We Tested 9 Soda Makers—Here Are the Ones that Make the Best Bubbles

Our favorite seltzer maker is the SodaStream Art.

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several soda makers on a kitchen countertop

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Straight to the Point

The best performing and best looking soda maker is the SodaStream Art, which made the fizziest water with the easiest set up, and held carbonation easily over 24 hours. The SodaStream Aqua Fizz performed just as well as the Art, and was the only model tested that featured glass bottles. For people who want an alternative to SodaSteam, and the ability to carbonate more than just water, the Drinkmate is an excellent option. 

People are usually surprised when I tell them that my coffee career has made me into a connoisseur of seltzer, but many coffee bars love to set out a little sidecar of bubbly water along with your espresso. This is because seltzer is a great palate cleanser—the small amount of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water creates carbonic acid, giving the water a slight burn as the bubbles burst across your tongue. It’s a great first sip before an intense espresso, preparing your palate for the coffee to come. And the different seltzers can actually alter your tasting experience. For example, seltzers with big, intense bubbles can linger on the tongue, skewing the acidity of the espresso. 

Regardless of if you’re into coffee or not, if you’re reading this, you’re probably into seltzer…or at least curious about soda makers. This makes sense: more soda makers seem to hit the market every year, offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative to buying cans of the stuff. 

We last tested soda makers in 2017, but our favorite model, the SodaStream Source, has since been discontinued. So, we decided to retest them: running our still-available favorites and some new soda makers through the exact same tests as before. We didn’t re-try soda makers we disliked in the past, but since our testing protocols remained the exact same, you can still find accurate information on these models towards the bottom of this page. 

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Soda Maker: SodaStream Art Sparking Water Maker

SodaStream Art Sparkling Water Maker Bundle

The SodaStream Source is the industry standard in soda makers—and for good reason. It not only consistently made the bubbliest soda of all the units we tested, but it was also the easiest to use. The bottle on this model quickly snaps into place, with no twisting required, and injects CO2 into the water with just the press of a button. It also has clear LED indicators displaying three levels of carbonation.

The Best Soda Maker with Glass Bottles: SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Machine

sodastream Sparkling Water Maker

As the only machine featuring glass bottles, the SodaSteam Aqua Fizz delivered the same level of carbonation as our winner. We found its bottle insertion to be the most foolproof, too; the bottle is entirely encased in the machine during carbonation.

The Best All-Purpose Soda Maker: Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker

DrinkMate

The Drinkmate uses a unique system where the pressurizer nozzle is attached to a screw-on lid. While this allows the machine to pressurize more than just water, it also helps CO2 dissolve more fully than the SodaStream models, delivering on big, fizzy carbonation every time. 

The Tests

a closeup of bubbly water in a plastic soda maker bottle

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

  • Carbonation Test: In order to measure how much CO2 each machine was actually dissolving into each bottle, I filled each bottle with 800 grams of water chilled to 34°F (1°C). I weighed the bottle, then injected the CO2 using the manufacturers instructions for maximum carbonation. I re-weighed the bottle, noting the overall change in weight. After 24 hours in the fridge, I re-weighed them to see how much CO2 was lost.
  • Taste Test: I filled and carbonated the each seltzer maker’s bottle as described above. I then tasted the resulting seltzer, scoring each on bubble size, quantity of bubbles, and overall "fizziness" using a scale of one to 10. I compared my findings here, to see if there was a correlation between the amount of carbonation present (from the above test) and taste preferences. 
  • Egg Cream Test: I prepared a classic egg cream to evaluate just how intense the carbonation was from each soda machine. Egg creams require very bubbly seltzer, since dilution and stirring (which is part of the recipe process) reduces the bubble strength.
  • Usability Tests: A soda machine should be easy to use and set up. I took note of how each machine installed the CO2 canister, along with how easy it was to attach a bottle. I also noted if the carbonation trigger and any other moving parts worked well.

What We Learned

Not All Models Carbonated the Same

A SodaStream soda maker carbonating water with two empty glasses beside it

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Our top performers were able to dissolve six to seven grams of CO2 into each bottle and retain that amount of carbonation over 24 hours. Other machines were only able to deliver around four grams of CO2 per charge. While that sounds like a small difference, it actually represents a bottle that is around 30% less fizzy and showed drastic differences during taste tests. But the amount of carbonation delivered isn’t the whole story. The SodaStream Art has a thinner injection tube that seems to create finer bubbles than all other models, while the Drinkmate generated high amounts of large bubbles. While bubble style is a personal preference, it’s worth noting that even across SodaSteam machines there was a variance in the quantity and quality of bubbles generated. 

The Best Results Came from Pushing the Limits

a full soda machine bottle on a kitchen scale
We weighed the bottles before and after carbonation to see how carbonated they truly got.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

While each machine had general instructions for how much carbonation to add, I found that achieving a truly, explosively fizzy water required pushing the limits of manufacturers recommendations. Every machine performed better when I pressed the carbonation button a few more times even after the pressure release noise started. The SodaStream Fizzi One Touch, which was the only automated machine in the lineup, delivered a good carbonation level at its highest setting, but without a manual activation button, it was impossible to push the boundaries of fizziness. While supercharging each bottle didn’t always add extra CO2 by weight, it helped produce a noticeably fizzier water for most models tested. 

Important Design Considerations

A closeup of a soda maker's lever

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Regardless of performance, most of the countertop models we tested were constructed from thin, cheap-feeling hard plastic. The SodaStream Art, Drinkmate, and Aarke were the only soda machines made from a thicker, matte-finish plastic or stainless steel (namely, the Aarke) that felt and looked like a machine you’d want to leave out on the counter. While that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, those who are particular about their kitchen aesthetics might want to weigh that in their final decision making. 

a hand inserting a plastic soda maker bottle into the machine
Most of the machines required you to insert bottles at an angle to secure them.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Aside from construction materials, most carbonation buttons took a fair amount of pressure to fully activate and felt a little awkward to find the right leverage. However, we found loading CO2 canisters to be easy for every model—though it generally required removing the back panel, tilting the machine forward, and sliding the canister in from below before twisting it into place. The SodaSteam Art and Terra were the exception: you could insert it while keeping the soda maker’s base planted on the countertop via a flip-out plastic cage that locked the canister in without requiring twisting. 

a closeup look at a bottle inserted into a chamber-style soda maker
The Aqua Fizz was the only machine we tested with a chamber that fully enclosed the bottle when shut.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Inserting the water bottles into the carbonation nozzle was easy, but not always as secure as I would have liked. The tilt-out carbonator nozzle meant you never had to lean over to aim the lip of the bottle, and most SodaStream models would automatically clamp-seal over the bottle when you tilted them back. I found out the hard way that if even if the bottle wasn’t truly seated, the machine would still allow you to begin carbonating, spilling water over the counter. Because of the glass bottles, the Aqua Fizz had the most secure loading system: it had a chamber that slid up to open, then you inserted the bottle and the chamber closed fully around the bottle. However, this also meant that the Aqua Fizz, when open, was too tall to fit under my cabinets. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Good Soda Maker

a soda maker on a countertop with its bottle sitting beside it and positioned on a scale

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

A great soda machine should be easy to set up, a breeze to use, and produce high-levels of carbonation with just a few presses of a button (or lever) and maintain that level of carbonation for at least 24 hours. Each machine should make it easy to insert and remove the bottle and have a distinct indicator that the bottle has reached full carbonation. 

The Best Soda Maker: SodaStream Art Sparking Water Maker

SodaStream Art Sparkling Water Maker Bundle

What we liked: With a squared-off face, silver accents, and a lever as its actuator, the Art gives a nod to Art Deco styles usually only seen in old-fashioned handheld soda siphons. Not only does the SodaStream Art look and feel nice, it dissolved six grams of CO2 into each bottle of water time and time again, and it kept its full carbonation at 24 hours. I also really loved the finer texture bubbles the Art produced, with smaller bubbles giving a softer and longer fizz on the tongue with each sip. In a blind taste test, the Art won out. As much as the lever is a nice visual touch, I found it much easier to use as an actuator than any of the buttons due to its spring-loaded action. The Art was also one of the only models to feature the flip-out cage style CO2 loading system, cementing it as the easiest machine to use. 

What we didn’t like: The only major downside of the Art is one that is common amongst all soda makers: it’s hard to tell when the machine has fully carbonated a bottle. While there was usually a point after about five handle twists where a pressure release noise sounded, I found that I only got the results I was looking for after pushing for three to four extra infusions of CO2. The pressure release system on each of these machines should keep the bottle from exploding, but it still feels a little unnerving, nevertheless.

Price at time of publish: $150.

Key Specs

  • Amount of CO2 added: 6 grams
  • Amount of CO2 left after 24 hours: 6 grams
  • Height: 17 inches
  • Bottle material: Plastic
  • Bottle size: 840 milliliters
A hand loading a bottle onto the SodaStream Art

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Best Soda Maker with Glass Bottles: SodaStream Aqua Fizz Sparkling Water Machine

sodastream Sparkling Water Maker

What we liked: A glass bottle add a nice touch to seltzer, and the Aqua Fizz comes standard with two. As much as a plastic bottle can be easier to store and move around, I liked how substantial (and durable) these glass bottle felt. The Aqua Fizz performed great in our taste test and our egg cream test, delivering a high carbonation level that was easy to manipulate into a milk foam. The bubbles produced were medium-sized, which gave a bit more of a sharp burst on the tongue without being too foamy. It also featured a unique stainless cradle loading system which felt like the most secure set up of the bunch when it cam to bottle insertion. I found myself second guessing if the bottle was fully inserted on other models, but I never had those doubts when using the Aqua Fizz. 

What we didn’t like: At 18 inches, this machine is tall, and when you open up the insertion mechanism, it gets even taller. So, the Aqua Fizz might be great on a bar, but it might not clear your cabinets (measure first). I also had issues with the CO2 canister’s cover on the back not seating well—I had to re-adjust it a few times to get the notches to lock into place properly. Because of its removable back panel, CO2 canister insertion was easier than other models, however instructional diagram that came with the machine for this was unclear and we recommend watching the how-to video on this model’s sale page.

Price at time of publish: $127.

Key Specs

  • Amount of CO2 added: 6 grams
  • Amount of CO2 left after 24 hours: 6 grams
  • Height: 18 inches
  • Bottle material: Glass
  • Bottle size: 650 milliliters
A SodaStream Aqua Fizz on a kitchen countertop with its bottle beside it

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Best All-Purpose Soda Maker: Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker

DrinkMate

What we liked: Of all the machines tested, the Drinkmate actually delivered the highest concentration of carbonation. Instead of having the infusion nozzle attached to the machine, the Drinkmate uses a system where the nozzle is instead attached to a lid that you screw on. This allows for the carbonation to be more readily absorbed in a sealed environment rather than be exposed to the open air as soon as the bottle is removed. This system also allows you to carbonate other beverages, like juice or iced tea, whereas other style machines would just immediately erupt into foam all over the counter. Another plus for the Drinkmate is just how well everything slots together. While it might be an extra step to screw on the infusion cap, the cap itself then slides easily into the machine, eliminating any doubts as to if the bottle is secure.

What we didn’t like: With it’s unique screw-on infuser, the Drinkmate isn’t as intuitive to use as the competition. After a round of CO2 presses, you must let the bottle sit for at least 10 seconds before depressurizing in order to let the carbonation fully dissolve. At the same time, the carbonation from the Drinkmate manifested as really large bubbles that exploded all over my palate and weren’t always the most pleasant in the taste test. Finally, while the Drinkmate advertises that you can carbonate other liquids, I still had a slight mess come from trying to carbonate pineapple juice. Just because you can doesn't always mean you should, and just because you have the highest level of carbonation doesn't mean it’s the most pleasant. 

Price at time of publish: $165.

Key Specs

  • Amount of CO2 added: 7 grams
  • Amount of CO2 left after 24 hours: 7 grams
  • Height: 16 inches
  • Bottle material: Plastic
  • Bottle size: 850 milliliters
The Drinkmate with its bottle unattached and two empty glasses beside it

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Competition

  • SodaStream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker: The Fizzi One Touch was almost our winner. As the only electric soda maker, the Fizzi One Touch comes with three pre-set buttons to eliminate all guesswork as to how carbonated a bottle might be. While the soda water it produced performed beautifully, the issue comes from a lack of manual controls. As the CO2 in a canister starts to deplete, most of these machines require a few more infusion pushes to reach the same level of carbonation as before. Without that manual control, the Fizzi One Touch has issues delivering a consistent amount of carbonation into the water throughout the lifespan of a CO2 canister, causing some people to have to replace their canisters earlier than if they were using a manual infusion soda machine. 
  • SodaStream Terra Sparkling Water Maker: The Terra performed well and was easy to set up, but it didn’t carbonate as densely as our winners, topping out at just four grams of CO2 dissolved into each bottle. 
  • SodaStream Jet Sparkling Water Maker: Despite multiple tests the Jet just landed flat. Literally. It produced the least amount of carbonation out of any models tested.
  • iSi Mesh Sodamaker: The Mesh Sodamaker is a really beautiful, vintage inspired piece (and it was a previous favorite from our 2017 testing), but it’s hard to recommend a handheld soda siphon these days. It takes up a lot of room in the fridge, has a fussy screw-on handle for triggering CO2 cartridges, and only performed adequately in our tests. People who are attracted to the design might instead enjoy the looks of the SodaStream Art or the glass bottles of the SodaStream AquaFizz. 
  • AARKE Premium Carbonator: This model had one of the best designs of the bunch; it looks suitable for a professional bar or coffee shop. However, the soda it made was the least bubbly of all the models tested, and it became completely flat after only a few hours. The screw-on bottle was also awkward to install and frequently overflowed and leaked.
  • iSi Stainless Steel Soda Siphon: This carbonated water as well as our top handheld pick, the iSi Classic. However, the seltzer-dispensing trigger on this model was difficult to control, often spraying soda at very high pressure and splashing it out of the glass.

FAQs

Which soda machine is best?

After reviewing the most popular models, we landed on three soda machines we think are well worth your money: the SodaStream Art, SodaStream Aqua Fizz, and Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker.

Is a soda maker worth it?

If you enjoy seltzer, then a soda maker is worth it. Plus, if you find yourself frequently buying cans or bottles of seltzer, a soda maker is more eco-friendly.

What's better than a SodaStream?

After extensive testing, we found the SodaStream to be the best overall soda maker. However, if you want to carbonate anything other than water (like pulp-free liquids such a fruit juice or cocktails), we recommend the Drinkmate, as the SodaStream is not capable of this.

How long do SodaStream cylinders last?

This depends entirely on how much you use your SodaStream. However, this SodaStream help page says the carbonating cylinder should last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks.

Additional research by
Sohla El-Waylly

Sohla El-Waylly is a culinary creator, video host, and CIA graduate whose work can be found on Serious Eats, Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Food52, YouTube, and more.

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