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DIY Carbonator
Isaac couldn’t stomach the $1.25 price tag of his daily ginger beer habit so he decided to make his own home carbonation system from a few old soda bottles, a snap-in valve stem, and a CO2 pump. If you’re picky about the quality of carbonation, this method “produces bubbles of a very fine character,” according to Isaac. Of course, you don’t have to stick with just ginger beer; any kind of soda flavor you’ve ever imagined is now possible. I think I’ll try to make my own mint-infused watermelon soda. Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you’d prefer to stick to the tried and true, Isaac included his own ginger beer recipe, which nicely rounds out this great DIY write up.

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a Brooklyn-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE, and Resident Research Fellow at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP). He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


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Comments

  1. If you have to manually carbonate your homebrew ginger beer, you’re doing it wrong. :)

    1. Sam says:

      While natural fermentation is a great way to make home made sodas, I find that in practice I rarely have the patience. ;) I use a 5 gallon kegging system at my workshop for beer and soda carbonation, and have a soda siphon at home (basically the commercial version of his DIY project).

      One recommendation to anyone trying this – make sure you leave enough headspace – around 25% of the bottle should be air space – not enough and the pressure will build too high, possibly blowing your seals (and making a mess). Don’t ask how I know.

    2. Sam says:

      While natural fermentation is a great way to make home made sodas, I find that in practice I rarely have the patience. ;) I use a 5 gallon kegging system at my workshop for beer and soda carbonation, and have a soda siphon at home (basically the commercial version of his DIY project).

      One recommendation to anyone trying this – make sure you leave enough headspace – around 25% of the bottle should be air space – not enough and the pressure will build too high, possibly blowing your seals (and making a mess). Don’t ask how I know.

  2. Chris Roach says:

    Just be careful about the CO2 cartridges you use. I think many of the ones they sell intended for bicycle use may have some kind of extra lubricant or sealant. There are small food-grade CO2 cartridges available, but you’ll have to look for them.

  3. Tim Harris says:

    I’ve done this before, but I use a 20oz CO2 container from a paintball gun and a regulator. Stem valve in a cap and ice cold liquid and you have a recipe for CHEAP club soda (or soda of the non vip variety.)

    btw, thanks for removing the sucky comment system.

  4. Jim Wright says:

    I remember reading on a home brew forum that these types of co2 canisters have some type of lubrication oil in them which is why they sell specific “food grade” canisters. This makes me wonder if this idea is entirely safe.

  5. They are no regulations on the contents of the 12gm co2 cylinders. They could contain contaminants (such as lubricant oils) that are harmful for human ingestion. I made this same setup about a year ago, only I went to a local party supply store and purchased a box of Seltzer chargers.

    These 8gm cylinders have the same diameter and the same valve end geometry as the 12gm cylinders, but they are shorter. I cut a piece of appropriately sized wooden dowel to make up for the length and dropped it into the bottom of my co2 pump. The 8gm cylinders now fit and seal perfectly, and the co2 is certified “food grade”, so no nasty contaminants.

    Also, in my experiments with the system, I was never able to pressurize the bottle to more than about 80psi with one of the 12gm cylinders. It took 120+psi from my air compressor to burst a test bottle. As long as you are careful about reusing bottles (the plastice does fatigue over several pressurizations), you shouldn’t have to worry too much about explosions.

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