Our hacked Sodastream system
Our hacked Sodastream system

Sometimes frugality is about giving stuff up. Other times, it’s about being clever.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I are known seltzer addicts. Indeed, we can scarcely make it through a day without our bubbly water fix. And we have zero intention of ever giving it up. Pure, unadulterated seltzer (just water and gas, no sugars or flavors) is a luxury we’ve decided to incorporate into our extremely frugal lives.

Would it be cheaper for us to just drink tap water? Quite obviously yes. But we choose to treat ourselves with this fizzy little drink. Why? Because seltzer is a key component of our luxuriously frugal lifestyle. Oh yes, you read that right, we consider our lives to be frugally luxurious.

The Great Frugalwoods Sodastream Hack of 2014

As long-time readers will recall, Mr. FW devised a system to hack our Sodastream machine last August to replace the pricey little Sodastream brand C02 canisters with a gigantico 20lb C02 tank. No, this isn’t a standard thing and yes, it’s a system he cobbled together himself. But guess what? It totally works. Thanks to his DIY hacking prowess, we saved $433.44 in the last year alone on our seltzer costs. And our franken-seltz of a machine is still going strong.

P.S. If you’re hankering for a step-by-step description (with photos!) of how Mr. FW hacked our Sodastream, check out our post: How To: Cheap Homemade Seltzer with a Modified Sodastream.

…And The Great Sodastream Discovery of 2015

Oh somehow we missed this for an entire year...
Somehow we missed this for an entire year…

Our most recent 20lb C02 tank ran dry last week and we contacted the homebrew store where we’ve been swapping out our tanks. They didn’t have any 20-pounders in stock, so we sat tight for an agonizing week and a half sans seltzer. The shop finally got one in stock the other night and we gamely set off to execute our swap.

As we were walking out the door, tank in hand, my crafty frugal weirdo husband stopped short and uttered his trademark “huh.” Anytime I hear this “huh,” I know there’s an idea brewing–usually a frugal/bizarre one.

My ears perked up and I requested he elaborate. He pointed out that the tank has a sticker on its side, along with a phone number for a welding supply shop. We’d never noticed this before, but quickly deduced that our little hipster homebrew shop sources their C02 tanks from one Igo’s Welding Supply.

Ever the frugal schemers, we scuttled back into the house and called Igo’s to see if they’d do a tank swap for lowly individuals who aren’t businesses. Sure enough, they’ll swap out anyone’s tank and… wait for it… they charge half of what the homebrew store does! Let me tell you what, there was some frugal rejoicing going on after this miraculous discovery.

Mr. FW seltzerizes our inaugural bottle
Mr. FW seltzerizes our inaugural bottle

Here we thought we’d frugalized our seltzer consumption to the bare bones when in reality, we were paying the middleman a handsome and hefty mark-up–for the exact same product. We felt kinda dumb for not realizing this initially, but hey, it’s all part of the evolving frugal life we lead. If we got everything right the first time, life would be pretty boring and, I’d have nothing to write about here on Frugalwoods ;).

Plus, incidents like this one keep us on our frugal toes. It’s easy to get comfortable in our rote, repeated spending habits and I’m a big fan of frequent re-evaluation of our presumed savings. Never hurts to continually challenge everything we’re buying (hat tip to Budgets Are Sexy’s “Challenge Everything” endeavor). Frugal complacency is no one’s friend!

Our Sweet Seltzer Stats

Our 20lb CO2 tank vs. the standard Sodastream canister
Our 20lb CO2 tank vs. the standard Sodastream canister

Since I know you’re all dying to see the price breakdown, feast your eyes on these sweet seltzer stats:

Raw CO2 costs:

  • Traditional Sodastream canister: $1.07/oz ($15 for a 14oz canister)
  • 20lb tank from homebrew store: $0.22/oz ($69 for 320oz, or 20lbs)
  • 20lb tank from welding supply store: $0.11/oz ($35 for 320oz, or 20lbs)

Whoa, baby! Can you say retail markup? Here we thought we were killing it with our homebrew-sourced C02 but now, with our welding store-sourced C02 (which, by the way, is the exact same product), we’re seriously rocking out!

Based on our consumption rate of 42oz of CO2 a month (3 traditional Sodastream canisters worth), our monthly CO2 cost is now dramatically lower:

  • Old system with traditional Sodastream canister: $44.94/month
  • 2014 frugal newbie system with homebrew store-sourced tank: $9.24/month
  • 2015 frugal boss system with welding store-sourced tank: $4.62/month

With our original tank hack, we were saving $35.70 a month. But with our new tank hack, we’re saving a whopping $40.32 per month… also known as $483.84 per year!!! 

Even Frugal Hound knows that's a lot of savings!
Humans, dat is a lot of savingz!

Why Do We Do This Stuff?

That’s no chump change right there. And when we couple that dollar amount with the savings we realize across the board by insourcing (things like haircuts, cooking, home improvement, and dog grooming), eliminating (for example eating out), buying used or not at all (as we do with clothes, furniture, and baby things), creating efficiencies (eating $0.10 oats for breakfast), or finding cheaper alternatives (as we recently did with our coffee), it all adds up to a staggering amount of money.

Frugalwoods-mobile parked at Igo's Welding Supply, C02 tank in tow
Frugalwoods-mobile parked at Igo’s Welding Supply, C02 tank in tow

These seemingly inconsequential tweaks in every aspect of our lives are what facilitate our 71%+ annual savings rate. I know it’s popular to only focus on saving money in the largest budget categories–typically housing, transportation, and food–but I firmly believe joyful extreme frugality is all about relishing the process of unearthing savings in all areas of one’s spending.

Plus, Mr. FW and I had an awesome time driving out to Igo’s Welding for this little C02 tank adventure. We consider our frugal hacking mode of life to be a form of entertainment as well as a fun challenge. It’s far too boring and conventional to just walk into a store and pay for a typical Sodastream canister–it’s vastly more colorful (not to mention hilarious) to sniff out a random welding supply store with your own personal 20lb C02 tank in tow.

Have you made any frugal discoveries lately? Are you a fellow seltzer fanatic?

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  1. I love finding new ways to save, especially when it involved creativity and a challenge. Congrats on your new hack! Retail really is a boring way to procure what you need. Our friends all joke that my husband’s favorite things are free and broken. It’s almost better if you have to fix it up or figure something out. As you said, that’s entertainment in itself.

    1. Free and broken is our favorite too :). It’s so true that it ends up being entertainment all on its own. I agree–a much more creative and interesting way to go through life!

  2. Wow, definitely worth reading the sticker, huh?

    We call it sparkly water and prefer the fancy flavored (but unsweetened variety.) We haven’t hacked it yet. The main hesitation is not knowing where we would put that fascinating canister- I am positive that our 3 1/2 year old would not rest until he found a way to infiltrate it.

    1. Build a case around the canister? I can imagine some sort of fence/shield option that you’d only have to open to change out the tank.

      1. Yeah, our tank is secured behind our heavy trash can and recycling bin, but, I think you could definitely build some sort of home around it. Or, chain it to the wall perhaps? We considered drilling a hole in our counter and nesting it inside the lower cabinet–that might be another option, depending on your kitchen layout. You’re very right that you don’t want your kiddo (or anyone else!) to knock one of these bad boys over. The results would not be good ;).

        1. You definitely want to secure it with a chain. If you knock the valve off somehow, the tank will will become a rocket driven by the gas coming out where the valve was. Or at least that is the safety practice for 5-6 feet tall industrial tanks, I guess it depends on the pressure of your tank.

          1. Yeah, it’s pretty well wedged into a corner between the cabinet, trash can and recycling bin… but it could certainly be more secure. I too have been told terrifying stories about a stem being knocked off. Truth be told though, I’m much more paranoid about moving it from the car to the house than when it’s sitting stationary in the corner. It’s that fear of tripping and dropping it, that makes me extra careful!

          2. Not true, the myth busters did an episode on tanks because of the Jaws movie and Hollywood nonsense. It’s just not true.

          3. Bruno, I can’t speak about the Myth Busters episode, by I can tell you this: my son and I were in the grocery store and I picked up a 2-litre bottle of pop. I dropped it. It proceeded to shoot through the air over two aisles and land in the back of the store. I don’t know what angle it landed on after the initial drop, but it’s one of our favorite stories 🙂

        2. Hi! I’m a reporter at the WSJ and am writing a fun story on people who hack their sodastreams – would love to chat with you. Let me know when you have a few minutes, not on deadline, thanks!

  3. That’s awesome. I love reading about your frugal hacks. I will admit you invoked my curiosity about this amazing seltzer. I have always imagined that maybe it’s a cross between sprite and tonic water. Well we had a couple of bottles of leftover tonic water at home so I was excited to try it. I took a big swig expecting to taste its deliciousness and um, don’t ever do that. EVER! I no longer believe tonic is in the seltzer family! In an effort to use all things, I looked up uses for tonic water. A couple of dead plants later, all tonic water has been removed from our house! Mr. Crackin’ was not amused by my efforts.

    1. Hahah, your poor plants :)! Yeah, seltzer is neither tonic water nor Sprite. The way we drink it, it’s just plain tap water with carbonation. And while we love it, it’s not for everyone :).

  4. I recently discovered seltzer water a few months ago with our neighbors, and ever since I have been HOOKED! I drink the flavored stuff though, haha (though I did replace it with diet coke, which I consider a win!). One day I hope to switch to straight up seltzer, but I’m not quite there yet 🙂

    Great job on the hack!!!

      1. Adding fresh lemon or lime is great idea–we do that sometimes when we’re feeling fancy. But, seltzer was how we kicked our soda-drinking habit too. Much healthier for sure!

  5. Nice! Cheap C02 and you know a good welding supply shop! Isn’t welding part of Mr. FW post-FIRE plans?

    Major frugal discovery for me yesterday! My internet bill went up $1. After investigation, I learned that the company raised the price on my LEASED modem. The new charge was $9/month. I had totally forgotten that I was leasing a stupid modem and had been for the last 4 years. Thankfully, I found our exact same modem on Amazon for $55 and paid for it with an gift card. It’ll take 6 months to recoup the costs, and about that long to get over the fact that I leased a modem for 4 years. It’s a constant optimization.

    1. Nicely done on the modem discovery! I love sniffing out things like that! And yes, Mr. FW does in fact weld, so it’s an added bonus that we found this supply shop so close to our house :).

  6. That is awesome that you were able to find the same exact product so much more cheaply! I’m embarking on a project now to make sure I’m getting the best prices on the items I buy regularly – conducting a price comparison and recording my findings in a spreadsheet. Hoping I find some good ways to save!

    1. Woohoo–sounds like a great project! I find it almost always pays to analyze our assumed savings from time to time. Good luck to you in this very frugal endeavor 🙂

  7. I never considered welding supply stores for sourcing CO2! I’ve forwarded this and a local place on to my boyfriend to investigate for our homebrew setup 🙂

  8. Wow! That is a score! I admit to liking tap water (which we do filter from our well) the best. Fizzy water is not my thing.

    Our savings was not so huge but we tried an ice cream more than half the price of our regular brand and thought it was fine. (Ice cream in the 2 months of summer we get is not something we will give up!)

    1. Kristen, I thought I was the only person in America who doesn’t like the carbonation! So glad to know there are two of us.

      1. There must be three of us! I ready this whole post trying to figure out the lure of seltzer water. I don’t always drink soda, but when I do I prefer it a little flat. 🙂

          1. Haha, you ladies are cracking me up. I’m addicted to the carbonation. What can I say, I’m a bubbles gal. But, I know it’s not for everyone ;).

    2. A few months ago, I discovered that Amazon carries a bunch of drink mix powders for what are basically flat versions of various flavors of soda. Pineapple, A&W Root Beer, Orange Crush, Strawberry Crush, etc. We’ve been using filtered well water in reused 1 liter “fizzy water” bottles with one packet of powder, and I think it’s great. I like fizzy stuff once in a while, but I generally prefer this stuff. Walgreens also has packets of a few things, like peach iced tea, that’s very similar. Super cheap and good stuff. It’s sweetened with something very low calorie, which I like. Thinking of getting a Soda Stream and a big CO2 tank and carbonating the flavored water.

  9. I’ve tried to convince my husband that a seltzer hack is a need. He seems to think that installing a sub floor in our bathroom is a greater need. I just don’t understand where his priorities lie 🙂

    Way to frugal down!

    1. Sheesh, priorities indeed ;)! The seltzer hack, fortunately, didn’t take too much time to execute, so hopefully you can convince him before too long. Birthday/anniversary/holiday gift perhaps :)?

  10. Ha ha, I’ve thought switching to the big CO2 tanks in the past, but we don’t drink nearly enough seltzer to make it worth the trouble. When I looked into it, I didn’t even look at homebrew shops, since, being a hobby store, I assume they’re marking up stuff you can get elsewhere. So I only looked at wholesale gas distributors, and there’s one or two around here, to price out options. Industrial CO2 is the same as consumer CO2. I’m sure the homebrew people might tell you different, but the same stuff in their tanks is the same stuff in the industrial tanks and the same stuff in the Sodastream tanks.

    1. It totally is the same gas! We were so excited to discover this cheaper source. When we initially set-up the hack, we looked for wholesale gas distributers and couldn’t find one in our area. Somehow we weren’t smart enough to think of welding supply stores even though one of us welds ;)…

  11. swapping out the CO2 tank at the welding supply store is better than a beverage center, but my guy who makes his own beer, goes right to the source. There is a shop in town where they do the hydrostatic testing of the tanks. They can test the tank when needed and they fill the CO2 there directly. It happens to be the source the local fire department uses to test their tanks as well as where a number of restaurants and beverage centers get their CO2 tanks filled. It is a small business, they are very friendly and the turnaround is usually a day or two AND it is cheaper 🙂 my guy bought a #20 shiny aluminum tank used and didn’t want an ugly, rusty steel one sitting next to the fridge is what motivated him to look into it. He is a certified scuba diver and knew tanks had to be hydro tested every five years in order for them to be filled.
    Thought you would like that tip. Look for the place near you where they test tanks.

  12. Btw, CO2 tanks also come in smaller sizes if a #20 is too big for your location. They sell #10 and #5 tanks as well. The #5 models are what they use in the paint gun applications and are all shiny aluminum that won’t look ugly sitting on your counter or will fit easier inside a cabinet. Even at the #5 size they are cheaper than the cartridges and you can get a spare if one runs out, like when you have guests.

  13. I just made my way through your complete archives! It is so cool that you keep optimizing things that you could easily accept as “done” just because they are already cheaper than store-bought.

    P.S. This probably is not an urgent matter, but it is something to consider especially when Babywoods is toddling about. I work in a lab, and all of our gas canisters are required by OSHA and EH&S to be secured to a wall with a chain so they can’t tip (like this https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=JN.2WFEvlXjL6uZORrWOsQGQA&pid=15.1&P=0 ). You could probably rig something up with eye bolts and a bungie cord or chain to extra secure it. In all likelihood, your trash can probably does this enough…BUT it would be a travesty to have a sneaky Frugalhound or Babywoods reenact the killing of Jaws in your kitchen.

  14. This is off topic but I am a Reddit reader and the link to your Forbes article on the Reddit subs of Financial Independence and Frugal has been receiving a lot of negative comments. People seem to think that what you are doing is impossible.

    Do you read the negative comments and do you just laugh or do you feel sorry for the haters because they don’t understand how much their lives could be improved if they were frugal weirdos too?

    1. I think seltzer is the perfect drink :)! Feels fancy but has no calories and is cheap–what more could you want!

  15. here is a link where you can buy them new. Beverage elements seems to have the best prices. They ship empty and can be filled locally, even at paint ball supply shops.

  16. It’s great that you’ve found yet another way to saving money on something you love. We are not big seltzer fans. we usually opt fpr water with lemon or infused with some other type of fresh fruit.

  17. Frugalcrush Soda! ( Sorry my kids love Candy Crush – couldn’t resist!)

    We have resisted the urge to Sodastream because we heard that the CO2 was expensive.

    How hard is it to Hack a soda stream?-is it a 10 minute project or a big project that would take up my whole day? Perhaps you could post an article (with pictures and steps) for your Frugalfans to teach us how to do this.. Or you can go in to business selling modified Sodastreams to folks that are too busy to modify themselves!


      1. Don’t feel stupid–glad you found the how-to post! It’s a pretty straightforward process and I’d say it probably took Mr. FW maybe 45 minutes to complete. Definitely worth it!

  18. I love your “challenge everything” mentality and hearing about your new ways of savings money. I really love finding new ways to save… I guess I’m a weirdo too because spending less is fun and exciting and find it odd that more people don’t do it. The concept of spending less and then saving that extra money doesn’t resonate with the majority… they spend less and then spend more (on something else). Impressive frugal hack!

    1. Thanks so much! We definitely get a huge kick out of finding new ways to save money. What can I say–it’s so much more fun than spending it :).

  19. That’s awesome! I am the only seltzer drinker in the family, and I like only flavored seltzer (with a little juice). So at about thirty cents a can a few times a week, I have not found it worthwhile to invest in a new device. That may change when the boys get old enough to want some fizz. I love your Igo’s Welding Supply story! Way to read the label!

    1. Felt kind of dumb for not noticing the label in the first place, but hey, it’s all part of the journey :)! Yeah, if you’re drinking seltzer in that small of a quantity, then the hack is probably not worth it at this point. But it is fun to do!

  20. Haha I loved this! I also love that you live a luxuriously frugal lifestyle, I consider myself to be in that department too (for the most part anyway!). It truly is the little things in life. Glad you found an even cheaper way to get your seltzer fix, that was very innovative on your part.

    1. Thanks! I must say, I’m quite glad we found cheaper seltzer too :). And, amen to the luxuriously frugal life–it’s the way to be!

  21. That’s awesome! Many people wouldn’t even take the time to make the quick phone call, but you can save so much just by asking things like that! You’ll never know unless you ask and in your case it literally pays off!

  22. I really like how you make frugality an adventure! I have to say, you challenged me to challenge every dollar. I haven’t gotten my eyebrows waxed in over 2 years. Recently, I’ve been wanting to change my eyebrow shape from a more flat shape to a full arch, so I figured I’d have to schedule an appointment to get them shaped and waxed at some point in the next few weeks. After I read this post, I “challenged” this plan and did some research – found out that my local pharmacy (within walking distance!) sells eyebrow stencils with my desired shape for $1.50 ! I’m going to buy that tomorrow, use an eyebrow pencil I already have to determine the shape, and tweeze away to get the Va-Voom arch I’m looking for. If it doesn’t work out, hair grows back so no sweat! The bonus is – I don’t have to research a salon, I don’t have to schedule an appointment, I don’t have to make the time, I don’t have to drive anywhere, and I save about $19! Thanks for being such an inspiration. Love all your posts, but especially posts where you are “sleuthing” your spending!

    1. Thanks so much, Kristin! We do enjoy sleuthing our spending ;). Congrats on the DIY eyebrow plan–sounds like a great idea! I too tweeze my own brows–takes only a minute and the results are just fine with me :). Plus, like you mentioned, think of all the time we’re saving!

  23. I never would have thought about frugalizing your bubbly water in the first place by sourcing it in a larger container from the home brew store, let alone this new finding of the welding store. Who would’ve thought! 🙂 Nice job Frugalwoods!

  24. I am a huge bubbly water fan (that’s what we call it in our house). We have a soda stream, but haven’t done any hacking with it yet… that might be a task I put on the fiance once he becomes a husband next week. lol! 🙂

  25. And hats off to you for another find to save some bucks. Mostly plain old water drinkers here…just at home, not work, as our well water is fantastic. Very fortunate that way.

  26. Pretty awesome. I live my soda stream. We haven’t hacked it, but I don’t drink as much as you guys.

    Plus I don’t have a convenient place for a 20 lb tank. I may have to consider this though.

    1. Thanks! We really love our hack–makes it so we can drink as much seltzer as we want :). It took us awhile to figure out where to put the tank and then we realized we could just set it on the floor next to the cabinets. This after we discussed drilling holes in the counter and floor to store the tank in the basement ;)—haha, sometimes the easiest solution is the best ;).

  27. I have the small bottle that comes with the system. I’m a contractor, and I’d like to do the hack you did, but I just can’t figure it out.

  28. Seltzer water was my favorite also and I considered getting a machine like you, but then my dentist told me it was acidic to my teeth! UGH! I couldn’t believe it. So then I did an internet search and sure enough, it is almost as damaging as soda. Something about what the carbonation does. Anyway, just do a search for ‘carbonated water acidic teeth’. I’ve since given it up and back to plain old filtered tap water. I’m terrified of dental problems from a physical pain standpoint as well as a financial pain. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. 🙁

      1. Thanks for the reference, but I don’t much care much for Livestrong.com. The articles have very little substance. I’d rather listen to my dentist and the opinion of the majority instead of risk bad oral health. Besides, we all need water to live, so I can’t stop drinking it, but simple is always better…. so plain tap water it is for me! 🙂

    1. This article references bones (another issue I’ve heard), and says there’s no connection to non-cola soda and poor bone density. This bolsters my resolve not to drink colas: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/carbonated-water/bgp-20056174

      Coffee is also acidic and thus affects enamel. Research seems to suggest that fizzy water is damaging but not hugely so: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11556958

      I think this is a place for the “all things in moderation” suggestion.

      1. I have given up coffee also and tea. Again, I know there can be an argument for the benefits and downfalls of anything, but I recently decided that poor dental care is expensive. I would much prefer to save those costs instead of give into indulgences. Just my opinion. Again, simple, filtered water is best for me. Not for everyone, but it works for me! 🙂

  29. Dang! What a surprise and thankfully you found it sooner than later!

    We don’t have seltzer but I have had it at other peoples’ houses. A friends’ 3 year old started calling it bubble aide so that is what we all call it now. I have a feeling we’d use it daily if we had our own frankenseltzer.

    The only major frugal find I can think of is when we combined our auto insurances to one account soon after engagement. The total bill turns out to be 54% CHEAPER than the price of what we were paying for individual auto insurance with different companies. Like a savings of $940 a year. Is this a marriage (or appeared to be married) discount? Sure we can go to one car, but it’s really really cheap to own the 17 year old Saturn. As soon as it isn’t, buh bye!

    1. Hey that’s a great frugal find! Nicely done! And yes, the frankenseltzer does lead to daily use ;)–but on the plus side, we drink a lot more water because of it.

  30. I love everything about this. Except the actual seltzer. I do not like seltzer. But the rest of this hack /story /adventure is awesome!

  31. If you’re not just gasifying your water but making soda, you could also forgo the compressed infusion entirely and go old school. Ordinary baking yeast emits CO2 when digesting sugar and if you do it under pressure (e.g. use a Grolsch bottle), you will make bubbly soda. It will be [very] weakly alcoholic(*), however, no equipment needed. The brewer store will have concentrates for cola, etc. but you could just go to Aldis and get some ginger. That’s how people used to make soda.

    (*) If you want more alcohol, do it with the cap open and let it sit for a few days. It’ll be like a ghetto version of standard wine brewing.

    PS: I’m surprised you didn’t know about welding stores as a CO2 source. I guess you figured out the sodastream hack by yourself then. Kudos! In that case, may I [highly] recommend instructables.com for all things DIY.
    PPS: You can also use other welding gases (e.g. N2), but CO2 is the “best”. But hey … creative, right?

      1. People on the internet seem to say that nitrogen is much less soluble in water than co2, and thus takes more effort to get the fizz going. Looks like the people who have done it, have done forced carbonation over the course of many hours in a keg. Not really a point-of-use system like a co2 sodastream.

        But hey, you could try it!

        1. Thanks Mr Frugalwoods for your time. I got the Soda Stream and the first time I used it, all the CO2 leaked out. They ended up refunding me my money and told me to keep the product.

          Now I’d like to exchange one of my 50 lb bottles of Nitrogen for a 20 lb bottle of CO2. I have the gauge that I can use from my nitrogen bottle, it’s the hook up to my soda stream that’s got me scratching my head.

          I can easily buy the fittings at Home Depot, I’m just not sure how to connect to the Soda Stream. Coming off of the tank is no problem, it’s that final hook up.

          1. No worries Mike! The adapter you need to connect your gas supply to the sodastream is actually a specially made part. I got mine from c02 doctor (see in the post) but there are several folks out there who make them. You’ll need that (or access to a machine shop) to complete the setup.

          2. Perhaps I’m a novice when it comes to computers. I need to speak to them (CO2 doctor) and they have no phone and when I click on their “email” link, nothing happens.

            I do get a little fed up with companies like this. How does one contact them when they make it impossible to contact them?

    1. Huh, hadn’t thought about fermenting soda. I think I’d need a longer attention span for that. I like being able to go from flat to fizzy in 2 seconds 🙂

      Since I use welding equipment at a co-op, and not my own setup, I’ve never needed to buy gasses before and I didn’t know the going rate. I assumed (wahwah) that the brewing store would be roughly the same price. Lesson learned there! To be fair to the homebrew shop, their tanks are a lot nicer looking than the rusty tank from the welding shop… but this isn’t a beauty competition so I don’t really care.

  32. Well played 🙂
    I have been tempted to opt for a soda stream and hack it, but my spouse’s stomach doesn’t do well with seltzer and the temptation of a virtually endless supply would definitely be too much!
    How long of a drive was it to the welding shop? I only ask because we made wild raspberry pie today and the gas costs more than negate the free raspberries. We went for the fun of being in the woods for the morning, and the deliciousness of the wild raspberries, but if it was a frugality based decision we definitely wouldn’t have gone. I assume the co2 tank lasts for ages so the drive is negligible.

    1. Great question on the drive and, you bring up a good point! Fortunately, it was just a 10 minute drive (same distance as the homebrew shop), so the gas cost was negligible. But, it’s so true that driving a long distance just to save a few bucks often isn’t worth it!

  33. This is so awesome!!

    I enjoy seltzer, but don’t drink a whole lot of it. I’m mainly drinking tap water these days, but I do indulge in a single can of Diet Coke most days.

    1. Ahhh Diet Coke… I used to be addicted to a can a day until I switched to…. seltzer :)! I’ve realized I’m just a gal who needs bubbles on a daily basis 😉

    1. Interestingly, the tank is actually smaller than we expected and we’ve been able to just slip it behind our trash and recycling bins next to the cabinets. But, short of having that type of space, it would definitely be hard to squeeze it in somewhere!

  34. I, too, and a fizzy water fiend. My girls love it, too, but it’s generally the very non frugal store bought flavored kind. They just weirdly like it more than juice (and it’s better for them). I wish my husband would let us hack a Sodastream – we would definitely save a ton of money!.

    1. You should totally hack a Sodastream :)! And, you make a great point that it’s healthier than juice. Seltzer is what got us to kick the soda habit for good. As long as I have some carbonation in my day, I’m a happy camper :).

  35. You can make your own carbonated drinks. Make champagne or beer. It’s not very hard, and more economical than purchasing. Bottle using screw-on pop/soda bottles.

  36. So I get 40-50 bottles out of a 14oz canister. No doubt you have found a way to save on CO2 – thanks for sharing that. But, are you suggesting you use over 100 bottles of seltzer a month?

    1. 100 bottles of seltzer a month is on the low side :-). We used to be more careful about how much we drank it, but now it’s nearly free so we drink it all the time.

      A side effect is that we drink waaaay more water than we used to. Which is great. Plus bubble are delicious.

  37. Has anyone figured out a hack for the SodaStream bottles yet? They seem to be $20/2 in most stores. Anyone find something cheaper?

  38. Totally stoked about the soda stream hack!!! My local gas supply place offers food grade CO2 and welding grade… He said it is the gas that is different, not the tank, but was not specific……. The price difference isn’t huge ($7 difference for 20lbs), but wondering if you know what the difference might be.

    1. It’s absolutely necessary to ensure you’re getting food grade CO2. Industrial grade has higher tolerances for contaminants, including benzene and other carcinogens. Don’t assume, *ask* that the CO2 you’re getting is for food and beverage use. Welding stores usually carry both, but not always.

  39. Too funny! Major European Seltzer addict here. My wonderful husband engineer and frugality champion found 3 Sodastreams on CL, hacked them all a couple of years ago the same way and installed them in our 3 homes in the US and Europe – don’t ask! Frugal as he is we used the welding shop route right away except for the place in Europe which was a bankrupt food establishment where he found several old tanks which have been supplying endless amounts of Seltzer for 2 full summers now without an end in sight. Bubbly water is so much more popular over there and we would have to haul tanker loads home in glass bottles for the endless stream of visiting friends and family. Love your writing and ideas! Somewhat new to the blog so ready older posts now for inspiration and entertainment….

  40. awesomeness! i’ve been looking for a hack since i have a kegerator too, and i drink insane amounts of beer and seltzer. my hubby likes rootbeer and ginger ale, and my oldest kid loves fancy sodas. i needed to find a decent hack. i already have most of these components (co2 tank with $18 buck refill; sodastream and bottles). SO STOKED!!!!! i try to save where ever i can too, especially since baby #2 and a grad school/adjunct budget! YAAY!!!!

  41. I’m on the verge of doing this hack for my own SodaStream. I’ve done the paintball tank method, but lately it’s become next to impossible to find a reliable fill station for paintball tanks that has their filling equipment in working order, but there’s an Airgas location very close to home.

    The one burning question I have about the external tank modification that isn’t discussed one way or the other:
    Do you leave the tank valve open all the time, or is it necessary to close/turn off the tank when you’re not actively using the SodaStream to carbonate a bottle of water?

    1. We did this and we leave the tank “on.” I asked the person who sold me the adapter, and they said the shut off is in the sodastream itself, so it only turns on and off when you use it. We bought our tank at airgas and were able to find a CO2Doctor hose on ebay. It is sweet! This is such a great idea.

      1. Thanks for confirming! I had a hunch this was the case, provided that the adapter hose is properly constructed and has no leaks. Right after posting my question, I happened to find someone that was throwing out an entire case of brand new, still sealed boxes of CO2 canisters for a Primo Flavorstation (now defunct competitor to SodaStream that just used standard size paintball tanks), and I’m just about done using up those tanks, so I’ll likely be picking up a big tank very soon.

  42. Thanks for the great blog! I too am supremely interested in Mike’s question: Do you leave the tank valve open all the time, or is it necessary to close/turn off the tank when you’re not actively using the SodaStream to carbonate a bottle of water?

  43. Hi Frugally Frugals

    The website to which you link in the original post (co2doctor dot com) has seemingly gone out of business.
    I have seen someone here in the comments writing about finding the adapter on eBay, but though I found similar stuff, I didn’t see the original tried and proven one.
    Does anybody here of info about where one could still get hold of one?

  44. I am looking at doing this but the adapter hose with meter you have is no longer sold (Website doesn’t exist). Does anyone know of one that connects a soda stream to a 20 LB Tank like this? The ones I keep finding are quick release and require you shut the tank so If it is left on you will loose all your CO2. I want a solid connection over the easy way. I am looking to get one asap. SO any info will be greatly appreciated!!!

  45. That’s a lot of money for an adapter. I already have a tank and regulator, does anyone sell just the adapter and tubing to connect to the sodastream end and a standard regulator connector?

  46. I’ve only had soda water. My mom used to buy it and put things like fruit juice or just plain fruit in it to keep ys from drinking so much pop ( I have to clarify when I tell people I have a Coke addiction! ) but I will have to try it!

  47. Can’t wait to try this hack! One question though:

    the adapter set that you recommended is no longer being sold at Amazon. What could you recommend instead?


  48. Hi, just wanted to know if you guys were still using this set up and how its been working for you, any tips would be greatly appreciated. I worry about the tank exploding or the tube where the co2 flows not being food grade or the tube exploding since there is no regulator?..Thank you for your time.

  49. It looks like this has only been mentioned once, but it’s a major caveat. There is a meaningful difference in contaminants allowed, including carcinogens like benzene, between industrial grade and food grade CO2. Paintball and welding supply suppliers are usually selling industrial grade. Depending on local conditions, these suppliers might sell food grade for both purposes, but usually not. We’ve noticed that homebrewing supply shops are not always aware of the difference. Try sourcing from shops supplying bars and restaurants, and confirm that you’re buying certified food grade. It will cost a little more, but… benzene. Source: my husband is a professional brewer who runs a beverage co-packing plant.

  50. Some websites recommend you close the main valve after every time you refill your bottles. Is this true? This seems like a big hassle.

    1. We do close the main valve every time out of an abundance of caution. Since we’re used to doing it, it’s not much of a hassle. Just takes muscle memory 🙂

  51. I have a Sodastream, a 20 lb tank purchased from a welding shop and a CO2 Doctor adapter. I blew out my last Sodastream and am thinking that the pressure from the 20lb tank was too high, so I want to get a regulator for my tank. Anyone know what pressure the Sodastream canisters are, what the max pressure that Sodastream machine can handle? Thanks!

  52. Hello Frugalwoods!
    Love this idea! My fiance and I are OBSESSED with sparkling water and love the idea of saving a ton of money by making it ourselves! I just have a quick question, in the last post, you had an amazon link for the adapters and hoses, but it is not found on amazon anymore! Do you guys have any other adapter kits that would be good?

  53. Frugalwoods – I thank you for your information sharing about these fabulous money saving discoveries! My husband and I moved to carbonated water (which we call it in Australia, though I love the word seltzer) a few years back to kick his cola habit. We’ve been buying x2 Soda Stream refill canisters costing $38AUD/month for at least two years I’m sorry to say. I’ve been reading your blog for YEARS and it’s taken me until now to have the follow through to talk to my husband about whether we could hack it and WE JUST DID. I’m now looking at my own Franken-seltzer setup which is costing us So Much Less (husband will start a spreadsheet to track!) and I feel like we’re winning! Not to mention how many fewer trips to swap out teeny tiny CO2 canisters! Thanks for the idea – definitely feeling like a super Frugal Weirdo!

  54. I just called a CO2 store (called on 03/20/2019) — “Giant CO2” in Santa Ana, CA, (714) 979-4000 — they only charge $23 to fill a 20 lbs tank with CO2 (versus $34 at a local welding supply shop). They said they can do it in 5 minutes. I did not want to exchange my beautiful brand new CO2 tank with an old CO2 tank from a welding shop. People might search for “CO2 Tank Refills” to find similar businesses in their town.

  55. Do you leave the tank open all the time. I left ours open and it was obviously leaking co2. Any suggestions?

    1. We close ours after every usage. Kind of a hassle, but we’re just used to doing that now!

  56. I LOVE saving money!!! I’m not sure the “soda hack” would be the best return on investment for my $3-5 a week soft drink consumption although I will read the details before dismissing it. It’s been the little swaps that have added up to more than any individual larger cut out / cut back / swap over the past several years which total around $1500/mo.
    Being on Social Security only now, that’s kind of a big thing since neither my wife nor I were high income earners prior to retirement. That $1500 savings is more than our condo, maintenance fee and car expense combined… and probably our grocery expense on top. How’s THAT for frugal living… and in a sleepy suburb in Ohio? But we still look for more and more “hacks,” deals, promos, sales and whatever we can do without having to roll out extra costs for anti-psychotic medications that would defeat the purpose.
    The most recent for me (old news for the Frugalwoods) was buying a $15 hair cutting system to avoid even a senior cut plus tip cost ($12?) every time I start looking like a Chia Pet. How badly can my wife mess up a near bald cranium? We’ll find out tomorrow. I’ve been dying my wife’s hair for well over a decade and she’s yet to complain and while I can’t cut her hair because of having tremors, professional stylists have complimented her on the dye jobs. But again, that’s another “little thing” that adds to an enormous list of entries on my LOL list (abbreviation for Living On Less). I’ve by-passed the whole debacle online with the Paper Towel Nazis and those “frugalists” who use family cloths instead of toilet tissue. Let’s not talk about option for a bidet or just jumping in the shower or… never mind. (grin)
    We’ve cut the cord and stream everything. I’ve found well over $100 a month savings on prescription medications from RX apps (when waiting for Medicare to kick in). I’ve paid off hundreds of dollars in credit card monthly payments (and the interest) and not too far from mortgage free ($399/mo) and free of car payment debt ($286/mo) so we’ll be adding another $600+ a month to the future instead of the past. I’ve cut my Kcup costs down by $40/mo with ground coffee and we brew our own iced tea for another $30/mo of savings. Going out to eat? I’m McHappy to say that’s rare but with coupons or Groupons we can have more by paying less. No more trips to the office vending machines that were “only $1” x 2 people x how many work days a month??? So, yeah, I LOVE saving money!!!
    I am really looking forward to reading more Frugalwoods’ tips, tricks, treats, tweaks and tools because I may just find a few more hidden treasures in our minimalistic budget and still use occasional paper towels and refrain from family cloths and reusing cat hair to make crafts for Etsy.
    Waiting patiently for a “Meet The Frugalwoods Part II” book title.

  57. I appreciate this hack – but you don’t mention anywhere in the article about making sure your CO2 is food safe. Not all CO2 is food safe!! This comment may very well be buried but I think it’s important your followers understand that they could put their health at risk by using unsafe CO2 in this application.

    According to The Brewing Network, industrial and food grade CO2 generally come from the same plants:

    The slight difference between industrial-grade CO2 and food-grade CO2 is the type of tests that are done to qualify CO2 as beverage or beer gas-grade compared to industrial-grade. Currently, the FDA’s requirement for food-grade CO2 a 99.90% purity rating. The other .09% is made up of impurities such as hydrocarbons or nitrogen. Industrial grade CO2 is 99% pure CO2, also containing impurities such as hydrocarbons or nitrogen.

    However, the nature of those impurities extremely important. They go on to suggest:

    One impurity that all homebrewers should be aware of is benzene. Benzene is a no-no for homebrewers. If the CO2 that you are purchasing has high benzene levels, it will leave you and fellow drinkers with terrible headaches. When I say high levels, we are not talking about much. Benzene is usually an impurity that is referred to in PPB. The benzene level should be around 20 PPB.

    They suggest you ask for a profile of the impurities, although I suspect that Dick’s will be unable to comply. You will have to assess your own tolerance for risk, but you may better off seeking a more appropriate local vendor.

  58. Former Airgas Cylinder Fill/Processing Plant Manager here. I just scored a Sodastream at a local Goodwill for $2.50! (half price tag day). The small Co2 cylinder (2.5lb) was still in it and still had some Co2 left in it but, given my background in compressed gases, I immediately began researching conversion to a bigger cylinder. That’s how I got here.
    I’m a very glad I found Frugalwoods.com! I was moments away from tearing apart the machine to cobble up my own conversion so this saved me a bunch of trouble. I already own a 35lb Co2 cylinder (yes, considerably bigger than the one in this article – stands about 4′) so conversion was a no brainer. Now to the meat n taters:

    While the Co2 gas is the same within an industrial, beverage grade, food grade, or any other grade “bottle” is the same; what is not the same is the way the cylinder is treated, whether the gas is ever tested for assay (purity), and the purity minimum.
    Co2 intended for human consumption (medical, food, or beverage grade) MUST be tested for purity and is required to meet minimum purity standards by the FDA. FDA minimum purity is 92% pure while Airgas minimum is 95%.

    There is, however, NO requirement to test the purity of industrial Co2.

    The good news: the FILL process for all Co2 is the same across the board. The cylinders are physically inspected for integrity, all air/atmosphere is removed by a vacuum process, they’re filled to appropriate weight, lot tracked, and leak tested. It is very likely that the purity of Co2 within an industrial grade cylinder is the same or very close to a consumption grade cylinder.
    The not so good news: Industrial grade cylinders in the exchange fleet of a welding supply house are used for all sorts of crazy stuff by industrial customers so there’s no telling what that cylinder has been through, been in, or has made it inside the cylinder once it was empty. Most customers leave the valve wide open once the cylinder is empty so rain, mud, bugs, moisture, diesel, and all manner of stuff can, has, and does get in there. Since industrial Co2 is not tested for purity, it is a little bit of a gamble that you are getting “clean” Co2 when buying industrial grade.

    Verdict: I own a 35lb industrial grade Co2 cylinder and will be using it on my Sodastream without hesitation. When it runs out, I’ll refill it as “industrial grade” because the price difference is considerable at that size and I know where my cylinder has been since new. I know it’s clean inside and out. Unless you share my level of certainty with regards to your cylinder’s history and you’re not into gambling with what you or your family ingest; I would highly recommend buying food/beverage grade Co2.

  59. We love selzer to, but I love fruit in mine and flavors. Hubby Incorporates our alcohol fixes in for a night cap. I love the bubbles it adds a kick to ones drink.

  60. I LOVE my sparkling water. I was a huge Diet Coke drinker, but my Soda Streamer helped my overcome that addiction. I had no idea there was a welding supply store in my area. Literally only 4 miles from my house! Thank you for the information!

  61. Enter 2021, and to be honest, what I am about to say is nothing new. Open the reigns on Google or duckduck or whatever your favorite methods may be because while I am just beginning this adventure (I got my Sodastream for xmas 2020); you can go true frugal and refill with dry ice. Crazy right? But if frugal is what you want, there you have it.
    Also, from the “tolerate” a ugly 20lb can and tubing in the kitchen, you can fill your own bottles *(in fact, you are almost there now) and keep that equipment in a garage, closet or basement. Also, just in being frugal here:
    Always keep your gas, your water, even your sodastream cold. Easy to do in the winter right? Might be harder in summer, but unless your kitchen is the arctic, you may have a better place to store it already in the home.

  62. Where can I find a C02 tank gauge to work with my soda steam hack? I have a stainless steel CGA320 to TR21-4 direct adapter that does not offer a gauge.

  63. Just a reply to the post by “Bruno” way back on May 8, 2017. He claimed that The Mythbusters had debunked the idea that a (full sized) compressed air tank would turn into a missile if its valve got sheared off. Quite the opposite. To use The Mythbusters’ own words, they “100% absolutely” CONFIRMED it (you can see it for yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4kb-8CjVYg). Given only about 30 ft. to accelerate, it blew completely through one cinder block and concrete wall, and about half way through a second wall of similar construction that was about 6 ft. behind the first wall. That’s why a protective metal cage is required in almost any working environment that uses such tanks. It is a *very* real danger.

  64. We didn’t have a soda stream and we opted to carbonate directly into 2 liter bottles. The cost is probably similar to adapting a soda stream (without the cost of the soda stream), but any bottle that has previously been pressurized can be used, eliminating the proprietary soda stream bottles. We drink it plain, add powdered drink mix or add soda syrup we purchase in bulk (5 gallon bag in box) from restaurant suppliers and have a variety of bubbly flavors to drink. There’s lots of benefits in addition to the cost savings, like no more hauling all the heavy drinks from the store and disposing of all the cans and bottles.

  65. Wow my local Airgas is charging $68 for a 5lb refill/exchange while my local homebrew store is charging $35 for an exchange (no refill available)

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