — just wipe it up with an absorbent cotton towel. Not exactly.
When we first got the machine, we were holding the button down too long because we were used to the Drinkmate. That forced water into the top of the machine, which would then leak out and dribble into this cup. As long as we use short pulses as directed, we haven’t had the same dribbling issue, but I’ll keep this updated if I start experiencing that issue again.
If the cup does need to be wiped out every once in a while, I don’t mind — except that it has this plastic thing on the inside to hold the bottle in the proper position. You can remove it and hand wash it, but it has that white plastic part in the bottom of the cup that traps moisture and builds up gunk. I used a cotton swap to wipe it out, but it doesn’t get clean enough for my taste.
The SodaStream Aqua Fizz isn’t a perfect machine, but I prefer the glass carafes. If you’re trying to reduce waste and only want to carbonate water, it’s a great choice for homemade sparkling water.
Neither of these carbonated drink makers are perfect, but they both carbonate water just fine.
Ultimately, I chose to keep the Drinkmate Sparking Water Maker because it’s so much easier to operate and keep clean. I wanted so badly to eliminate the waste of replacing plastic bottles every few years and have dishwasher-safe glass carafes, but the it turned out the benefits of the SodaStream weren’t worth the drawbacks after all.
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