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Here is an idea

10 May 2022

I just bought a SodaStream device.

Many decades ago I had one of these things and it was really nice to be able to create a fizzy drink at the press (or three) of a button.

These days, I'm not so sure about the economics of buying a SodaStream though. In fact the only reason I picked this one up was because it was half-price and the wife insisted.

Thirty years ago these things made sense because store-bought soft-drinks were expensive and the CO2 to power a SodaStream was cheap, at least by comparison.

Today however, the economics seem to have changed quite a bit.

Since I lack any sense of taste (a side-effect of losing your sense of smell), I mostly just use soda-water to give my drinks a bit of fizz. I also like to believe that I can taste (or at least remember the taste) of the acidity that the carbonation process creates.

Now the new SodaStream device cost $70 at New World and replacement CO2 costs $45 per metal container. I'm not too sure how many litres of water I can carbonate from a single purchase of CO2 but I suspect it's not too many.

So let's do the math...

Down at Countdown, I can buy a bottle of their house-brand soda, cola, lemon or whatever flavour fizz I want for just $1 per bottle. This gives me 1.25 litres of drink that I can keep in the cupboard of fridge almost indefinitely, until needed.

To get the same "value" from my SodaStream, I'll have to be able to carbonate 56 litres of water to create soda-water.

If I want something with flavour (for the wife or guests) I'll have to also buy some of their flavouring syrup which sells for about $10 and that's just enough to make 10 litres of drink.

Hang on a minute... Countdown will sell me 12.5 litres of ready-made soft drink, with flavouring, for the same price I pay just for the syrup needed to flavour a mere 10 litres of home-made stuff?

Clearly the SodaStream is not a cost-effective purchase because we haven't even factored in the cost of the CO2 yet.

Typically I see brand-name colas on special at the supermarket for around $1.10 per litre yet using this SodaStream device will result in me paying more than that for a generic cola or *far* more than that for one made from a branded syrup.

So what is the point of this SodaStream device? There's nothing it can do that you can't do at a far lower price by using a bottle of $1 soda from the supermarket.

Then there's the issue of all that CO2 you're releasing...

Is there a carbon-tax on those pressurised CO2 cannisters? Each one contains quite a bit of this potent greenhouse gas and in using them you are releasing that gas into the environment.

And that's where my idea comes in...

I wonder how hard it would be to build a solar-powered machine that sequestered CO2 from the air around us then used it to carbonate water?

If made in bulk, would that be an economically viable product?

Think of it as a "perpetual" SodaStream machine. No need to waste money on expensive CO2 cannisters and it would be (if it was powered from renewable energy) totally carbon-neutral.

Perhaps the real/only benefit of a SodaStream device is that you don't create mountains of plastic waste by purchasing PET bottles and their caps that represent an energy cost to recycle.

I'd be interested to know if any readers have a SodaStream machine and if so, how did you justify its purchase (especially if you paid full price)?

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