December 22, 2013

Can you Save Money by Making Your own Soda at Home?

I just saw an add for a $25 promo credit on Amazon if you buy a SodaStream soda maker.:

At the top of the page they advertise the $25 deal :
SodaStream Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker Starter Kit

The $25 promotion expires December 31st.

I've seen these home soda maker devices before but hadn't looked at them too much.    This one is on sale for $69.95 and then with $25 credit that makes the net cost about $45 for the device. 

The starter kit comes with the machine to make the soda.  It also has a rebate form for a 60 liter canister of CO2.  There are some soda mix samples included but I couldn't seem to find much detail on what and how much is included.

Hows it work?  

You buy the machine, you get a CO2 canister and a soda mix.   You then mix water and the soda mix and inject it with CO2 to make your own carbonated beverages.   After buying the machine you also have to buy CO2 and soda mix to make soda.

How much does the soda cost?

The CO2 canisters are $15 for a 60 liter canister.   That comes out to 25¢ per liter.
The soda mix is around $4-6 per packet and will make 12 liters.   I'll go with a middle cost of $5 so we'll call that 42¢ per liter.   Theres some variation there based on the mix you buy.

Your ongoing cost is about 67¢ per liter of soda.   There are 33.8 ounces in a liter and 12 ounces in a typical can of soda.  

This gives a cost of around 24¢ per 12 ounce serving for the CO2 and soda mix.

That is just for the CO2 and the soda mix.    You also have to consider the cost of the machine.   If you make a ton of soda with this thing then the cost of the machine will have less impact on your overall soda cost,, but if you only make a little bit of soda then the machine cost is more significant.

For example.   Lets say you're single and you have 1 soda serving a week and use this thing for 5 years.   Thats going to add up to a total of 52 x 5 = 260 soda servings.    Well the net cost of this machine after the $25 credit and accounting for the $15 worth of CO2 is $30.     That would mean your cost of the machine over all the soda you use equates to an extra 11.5¢ per soda.

On the other hand if you're a family of 6 who consumes 1 serving of soda daily then your consumption is 42 as much and your machine cost is just 0.3¢ per soda.

Giving variable usage its hard to know the exact impact of the machine cost.   We could ballpark it and give a range of total cost of about 24¢ to 36¢ per 12 ounce serving.   That would include the 24¢ for CO2 and mix and then a fraction of a cent to ~12¢ for the machine cost to account for a wide range of usage.

Bottom line cost estimate : 24-36¢ per serving.

Is it a good buy?

Well to figure if a Sodastream is cheaper we have to know how much soda normally costs.

If I go to the store today and buy a 12 pack of Pepsi or Coke I'll pay around $5 or $6.   Thats 42-50¢ per serving.     But sometimes I can get 12 packs for around $3.50 or less.  Thats only about 29¢ per can.   If I were to instead buy the generic store brand soda from Safeway today I could get it for $2.25 or only 18.75¢ per can.

This gives me a range of cost for store soda of 19-50¢ each.

I've got a cost of 24-36¢ for the SodaStream and 19-50¢ for cans of soda.    Whether or not you save money with the SodaStream will depend on what kind of soda you buy and if its on sale versus how much soda you make at home.

You may or may not save money with a SodaStream.  It depends.   But it seems to me that if you're looking to save money you can shop for soda on sale and get a reasonable price that is probably about the same or better than what the SodaStream will cost you.

Other pros and cons

Making soda at home with a SodaStream or similar device will have other benefits or negatives too.

Other benefits of home made soda:
Won't waste unused soda.
soda won't go flat
Lots of flexibility to make custom soda mixes

On the other hand the soda may not be the same quality or taste as some popular brands.   If you want Coke then theres no option to make your own Coke at home and another cola version is just not the same.

Whats the verdict? 

You may or may not save money with a SodaStream.   If you really want to save money then waiting for sales on the cheap store brands are usually the cheapest route.   A SodaStream would give you flexibility to make different mixes of soda and make smaller servings on demand.

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