20 unusual ways to save money: Make your own soft drink

By Guest blogger Claire Robinson

Are you a soda or seltzer fiend? If you buy a lot of packaged fizzy drinks, there's a cheaper -- and greener -- alternative: The Soda Club. Soda Club lets you make your own flavored or club soda at home, with water straight from the tap. Special flavor packets mimic all the big-brand favorites: cola, lemon-lime, orange, grapefruit, Dr. Pepper/Mr. Pibb flavor and more.

Here's how it works: You invest in a countertop machine and a few reusable plastic bottles. You also buy exchangeable CO2 canisters, which infuse water with bubbles, and any flavor packets you'd like. When the CO2 canisters are empty, the Soda Club picks up them up and ships you new ones.

A starter kit package for the machine, some flavor packets, two 1-liter bottles and a couple of CO2 canisters costs about $100 (cheaper if you don't want flavors). As you use up the C02, you'll pay $30 for a 2-canister swapout. My husband and I kept track, and one canister gave us about 50 1-liter bottles.

So what's the bottom line? Plain soda water comes to about 30 cents a liter. The flavor packets are $5 for 12 liters, so an extra 42 cents -- a total of 72 cents a liter for flavored soda. So if you're buying $1-$2 smaller lunchtime bottles or fountain sodas from vendors, there's a huge savings. A 12-pack of soda cans is about 4 liters, so if you're buying 12 packs of cans for more than $3, Soda Club is also cheaper.

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