By Jamie Wiebe/Sweethome
November 12, 2014

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a list of the best gear for your home. Read the full article at TheSweethome.com

If you drink a lot of seltzer and are tired of wasting plastic bottles or aluminum cans, you should get the Sodastream Jet. It’s simple to use, makes delicious seltzer, has a CO2 tank that lasts for about 40-60 liters, and is one of the most eco-friendly options available for soda water fiends.

How We Decided

We spent more than 30 hours researching dozens of home soda makers, and settled on these characteristics as essential for the best home soda maker: the canister (and cap) should be dishwasher-safe and able to hold enough water for a few drinks (0.75 – 1.2 Liters), the machine should be uncomplicated to use, and it should be easy to get the carbonated water out of the soda maker once you’re ready to drink.

Using this criteria, we selected six models to test ourselves, hosted a blind tasting test, and even built our own machine to ultimately decide that the Sodastream Jet is the best option.

Who should buy this?

If you like seltzer water but are tired of the expense and environmental cost of the bottled or canned varieties — not to mention the annoyance of lugging cases home from the grocery store — stepping up to a Sodastream may be right for you. Its CO2 tank will last for more than 30 refills, depending on how heavily carbonated you like your water, and will significantly cut down your seltzer bill.

Why we like this above all else

The Jet is simple enough for a child to use and makes delicious, bubbly seltzer that topped our taste tests. Its CO2 tank is long-lasting, so you shouldn’t have to head to a store for refills too often, and the Jet is one of the most eco-friendly options we found. Compared to the other models we tested, we found the Jet by far the easiest to use: Just fill up the provided bottle, screw into the machine, and pump once, twice, or three times, depending on the level of carbonation you prefer. It does require some prep, though, most notably making sure your water is very, very cold. If you can remember to refill your Sodastream bottle and keep it in the fridge between uses, you’ll have much more success with the machine.

Our testers found the soda neutral-tasting, and while it wasn’t quite as fizzy as the store-bought sample to which we compared it, it still tasted effervescent and bubbly. There was one other model that beat the Jet in terms of taste — the Mastrad Purefizz — but numerous complaints about that company’s customer service (not to mention the machine’s habit of rusting), means we can’t recommend it.

The Jet comes with a 60-liter CO2 tank, which we found filled about 40 liters consistently, although this will depend on how carbonated you prefer your seltzer. It offers the ability to use both 60L and 130L CO2 cartridges, so if you like, you can spend less time going to and from the store for a refill, especially if you’re a frequent seltzer drinker. One of the Jet’s biggest pluses is that the tank will be refilled and reused after you swap it at the store.

Flaws (but not dealbreakers)

Unfortunately, in order to swap out the CO2 cartridges, you have to take them back to big box stores like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond for a refill. There are a few ways to do it yourself with your own CO2 tanks, but if you want to stay within the warranty’s rules, you’re stuck with Sodastream’s $15 proprietary CO2 refills. That’s costly, and can add up over time. Still, it’s cheaper than bottled water.

An even more environmentally friendly option

If you’re really serious about reducing your carbon footprint, you can build a soda maker yourself. Using some instructions, we built our own soda machine using parts bought on Amazon and a CO2 canister rented from a welding shop. Unfortunately, we had trouble getting usable soda from the machine, and it took a lot of fiddling with the psi level to get things right. If you’re willing to take the time to tinker (and are really, really serious about reducing your environmental impact) it can be a fun experiment. But this won’t be a realistic option for a lot of people.

In Closing

If you’re a regular soda drinker who wants something simple, safe, and delicious, the Sodastream Jet is the best choice right now. It creates bubbly soda easily, is far cheaper than buying seltzer at the grocery store, and is environmentally friendly.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Sweethome.com

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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