I gave up Diet Cokes a few years ago, for many reasons. One of the things that helped me keep my resolve to stop drinking “DC”s was flavored carbonated water; I could still get that bubbly burn that I craved but without all of the artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and caramel food coloring. With the Spärkel Carbonator, I can now make my own flavored carbonated drinks at home.
Measuring approximately 14.5″ tall by 5.75″ wide by 12″ deep, Spärkel is made to fit under most countertop cabinets. If you have the counter space to keep it up top, that’s great, but if not, Spärkel is still worth keeping “downstairs” (in your lower cabinets, bringing it up when needed). Want to see what carbonated iced tea tastes like? This is your device (it’s delicious, by the way). Want to throw some fruit into still water and make your own real infused sparkling water with just a few ingredients? You need a Spärkel.
Included in the box is the Spärkel appliance, a box of 30 A+B carbonator sachets, and a single 25.4-ounce bottle made of Tritan. According to Spärkel, they went with Tritan instead of glass because “the risk of glass shattering during and after the carbonation process would require significant shielding for safety reasons and introduces an injury risk that we could not accept. … Tritan has the look and feel of glass without any safety concerns. Tritan is also dishwasher safe and BPA-free. Finally, using an electron microscope we have seen no evidence of micro-cracking even after many thousands of uses. This durability has enabled us to not put an expiry date on our bottles.”
Spärkel is available in black, metallic blue, metallic red, pink, seafoam, silver, and the white I was sent. The simple instructions for operating the Spärkel appliance are printed on a plastic film stuck to the top lid of the device. You can easily peel off the film, but for the first few times you use the device it’s a handy reminder.
To get started making your own carbonated beverages, you’ll need to remove the back reservoir and fill it with room temperature water. This can be regular tap water, as the water in this reservoir will not be going into your bottle — it’s there to generate the C02 gas.
So where will that used water go? On the front of the Spärkel device, there is a “residue drawer” that collects the dissolved carbonator water. You will need to fill the back reservoir and empty the residue drawer every 7 uses.
Let’s take a look at the carbonation sachets. They’re labeled A and B, and there are 30 paired packets in the box. What’s in them? Sodium Bicarbonate and Citric Acid; when they are mixed with water in the carbonation chamber, they will create the CO2 gas necessary to carbonate your beverage.
The A&B carbonation sachet’s contents will go into the carbonation chamber under the top lid.
The included bottle fits into the slot at the base of the Spärkel device. After you’ve added your chosen solid ingredients to the bottle (fruit, for example) and filled it with cold liquid (or liquid and ice), you’ll lower the large gray handle down until it clicks. Lights will come on, and a tone will sound.
At that point, you’ll choose a carbonation level depending upon your intended concoction, and then you’ll press the large start button.
A chime will go off when Spärkel is done doing its thing, and your beverage will be ready. If you want to understand more about how the carbonation process works, read this.
On the lid of the box holding the carbonation sachets, there are suggestions for deciding which level of bubbles you’d like in your drink with some easy recipes. I am a fan of the#3 “boldly bubbly” sparkling green tea, but I also like adding a lemon slice to plain water and carbonating it on the #2 setting.
A huge tip is to plan on carbonating cold liquids only — or adding ice to the bottle before carbonating as hot liquids won’t carbonate as well. It’s also important to note that filtered water tastes and smells better, so if you prefer sparkling water with a cleaner, crisper taste, you should use filtered water. These are the tips that Spärkel lists in their recipe book:
- BUILD YOUR WAY UP The key is to start slow, stick to bubbling sparkling water first, then try one simple ingredient and finally, move to more intricate recipes!
- THE IDEAL AMOUNT Place a maximum of 2-inches of solid ingredients in your bottle. If you add too much, bubbles will stick to the solid ingredients and cause foaming when you open the bottle
- SOFT TOUCH Use soft ingredients, as the pressure of carbonization will bring out more of their flavor
- GRAB A KNIFE Slicing your ingredients will expose more of the surface and as a result, will infuse more flavor
- BAG ‘EM Place tiny ingredients (like loose spices, fine herbs, tea) in a teabag as the small bits may clog the system and/or end up in your mouth
- KEEP IT LEAN Avoid fatty or oily liquids (such as dairy), as they will bubble up when carbonated
- SPRITZ IT When carbonation is complete, simply press on the top lid valve of the bottle for easy opening
This is what they mean by “spritzing” — press the center of the bottle (the top lid valve) once to release pressure for easy opening. If you are worried your drink might foam over, you can let it sit and then “spritz” it again.
I like that something as simple as a couple of slices of lemon or a few raspberries and blueberries can really elevate your plain sparkling water. You can really throw down and get creative, though, by using fruit juices or wine.
Not only does CO2 give a nice mouth-feel, but it also lifts aromatic molecules up toward the nose, which is where most of our fine tasting occurs! It also forms carbonic acid when mixed with water, which gives your drink that slight acidic bite that hurts so good!
What you can create with the Spärkel is only limited to your imagination … and these rules; You can carbonate fruit, herbs, tea, juice, and wine (white or red), but you shouldn’t try to carbonate oily liquids like dairy products — they will bubble up when carbonating and make a mess. You only need a max of two inches of solid ingredients because the carbonation will pull the flavor out of your ingredients, enhancing it. Remember that bubbles will stick to solid ingredients, so if you use too many, it can lead to foaming when you open the bottle. You should also avoid using small ingredients such as tea leaves and lavender unless they are in a tea bag; otherwise, they can cause clogging issues.
If you have no idea what you would want to make with a Spärkel, but you like the general idea of it all, you can check out these drink ideas or read their recipe book, which also contains some tips and tricks. I like that using it will cut down on the amount of cans and plastic that we have to recycle. I also like that there are no added chemicals or preservatives in anything we carbonate — just our filtered water and a few add-ons make for a delicious bubbly drink.
The Spärkel Carbonator System retails for $99.99; it is available directly from the manufacturer (you can click this link to get $25 off your order*) and on Amazon [affiliate link]. 90 Spärkel Carbonator refills sell for $49.99, and you can find them at the Spärkel site or on Amazon; there is a subscription service you can sign up for that will deliver Spärkel carbonator sachets to your home every one, two, or three months with a savings. A set of two Spärkel Tritan bottles sells for $29.99, and you can find those on Amazon, too.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: No chemicals or preservatives in your drink — just filtered water, juice, tea, wine and whatever other spices, herbs, or fruit you choose to add; No need to deal with CO2 tanks or cartridges; Saves having to recycle cans or bottles of sparkling water; The Tritan bottle is long-lasting and dishwasher safe; You can get a subscription for the carbonation sachets which will save you money and keep you from forgetting to order more; It’s easy and fun to use
What Needs Improvement: Nothing — it works as advertised
*When you buy a Spärkel system by clicking that $25-off link, I’ll get $10 off my next order, so thank you!