So, my neighbor has had a SodaStream for years, and she let me try hers a few times. Now, I finally broke down and got one of my own, and even in the short time I have had it, I have fallen in love with this device. Because it doesn't take electricity, it's portable, and I'm even planning on taking it to my next tailgating party (but those are stories for other times). I've really put this thing through its paces, and so I hope if you're considering buying this appliance, you'll profit from my experience in using it, and consider whether you want one of your own.
- Packaging: The Sodastream was more than adequately packaged. The contents were well-protected, and almost all of the packaging was recyclable. However, it was frustrating to get into, as parts of the packaging did not work as I expected them to, and I'm awfully good at figuring mechanical stuff out.
- Registration: The registration card didn't seem too intrusive, however, the item serial number was not clearly marked and not easily accessible. I had to ask customer service how to find it.
- Telephone support: I called on a Saturday, and was on hold for only a few seconds before I spoke to someone. That person spoke English well, without a heavy accent, and was polite and helpful. I had a problem with the bottle that came with the SodaStream leaking, and she said a replacement bottle would be sent out that day. It arrived on Wednesday, which I consider to be very fast service.
- Ease of hooking up the CO2 cartridge: very easy, although it took me a bit of time to figure out how to insert it. Again, I'm usually very good at this kind of thing, so I found it a bit frustrating.
- Ease of use: it took me several tries to figure out how to put the bottle in and take it out. The instructions were not terribly helpful in that regard. However, once I figured it out, I was able to use the SodaStream right away, and made several liters of carbonated beverages in one day.
- Instructions: Good for the most part, but never seemed to adequately address the problems I was having in understanding how to use the device. However, there are pictures, and the instructions are well-written, having obviously been written in English rather than translated from a different language (something worth noting).
- Looks: the product looks good and feels sturdy enough. It is attractive enough to leave out on the counter instead of hiding it away in a cabinet, and probably I will use it enough to justify the counter space.
- Flavorings: I tried one flavoring that came with the SodaStream as a sample, root beer, and discovered that it had an off taste. When I looked at the ingredients list, I found that it had Sucralose, a brand of Splenda. I don't use artificial sweeteners, and that's why I had noticed the off taste. I'm saving the rest of the samples that were packed with it for guests who don't mind that sort of thing.
- Sturdiness: the replacement bottle worked just fine and has had no problems. I transfer the carbonated water to glass bottles and then add flavorings so that I don't have to clean the original bottle (since it never contains anything but clean water).
Would you use one?
Do I Like It?
The answer is, you bet! Now that I have figured out how to use the SodaStream, I am beginning to see many possibilities that I had not considered before, and so I am continually experimenting with new methods and recipes for the SodaStream. Because I don't drink the commercial sodas, I am using the machine to make my own drinks, and for the summer months, I find carbonated drinks refreshing and I don't have to worry about artificial ingredients when I make my own. I have even found natural cola substitutes my friends' children enjoy! I am sure to be using it every few days, and so I find it well worth the investment I made.
Things to Remember
- The SodaStream bottles are not dishwasher safe. Use only water in them and then you won't have to worry about cleaning them out.
- The bottles expire, so be sure to check the expiration date on the bottle when you first get it.
- Do not throw out the SodaStream canister when it is empty. Take it to the store and get a refill. If you don't know where to take it, call the SodaStream customer service number and they will tell you where to exchange canisters.
- There are modifications available for the SodaStream, but of course they will invalidate the warranty. Wait and see if you really need them, unless you just want to geek yours out.
- Never carbonate hot liquids. Really. No matter how tempting it might seem. That is something that is totally not worth trying.
The Factory Controversy
While SodaStream has come under fire because one of their factories is in an industrial park, in an occupation on the West Bank, the factory there employs many Palestinians, who work with the same pay and benefits as their Israeli colleagues. The factory pays taxes and does not practice discrimination in hiring or promotions. This particular factory was established in the 1990s and does not contribute to inequality in the community, and all the workers, both Israeli and Palestinian, state that they are happy and satisfied with their work environment.
Should you boycott the SodaStream? Since the company also has factories in other countries, such as China and Germany, you will have to make that decision for yourself. I did the research and decided that treating workers fairly was something to be rewarded.
Watch Ben Phillips, for Oxfam, and Daniel Birnbaum, of SodaStream, go head to head on the factory controversy, and decide for yourself.
One More Point
Carbonated water is just as good for you as regular water. There is no evidence that carbonated water damages tooth enamel, or leaches calcium from your bones. Each glass of carbonated water you drink counts towards the goal of eight glasses per day. Just be careful what you mix in your carbonated water, and for some healthy alternatives to the soda concentrates, try some natural alternatives.