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Mark Thorson
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Default Choosing A Carbonator

I've been thinking about buying a carbonator, for experiments
in making carbonated stuff. The main candidates a

a) Seltzer-bottle type carbonators which use 8 gram CO2
cartidges -- disadvantages are low carbonation, and the
cost of cartridges. About $45 for the bottle from iSi.
A big disadvantage is that the bottle would be difficult
to clean if I put something in it that left a residue, like
something viscous.

b) Tap-A-Draft -- this system uses two 8 gram CO2
cartridges, costs about $55 for a basic system. It's not
clear to me how good the carbonation is. One guy said
he had two of these units explode. They look rather
cheaply made. Cleaning is also a concern here, but
the carbonation is done in interchangable plastic bottles,
with new bottles costing about $6, so I could always
just replace them if my experiments in carbonated
turkey gravy or mint jelly turned out badly.

c) Soda Club Fountain Jet or Edition 1 -- I can't tell
what the differences are between these models, and
the manufacturer's website (
seems to require that to get any information you must
run Internet Explorer, accept cookies, execute Java,
and have your network security setting at "**** Me".
From another site, I gather that the basic unit costs
about $100, not including the rental of the CO2 cylinder,
which is a large refillable industrial-size bottle. This
carbonator is said to provide high carbonation, like
commercially bottled soda. The much lower cost
of the CO2 would make this the unit of choice for
someone who's got lots of kids drinking lots of soda.
(You could make soda for just pennies a bottle.)
For me, just for experimenting purposes, the hassle
factor of exchanging CO2 cylinders would be a
disadvantage, but the higher level of carbonation
might be an important feature. Plastic bottles are
interchangable for this unit, too.

d) Industrial carbonators available on eBay -- lots
of used units are offered there, but I haven't a clue
how to hook them up or use them, or even if they
would be suitable for my purposes. Some appear
to be taken out of systems for vending machine
dispensers or restaurant/bar taps. I can't even be
sure if a unit comes with all the parts I need to put
it in operation. If a book was available describing
these systems, I might be more interested, but they
seem to have all of the disadvantages of (c), with
no particular advantage other than some appear
capable of producing large capacity.

Anyone have any comments on choosing a