The sparkling water market has been dominated by one brand. But an upstart Canadian company is hoping to make headway. Sparkel lets you make carbonated water, but it works nothing like its competition. Sparkel doesn’t use carbon dioxide tanks. Instead, it uses small sachets to create the carbon dioxide gas more naturally. You can also carbonate more liquids than just water; you can use juice or add fruits. You could even carbonate wine! There’s a bunch of other differences in this machine; we’ll take a look at how it works, what sets Sparkel apart from competitors and most importantly, how the water is.
What makes Sparkel different?
There are a few things that set Sparkel apart from its competitors. Firstly, you’ll need to plug it in. Second, it uses small 2-part sachets to create the carbon dioxide necessary to bubble your water. Third, it lets you carbonate the water with things like fruit or herbs inside, you can carbonate tea or juice, which you can’t do in a Sodastream, where you can only add flavours after the carbonation process. Fourth, you can choose five different levels of carbonation. Another key difference; Sparkel takes longer to carbonate a bottle of water, thanks to its natural processes.
How does Sparkel Carbonate? With powder
Sparkel has a unique carbonation process. You add the two-part sachet to the machine, and close the lid. There’s a water tank in the back that will mix with the sachets when you’re ready.
The sachets are made up of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate or baking soda. Sparkel says this combination mixes with the water and generates CO2 gas naturally when mixed with water. None of the carbonator ends up in your beverage – only the CO2 it creates. The carbonator powder dissolves and is left in a separate tank located behind the bottle.
When you’re ready, fill a special Sparkel bottle with tap water, or filtered water. Pull down to lock the handle into place. Choose your carbonation level, and there’s 5 settings. When you hit the start button, the sachets are mixed with the water in the rear tank and then the gasses created are piped through your bottle.
Watching the process is kind of mesmerizing. You’ll see it bubbling for about three minutes, which feels like eons longer than other brands. When it’s done the machine chimes, and you can release the handle and retrieve your bottle.
A word of warning; because of the high pressure, you can not open the sachet chamber during carbonation. Only after the process is done is it safe.
At that point you can discard the byproduct of the carbonation process; merely water from the catch basin. Then, drink up!
How does Sparkel water taste?
So is there a taste difference between water carbonated with carbon dioxide gas from tanks and water carbonated with sachets of citric acid and baking soda? Well, yes.
It’s kind of hard to put a finger on because of course water is tasteless, but the Sparkel water tastes less flavoured than the Sodastream water. Less canned if that makes sense. It tastes softer. Now don’t get me wrong, both taste fine and if I served them to you blind you wouldn’t notice which was which, but there does seem to me to be a subtle difference.
Making infused water with Sparkel
Sparkel allows you to add flavourings and herbs to your water before it’s carbonated. You can do that with Sparkel because the carbonator nozzle never touches the beverage so there’s no dabnger of contaminating it or getting it dirty.
I feel like adding flavours like herbs and fruit beforehand allows for the flavours to be better infused and they end up tasting stronger right out of the gate, instead of needing to wait. Sparkel has all kinds of ideas on its website, but I liked making cucumber mint water and adding a few blueberries for colour and subtle flavour.
The fact you can also carbonate other things means this isn’t just a sparkling water or seltzer machine, it’s a drink station.
I tried carbonating red wine, and cold brew tea. You can also carbonate juices. So Sparkel is really versatile.
I’ve never liked SodaStream’s liquid soda flavourings by comparison, I found them to be loaded with chemicals and artificial tastes, so I’ve always just added my own flavours afterwards. The other thing I‘ve disliked about Sodastream is needing to go to London Drugs ort Canadian Tire to swap the cartridges.
Is Sparkel environmentally friendly?
So which is more environmentally friendly; Sodastream or Sparkel? That’s hard to say. Sodastream uses carbon dioxide tanks, but you do get credit for recycling them, though yes, you do usually have to drive to a store to do it. Sparkel’s packs of carbonator do leave you with small plastic garbage—too small for most civic recycling programs to use, but you could make your own carbonator. Sparkel also uses electricity where most Sodastreams do not.
Which one is better for the planet? I can’t say…
Can I make my own Sparkel carbonator?
Though I don’t imagine Sparkel would endorse this, you can make your own carbonator, and this would probably be more environmentally friendly than buying individual sachets.
Craft shops that sell supplies for making soap or natural health products will often sell bags of Citric Acid. I got this bag for about $10, it’s about $10 per kilo on Amazon too. Of course you can get baking soda at the bulk store too for peanuts.
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Different levels of carbonation
Sparkel gives you five different levels of carbonation.
The different levels of carbonation are quite different from lowest to highest. Levels one and two are quite mild, almost not worth the effort. Level three is oka. I like the stronger carbonation of level 4 and 5 myself, though I did notice that the bottles would sometimes fizz up and overflow with the water done at this level.
Do I have to fill the bottle?
With a Sodastream, you need to fill the bottle so the carbonator nozzle reaches the water. With Sparkel, you can carbonate smaller amounts. Because it’s the bottle’s top and bottom that funnel the carbonation in and out, you have a bit more flexibility.
Overall review Sparkel sparkling water machine
Overall, I like the Sparkel. The water tastes great, and the fact you can carbonate more than just water is a big plus. The machine is easy to use, though it does take longer than a Sodastream. There’s no canisters to pick up or recycle with Sparkel, but there is the plastic waste (but with that said, yes you can portion out your own bulk carbonator). Sparkel does also use electricity, so you do need a place to plug it in and I am seriously lacking that at home. My Sodastream needs no power.
The machine costs about $100CAD and 90 Packs of Carbonators $59.99. That translates to about 65 cents per use, or roughly about the same per use cost for CO2 from cylinders (a 60 liter CO2 cartridge can be had for about $35 and you get a credit for bringing the old tank back. SodaStream tanks are supposed to carbonate about 60 bottles so that works out to about 60 cents per use).
You can find it on the company’s website or Amazon.
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