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How-Tuesday: Build Your Own Seltzer Maker

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

If plastic soda bottles are piling up in your recycling bin, perhaps it’s time to make your own seltzer maker! With a little tinkering and the right components, you can build a contraption to dispense the bubbly stuff with the help of painter and seltzer enthusiast Randy Stoltzfus.

Once your carbonated water is at the ready, a whole world of spritzers, sodas, ades, punches, and other effervescent beverages is at your fingertips. Try making an infused simple syrup or plum and ginger carbonated juice, then top it all off with a mustache drink topper, if you feel so inclined.

I’ve always loved fizzy stuff. It’s made its way into my art (take a look at my paintings — those could be bubbles) and definitely into my diet. However, my partner Callie and I started to get a little bummed about all of the bottles we were lugging from the store and subsequently pitching into the recycling bin. After learning about the soda price conspiracy, open-source cola, carbonation history, and physics, by reading Richard Kinch’s pioneering website, I set out to create a home seltzering set-up. Here’s how to make one of your very own.

 

Supplies you’ll need:

  • CO2 tank. You can buy one empty or just go to a welding gas supply company and pay a deposit for the tank. We purchased a refurbished tank from a dry ice supply company. This tank holds 10 lbs of CO2, the biggest that would fit upright under the kitchen sink. It lasts the two of us over a year before it needs a $20-30 refill.
  • Regulator. We got ours from the same place we got the tank. You need this to step the gas pressure down to around 50 psi. The dial gauges show you what the pressure is in the tank, the hose and when it’s time to refill. Make sure you have a regulator that will work with CO2.
  • Vinyl tubing. You’ll need enough to reach from the tank to wherever you want to fill your bottles.
  • A tire chuck. Look for this at an auto parts store.
  • A 1/4 turn ball valve. Since the tire chucks are leaky, you’ll want an easy-to-operate cut-off valve. While you don’t absolutely need this valve, it is convenient, and anything that keeps us from wastefully adding CO2 to the atmosphere is good, right?
  • Snap-in Schrader tire valve stems. You can find these at any auto parts store.
  • 3 hose barbs, sized to fit your hose. Use these to thread into your valve and tire chuck.
  • 4 hose clamps
  • An empty plastic soda bottle with a lid
  • Teflon tape
  • Gloves
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • A 15/32″ drill bit and a drill

Directions:

1. Cut the hose to length and slide a hose clamp on each cut end.

2. Thread your hose barbs into the chuck and ball valve. Wrap a bit of Teflon tape around each threaded end of the hose barbs.

3. Slide all the hose barbs into the hose ends, move the hose clamps into place and tighten. Be sure to wear some gloves! The clamps can be sharp, and you want to be able to focus on doing a good job lining things up so you don’t have any leaks.

4. Attach the regulator to the tank. Make sure the special washer is seated inside the regulator nut. You don’t want any Teflon here.

5. Open the tank valve and listen for leaks. Do this someplace quiet. Even the tiniest leak will empty your tank quickly. Adjust the regulator so you are getting about 50 lbs on the low pressure dial.

Here’s a close-up of what you need for your bottle fill-cap. A couple of extra screw tops are nice to have on hand:

6. Drill a 15/64 inch hole in your bottle cap. Use a Brad-point drill bit so that you get a nice centered hole.

7. Thread your tire stem through the cap and work it into place.

8. Now you have your complete assembly!

9. Make some seltzer! Fill your bottle with water. Leave some empty space (maybe 1/5 the bottle) at the top for CO2. Then just fill the bottle the way you’d fill a tire. You will be able to hear the gas moving, and feel the bottle getting full. Then give the bottle a good shake. You can actually feel the bottle get softer as the CO2 dissolves in the water. I usually repeat the fill-and-shake routine a few times, but it’s your seltzer: make bubbles to your personal taste. To maximize your carbonation, chill your filled water bottle before adding the gas, since cold water adsorbs more CO2.

Here’s how the seltzer machine looks installed under our sink at home. The cut-off valve makes a convenient place to store the hose, which is long enough to reach the sink. Installed this way, it’s impossible to hang up the hose without turning off the ball valve, a nice feature. Have fun!

If you make this project, share your results with us in the How-Tuesday Flickr group!

More How-Tuesday Posts | Recipes on the Blog | Plants and Edibles Category

  • lauraprentice

    lauraprentice says:

    Who knew? The DIY possibilities are endless...

    2 years ago

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios says:

    OMG! This is awesome!! I practically live off seltzer. Alone, or cut with Pomegranate juice is is my #1 fluid source. I will be building this shortly. Thanks!! xo, MJ

    2 years ago

  • SweetestBugBows

    SweetestBugBows says:

    Wow ~ this is truly amazing! I would love to try this myself since I love seltzer water so much. Good job on coming up with such an ingenious idea.

    2 years ago

  • EcoChicHandKnits

    EcoChicHandKnits says:

    Very interesting! This is making me want to try out some new cocktails this weekend! Thanks!

    2 years ago

  • BRHDesigns

    BRHDesigns says:

    No, I did NOT know you could make your own seltzer water! Amazing!

    2 years ago

  • BlueRoseRetro

    BlueRoseRetro says:

    WOW... ultimate DIY. Thanks for the superior step by step instructions.

    2 years ago

  • redhardwick

    redhardwick says:

    My husband would love this! Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie says:

    What a great DIY!!! Thanks! =)

    2 years ago

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm says:

    Who would have thunk it, amazing DIY~! Thanks for sharing.....

    2 years ago

  • CuffandCollar

    CuffandCollar says:

    I love how to Tuesday, this is epic!

    2 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    Very interesting!

    2 years ago

  • theroyal

    theroyal says:

    have i mentioned yet that i love how tuesday

    2 years ago

  • rosemreyes

    rosemreyes says:

    Awesome post! Will share with my love!

    2 years ago

  • noonblueapples

    noonblueapples says:

    This is so awesome! I cannot wait for this weekend so that I can build my own! Thanks!!

    2 years ago

  • kateblossom

    kateblossom says:

    so cool- thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • klittle212

    klittle212 says:

    very cool

    2 years ago

  • Kapriscli

    Kapriscli says:

    sooo coool i m gonna try this! except ill make it soda - first make the seltzer water then add soda syrup & Enjoy! i guess , just got it offline correct me if i'm wrong!

    2 years ago

  • melaniem55

    melaniem55 says:

    I do believe that this is one of the coolest ideas ever. Time for me to hit the tank and auto parts store.

    2 years ago

  • LightEnergyGlass

    LightEnergyGlass says:

    Beyond Overkill...simply take a small chunk of dry ice and put it in water-presto carbonated water! Besides, the pieces this blog writer suggested to use are mostly NOT designed for food use. Therefor the parts that are non-food use items, will have levels of industrial chemicals, oils, etc. and would be not safe to use. Don't buy anything for use in your kitchen at a car parts store!!!!! Very bad idea...but only because it's way too expensive compared to dry ice, and will most likely contain poison, if you use parts from the auto shop. There's a reason for food regulations...I'm concerned that a good portion of these items are NOT FOOD GRADE MATERIALS!!! Regulators for soda fountains are food grade, make sure your using food grade materials, not tire valve stems made for bikes.

    2 years ago

  • SoulFulSoapCa

    SoulFulSoapCa says:

    What a fantastic tutorial. Perfect sugar free alternative for a refreshing summer drink!!

    2 years ago

  • TheMillineryShop

    TheMillineryShop says:

    What a cool tutorial. That is a lot of work for some two cents plain.

    2 years ago

  • jewelkingthai

    jewelkingthai says:

    Great one.

    2 years ago

  • jewelkingthai

    jewelkingthai says:

    I am going to try it. Great Idea

    2 years ago

  • Iammie

    Iammie says:

    Wowww Cooool!

    2 years ago

  • katrinaalana

    katrinaalana says:

    Yummy idea. Always love fizzy drinks.

    2 years ago

  • TheWishingWardrobe

    TheWishingWardrobe says:

    I heart this project! Thanks for the great project<3

    2 years ago

  • DaintyChain

    DaintyChain says:

    HOw cool?! I've been drinking so much sparkeling water lately but I feel guilty about drinking bottled h2o. I'll have to make some time to go to the hardware store! Thank you Etsy for making all of my dreams come true :)

    2 years ago

  • DessertWine

    DessertWine says:

    Reminds me of my dad's CO2 seltzer when I was a kid! Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • shannondzikas

    shannondzikas says:

    Science. Power tools. Fizzy beverages. I like it all. Can't wait to visit the hardware store and don my safety goggles. Bust out the nice glasses and the straws!

    2 years ago

  • NowInTechnicolor

    NowInTechnicolor says:

    Well put, LightEnergyGlass. I'm already enough of a toxin phobe. I wish more people would take a second to read what you just wrote.

    2 years ago

  • voodoomaggie

    voodoomaggie says:

    I agree with LightEnergyGlass, dry ice at my grocery is $1 for a block. Drop a chunk in and watch the bubbles go. Why in the world would you want to spend so much money on something like that? Isn't meant to either save you time or money? This does neither.

    2 years ago

  • voodoomaggie

    voodoomaggie says:

    Sodastream has a machine for 89$ food safe, no work involved and you save cash. Did I mention food safe because really, the materials involved in this are just not okay to use on food

    2 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    I like the energy and time etsy put into compiling this project and all of the diy projects that you do. Of course, with any project, it is important to do research, as recommended by comments above, however, thanks, etsy for the time you put into keeping us all connected! Aloha, Connie

    2 years ago

  • vKnit

    vKnit says:

    Wow! What a great DIY project :)

    2 years ago

  • muffintopdesigns

    muffintopdesigns says:

    omg. totally, unbelievably COOL.

    2 years ago

  • PernillasSS

    PernillasSS says:

    Fantastic!!! THANKS!!!!!!!!!!! :D

    2 years ago

  • FaeryKissNaturals

    FaeryKissNaturals says:

    I shared this on my facebook...amazing I love it, thanks!!!!! :)

    2 years ago

  • LongLeafSoaps

    LongLeafSoaps says:

    This is brilliant!!! I love sparkling water! Thank you so much for sharing this simple project!

    2 years ago

  • LongLeafSoaps

    LongLeafSoaps says:

    As for the "food grade" issue...none of the items actually come in contact with the liquid except the schrader valve. Perhaps an all brass schrader valve could be procured for this project. Just a thought...

    2 years ago

  • Rewoodtoys

    Rewoodtoys says:

    Love it...great timing for summer!

    2 years ago

  • lilinspirations

    lilinspirations says:

    Holy Guacamole! Amazing!

    2 years ago

  • janellehaskin

    janellehaskin says:

    Oh yum!! I've been drinking so much seltzer lately, this article just might come in really handy! ;) Thanks!!

    2 years ago

  • tinylittleworlds

    tinylittleworlds says:

    Most simple, clear instructions I've ever seen for a seltzer maker. Great work. I love the under sink mount setup!

    2 years ago

  • TinderBoxTreasures

    TinderBoxTreasures says:

    This is great! Thanks

    2 years ago

  • TheeGail

    TheeGail says:

    You must use only food grade co2, meant for human consumption. There is a difference!

    2 years ago

  • ThePeachTree

    ThePeachTree says:

    This is very cool :)

    2 years ago

  • ModernShop

    ModernShop says:

    Great idea!

    2 years ago

  • erminespot

    erminespot says:

    We already have a CO2 setup for a beer tap - that baby's gonna get a splitter this weekend, I think... :)

    2 years ago

  • grannancan

    grannancan says:

    Wow! What a Great, and helpful article! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    2 years ago

  • KettleConfections

    KettleConfections says:

    There's nothing more refreshing during the summertime than a nice cold glass of seltzer water mixed with fresh soda syrups- you'll never want to go back to store brought ones again!

    2 years ago

  • ErikawithaK

    ErikawithaK says:

    Might be a little bit beyond me, but this is awesome!

    2 years ago

  • AdornmentsNYC

    AdornmentsNYC says:

    wow - who'd have thought? cool.

    2 years ago

  • SaraAlana

    SaraAlana says:

    If I get brave, I am going to do this. I drink so much bubbly water it would be worth it! saraalana.wordpress.com

    2 years ago

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage says:

    i love the vintage bottles!

    2 years ago

  • tokenandpine

    tokenandpine says:

    This is amazing! I didn't know one could make carbonated drinks at home. Awesome project!

    2 years ago

  • HumbleOrigins

    HumbleOrigins says:

    ...This is awesome! So kind of you to share this and thank you very much! :o) ...Blessings

    2 years ago

  • theblondemoose

    theblondemoose says:

    Even if the water isn't touching those parts, isn't the CO2 still going through them and into the water? Wouldn't you still want them to be safe?

    2 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery says:

    Wow seems like quite an intensive process but I guess once you've got the setup you can make a bit of fizz to your hearts content!

    2 years ago

  • rinnyc

    rinnyc says:

    wow this is so cool! Know anyone can make seltzer at their home!

    2 years ago

  • Smurftobe

    Smurftobe says:

    Well I'll be.

    2 years ago

  • simpsonsrule0147

    simpsonsrule0147 says:

    Love the DIY spirit, but i would suggest something like the carbonator instead of the cobbled together from tire parts setup. Example: http://brewstock.enstore.com/item/the-carbonator-cap It screws onto the bottle like a normal cap, and fits a standard corny keg (same as used in homebrewing) disconnect (available at any homebrew store or online). With that setup all parts would be food grade (the co2 bottle and fittings are already - same stuff they use for soda dispensing at any soda fountain you drink from in a restaurant or store or movie theatre). this assumes you get your parts at an appropriate place - like a homebrew store (great source for this stuff as it is very similar to a kegging setup). I agree with LightEnergyGlass on the rubber tire parts, but I should point out that most of the dry ice you get (even at grocery stores) is NOT food grade - look at the labels. They tell you to use it in a cooler, but the instructions say nothing about putting it directly into drinks. This is because industrial dry ice is a by-product of the liquid oxygen industry and NOT sterile or pure (oil and other contaminants in it). This is also why it is so cheap... Leave a bit of it do evaporate in a bowl sometime and look at the film it leaves behind. Probably won't do any real harm to you, but i though it germane to the discussion to mention if anyone is planning on consuming it. If you like, you can get Food Grade dry ice (compressed from the same gas that the OP is using above). just putting this into a bit of liquid does not really give you the best soda water though - with the setup above one has much better degree of control over the pressure (and it won't freeze your liquid on accident, which can happen if you put dry ice into a small volume of liquid).

    2 years ago

  • VernonAve

    VernonAve says:

    nice!

    2 years ago

  • SimpleThrift

    SimpleThrift says:

    YES! we go through so much seltzer, i'm going to put my husband right on this project. thanks!

    2 years ago

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree says:

    Great article! Wow! Thank you so much for taking your time to show us how to set this process up, step by step! Fun and money saving! Thanks!

    2 years ago

  • beyondthelillypad

    beyondthelillypad says:

    I too am going to get my husband to do this for me (if I tried this there would be a really bad out come LOL) cant wait to try it!! and the possibilities are endless!! thank you so much for this info and the step by step guide!!

    2 years ago

  • MishaGirl

    MishaGirl says:

    Now that is amazing-crafty! Not just the machine itself you made, but having it so conveniently installed under the kitchen sink. Wow!

    2 years ago

  • MissJiggle

    MissJiggle says:

    Has no one heard of Sodastream?

    2 years ago

  • twostars321

    twostars321 says:

    This would be a good thing. Thanks for sharing.

    2 years ago

  • VintageHeather

    VintageHeather says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for posting! I haven't decided whether this is in the Handmade category or Vintage, could go either way!! LOL

    2 years ago

  • dorijenn

    dorijenn says:

    I heart bubbles in my soft drinks!!

    2 years ago

  • grandmamarievintage

    grandmamarievintage says:

    The project seems a bit tricky, but totally worth it once all set up!

    2 years ago

  • freshpikd4u

    freshpikd4u says:

    Love it! Can't wait to build one of my own!!

    2 years ago

  • artfoodlodging

    artfoodlodging says:

    hmmm, you know- leave out the tank (give info on where to find one), throw in some drink recipes with all the rest of the parts and you have a great DIY kit that will SELL, don't you think? good luck!

    2 years ago

  • FreshRetroGallery

    FreshRetroGallery says:

    yum. making me thirsty

    2 years ago

  • EmuArtTile

    EmuArtTile says:

    Interesting! :)

    2 years ago

  • DuettaDesigns

    DuettaDesigns says:

    Very cool, thanks for sharing.

    2 years ago

  • GracefullyGirly

    GracefullyGirly says:

    This is so very cool! I may try it out. Thanks!!!

    2 years ago

  • kknutson

    kknutson says:

    Definitely making this, thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • KevinMcCain10

    KevinMcCain10 says:

    Thinking of going to the hardware store right now to get the equipment!

    2 years ago

  • rope

    rope says:

    So cool! I love DIYs that are a little more unexpected. This totally fits the bill. Thanks for this. Anna

    2 years ago

  • evhcreative

    evhcreative says:

    Hmm. I love anything DIY, but yeah - we bought a SodaStream a few months back and haven't looked back. There are heaps of cordial recipes online, or you can actually get them via SodaStream. We love our G&T's so making tonic and not having any extra bottles is just fantastic. http://www.sodastream.com/

    2 years ago

  • HouseOfMischief

    HouseOfMischief says:

    Is it really a 15/64" drill bit? My husband and I are giving this project a try tonight and that seems way too small to get the valve through the cap.

    2 years ago

  • natalienitz1

    natalienitz1 says:

    This is incredible! I'm going to try this as soon as I can track down the parts :)

    2 years ago

  • TwilaNesvold

    TwilaNesvold says:

    BRILLIANT!

    2 years ago

  • julieincharge Admin

    julieincharge says:

    Update: The correct drill bit size is 15/32 (not 15/64, as originally posted).

    2 years ago

  • kristencwatts

    kristencwatts says:

    This is so cool! Thanks!

    2 years ago

  • parallelbotany

    parallelbotany says:

    I drink seltzer by the boat load when it's hot outside. Will need to look into making my own... Thanks for the inspiration.

    2 years ago

  • emilyauthier

    emilyauthier says:

    wow that looks so amazingly simple cant wait to make one

    2 years ago

  • BradysPlace

    BradysPlace says:

    Avoid using parts made for CARS!!!! AS someone else posted - There's a Reason for Federal Food Regulations!!!!! Try your local Home Brewing Supply ---- They have the proper stuff that won't make you sick.... Quick Sample, and there are 1000's of others places... http://www.homebrewit.com/beer-kegging-equipment.php

    2 years ago

  • sweetsnthings

    sweetsnthings says:

    Delightful! Without a doubt, the best tutorial I've ever seen on the blog, thank you so much!

    2 years ago

  • EchoesOfSummer

    EchoesOfSummer says:

    Restaurant supply stores and brew kits are better resources for food-safe supplies for this kit, but none-the-less a brilliant idea for home use. Will save us having to buy all those plastic and glass bottles of Shweppes too! Thank you for the instructions :) ~ Ned & Dana

    2 years ago

  • PureBathandBeauty

    PureBathandBeauty says:

    Very cool Idea

    2 years ago

  • sandboxcastle

    sandboxcastle says:

    I have too many weekend projects to count- but this one will definitely go on the list and jump the que a few spots too i think! I've been eyeing the soda machines at Costco .. but my bf has plenty of CO2 canisters he's retiring from his paintball arsenal....

    2 years ago

  • sdmpaige

    sdmpaige says:

    How about just going to Bed Bath and Beyond and buying a Soda Stream? They are fantastic and much easier!!! I use mine everyday.

    2 years ago

  • nowvintage

    nowvintage says:

    I love my soda stream too but I love how this is inspiring a lot of new home soda use! look at all of the responses! It doesn't matter to me how it gets there, but it is good to see lots of people inspired to stop lugging plastic soda bottles half way across the country and into their homes.

    2 years ago

  • WhatIWishedFor

    WhatIWishedFor says:

    I love my soda stream, too - but I think I'll try the flavorings - thank you! One thing - you can't carbonate water once it has flavoring in it, you must do it before adding flavor. My son in law gave me a scientific answer why - something about flavoring weighting down the water so it can't carbinate? I wanted to carbinate unsweetened tea, but found it it is better to make really strong tea and add it to carbonated water. . . . no sugar, no artificial sweeteners! enjoy!

    2 years ago

  • RightBrainLeftBrain

    RightBrainLeftBrain says:

    Nice! Just remember to secure your compressed gas cylinders. If they accidentally fall over and hit the regulator the wrong way, you've got a DIY rocket.

    2 years ago

  • miniatureape

    miniatureape says:

    Hi julieincharge, you updated the drill bit size in the parts list, but not the size of the hole in step 6. I just built this and was puzzled by how you got the valve through the hole. Otherwise, the instructions were great. Despite the daunting photos, this project was dead simple.

    2 years ago

  • Design89

    Design89 says:

    I have just 3 words -- CHOCOLATE EGG CREAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! just sayin'...

    2 years ago

  • Haazegirl

    Haazegirl says:

    I totally made this and my co2 tank is food grade, as well as my pipe. The plumbing stuff is used in your water supply, and I'm not going to sweat the small stuff. However I can't get too much carbonation to stay in my water/soda/whatever. I use cold water and fill and shake and fill. But the bubbles are a bit of a let down. Is there another trick to get all the bubbles to stay?

    2 years ago

  • SparrowPeak

    SparrowPeak says:

    I agree with Design89 -mmmm, egg creams!

    2 years ago

  • bethy0543

    bethy0543 says:

    What is the cost to make one of these contraptions??? What is the cost to make the seltzer for one of the 2-liter bottles?

    2 years ago

  • bethy0543

    bethy0543 says:

    Oh, yes--and what does it look like from above the counter?

    2 years ago