Sparkling water's popularity has exploded in recent years, as seen with the increasing success of long-standing brands like Perrier and up-and-comers like La Croix. Whether used as an ingredient for cocktails or Italian sodas or just served straight-up, seltzer water can be a profitable addition to your business's beverage offerings. There are different methods of producing seltzer water, and these vary in upfront and per-serving cost. Here, we'll cover 4 different ways to make bubbly water so you can find the method that suits your business's resources and demands.
SodaStream & Home Soda Makers
A small countertop seltzer-making unit that requires no pluming or electricity. Ideal for home use and small cafes. C02 cartridges are available at many local stores, including Kitchen Kaboodle, Target and Fred Meyer. Cartridges come in two sizes: 130L (makes 350+ soda servings) or 60L (165+ servings).
SodaStream Sparkling Water Maker – Comes in several sizes and styles. Also includes one CO2 tank. We recommend the Fountain Jet model because it can take both the 60L and 130L cartridges.
CO2 Cartridge – Can be purchased online or at many local stores. Empty cartridges can be swapped out for a discount on a full cartridge at most SodaStream retailers.
Bottles – BPA-Free reusable soda bottles for carbonating water. Some models of SodaStream come with bottles, others have them sold separately.
Equipment Purchase = Starting at $79.99 (comes with 1 bottle and 1 cartridge).
Refill CO2 cartridges = $29.99 (60L) - $49.99 (130L). Most retailers will give you a $10-$14 credit if you bring in an empty cartridge.
Extra Bottles = Starting at $9.99 ea
While a SodaStream system works well and is great for typical home use, it has a few drawbacks in a business setting. SodaStream bottles and CO2 tanks all use proprietary fittings and therefore refills are much more expensive than generic alternatives. Look to other options below if you anticipate medium to high volume use.
A portable 4-part unit that allows you to dispense large volumes of sparkling water without access to a water source or electricity. Ideal for farmers markets and festivals.
Jockeybox - A cooler that contains a cooling plate or coil, hose, and spigot for dispensing soda water.
Soda Tank - A cornelius (corny) keg of pre-mixed soda water or club soda (sparkling water with added salt) – usually comes in 5 gallon size. Tanks hold their carbonation for 9 months.
CO2 Tank – A tank of carbon dioxide that pushes the soda water through the line and displaces empty space in the tank as soda is pumped out.
Regulator – Regulates the amount/pressure of CO2 that comes out of the CO2 tank.
Rental = $55 (set up with a 5 gallon tank of premixed seltzer water), $25/additional 5 gallon premixed seltzer tank
JockeyBox rental/setup is around $25-$30. For some companies this is a one-time fee (not a daily rental fee) and the provider often will let you keep the equipment for several months at a time with no additional charge. 5 gallon tanks of Club Soda are around $25 each (47 cents/serving).
Purchase = $500 equipment, $25/additional 5 gallon premixed seltzer tank
If you can develop a relationship with a company who will allow you to borrow a JockeyBox for an extended period of time, then the up-front cost is very inexpensive. However, the price per serving can be a bit higher because you are dispensing pre-made seltzer, versus actually carbonating your own water. Because the Jockeybox does not carbonate water itself, when a seltzer tank runs out, you will need to order more seltzer from your supplier.
A portable 4-part unit that allows you to make and dispense seltzer or soda on-site without access to a source of electricity. You can also add juice or soda concentrate to the tank to make quick flavored sodas. Ideal for events and small businesses.
Motorless Carbonator – A refillable tank with cornelius connectors inside which liquid is carbonated. Unlike other corny kegs, these tanks are outfitted with carbonating stone. This speeds up CO2 gas diffusion into the water. It can be filled with ice-cold water, juice or soda mix. (hoses & connectors required)
CO2 Tank – A tank of carbon dioxide for carbonating, water, juice or soda mix.
Regulator – Regulates the amount of carbonation your soda has.
Squeeze Valve Trigger – A hand-held gun for dispensing soda.
Ice Bucket – For keeping your soda carbonator chilled.
You can these supplies here or just talk to your nearest homebrew supply store about a similar setup.
Purchase = Starting at $440 equipment (does not include cost of filling CO2 tank).
After this equipment purchase the only ongoing costs are the CO2 refills, which are relatively inexpensive. Make sure to use cold liquid and keep the tank refrigerated or on ice. While the carbonation occurs quickly, this process is not instant so plan accordingly.
This is a permanent larger-scale solution for making seltzer water. It comes with a higher up-front cost, but allows you to make unlimited amounts of seltzer water on demand. Aside from the cost of the equipment, this method may require some additional plumbing in your business.
Carbonator – A motorized machine that quickly dissolves CO2 into water to create carbonated water.
CO2 Tank – A tank of carbon dioxide for carbonating tap water. These machines often use larger 50 lbs tanks.
Flash Chiller (if you do not have an ice well) – Colder water can dissolve more CO2 than warmer water. This is a machine that will chill your water so that it can become more carbonated and helps lower the serving temperature.
Regulator – Regulates the amount of carbonation.
Soda Gun – A hand-held gun for dispensing soda.
Also check out this a video from Kegman explaining the parts.
Purchase = Starting at $2000
After this equipment purchase the only ongoing costs are the CO2 refills, which are relatively inexpensive.
Now Get Creative
Having your business's seltzer rig up and running is just the first step. Set your business apart by being playful with your drink menu and creating something unique. For a few ideas to jump-start your creative process check out our recipes section, where we combine the magic of tea and sparkling water to create novel drinks that feel like classics.