Want to save money, lose weight and save the environment? Drink more soda! The SodaStream soda maker is a great addition to any kitchen this holiday season. Whether as a Christmas gift for your own family or for all the pop-lovers in your life, the SodaStream is a fun to use appliance for everyone.



Instead of buying all that sugary soda with preservatives and who knows what else, bring a SodaStream to your holiday party. Perfect for kids, aunts, uncles, moms, dads and friends, the SodaStream makes drinking soda easier and healthier. To make your own fresh carbonated water, insert the included carbonator into the back of the soda machine. The CO2 from the carbonator gives the water that fizzy feeling. Fill up the included plastic bottle with cold tap water and put it in the front of the machine. Push down the carbonating block (the top of the machine) and watch as the indicator lights up and your water fills with bubbles.

Each time you use the SodaStream, you have to make a full liter at a time, so if you want just one serving you re out of luck. This isn t a quiet machine: A strange squealing sound comes from the machine while you carbonate your water. Also, during our taste tests, many of the flavors tasted either too sweet or too bitter. Drink quickly, too, as the carbonation doesn t last very long, even with the fizz-preserving caps.

Once you have carbonated water, you can pour in flavorings for root beer, orange soda, energy drinks and your favorite name-brand sodas. Six flavors are included with the SodaStream, and you can buy more from your local retailer or from the SodaStream website. You can also use the SodaStream to make fizzy juices for the kids or whip up fancy party drinks. Each flavoring has less than half the calories and sugar than regular soda, so you can get a jump start on that healthy New Year's resolution.

If the price of soda is a concern for you, the SodaStream makes drinking your favorite flavors cheaper. The true price of SodaStream soda breaks down to replacement carbonators and flavors, since tap water is free. The machine itself comes with a carbonator good for 60 uses, and six sample flavors for 6 liters of soda. Once those are gone, you'll need to purchase a new carbonator for $30 or an exchange or recycled carbonator for $15 at select retailers. Flavors also start at $5 for 12 liters of soda. Altogether, the cheapest soda you can make is 91 cents per liter   or 66 cents per liter if you use an exchange carbonator. When name-brand soda pop costs upward of $2 for 2 liters, or between $1 and $2.50 per liter, you'll be saving money, gas and time whenever you use the SodaStream.

Saving the environment is a bonus feature of the SodaStream. You won't be tossing plastic bottles out: The included BPA-free bottle is reusable. However, the bottles aren't dishwasher safe, so you'll need to hand-wash after each use. The carbonator can also be recycled, and you can purchase a refill carbonator, for a cheaper price, if you live close to one of the participating retailers.

If your kitchen and outlets are a bit crowded with toasters, blenders, waffle makers and other appliances, don't worry about plugging the SodaStream in. This non-electronic appliance doesn't need a power supply   just a carbonator. You can also find the right design for your kitchen's color scheme: The SodaStream home soda maker comes in red, white, black and blue and materials such as wood, metal and plastic.

The SodaStream is easy to customize, makes healthy drinks fun and is one of the best soda makers on the market. It's not a perfect comparison to name-brand carbonated drinks, but it's cheaper, healthier and uses much less plastic.

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