Wednesday, February 29, 2012

SodaStream Review and GIVEAWAY!

The entry window for this drawing is closed. Congrats to lucky winner: commenter #19, CT!

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I am a soda addict. And while Cherry Coke Zero is my current fave, I just flat out love soda. I swear it's the bubbles. I can go back and forth between sodas with or without caffeine with no withdrawal symptoms. But if I switch to just water or iced tea I miss the dance of carbonation on my tongue.

This is a bummer for a few reasons:
  1. Sodas are known for containing some not-so-healthy ingredients. GMO-laden high frustose corn syrup among them.
  2. Most soda bottlers use cans or bottles that contain hormone-disrupting BPA. Yuck.
  3. Soda is not budget friendly. Even less so if you live in a state (like I do) that requires a mandatory deposit on beverage containers....a "deposit" that you don't get back if you utilize curbside recycling. Boo.
It's enough to make you give up soda entirely. Except for that addiction bit I mentioned earlier.

These are just some of the reasons why I was really excited to be able to try out an at home soda maker from SodaStream. AND I also get to share the at home soda love with you because SodaStream is going to give a Fountain Jet Starter Kit away to one lucky Carissa's Creativity Space reader!

This post is brought to you by SodaStream USA. I received compensation including free product for this post. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and 100% mine.

So let's get started...
Before I partnered up with SodaStream to do this review and giveaway, I had actually been considering getting an at home carbonator for about three years. No joke. Three. Years. What held me back? A few things. And if you're thinking about an at-home soda maker, I know these thing might be holding you back, too, so let's address those up front:

I wasn't sure if the flavors would be any good
In addition to being sent the carbonator, SodaStream generously sent me 10 soda flavors as well as a three pack of MyWater flavor essences. And I have to tell you: I liked most of them. Their Cola Free flavor (a knock off of Coke Zero) was spot on....and like I said: Coke Zero is one of my fave beverages so I'm kind of picky on that front. The Diet Cranberry Raspberry and the Diet Pink Grapefruit were my two non-cola favorites. I also liked drinking the soda water plain with a lemon and lime wedge and just a kiss of simple syrup. Dr. Pepper fans will want to know, though, that their Dr. Pepper knock off, which they call "Dr. Pete", isn't bad but it doesn't taste like Dr. Pepper. Conclusion? There are plenty of tasty flavors available. If you're a die-hard Dr. Pepper fan, though, skip Dr. Pete.

I wasn't sure about how the carbonator refills would work
One thing I had worried about was what I would do once I ran out of CO2. Would I have to drop a lot of money at a specialty store? Pay a lot for UPS shipping? Luckily, none of that was the case. When we finished off our first bottle of CO2, I used SodaStream's retailer finder to find a store near me that would enchange my carbonator cylinder. I found about 5 stores within a 5 mile radius of my house and popped into a local Bed, Bath and Beyond to trade in my old carbonator for a new one for a little less than $15. Conclusion? Trading in my cylinder for a new one was super duper easy.

I wasn't sure if I'd actually save money
Not being sure how far the flavors would stretch and how much soda each cylinder made, I wasn't sure if this gizmo would even save me money. But now that I've got one (and have already worked through my first CO2 cylinder and a couple bottles of flavor), I've got the inside scoop. The soda maker I have, takes a 60L cylinder, which will make about 60 liters of carbonated water. My replacement cylinder was $15 (so $0.25 per liter). So if you just drink club soda, you'll save about $0.75 per liter (before bottle deposit). If you want to add SodaStream flavors, you'll pay $0.41 per liter for flavoring if you don't opt for the more expensive Sparkling Naturals line. If you've been drinking 2 liter bottles of soda, this will pretty much match regular store prices. Of course, you can make your own soda flavorings like Ginger Syrup or Lemon Lime Soda for even less. Don't forget that you won't have to pay your bottle deposit anymore, too!

What else do I love about SodaStream?
  • Because I reuse the bottles that come with the maker, there's no more lost money on bottle "deposits" ("deposits" in quotes because while I could return the bottles to get my nickel back, it's a huge hassle. I just curbside recycle them, which means my "deposit" turns into a five cent donation to the state)
  • It has a small footprint - it does not take up much space at all on my counter. It doesn't need access to electricity, either. Really, I can put it anywhere!
  • Making soda in small batches keeps it fizzy longer. No more half-drunk bottles of flat soda from the store.
  • I can make my own flavors to have 100% control over what goes into my body.
  • My son loves (and frequently requests) plain "bubble water". Anything that makes food more fun for a toddler is a plus in my book!
  • The bottles are BPA and phthalate free (most cans of soda contain BPA so this is a great alternative).
  • None of SodaStream's flavors contain High Fructose Corn Syrup or Aspartame. 
  • My favorite SodaStream flavors were: Cola Free, Diet Pink Grapefruit, Diet Cranberry Raspberry, Diet Green Tea Pomegranate Peach. 
Any down sides?
Overall, I am really happy with my soda maker. There are, however, a few things that I'd love to see improve:
  • I wish SodaStream made glass bottles that worked with my model. SodaStream does have two models that use glass bottles, Penguin and Crystal, but their bottles are not compatible with the less expensive soda makers like the one I have.
  • Because the bottles are plastic, they need some extra special love. You should never put them in the dishwasher, use detergent or a bottle brush on them. Scratches (as from a bottle brush), heat and detergent will make the plastic start to break down. Because of this, you should not drink straight from the bottles and should always pour into a glass or drinking container first. Once you've finished drinking a bottle of soda, simply rinse it with water and fill it with tap water. Keep the bottle with tap water in the fridge until you're ready to carbonate.
  • While I love that the Sparkling Naturals line of flavorings contains no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, or preservatives, the caps on the bottles are messy and the syrup does not dissolve into the  carbonated water as easily and the standard flavors. At the very least a re-design of the bottle would make these more user friendly.
  • I would love if they expanded their energy drink flavors to have more than just a Red Bull knock off. Maybe a Monster or RockStar flavor? Double brownie points if it's the pink RockStar flavor.
Even though there are a few points that SodaStream has room to improve on, overall I am delighted with my soda machine and see it continuing to get plenty of mileage in my house.  And now....

You Can Win One, Too!!
What's Up for Grabs:
Fountain Jet Soda Lover's Start-Up Kit including:
- Fountain Jet in the winner’s choice of color (black/silver, red/silver or white)
- 1 carbonating bottle, reusable for up to 3 years
- Reusable carbonator to fizz up to 60L of soda
- Variety 6-pack of popular sample-size flavors
- 3 full-sized flavors of the winner’s choice

How to Enter:
Leave a comment on this post telling me what kind of soda you would want to try to make first (official SodaStream flavor or otherwise) if you win.
(make sure to include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. I'd hate for you to miss out on your prize because I couldn't reach you)

Get Bonus Entries
You can also earn up to seven bonus entries for doing any or all of the following. After you do each one, leave a separate comment letting me know which thing you did to earn your bonus entry. 
Don't forget your e-mail so I have a way to contact you if you're a lucky winner!
  • LIKE Carissa's Creativity Space on Facebook (or tell me if you already do)
  • SUBSCRIBE to Carissa's Creativity Space via e-mail or with Feedburner (or let me know if you already do)
  • FOLLOW ME @CreativeCarissa on Twitter (or tell me if you already do)
  • FOLLOW Carissa's Creativity Space with Google Friend Connect (that's the box that has the "join this site" button on the right side of any blog page underneath "My Fabulous Followers") or tell me if you already do.
  • FOLLOW ME on Pinterest (or tell me if you already do)
  • LIKE  SodaStream on Facebook (or tell me if you already do)
  • FOLLOW  @SodaStreamUSA on Twitter 

Other Contest Details and "Small Print"
This is a sweepstakes style giveaway. No purchase is necessary. Odds of winning are based on number of entries. Sweepstakes entry period is 7:40am (PST) on February 29, 2012 through 11:59pm (PST) March 7, 2012. Each person may enter a maximum of eight times and win only once. One winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winner will be notified via e-mail provided in comments on March 8, 2012. Winners will have 48 hours to respond to e-mail with a valid US mailing address to which the prize pack will be sent. If winner does not respond in time, an alternate winner will be chosen, also by using random.org. Dollar value of prize pack is approximately $99.95. Entrants must be above 18 years of age and have a United States of America mailing address. I have received compensation from SodaStream for posting this review and hosting this sweepstakes. All opinions expressed in the review are 100% mine.

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