Given the choice between plain water and fizzy water, I will always choose the fizzy. I know it's just bubbles of air, but they make things so much more tasty and exciting. Problem is, buying mineral water is kind of a pain. It's expensive, it takes up way too much room in your fridge—and what if you felt like having carbonated something else without diluting it to 50 percent water? WHAT THEN, HUH?
The answer is SodaStream:
Ever since Elizabeth mentioned this thing, I've desperately wanted one. They call it a "home soda maker," but really, it's just a beverage carbonation system—you don't have to make soda (or as we Canadians say, "pop") with it. I'll show you a step-by-step in a second, but what it does, with the touch of a button, is force carbon dioxide gas into liquid to make it fizz. Voilà, sparkling water (or orange juice, or even cola, if you add one of their flavoured syrups).
I had no idea, but apparently these things were huge in the '70s and '80s. Look at these people!
I think the brand is making a comeback now, thanks to better distribution in North America and the whole "saving the environment" thing. Oh, and SodaStream have also just partnered with Kraft to introduce branded flavours that you can mix with the carbonated water, from Kool-Aid, Crystal Light and Country Time.
The benefits of carbonation
I feel like some health fanatics have been making carbonation out to be evil and wrong. I don't think it is. In fact, getting more carbon dioxide is probably a GOOD thing. The physiologist Dr. Ray Peat, for example, says "carbon dioxide, produced in the cells, releases oxygen into the tissues, relaxes blood vessels, prevents edema, eliminates ammonia, and increases the efficiency of oxidative metabolism." I'll have some of that, thank you very much. In another article, he writes about how the therapeutic value of carbonated mineral springs has been known "for hundreds or thousands of years."
Here's a cool anecdote:
"In a nutrition class, in the late 70s, I described the way metabolically produced carbon dioxide opens blood vessels in the brain, and mentioned that carbonated water, or "soda water," should improve circulation to the brain when the brain's production of carbon dioxide wasn't adequate. A week later, a student said she had gone home that night and (interpreting soda water as bicarbonate of soda in water) given her stroke-paralyzed mother a glass of water with a spoonful of baking soda in it. Her mother had been hemiplegic for 6 months following a stroke, but 15 minutes after drinking the bicarbonate, the paralysis lifted, and she remained normal. Later, a man who had stroke-like symptoms when he drank alcohol late at night, found that drinking a glass of carbonated water caused the symptoms to stop within a few minutes."
There are so many more factoids and this site has a good summary. Long story short, fizzy drinks aren't the only way to increase your CO2, but they're an easy way—and may help you deal with stress and allergy congestion, plus contribute to an improved metabolism and resistance to aging. See? I can always link it back to beauty.
Plus, if you're consuming homemade carbonated drinks—not high fructose corn syrup- or aspartame-laden soda pops—then you're automatically avoiding the ingredients that can make those beverages unhealthy.
How to use the SodaStream
So the model I was sent to test is the Genesis, which is nice and sleek and should tuck perfectly underneath your kitchen cupboards.
It comes with a plastic bottle and the first thing you do is fill it up to the line with water.
(Nails by Chanel, by the way. The colour is Mimosa. Bit streaky.)
Back to the water. What annoys me a bit is that you can't wash the bottle in the dishwasher, because I loathe washing things by hand. And I don't think plastic of any kind is very safe. To get around that, once you make your drink you can just pour it into a glass bottle for storage. I tend to use these tall glass bottles I found at Walmart (they look like jam jars, but taller).
The next step is screwing the bottle to the top of the machine, so that it's suspended in the air.
And now, the fun part.
Pressing the button at the top injects the carbon dioxide into the bottle. It looks like this:
See? So fun. They suggest three pushes, but you can experiment with what tastes best. I've done up to six.
After that, you have to tilt the bottle to release it.
And there, you can enjoy it straight up as your very own bubbly water.
You can also carbonate juices straight up. I tend to do orange juice and it tastes amazing.
Another option is their flavour syrups, which—before you run screaming—are actually made from real sugar. (I don't think real sugar is bad for us at all.)
I gave the "cola" one a whirl:
You pour it in after doing the carbonating, and then shake gently.
You know what? It wasn't bad. I mean, it's not going to win any blind taste tests against Coke any time soon, but it's fine. And the ingredients list (sugar, water, colour, phosphoric acid, natural flavour, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, sodium citrate and caffeine) is way better.
The bottom line
After using this thing for a few weeks now, I'm kind of obsessed with it. I think the price ($99.99 for my model) is very reasonable, and it makes me actually want to drink more fluids. I'm all over the carbon dioxide benefits; plus, if you care about the environment, it's a no-brainer to be using fewer plastic bottles and cans. The only downside, besides my annoyance with the non-dishwasher-friendly plastic bottle, is that you have to refill the carbonator every so often. They say that one lasts about a month; after that, you bring it in to one of their retailers to exchange for a fresh one. (Or this can be done online.) The refills are $17.99.
Have you ever used a home carbonation machine?
Did you know that carbon dioxide had health (and beauty) benefits?
What's your beauty beverage of choice?