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How to Fail at Making Your Own Seltzer

Circa spring 2013 I started drinking seltzer water. After many, many failed attempts to get myself to drink more water, I thought I’d give that weird bubbly stuff a shot. I hated it initially. I used to cut it with a bit of cranberry juice or OJ to power through it. But I weaned myself off the juice (this sounds like I was using steroids) was drinking straight up seltzer. After many trials I also narrowed down my absolute favorites:

  • Perrier Lime
  • Canada Dry Lemon-Lime
  • HONORABLE MENTION: Schweppe’s Lemon-Lime

But at some point I realized that my seltzer habit was becoming a bit expensive and I was really tired of having cans all over the house. I also hated the “OMG AM I OUT OF SELTZER?” panic when I went to grab one with dinner. Enter: Sodastream. My mom bought me a soda stream for Christmas and I was so pumped to make my own flavored seltzer and NEVER GO STORE BOUGHT AGAIN.

Oh my god, was I wrong.

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Making flavored seltzer has possibly been the most difficult challenge of my homeowning life. First I tried the Flavor Essences made by SodaStream. Unfortunately, there are only three flavors – orange, lemon-lime, raspberry. I set up that soda stream got that water all bubbly and was so read to love my lemon-lime seltzer and…

it was terrible.

The worst lemon-lime flavor to ever grace my palate. So I tried my next method: lemon and lime juice! WHAT COULD GO WRONG? I bought the industrial sized bottle of lime juice and added it to my bubbled water…which resulted in a cloudy acidic mess.

Second failure.

Two failures in, I was not discouraged. I started googling various things like “seltzer flavor essence,” “how to make flavored seltzer,” and “dear god why doesn’t anyone know how to make flavored seltzer.”

In a very, very strange diet forum that was obsessed with adding flavor to things without the calories (like chocolate flavored water will somehow stop your chocolate craving), I discovered Capella Flavors. There was some vagueness as to what the hell was in this flavor drops and the Nutrition Facts didn’t help to clear up this mystery- but I was all in. There are crazy flavors are like banana split and blue raspberry cotton candy…but I found my one true love: LEMON-LIME Y’ALL. It took me a week and a half to get the drops shipped from California and the day they arrived I thought I had really nailed it. A few drops in, a gentle swirl…

THE PERFECT LEMON-LIME FLAVOR.

But then after drinking it for a bit, I noticed a bit of a strange aftertaste. And when I grabbed the bottle, despite not having spilled anything on it, it was inexplicably sticky. I looked at the bottle for nutrition information and that’s when I saw it,

Propylene Glycol.

Oh. They’re made with antifreeze. Great. And yes, while I know there is somehow food grade propylene glycol and I always try to listen science…

SCIENCE HAS ALWAYS TOLD ME THAT I SHOULD NOT DRINK ANTIFREEZE.

And, as you may have surmised, the anti-freeze drops are out. Not just because of the anti-freeze, but also because of the inexplicably sticky bottles. Damnit. I did a little more research on flavoring and I found packets of lime flavoring on Amazon. Upon pouring these packets into my seltzer, it made the entire bottle start fizzing until it overflowed.

My last ditch effort was buying a (cue my embarrassment on this one) Skinnygirl Cucumber Lime flavored syrup. I was hoping I could just use a dash of it, and it’s one of the ONLY syrups for Sodastream that doesn’t have artificial sweetener in it. Unfortunately, the sickeningly sweet syrup is filled with far too much artificial cucumber instead. Also, I really don’t want any actually sweetness to my water…just flavor.

VERDICT:

I am back to square one creating my own seltzer. Lately I’ve just been pushing a tiny bit of lemon juice in. It’s not perfect, but it’s tiding me over until I somehow find the perfect flavor. Feel free to chime in with ideas or things you’ve tried.

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  • Lucy Hornbuckle

    Watch out for using real lemon juice (sorry to ruin this too) 🙁
    But I REALLY got into having lemon juice in water and it was the only thing I drank EVER for like 2 months. Then my teeth started to get really sensitive and I didn’t know why. Then my dentist told me that it was the lemon juice :((((

  • Rob Brady

    Unlike your experience, I really liked the Sodastream Essences (the orange one, anyway). Now, that they have been discontinued, I am very interested, like you, to find a solution to our seltzer water predicament.

  • Andrea

    Did you ever find a solution? I got here by googling “no really, why is it so hard to just make my sodastream fizzy water taste palatably limey?” Upwards of two years on and the internet still doesn’t seem to know.

    • Tabayag

      I never did! I eventually gave up and now my sodastream sits alone on a shelf. I went back to cans sadly.

      • Andrea

        Drat! I’m still in the Sodastream honeymoon phase and COMMITTED to making it work, but all the flavoring attempts so far have been subtly bad at best and gross at worst. I am mystified. If I come up with anything good, I’ll report back!

        • Tabayag

          Please do let me know! I’d love to be able to have the perfect homemade citrus seltzer. (And then I’d know dreams really DO come true.)

          • SueJeanne Koh

            THANK YOU for writing this post – I was bequeathed my sister’s old sodastream and have been looking around for a solution. Some have suggested extracts – give that a go? My only problem is that my toddler loves seltzer water too, so I’m wary of the alcohol content even though it gets diffused. So I picked up some frontier extracts – non-alcoholic – but they use oil, and look off-putting even though the taste is pretty good. I think that I did see ‘seltzer essence’ on Amazon but I haven’t tried them yet.

          • SueJeanne Koh
  • Liz

    Just FYI antifreeze is ethylene glycol. Not the same thing.

    • Tabayag

      Actually, most antifreeze is made by mixing distilled water with additives and a base product – MEG (Mono ethylene glycol) or MPG (Mono propylene glycol).