If you’ve visited a bar, backyard BBQ or pool party in the last few years, you know: Seltzer—and especially hard seltzer—is having a moment. But, as more of us reach for a glass of something cool and fizzy, the price tag and inconvenience of regularly needing to replenish supply, along with the ecological cost of all those discarded plastic bottles, has led many to enlist the help of a soda maker.
But where should you start shopping when it comes to the best soda makers on the market? We rounded up the best soda makers, according to pros and real user reviews.
How Do Soda Makers Work?
Here are the basics: Carbonated water contains dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2). This process occurs both naturally and through the mechanized infusion of tiny, refreshing bubbles.
Most seltzer makers rely on CO2 canisters, which, at the press of a button, release gas through a designated chamber into the carbonating water bottle, adding fizz. Bottles are then covered with an airtight cap, allowing bubbles to form and build pressure, forcing CO2 to dissolve into the water.
What to Look for in a Good Soda Maker
Choosing the best soda maker is very personal and will depend on the size, aesthetic and carbonation you’re looking for. In general, a great carbonated water machine should be intuitive to use, easy to set up and create carbonated water that tastes good to you and lasts in the bottle. Additionally, consider if you want the machine to carbonate other beverages other than water when looking at additional features.
Whether you are a soda-making veteran or just dipping your toes into this bubbly new world, the right tools are vital. We turned to the experts and product reviews to find the best soda maker for endless amounts of fizzy water.
1. Best Soda Maker for Small Spaces: iDrink Drinkmate
For Todd Nelson, vice president of marketing and public relations at Winesellers, Ltd, the perfect seltzer comes courtesy of the iDrink Drinkmate. According to Nelson, the Drinkmate is excellent for creating a balanced seltzer and is ideal for cramped or smaller city kitchens due to its portability and size.
“It’s great for on-counter use, and it also tucks in seamlessly with our coffee maker and Nespresso machine,” he says. “It blends in and is very clean looking.”
Plus, for those seeking to create singular cocktails, the Drinkmate model is built to carbonate juices, teas, wines and mixed cocktails, Nelson says. It can also be used to infuse new life into stale beer and coffee.
2. Best Soda Maker on a Budget: Mysoda Woody
In addition to making a great glass of seltzer, the Mysoda Woody is a fraction of the cost of competing soda makers. Quiet and versatile, the gadget is composed of renewable raw materials and works without electricity, making it ideal for camping and more rustic settings.
A collaboration with Pentagon Design and recognized with the prestigious Red Dot Design Award, this sparkling-water maker comes with a one-liter drinking bottle crafted from an ecological bio-composite produced from waste. It also makes for an excellent gift for green-minded, design-oriented friends and family.
3. Best Soda Maker for Frequent Home Entertainers: SodaStream
Chris Marshall, founder of Austin’s Sans Bar, one of the nation’s first sober bars, is considered an original player in the alcohol-free movement. He has used sparkling water as the basis for his cocktails for years.
“I use a SodaStream personally—it makes at-home drinks fun and accessible,” he says. “And the SodaStream Jet is absolutely the best for the at-home bartender.”
Marshall explains that finding the right seltzer balance is crucial to his drinks. “When tasting zero-proof cocktails, people want to feel like they are drinking something strong,” he says. “The right level of carbonation adds to the perception of an elevated experience.”
4. Best Soda Maker for Larger Spaces: KitchenAid Sparkling Beverage Maker
If you have a large kitchen or bar area and a penchant for retro design, the chic KitchenAid Sparkling Beverage Maker is ideal.
A collaboration with SodaStream, these ’50s-inspired seltzer makers come in colors like Empire Red and Contour Silver. They are an homage to the brand’s classic stand mixers and made of solid die-cast metal. Easy to clean and compatible with all SodaStream products, this durable, premium streamer is a unique conversation piece with all the tech and innovation you’ve come to expect—and need—from an at-home soda maker.
5. Best Soda Maker for Versatility: SodaStream Fizzi
“I like my non-alcoholic drinks to have some body to them,” explains freelance writer Stephanie Gravalese, who covers beer, local restaurants and the growing popularity of non-alcoholic beverages. “Since the absence of alcohol removes that element, I’m always looking for something a bit tart and effervescent.”
Gravalese notes that for hospitality insiders, good carbonation can step up an alcohol-free beverage, “especially if it’s an event where you’re serving a crowd. The fizziness also makes me feel like I’m drinking something special, so having the ability to adjust that is key.”
After testing out several options over the years, Gravalese is partial to the SodaStream Fizzi. “I prefer to have control of as many elements as I can in my drink, which is why I’m a big fan of the SodaStream Fizzi—because you can adjust the carbonation to suit your tastes because not all drinks require the same level of carbonation.”
6. Best Soda Maker for Portable Seltzer: GrowlerWerks
You’re not imagining it: Hard seltzer is everywhere. Its sales numbers are currently outpacing select beers and vodka, with global investment firm Goldman Sachs expecting the hard seltzer market to reach $30 billion in sales by 2025. Harnessing this popularity, Portland’s GrowlerWerks released the uKeg for hard seltzer on the go.
Durable and lightweight, the uKeg comes in 64-ounce or 128-ounce options. It comes with flavor drops to create hard seltzer right in the bottle, able to be sipped or poured directly from the built-in spout.
7. Best for Professional Use: CO2 siphon
Drinks are an elevated art form at the luxurious Sereno Hotel collection, which has locations at splashy jet-set destinations like St. Barts and Lake Como.
“We use CO2 siphon to add carbonation to our preparations,” says Luca Scaglia, bartender at Sereno Hotels.
Scaglia and his team use the soda siphon alongside fresh fruits and vegetables to make seasonal cocktails, as well as the alcohol-free welcome drink served to all guests on arrival. The ISI soda chargers create an “easy but very tasteful fizzy drink,” he says.
8. Best for Innovative Design Lovers: Spärkel Beverage System
In a crowded market, the Spärkel Beverage System stands out for its cutting-edge design and eco-consciousness. Its design forgoes CO2 tanks for proprietary carbonator sachets powered by electricity. Users can use the machine to add carbonation to fruit juices, tea, wine, spirits and just about any other concoction you can imagine.
9. Best for High End Spaces and Events: Aarke
Ian and Carly Blessing, sommeliers at The French Laundry in Napa, never expected that, after having kids, they would be as passionate about non-alcoholic beverages as they once were about wine. After finding limited alcohol-free mixer options on the market, they launched All The Bitter, a zero-alcohol-by-volume (ABV) bitters brand that highlights wild, foraged ingredients. It’s perfect for adding into seltzer.
“We use the Aarke Premium Carbonator and love the sleek look in copper,” says Carly Blessing about the Swedish-designed, metal-clad machine, which looks chic and uses a lever to add gas rather than the standard button. She also appreciates that Aarke shares the couple’s sustainable ethos. “We like that they use glass bottles as we’re trying to avoid beverages that produce more plastic waste.”
Is a Soda Maker Worth It?
Soda makers may never replace the bar experience, but they certainly add a level of convenience for home bartenders and seltzer enthusiasts. They also provide a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly means of crafting unlimited seltzer right from the kitchen counter. And for “seltzer sommeliers” who prize balance, acidity and mouthfeel in carbonated water, having control over carbonation levels is key.
Where Did Soda Makers Come From?
For centuries, European spas served naturally occurring carbonated mineral spring water as a curative. We can credit the popularity of artificial sparkling water to English scientist Joseph Priestley, who, inspired by the vapors produced by his local brewery, accidentally discovered that water infused with carbon dioxide creates effervescence.
While Priestley’s soda maker was a rather involved device that required piping, pumps and even an animal bladder to produce CO2, it’s often credited with paving the way for the modern soda maker.
This article was updated on December 19, 2022