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How to Make Carbonated Water

by Victor @ Taste of Artisan

Glass full of fizzy, bubbly carbonated water on top of a bar fridge.

If you like carbonated water you probably have noticed how expensive it has become over the past 5-7 years. I used to be able to buy a 25 oz  bottle of Perrier for a dollar at the local grocery store, now it’s $1.79. If you like to drink a lot of fizzy liquid it can quickly add up to a nice chunk of change. The good news is that you can make your own carbonated water, and it will only cost you pennies per gallon.

I am a big fan of carbonated water, and so is everyone in my family. I think I had a lot to do with that. We tend to drink a lot more water when it’s carbonated, and drinking plenty of water is good for your body. The problem is that carbonated water isn’t getting any cheaper. It’s quite the opposite, and it can get pretty darn expensive if you drink a lot. That, plus lugging all those bottles from the store, recycling empties, and constantly making sure you don’t run out of the fizzy liquid forced me to look into how to make carbonated water at home. Specifically, I wanted to come up with a solution that would to be:

1. Cost efficient

2. Convenient

3. Easy to use, even for small kids

Jumping a little bit ahead let me tell you that I currently own a DIY kegerator that I use for making sparkling water. I consider it the Rolls Royce of seltzer water makers. It’s got everything I was looking for. It’s an attention grabber too when folks come to visit. Some are disappointed that it dispenses water instead of beer. I am telling them to be patient as the real thing is coming.

I am using carbonated water and seltzer water or simply seltzer interchangeably as they mean the same thing – force carbonated water using CO2 gas. Some people have asked me if one can make club soda at home. The answer is both yes and no.

Seltzer water and club soda are very similar, but there is an important difference between the two. Club soda’s flavor is enhanced by adding mineral-like ingredients such as potassium bicarbonate and potassium sulfate. If you have a way of adding those minerals in your water (for example by using a re-mineralizing water filter that adds those specific minerals), then yes, you can make your own club soda at home. Otherwise it will be plain old seltzer water. While I believe that club soda and seltzer can be easily substituted, some argue that the difference in taste is perceptible.

SodaStream

SodaStream Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker Starter Kit was the obvious first choice to look into and I liked what I saw – a compact package, ease of use and excellent reviews. It promised to be a very decent seltzer water maker and just what I was looking for. I liked what I saw, bought it and used it successfully until I upgraded to the next level water carbonation rig.

Front view of Sodastream machine.
I have to say that SodaStream does its job and it does it well. It’s a compact sparkling water maker that produces adequate carbonation. If you are looking for a compact and a very portable DIY carbonated water maker SodaStream is for you.

When using SodaStream $15 dollar refills, cost per liter varies from $0.25 to $0.4-$0.5 depending on the level of carbonation you want to achieve. With an adapter and a paintball C02 tank the cost will vary from $0.05 to $0.1 per liter depending on the level of carbonation and the number of loud buzzes you will go through during carbonation.

SodaStream pros: 

  • Fairly easy to use for adults
  • Very portable
  • Very compact
  • Reasonably well built
  • Good carbonation
  • Relatively small initial investment of about $80 (for the entry level SodaStream) plus $20-60 for the adapter and $20-25 for the paintball CO2 tank

SodaStream cons: 

  • Not so easy to use for children, but you can help them and its fun to do this together
  • Three loud buzzes as per the instructions are definitely not enough to achieve decent carbonation that is comparable to carbonation in store-bought carbonated water. I would do 5-6
  • Adjusting level of carbonation involves guesswork and experimentation
  • CO2 refills at $15 a pop are somewhat expensive, though in the end there are some savings to be realized. There is a real opportunity to lower the cost of carbonation with the mod described above
  • Water needs to be pre-chilled for quicker and more effective carbonation
  • Need to remember to place carbonated water into fridge to keep it chilled

Modded SodaStream system

Some cost conscious SodaStream users have turned to getting the popular SodaMod SodaStream CO2 adapter which allows utilizing standard paintball tanks with SodaStream. Reportedly, these standard paintball tanks can be refilled at numerous paintball shops and sports goods stores at a fraction of cost – about $3 a pop. The guys at SodaMod will even help you find a refill location if you are not able to locate one yourself, or so they claim.

Sodamod adapter for sodastream system.

Alternatively, Amazon sells a similar CO2 Conversion Adapter for SodaStream Paintball Tank Canister for less than half the price of the SodaMod adapter. You will need to splurge for a paintball CO2 tank too if you go with an adapter.

A word of caution!

Pay close attention to the quality of the CO2 gas you are using to carbonate water. While cheap, paintball shop and sports goods store CO2 gas is most likely not food grade and contains other gases mixed in. Ask before refilling your tanks there. The best advise is to do refills at beverage supply places that cater to food services industry and use food grade CO2 gas.

The Carbonater

The next level up is the The Carbonater system. It requires a slightly larger initial investment of about $140-$150 and to be comfortable using and servicing a gas regulator, gas tubing, etc.  No worries, I am not a plumber and I had no experience with these things before I upgraded to the carbonater rig. It turned out to be very easy to setup and maintain. The most important thing with this setup is to ensure that there are no gas leaks after you put everything together – you don’t want to use your carbonater for a couple of days and then realize you’ve run out of gas. Youtube has excellent videos on how to test your system with soap water. It’s very easy.

Essentially, this setup consists of a CO2 tank

 

Aluminum CO2 tank.

with a regulator to control CO2 gas pressure,

CO2 regulator

which is then connected via a gas line assembly

CO2 hose with connectors

to the Carbonater cap.

blue carbonator cap

Update July 3, 2016

A reader emailed me that Amazon now carries stainless steel carbonation caps, which cost only a dollar more than that the plastic version above. Definitely go for the stainless version, it will last forever with basic care.

stainless carbonator cap
The cap screws on to almost any soda bottle, including 16 oz, 22 oz, 1 quart, and 2 liter bottles. You would fill your bottle with cold water, screw on the cap, turn on the gas and give the bottle a gentle shake to help CO2 gas dissolve in water. You will hear a hissing sound coming from the CO2 tank as the gas is going to the bottle. Once the water is sufficiently carbonated the hissing sound will stop, indicating that carbonation is done. You can leave the cap on the bottle until you are ready to drink the beverage.

Carbonater pros: 

  • Fairly easy to use for adults
  • The build is super solid and will last for years
  • Makes excellently carbonated water, with carbonation levels to suite any taste
  • You can adjust the level of carbonation on the gas regulator once and produce consistent results thereafter
  • CO2 refills are cheaper than even for standard paintball tanks. Costs per liter are the same as when using the kegerator, see below

Carbonater cons: 

  • Les compact and less portable than the SodaStream
  • Initial investment is slightly higher than that of the SodaStream solution
  • Water needs to be pre-chilled for quicker and more effective carbonation
  • Need to remember to place carbonated water into fridge to keep it chilled
  • Not easy to use by younger children

The Kegerator

OK, everyone knows that a kegerator is for dispensing beer, but many have been using kegerators for carbonating water as well. This is the ultimate solution for water carbonation at home. I have been using it for the past 2 years and it’s second to none.

Home carbonated water poured in glass

This solution advances the Carbonater solution by eliminating the Carbonater cap and adding a modified bar fridge (a minimum size of 4.4 cu.ft. Danby bar fridges have long been popular with kegerator DIY’ers), a 5 Gallon Soda/Beer Keg,


Keg to store carbonated water.
and a Single Tap Chrome Draft Beer Kegerator Tower.

Carbonated water tap.
My kegerator setup uses a 15 lb CO2 gas tank. For reference, a 15 lb CO2 tank can carbonate about 50-60 5 gallon kegs of water based on my observations. This is also consistent with this source here.

KEG wth CO2 regulator attached.

Our household goes through about 1 keg of water per week or so, and we would refill the CO2 tank about once a year or so. It’s extremely convenient not having to do this every 3 weeks or even every couple of months. Keep in mind, though, that a 10, 15 or 20-lb CO2 tank will not fit inside a 4.4 cubic feet bar fridge with two 5 gallon kegs in it, and you will need to drill a hole and run the gas line outside.

If you want to keep your CO2 tank inside the fridge you must go with a 5 lb or 2.5 lb CO2 tank. Alternatively, you can go with a single 5 gallon keg and in which a case a 10 lb tank will fit in the fridge. The 15 lb CO2 tank will fit, i tried, but it will be tight and the regulator will need to be in horizontal position and it will be very tight. I think it’s safer to keep a 15 lb tank outside and avoid risking damaging the regulator.

Over time I realized that a one-keg setup has a notable shortcoming – when water runs out you need to fill the keg with water immediately and wait until it carbonates. If you fill it up with room temperature water and let it carbonate at 40 PSI, it will take 24 hours to achieve low but noticeable carbonation, and full 48 hours to get optimum carbonation. Carbonation can be accelerated by using cold water and/or gently rolling the keg on the floor, but that’s not convenient.

You could also potentially carbonate at 60 PSI (stainless steel cornelius soda kegs can withstand up to 130PSI max but I would not recommend going near that high) and then switch back to 25-40 PSI for dispensing, but that involves unnecessary hassle switching pressure back and forth. Because of that I started using 2 kegs in my system. Once water in one keg runs out, I already have a new keg ready for dispensing. The cycle goes as follows:

  1. Connect keg A filled with water to CO2 line and water line. Carbonate for 48 hours
  2. Add keg B filled with water. Move CO2 line from keg A to keg B and carbonate for 48 hours
  3. Move CO2 line back to keg A until it runs out of water (even though keg A is fully carbonated, the pressure will fall eventually the more water you use and you will need to connect CO2 line back for proper dispensing)
  4. Once keg A runs out of water, move water and CO2 lines to keg B for immediate consumption of carbonated water
  5. Refill keg A, add back to the fridge. Move CO2 line from keg B to keg A and carbonate for 48 hours
  6. And so on and so forth…

Two kegs inside a bar fridge with carbonated water.

Update on July 3, 2016

You can easily see that the 2 keg carbonation process that I started off with was not particularly efficient. I later modified my system to be able to carbonate both kegs at the same time. That way I don’t have to remember to switch disconnects back and forth between the kegs. Here is how I did it:

The easiest way, in my opinion, is to add a 2-Way CO2 Manifold. What it does is it allows you to feed CO2 gas from one output on C02 regulator to two kegs. That’s what I did in my system. Going this route I did not have to drill another hole in my fridge and upgrade my CO2 regulator. Here is how it looks:

CO2 hose manifold configuration for a 2-keg kegerator setup.

The CO2 line from the CO2 regulator feeds into the manifold. Then two CO2 lines run into each of the two kegs. Simple as that.

Note that I have a 4-way manifold in my system and have three CO2 lines connected to it. I happened to have a spare 4-way CO2 manifold laying around so I figured I’d use it. I then later added a third line with a 12-foot hose to use when cleaning my beer kegs. You may not need any of that, so a 2-way manifold will suffice.

Keg connectors for a 2-keg kegerator setup

Two-keg kegerator setup that shows connections of kegs and CO2 lines.

I keep the water hose in front of the kegs. That’s not an accident. If you tuck it behind the kegs it will be touching the cooling plate in the back and the water in the hose will often freeze, especially after you add new water and the fridge starts to circulate more often to cool down the water.

Other ways to carbonate two kegs at the same time

Another way is to use a Dual Pressure CO2 Regulator. This will require drilling another hole in the fridge and running a second CO2 line. I think this option is an overkill. Going under the premise that you want the same level of carbonation in both of you kegs, there is absolutely no need to have a dual pressure CO2 regulator.

I happen to use one in another kegerator system of mine (picture below) but I do need different pressures there.

Dual CO2 regulator

A more cost effective way would be to use a CO2 Regulator with WYE’d Dual Check Valves. You still will need to run two CO2 lines to your fridge and drill another hole. However, the cost of buying such a regulator or adding the the WYE’d dual connector to your existing CO2 regulator would still be quite a bit less than buying or upgrading to a dual pressure regulator.

Dual CO2 regulator.

Given that a 15 lb cylinder refill costs me about $25 including taxes, that’s about $0.41 per keg, $0.08 per gallon, or $0.02 per liter. Not bad, ha? It’s freaking awesome! My wife says our kegerator setup was the most useful and the most prudent investment we have ever made. I agree. It’s the best. The cost of water also needs to be considered, but in my case it’s close to free as I use filtered (reverse osmosis, re-mineralized) tap water.

Kegerator pros: 

  • Carbonated water on tap – doesn’t get any more convenient than that
  • Very easy and simple to use for both adult and even younger kids – just pull the handle and pour
  • The build is super solid and will last for years
  • Makes excellently carbonated water, with carbonation levels to suite any taste
  • You can adjust the level of carbonation on the gas regulator once and produce consistent results thereafter
  • CO2 refills are cheaper than even for standard paintball tanks
  • Assuming a 15-20 lb CO2 gas tank, gas refills are needed once a year or even longer
  • Never run out of carbonated water assuming a two-keg system
  • Water is always ice cold, no need to remember to keep the bottle with carbonated water in the fridge or to pre-chill water before carbonation
  • Looks elegant and cool – everyone who comes over to visit wants to know how it works and wants to use it

Kegerator cons: 

  • High initial investment of about $450-$500 (this includes a new 4.4 cu.ft. or larger bar fridge). The cost can be reduced by about $100-$150 by buying used soda/beer keg and bar fridge.
  • Not portable and requires more space
  • Requires drilling one, potentially two holes in the carefully selected bar fridge (though there are numerous detailed guides online on how to turn an bar fridge into a kegerator)
  • Fairly long carbonation time, but this is easily alleviated by a 2-keg setup

Pouring carbonated water in a glass.

So, If you are just venturing into the world of water carbonation at home and are looking for an easy-to-use solution, SodaStream is for you. It makes very good homemade seltzer water with good carbonation. Savings with an un-modded setup are somewhat dubious, but with an adapter and a paintball CO2 tank the savings will be quite significant.

If you are looking to get into or upgrade to a more robust system that allows for consistent and precise control of level of carbonation without spending a lot of money, the Carbonator system is the best choice.  This system is also a good entry level setup if you know you will eventually be upgrading to the Kegerator setup as all of the parts, save for the Carbonator cap, can be reused. Actually, the Carbonator cap can also have its place in the Kegerator system. The cost of carbonated water per liter with this setup is significantly lower than even with the modded SodaStream setup.

If you are looking for the ultimate setup that is also super easy to use even for younger kids, consider getting a Kegerator, like this EdgeStar Full-Size Kegerator.

pre-made kegerator in the kitchen

If you are up to building your own Kegerator, it can be a fun project and will save you a few bucks. A Kegerator looks very elegant and can be easily incorporated into any interior. The cost per liter of carbonated water is the same as that of the Carbonator setup.

Cheers and happy carbonation at home! Drop me a line if you have questions about any of these setups.

Update on October 20, 2016

I’ve been getting many emails and with questions specific to building a kegerator. Given this interest I made a very detailed guide on How to Build a Kegerator. It basically describes everything you need to build a kegerator, down to what bolts and washers you will need. Hope this helps.

Update on March 19, 2019

I got a number of emails from people who procured kegerators or the carbonater systems and were looking for a hassle-free, inexpensive way to get good water. My recommendation is to use an RO water filter with re-mineralization. That’s what I’ve been using over the past 2 years or so and have been very pleased with it.

Here are my recommended under-sink water filtration systems:

This post was updated on March 19, 2019

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86 comments

Janina September 7, 2019 - 8:22 pm

Thank you so much for this thorough write up. I just purchased 2 new corny kegs and all the supplies I needed to set up a home carbonation system. Very excited. ONe thing you did not mention that I am now wondering about. How do you initially clean the new corny kegs and also, once your keg is empty again, do you first clean and sanitize it before you refill with water?
Thank you so much. I can’t wait to drink my own seltzer water.

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan September 9, 2019 - 1:15 pm

Hi Janina,

One common way to clean new kegs that may come with machine oil residue is to use Five Star PBW Cleaner. You prepare the solution as per the instructions on the container, fill up the keg, let it sit for 30 minutes then rinse with water several times. I push the solution and later the water out with CO2 to make sure the tubing gets cleaned up too. The same cleaner is commonly used to clean kegs later on, especially if you use them for beers, ciders, etc. This is what I do. Though, my kegs (new, Italian made) came pretty clean and I did not detect any oil residue inside or outside.

Another way I know many clean their kegs with is B-Brite Cleanser it’s safe to use on all materials and contains no chlorine. Never used it but heard a lot of good feedback.

For sanitizing Star San is the best product out there, I’ve been using it for years.

After the initial cleaning and sanitizing I repeat the process very infrequently, maybe once a year or even longer. The reason is that we use RO filtered re-mineralized water, without any flavorings. There are no sediments or residue as a result. Both kegs and the water stay cold in the fridge. Carbonation drops pH. All of this pretty much prevents any bacteria growth. We check the kegs every time we refill them but they usually look pristine, have no odors, and don’t seem to need any cleaning.

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Joel June 12, 2019 - 2:33 am

Is there a maximum amount of feet that you have to have between tap/tower and the kegerator? I’m asking because I would like to have the tap at kitchen sink and all the equipment one floor below in the basement. Thanks!

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan June 12, 2019 - 3:17 am

Joel, no, there is no min or max length requirement (unlike when dispensing beer) but keep in mind that whatever length you plan on having outside of the kegerator the water in it will get warm. You won’t have less carbonation there but your first glass of water will be warmer.

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Tyler May 2, 2019 - 12:52 am

So, does this sparkling water keg have to be plumbed to a water line? Or do you fill the water tanks individually when need? I’m considering this, but not sure if I can get water to it. Thanks

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan May 2, 2019 - 1:28 am

Tyler, this is an interesting question and I think someone already asked me about the same thing a while ago. The simple answer is that you have to fill the tanks then pressurize them with compressed C02. I haven’t seen kegs that can be plumbed in to a water line. I don’t think a system like that exists. Even if one does, I don’t think it will be sufficiently affordable for a home user.

Reply
Jason July 14, 2019 - 8:21 pm

If you want a plumbed system than you’re talking about a motorized carbonator and cold plate, probably at least $1000. The cold plate will need a source of ice as well. You can get chillers that don’t use ice but they are even more expensive. This is what feeds commercial soda fountains, soda guns at bars, etc.

Reply
Victor @ Taste of Artisan July 15, 2019 - 8:47 pm

Thanks for the info, Jason. Gets pretty expensive… But frankly, I’ve never felt the need to have my set up automated.

Reply
Brian July 25, 2019 - 8:51 pm

Where exactly in the Danby 4.4 fridge is the best place to drill a hole for the gas line and the water line? My beer tower will be located on a quartz countertop above the fridge. Thanks.

Victor @ Taste of Artisan September 1, 2019 - 10:54 pm

Hi Brian, apologies for the later response, your comment was lost in the pile of spam comments. If your tower will be raised above the fridge, you might as well drill a smaller (perhaps 1 inch) hole in the top of the fridge similar to where I did and run both gas and water lines through it. Plug any remaining open space with some insulating material. Alternatively, run the water line through the top and the gas line through the bottom, making holes just big enough for the lines to fit through, then cover any cracks with silicone. You can see what I did on the picture under Update on July 3, 2016. You can also see more details in my kegerator build post. Hope this helps.

Wentworth January 26, 2019 - 10:36 pm

Lots of good info. Thanks! I too was considering making my own carbonation system and like a lot of my projects – my wife got fed up with waiting for it and bought a Soda Stream. Now that we have one I was wondering about how it works. On the Soda stream the bottle is removed after pressurizing and is open to atmosphere until you put the cap on it. I’m surprised that most of the CO2 doesn’t escape before you put the cap in place. I was wondering why you wouldn’t have a check valve of some sort on it. Perhaps for safety reasons? Maybe having a lot of CO2 escaping in the process was better than dealing with a pressurized caps?
One other thing I noticed. Drinks are carbonated with ‘beverage grade’ CO2 (ie. pure enough to ingest). Is a paint ball CO2 beverage grade? I’d be concerned with using industrial grade gases in my food.

Reply
victor January 27, 2019 - 10:52 pm

Hi Wentworth, the reason for that two-fold. One – it’s much cheaper that way. For big companies like Soda Stream, saving even a penny per unit adds up to a large sum at the end of the day. I don’t think they care if you loose a bit of carbonation. The other reason – it’s not that important. Think of CO2 gas as another soluble ingredient, like salt. Put a bunch of salt in water, stir – and it will get dissolved. Let the salted water stand for a while, and some of that salt will solidify again and become a sediment. The same is true with CO2 gas. It will get dissolved in water, much like salt. To reverse, it will take time. The higher the pressure, the colder the water, the larger the area of contact between the water and the CO2 gas, the higher the rate of carbonation will be. The reverse is true too. To lose carbonation very quickly, you’ll need to raise the water temperature, decrease pressure and shake the bottle madly. In reality, you are only decreasing the pressure to the level of atmospheric pressure. It will take hours for the water to loose all that carbonation in those conditions. Put a cap on the bottle right after carbonation and little of it will be lost. Refrigerate the bottle and even less will be lost. Leave no head space, cap on, refrigerate, an barely any carbonation will be lost.

To be honest, I’ve never had a chance to investigate the quality of CO2 gas supplied at paintball shops. I do know that many people use conversion kits and refill at those places. You need to ask at those places. The purity of CO2 gas they use will likely vary from place to place. You bring up a very good point though. When refilling soda stream or other gas tanks, one must always inquire about the quality of the supplied CO2 gas.

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Ben M October 16, 2018 - 11:56 am

Have you ever carbonated directly to glass? Seems like carbonating into a glass San Pellegrino container should be safe, no?

Reply
victor October 16, 2018 - 12:16 pm

Never tried that and don’t know how effective (or safe) that method would be.

Reply
Zetta Viteo July 22, 2018 - 11:31 am

Thanks for sharing !

Reply
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Reply
jeff d witscher December 9, 2017 - 7:36 pm

Hello Victor love the article I’m just curious as to what would be the best way to bottle the water without losing the carbonation. Is it possible using the carbonator system to bottle quickly enough to preserve the carbonation and then be able to store it at room temp. Is it possible to literally use the carbonator system and then cap them by hand and have a effective tasting water? This would be for 12oz glass bottles using crown caps. Thanks!

Reply
victor December 9, 2017 - 9:48 pm

Jeff, bottling water and manually capping by hand will be just as effective as any mechanical method.

It helps to think of carbonated water as water in which CO2 gas is dissolved. The level to which CO2 is dissolved in said water is a factor of 1) temperature and 2) pressure. It also helps to realize that carbonation (and de-carbonation) process is fairly slow on its own (no shaking or other physical intervention). So, if you take sufficiently carbonated water at sufficiently low temperature it won’t lose any significant amount of carbonation during transfer from the carbonator to a bottle.

A few more things to keep in mind:

Once in a bottle, at room temperature, the water temperature will go up, forcing CO2 out of the water. The pressure drop will also cause the water to lose carbonation. The two are connected and will try to find equilibrium. Meaning that if you fill a bottle with fully carbonated water all the way to the top, leaving very little or no head space, and provided the cap provides a perfect seal, you won’t lose much carbonation even as water temperature will be going up. Fill that bottle half way and you will notice a significant drop in carbonation over time – CO2 will be forced out of the water to fill out the head space until the pressure in the head space and the water are equal.

In practical terms, I can only speak to storing carbonated water in double walled beer growlers. We use three of those at home, one 64oz and two 32oz ones. I fill them out all the way to the top and the water. We usually take them to work/school with us. When I open mine typically 3-4 hours later, sometimes even longer than that, the water is still cold and fully carbonated. Towards the end of the day as the water is consumed, the carbonation level drops but you still get a fairly decent amount of carbonation. In plastic bottles, as the water is consumed, you will be losing carbonation at a faster rate as the water will be increasing its temperature much faster than in a insulated beer growler.

Reply
Derek November 22, 2017 - 8:05 am

Just wondering if you have to turn off Co2 once the kegs are carbonated?

Reply
victor November 22, 2017 - 8:12 am

See my comment above (second part of it).

Reply
Derek November 21, 2017 - 5:01 pm

How do you know when the keg is fully CARBONATED?
Do you then have to shut off the Co2 TANK?

Reply
victor November 21, 2017 - 5:49 pm

48 hours is what it takes for us to feel like the water is fully carbonated. 24 hours – it feels way under-carbonated, 36 – almost there… you get the point. The timeline assumes room temperature water to start and no assistance like shaking or using carbonation stones. If the water is cold – 40F or below I can fully carbonate a keg by slightly underfilling it and shaking for 20-30 minutes. I did it a few times then got a second keg – problem solved.

I don’t shut off the CO2 tank, that’s unnecessary – once the water is fully carbonated an equilibrium is maintained at all times. If you do, pressure will fall as water is consumed, leading to lower water pressure at the tap (progressively slower pours) and loss of carbonation.

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ALZ September 11, 2017 - 9:28 am

You had mentioned that you have an active carbon filtration unit which would negate the need/benefit of the activated carbon sticks (Kishu Bichotan) sort of like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Binchotan-Charcoal-Personal-Sticks-Filter/dp/B00RY18XOS/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1505136362&sr=1-4&keywords=Kishu+Binchotan

And that you thought it might be ‘tricky’ – I’m just curious what might make it tricky. I guess there’s a risk of pieces of it breaking off and getting stuck in the system but my understanding is that the sticks themselves are pretty substantive.

Thanks

Reply
victor September 13, 2017 - 7:33 am

Oh, I see. The tricky part is have it fit in the system, large or small, not interfere with carbonation process, cleaning, making sure the water is purified in time, etc. Too many variables. And like you said, they are quite large. My preferred choice is to use clean water to fill the tanks so I have no need to incorporate carbon filtration into the system. However, there is an easy solution, you can simply use the carbon stick to remove impurities from the water before using for carbonation. So, they won’t be a part of the system per say, but will be a part of the purification stage prior to putting the water into your carbonation system.

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John September 8, 2017 - 7:15 pm

I built The Carbonator rig as described in this article and it works great! I carbonate at about 45 PSI. Right now, I’m carbonating standard 16.9 oz bottles of tap water (fortunately, we have pretty good water, here). My technique is:

1. Pre-chill water in fridge to just above freezing.
2. Apply carbonator cap loosely, burp air out of the bottle, and tighten cap.
3. Carbonate at 45 PSI, shaking gently for 20 seconds.
4. Loosen carbonator cap and burp CO2 out of bottle. Re-tighten cap.
5. Continue carbonating, shaking gently for 15 seconds.
6. Remove carbonator cap and cap bottle and return to fridge.

I found (quite fortuitously) that this produces excellent carbonated water, with plenty of “kick” to it. A very refreshing drink, indeed.

Turns out this is really easy to do, and the payoff is well worth it. All the parts, new, were only about $150 (everything is available on Amazon). Carbonating individual 16.9 oz bottles, while convenient for consumption, is a bit time-consuming, so I may graduate to the larger soda bottles eventually, and ultimately, a draft setup.

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victor September 10, 2017 - 12:02 pm

Awesome to hear that, John. Thanks for the feedback on your experience with building your carbonator.

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ALZ September 8, 2017 - 2:20 pm

I have excellent tap water so no need to filter. What would you for see being tricky?

thanks

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victor September 10, 2017 - 12:04 pm

ALZ, I can’t seem to understand your question, perhaps you can try re-phrasing it for me.

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ALZ September 6, 2017 - 9:50 am

Wondering if you’ve ever experimented with activated charcoal in your system? Sort of like the Kishu charcoal you see in water pitchers.

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victor September 7, 2017 - 9:44 am

Well, it is a part of the chain, not the carbonation system. I use RO water which uses a charcoal filter as one stage. In the system itself it will be tricky.

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Rob August 14, 2017 - 8:59 pm

Cool. I think I got all my supplies ordered using your guide. Thanks a TON! I’m excited to build and hope it works well. I got the KegcoPerlick 650SS single faucet…I assume that the vinyl tubing attached is capable of handling the 40+PSI that will be used for Seltzer water?

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victor August 15, 2017 - 6:13 am

Right on! It will work well, don’t worry. The tubing that comes with the tower is fine.

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Rob August 8, 2017 - 3:23 pm

Quick question about filling the kegs. Is it important to fill the kegs completely full of water (to eliminate any non-C02 gases? Or will having a bit of trapped ‘normal’ air at the top matter? Just wondering what the process was for refilling an empty keg and if there are any tricks that should be followed to get the best/quickest carbonation.

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victor August 8, 2017 - 4:20 pm

No, not important in any significant way. You don’t want to fill all the way anyway otherwise your gas tube will get flooded with water, you don’t want that. Shaking the keg will give you the quickest carbonation, but if have a two keg setup like mine that is not an issue. Using a carbonating stone will also speed up the process but it a bit involved, not set it and forget it.

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Derrick Truitt July 8, 2017 - 4:09 pm

Has anyone implemented a McCann’s carbonator to their system? I just picked one up (practically brand new) from a used restaurant equipment store for $115.. so I’m thinking of using your same system but including the carbonator. Any suggestions/concerns with using this carbonator?
Thanks

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Jonathan Jacobs May 9, 2017 - 10:29 pm

Thanks so much for this great guide. Quick question (I hope it’s quick). If i buy the Edgestar kegerator like you have listed in your post, it looks like I could fit 2 sixth kegs in it. How much more modification would I need to do to make it a relatively seamless dual system (so I never have to wait 48 hours).

Thanks! Amazing post.

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victor May 10, 2017 - 3:30 pm

Jonathan, the Edgestar that I linked will fit 2 5-gallon kegs that I am using and that you see on the pictures in my post. You will not need to do any additional mods to the kegerator itself. What you will need is to add a 2-way manifold or a 2-Way Secondary Regulator, either one will be inside the kegerator, between the CO2 regulator and the keg.

Check out my post on How to Build a Kegerator, I have a picture of my kegerator that uses a secondary regulator. You will only benefit from a secondary regulator if you want to keep pressures at different levels, otherwise use a simple manifold. If you are like me and are trying to think ahead, get a secondary regulator, you may need it later if you decide to experiment or use it for dispensing beer, cider and what not.

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Akos Ulrich April 2, 2017 - 2:58 pm

Hi Victor,

Great article, thanks a lot for sharing your secrets!
Could you give me any advice in making carbonation as quick as possible? I am using a full 5 gallon Cornelius keg with a CO2 tank to carbonate water (actually tea).
I’ve heard of methods that say I should shake the keg several times.. Does it really help?

Thank you,

Akos

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victor April 2, 2017 - 3:08 pm

Yes, 10 minutes of shaking the keg will carbonate it pretty good. Mind you, the water will need to be cold otherwise shaking won’t be as effective. Also, try to fill it about 3/4 of the way, that will help carbonate it better using the shaking method.

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Bob DeSilva April 1, 2017 - 11:35 am

My tower will be about three feet from the refrigerator. Is it as important to cool the tower for carbonation as it appears to be for beer?

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victor April 1, 2017 - 11:45 am

Well, foaming ain’t gonna be a problem that’s for sure;)

Carbonation-wise it should be totally fine. Temp-wise, well, assuming you will be using the standard tube that comes with a tower, that’s 1/2 oz of liquid (3/16” ID = 1/6 oz liquid/ft) sitting in the tube… even fully unchilled sitting outside a fridge, it will have minimal impact. Unless one likes 1-oz shots of carbonated water. Even then, only the first one after a long period of no use will be affected.

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Bob DeSilva March 29, 2017 - 1:58 pm

Can you fill empty Perrier bottles from the tower and refrigerate? Will the carbonation last?

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victor March 29, 2017 - 4:08 pm

Yes. CO2 dissolves better in cold water, so the colder the fridge the longer carbonation will last. Fill the bottle all the way up, close real tight and the carbonation will last a long time. How do I know? My wife takes one of these Klean Kanteen Insulated Growlers to work every day and the water stays cold and well carbonated for the entire day. As water is used and the temperature is increasing slowly, carbonation decreases as well, but not dramatically. Closed tight, in a cold fridge I would guess it will stay carbonated for a very, very long time.

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Renee March 25, 2017 - 12:01 pm

Thanks for the very thorough post. My husband built a kegerator and then upgraded to a 6-tap keezer, under the condition that I get a water tap. We use an RO/DI filter for all of our drinking water. We have tried both an stainless keg and a disposable plastic keg, but both produce seltzer water that tastes terrible! He cleaned the kegs thoroughly before filling with water. The water tastes great in the kegs before carbonation. We can’t figure out what is making the carbonated water taste bad. Any advice?

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victor March 25, 2017 - 12:53 pm

Hm, an interesting but very subjective question. ‘Tastes bad’ can mean very different things to different people.

Regardless, it will be practically impossible to give you a solution without some troubleshooting. You’ve already done some. You’ve eliminated the keg. That’s the first step.

Now, investigate the water. You said that your filtered tap water tastes great. That’s fine. Can you try to carbonate one keg with good quality spring water (sold in 5-gallon bottles)? See if the minerals in the spring water make a difference. DI water, some say, does not taste very good. Perhaps carbonation amplifies the qualities of de-ionized water? I don’t know, technically it’s possible. My water filter has a re-mineralization stage. Does yours have that too? The added minerals make a very positive difference to the taste.

Carbonated water is acidic. Carbon dioxide and water react chemically to produce carbonic acid, a weak acid that’s been shown to stimulate the same nerve receptors in your mouth as mustard. The pH of carbonated water is 3–4. Perhaps, you don’t like the acidity and that’s what you described as tasting terrible? Does plain Perrier have the same taste quality to you? Plain Canada Dry carboanted water? If not, then it’s not the acidity.

Level of carbonation. Are you tasting fully carbonated water? My wife doesn’t like the taste before it’s fully carbonated. 2 full days at 40PSI in the fridge is what it takes for me to consider the water fully carbonated. What PSI are you using? Try to experiment with 30PSI, 35, 40 and as high as 45PSI. Does that change how the water tastes to you?

Finally, I would look closer into that what your gas supplier puts into your CO2 tank. If their CO2 gas is mixed with some other gases, that could lead to off tastes. Try a different supplier and see if that makes a difference. I know people refill their CO2 tanks at welding shops and what not. I do mine at a place that services restaurant and hospitality industries, and fills the tanks with what they call Food Grade Certified CO2 “POPGAS”.

And just to be sure one more time, I lined up my wife and the kids next to the kegerator, poured a glass of water for each and asked them to taste it and tell me if there was anything about the water they did not like. They couldn’t come up with anything. Everybody said they loved it. LOL. I have to refill a keg every 3 days, every two days in summer. There is the answer:-)

P.S. Would love to know how your troubleshooting goes and whether you get acceptable results. As, I am sure, many others too. Let us know.

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Nick S March 20, 2017 - 2:18 pm

So it seems like the options are a tower w/ a Perlick 650SS tap, a stout faucet, or a cheaper Perlick tower with longer lines?

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victor March 21, 2017 - 9:35 pm

Yes, those are your options. Sorry it took a while to respond. The message ended up in spam and I just noticed it.

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Nick S March 20, 2017 - 9:21 am

Thanks for the awesome write up Victor!

I am following your DIY kegerator build but will be using it for seltzer; will I need to extend the lines from the 5′ that comes with the beer tower or is that sufficient for seltzer? If not what size lines/length should I use?

Thanks!

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victor March 20, 2017 - 9:26 am

Hey Nick, glad to hear you found my guide helpful. The 5′ lines are totally OK with the right faucets. You can use either a Perlick with a flow control (I have a link in the kegerator build) or a …. wait for it… stout faucet. I am not kidding you, I’ve been using one for months and love the tiny bubbles it produces. A regular faucet at 40PSI and with 5′ lines will make the water splash too much, especially as the tank less full.

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victor December 14, 2016 - 1:41 pm

Trick question?

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Katie December 8, 2016 - 2:09 pm

I am wondering if you have a recommendation for what type of bottles are best to use for the carbonating at home (option #2). We have tried a variety of bottles but they usually don’t do well in the dishwasher or keep a tight seal on the cap. Thanks!

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victor December 8, 2016 - 4:42 pm

Katie, usually any soda bottle will work and I don’t remember having the problem that you are having, though it’s been a while since I used them. It appears that the cause may be the fact that you are putting them in a dishwasher. Heat causes these plastic bottles to shrink and deform which would explain the seal problems. See if you can wash your bottles some other way.

I don’t know if this may be an option, but after carbonating you can store water in a beer growler, single or double-walled, like this Klean Kanteen growler. We have three of these to use on the go and love them. We use double-walled growlers, they keep the water cold for the entire day and well-carbonated. No seal problems with these ones.

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Aaron November 12, 2016 - 1:57 pm

Thank you for the write-up! I found your blog while searching around to solve my soda problem. How do you battle foaming? It doesn’t look like you are balancing your lines. I have a lemon ginger soda that just shoots out of my faucet as foam and then settles down to a flat liquid.

Regards,
Aaron

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victor November 12, 2016 - 2:24 pm

Aaron, it would help if you could tell me more about your setup, line length, pressure level, etc. But, yes, foaming is the sign of over-carbonation. Well, carbonation may be fine, but the lines are either too short or too thin for that level of carbonation. This can be helped by balancing lines, which I hate and never do any more, or by using a Perlick 650SS faucet with flow control. Problem solved.

I wrote a post on how to build a kegerator where I go in detail which faucets I use and much more, check it out, it may be helpful.

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Scott Martin September 18, 2016 - 3:23 pm

Hey Victor – thanks for sharing! I’m setting up a similar setup and appreciate hearing your experiences. Question, have you used a carbonating Stone Gas Diffuser (that I’ve read about elsewhere but haven’t used yet)? If so, does it really shorten the 24-48 ready time for a new keg?

http://www.kegman.net/products/Carbonating-Stone-Gas-Diffuser-With-Dip-Stick-%252d-5506.html

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victor September 19, 2016 - 11:25 am

Hi Scott,

No, I have not tried a carbonating stone but I do know that they work fairly well. A gas diffuser emits a large number of small bubbles into the water, significantly increasing the surface of gas/water contact, which really expedites carbonation. Before buying the product – you will need a Carbonating Stone with a Cornelius Keg Lid Assembly, I believe – consider your final workflow and see if that satisfies your needs.

In my application the carbonating stone won’t work because I must have an uninterrupted supply of carbonated water, or I will be ‘stoned’ 😉 by family members. That’s why I went with a two-keg setup where a second keg is fully carbonated before the first one runs out. A carbonating stone will not add any value in my setup.

With the carbonating stone you will have an interruption, which will depend on how cold the water is in the second keg. I believe you can carbonate a keg of cold (33F-38F) water within an hour or so, gradually increasing PSI. If the water is at room temperature, you are looking at many hours to cool the water down and then fully carbonate it. Seems like it will required a bit of work, but if you are limited to just one keg then it does sound like the next best solution.

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Andrew August 30, 2016 - 1:41 pm

Hi great article. I hacked my Sodastream using a mod from CO2 Doctor, which I think just went out of business. I have a 20 lb tank hooked up to my Sodastream, but I never installed a regulator on it. I’d been using it for a couple years and it just blew out the Sodastream, so I am considering moving to Cabonator-like system. The only concern I have is that I am reluctant to reuse plastic soda bottles for drinking. I wonder if you have any ideas for bottles that would be safer to reuse than soda bottles and which would be compatible with some kind of carbonating cap. I found one solution on another blog that involved a Schraeder valve, which you could install onto any bottle, but wondered if you had any other ideas.
Thanks.

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victor August 30, 2016 - 4:52 pm

Thanks Andrew. No, haven’t though about that and haven’t seen anything like that. It would be nice though to carbonate water in a SS Growler like this one. Why don’t you want to go with a keg instead? If the size is an issue, you can always get something small like this 2.5 Gallon Keg. I believe in the long run it will be more efficient and less hassle to use this instead of individual bottles. Then again, I don’t know your situation and needs/constraints.

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Andrew August 30, 2016 - 8:07 pm

Victor, That SS Growler is very nice. Maybe I can find a stainless steel container with different threads. The other issue with stainless is that you can’t squeeze the air out prior to injecting the CO2. I do like your keg idea quite a bit. My problem with a keg is that I live in Brooklyn, NY and don’t have the space for another refrigerator.

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victor August 31, 2016 - 12:57 pm

I see. I know SodaStream makes some sort of SS bottles. They have SS top and bottom, if I remember correctly, and some plastic in the middle. Maybe that will work for you?

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Jeffrey Madere August 4, 2016 - 5:13 pm

I have been weighing many options for making carbonated water, and love your blog about making it the kegerator way and am setting that up now.

But I am a little confused about one part: When you changed to the 4-way manifold, do you always have CO2 pressure to both 5 gallon tanks? How does your RO water get to them? Is that a manual swapping of connectors to re-fill the empty tank? Or, do you have a way to constantly fill as RO water is made? Is your kegerator a single dispensing valve on top, or 2 valves? Just confused about the process/steps that you take for refill and switch-over to the full tank and/or use both tanks constantly.

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victor August 4, 2016 - 7:06 pm

Thank you for the kind words, Jeffrey. I know, with all those different options and parts it can get a bit confusing. I myself had hard time initially, but it all seems really easy now. I am sure you’ll get there in no time. To answer your questions,

1) Yes, with the manifold, the same pressure is supplied to both kegs. That’s what I wanted. This way I don’t have to worry that the second keg is not carbonated in time before the first one runs out of water. Once a keg is empty, I switch the water line to the second keg. I then disconnect the gas line from the empty tank, refill it, put it back in the fridge and re-connect the gas line. It will be fully carbed after 48 hours, a few days before the other keg is empty.

2) Refilling RO water is an entirely manual process:
1 – disconnect water and gas lines,
2 – remove from the fridge and bring to the kitchen,
3 – depressurize,
4 – open the lid,
5 – fill with water,
6 – close the lid,
7 – put the keg back in the fridge,
8 – re-connect the gas line.

There is no way to (reasonably easily) plumb in the water supply into the keg/kegs, not under pressure.

3) A corny keg has two posts, a gas post and a liquid post. One to supply gas into the keg, the other is to remove liquid form the keg. There may be kegs out there with two liquid posts, not sure why one would need two liquid posts on a single keg, but a typical corny keg has only one liquid line going out.

Hope this clears it up for you. If not, just ask. I’ll be happy to help.

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Thomas S July 8, 2016 - 11:07 pm

OK, another question….

Is there a fridge designed to work with these homebrew setups so that one doesn’t have to hack the fridge?

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victor July 8, 2016 - 11:51 pm

Yes, there are a few options available.

Option 1 – buy a kegerator. A few people I know bought them and are very happy. I have a link to one of the models at the end of my post. It comes with all the holes pre-drilled, all you have to do is connect all components together.

Option 2 – use the same type of fridge I am using, a 4.4 cu ft or larger bar fridge, Danby or another, without a freezer. It should fit 1, possibly two kegs, and a 5 lb CO2 tank in the back, or a larger CO2 tank if you can only fit one keg. Since you don’t want to drill any holes, forget about the tower and just use a hose with a plastic picnic tap to dispense water. Not a sexy solution by any stretch, but no fridge hacking.

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Thomas S July 8, 2016 - 11:05 pm

Yes, this is the sort of solution I’m looking for, now if I can only fit it into that useless corner cabinet in the kitchen.

Question: do you have a way to just feed the water form the RO filter under the sink into the tanks automatically? That would be the ultimate solution in my mind.

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victor July 8, 2016 - 11:36 pm

It would be, wouldn’t it? Oh, wishful thinking. The kegs are pressurized, so unfortunately, that won’t work. In my view, something I’ve been thinking about, a close to perfect solution would be two 15 gallon commercial kegs under the counter in a big chest fridge of sorts. You don’t need to move them around, simply open, fill with water, connect and off you go. Why 15 gallon kegs? So you’ll have to refill them three times less often, ha-ha… that’s the best I can think of.

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Jon June 29, 2016 - 8:03 pm

An idea that might help, put a “tee” in your C02 line at the bottle in the kegerator. Place an additional connector at the end of a line and connect to the tee. Use this additional co2 port to keep the second cornie fully carbonated. This way you won’t have to remember to switch your single co2 port back and forth, you’ll only have to switch the supply line.

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victor June 30, 2016 - 2:11 am

Thanks for the idea, Jon. I’ve actually solved the problem in my set up by using a spare manifold I happened to have. I just need to take some pictures and update my post. It’s actually working really well and I am happy with the results.

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Lilly June 15, 2016 - 9:45 pm

Thank you for posting this educational tutorial!

I’m attempting to DIY install a non-refrigerated Sparkling Water System below the sink to dispense from the countertop.

The space below the sink is snug, would the system work if the Water-Keg and the C02 Tank were laying horizontally on it’s side rather than upright as illustrated above?

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victor June 15, 2016 - 10:20 pm

The biggest problem with this setup will be poor carbonation. Room temperature water does not get carbonated as well as cold water. For example, to achieve the same level of carbonation at room temperature (68F) that I get at 40PSI and 36F you would need to pressurize the keg at 74PSI. Most CO2 regulators have a safety blow off set at 55PSI – 60PSI, so this is the max you can go.

I don’t think there is a problem with putting a C02 tank on its side, other than the increased risk of damaging the regulator. It’s a little bit trickier with the keg though – you will have to bend the liquid dip tube and ensure the keg always stays in a certain position where the end of the dip tube is at the bottom side of the keg.

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Kairi Gainsborough April 21, 2016 - 12:45 am

I really love soda and my husband loves carbonated water. It would be really convenient and fun to be able to make our own at home. I want to setting up a system like one of these in my kitchen. It is really neat how you modified a mini-fridge.

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Brook April 4, 2016 - 4:47 pm

I really like the kegerator set up and am looking at purchasing one. As I was reading your steps for the dual keg setup I thought for added simplicity you could add in a 3-way ball valve into your gas and water line so you don’t need to change couplings from keg to keg every time you need to carbonate one. You would need to make sure the ball valve is capable of withstanding whatever the max output psi of your gas is.

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victor April 4, 2016 - 5:02 pm

Hi Brook,

There are several commonly used solutions to achieve that. I actually implemented one in my setup last fall, just need to write up an update about it here on the blog.

Solution #1
Use a dual regulator. This is the most flexible option but is more expensive and requires running two gas lines into the fridge.

Solution #2
Add Wye’d outlet with dual shutoff check valves, like shown on this regulator.

Solution #3
Use a CO2 distributor manifold to split CO2

Solution 1 allows to set different pressures per line, while 2 and 3 set the same pressure for both lines. I happened to have a spare manifold so I use it to split gas between the two lines. This options only requires you to run one CO2 line into the fridge by placing the manifold inside the fridge.

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Pino Lo Sardo February 21, 2016 - 8:20 pm

What a good idea, I probably will assemble the system.
Thank you
Pino

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ALZ February 13, 2016 - 5:19 pm

So a few notes to any who find this ‘how to’ after me.

The DAR044A6BSLDB | Danby 4.4 cu.ft. Compact Refrigerator that I picked up from Costco (150$USD) now has an injection molded door so you’re not able to unscrew the interior brackets on the inside of the door – necessary in order to fit the second Cornelius keg in. I was able to cut everything out I needed to close to flush to the door with a Japanese pull saw – it took about 5 minutes (basically you need to cut out the center rib – used for the built in soda can holder- and the bottom of that center rib and then you also need to trim off about 1-1 1/2″ of the hing side rib as well – basically so it’s the same depth as the opposite side – the entire outside of the door should be equal in depth). I then used some Scotch Aluminum Foil Tape to provide moisture sealing for the then exposed foam in the door.

You can fit two Cornelius kegs in with just this modification but it is a tight fit – ie very tight. What I did was gain another 7/8s of an inch by shaving off the guides normally used for the shelves. You could use the pull saw for this as well but I found that a very sharp 1 1/2″ wood chisel can cut the plastic and foam very close to flush with less abrasion of the surrounding area from the saw teeth – then apply more metal tape to seal it. You can see some pictures of the interior (pre cuts) here http://www.homedepot.com/p/Danby-4-4-cu-ft-Mini-All-Refrigerator-in-Stainless-Steel-DAR044A5BSLDD/205470604
but again, I picked it up for 149$USD at Costco.

Also – just another FYI – I cut up a plastic Ikea cutting board (approx 3/8″ on thickness) to use as a spacer under the plastic top of the fridge (the entire top comes off once you’ve removed three screws on the back of the fridge and there is a piece of styrofoam installed there by the manufacturer) and then kept another piece to put on the inside of the fridge for stabilizing the tap )approx 4×8″ – this piece fits in-between the light and the rear cooling element. I measured equal distance Left to Right and centered the 7/8″ hole between the rear cooling element and the back of the light housing drilled down through the top, top cutting board, fridge, and inside cutting board) and didn’t hit any cooling lines. The extra stabilizing pieces are helpful in firming up the whole tap stand.

Victor’s recommendation for the Perlick faucet is pretty key as well – makes it a lot easier for kids to use and to fill larger carafe’s of water for the table.

SELTZER4LIFE!

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victor February 13, 2016 - 7:45 pm

Great job ALZ. Good point on the new model of the Danby fridge. I have two Danby mini-fridges, one that is the older model and one that’s what you got. Both work well enough, but like you said, the fit is tight in the new one. My experience is that with a little push the second keg gets in place and does not interfere with closing of the door, so I did not shave off the guides on the side walls. I also cut out the plastic compartments on the door using a utility knife. The plastic is very thin and you can cut through quite easily.

The top of this fridge does not have any cooling lines on top, so there is no risk cutting through them. Though, before cutting the hole I recommend unscrewing the light assembly and pushing it aside while you drill. Then reattach once done. On my kegerator and carbonator I installed the towers exactly 5 inches from the back of the fridge, measured from the center of the tower. Very good point on installing the wooden board in place of the foam board. It really does help.

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ALZ February 10, 2016 - 7:27 pm

Cool, thank you – my second Cornelius keg arrives tomorrow so we’ll be all set.

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victor February 10, 2016 - 10:42 pm

Right on! Just remember to refill and carbonate your kegs as soon as they go empty. You don’t want to have your second keg run out and your first still not carbonated. This happened to me a few times.

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ALZ February 8, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Great write up – I just built almost exactly the same thing – appreciate the detailed build and recommendations (especially the Perlick tap recco – I wouldn’t have figured that out otherwise).

One question – well a little background and then a question – we used to get seltzer delivered – 10 old fashioned heavy glass bottles twice a week (using one of the remaining seltzer delivery guys in Brooklyn where we live) – it was la creme de la creme of seltzer – bright burn, big bubbles, heavenly. For this build I basically did exactly what you did (we moved to a walk up apartment and the prospect of schlepping seltzer up a couple of flights was….. disheartening) with the exception of getting a dual guage regulator so that I could charge two kegs at once and not have to swap the CO2 line back and forth. The seltzer is great, almost as good as the home delivery seltzer – bright burn but smaller bubbles – I’m carbonating and serving at 40#s pressure – have you experimented with different carbonating vs serving pressures? With the double regulator I could carbonate the fresh keg at 40#s and then serve/pour at a lower pressure. I’m wondering if there’s any benefit in playing around with these pressures at all? At least before I start experimenting I thought I’d check and see if you’ve done the experiments.

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victor February 9, 2016 - 12:40 am

Congrats on your new build! My family loves our ‘carbonator’ as we call it, and I don’t know how we lived without it before. To answer your question, yes, I have played with different pressure settings and discovered that anything below 40PSI tasted under-carbonated. Over that felt unnecessary. If you try to carb at 40PSI and serve at lower pressure, the level of carbonation will decrease over time. You will notice the difference after about a day. I settled on carbing and serving at 40PSI. Makes things much easier, and the water is always carbed to the exact level as we like.

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Cathy October 10, 2015 - 3:04 pm

First of all … thank you!!! I was so excited to see your information about turning a Kegerator from beer into water – We have the Kegeraor, including the CO2 almost exactly like your set up. My question is where to you get the kegs to fill with water?
Thanks so much for your help,
Cathy

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victor October 10, 2015 - 5:09 pm

Hi Cathy,

glad you found the information helpful. The question about the water is a very good one and quite important. Like any health conscious person I wanted to use the best water I could find and at a reasonable price. Initially I settled on using bottled water that I would buy from a local grocery store. It came in 5 gallon bottles and supposedly was ‘natural spring water’. It tasted good, but my problem was the cost ($5-7 dollars for a 5 gallon bottle) and the inconvenience of having to go buy it when I run out, and handling the heavy thing trying to pour the water into the keg.

My solution today that I am very happy with is the
Home Master Artesian Full Contact Reverse Osmosis Under Counter Water Filtration System that adds minerals back to the filtered water. I like how it tastes. And the convenience of having good drinking water right in the kitchen whenever I need to fill the keg is priceless. I use a 5 foot long beer hose that I connect to the faucet of the filtration system, the other end goes into the keg. Works very well for me.

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Yoggers October 21, 2015 - 12:25 pm

I think the question was: where do you get the kegs? Any homebrew shop will have used corny kegs for $80-$100. You can even find them on Amazon.

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victor October 21, 2015 - 12:52 pm

Thanks Yoggers for pointing that out. I misread the question. Yes, you can buy them at local homebrew shops, which normally sell both new and used kegs.

Amazon also sells new, like this one New 5 Gallon Ball Lock Keg, and used, like this one 5 Gallon Reconditioned Keg.

You can also order online from reputable homebrew suppliers like Midwestsupplies.com, Northernbrewer.com, Beveragefactory.com and other.

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victor August 12, 2015 - 8:57 pm

A reader has sent me an email with several interesting questions. I thought I’d respond here in case someone else has similar questions.

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Hi, just read your article on home seltzer making and I have a few questions. I have a recently went the kegerator route and bought a cornelius keg to make some seltzer. I tried chilling the water down and then upping the CO2 pressure and shaking the keg. Results were not great. I take if from your article, you just attach your CO2 line and just let it sit there for day. What pressure do you use? What pressure do you use for serving? Any other tips would be appreciated.

Thanks
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I typically just fill up the keg with water (room temperature RO water), put in the fridge and connect the CO2 line. The pressure is kept at a constant 40PSI, both for carbonation and for serving. I find it easier for me to keep the pressure constant and not mess with it. A full keg is fully chilled and carbonated after 48 hours.

Sometimes I forget to fill up and carbonate my second keg in time and have to expedite the process. What I do is fill the keg about 3/4 of the way, connect the CO2 line and shake for about 5 minutes or more, if I have the patience. This way I get decent carbonation after about 24 hours. It’s drinkable after 12 hours, but will not have what I would consider good carbonation.

I tried to carbonate at 20PSI, 30PSI and 35 PSI but my family members always would comment that there is not enough carbonation, but 40PSI is spot on.

As far as tips go, here are a few off the top of my head:
– I lost 15LBs worth of CO2 gas in a matter of 4 weeks due to a leak, twice! When it happened the first time, I discovered that the O-ring between the CO2 regulator and the cylinder was badly worn out. I replaced it and connected a new cylinder, without checking for leaks. Sure enough, there was a leak, in the same place as I did not tighten the nut enough. So, any time you re-connect your CO2 tank, check for leaks with soap water.

– Notice on the first and on the last picture how the water is splashing around. This does not happen when the tank is full, but when there is less and less water, there is more splashing. Not a biggie, but since I have two young kids I decided to fix that. There are two ways to do it. One is to use a longer (12 – 16 foot) hose to balance the system. I was about to do that but happened to read about people successfully using the new Perlick 650SS faucet with flow control to dispense beer. I went ahead a bought one, and could not be happier with it. Even at 40PSI I can set the flow such that the water flows as if it’s not under pressure.

– I’ve recently been experimenting with flavoring the water to get something like Perrier grapefruit water. I boiled peels from one (organic) grapefruit in about a quart of water for one minute and then let them infuse for 10 minutes. Removed the peels and added this water to the keg. Because of the boiling there was no strong, bitter flavor, just a hint, but my family liked it a lot. I also tried adding zest in a tea bag right into the keg and carbonating. Zest from a full grapefruit was way too much, but a teaspoon gave a noticeable flavor and taste. I tried adding juice before, but it makes water cloudy, so no go.

– If possible, use stepless Oetiker clamps for your hoses (you can get them on eBay at very reasonable prices). I used to use screw clamps and found them unreliable. Total waste of money.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your new setup. Some initial fiddling is inevitable, but it will be just fine in the end.

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