Frustrated. Just set up my first (expensive to me) soda kit and am surprised with the poor results.

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Hello all,

First time posting, been lurkng for a while. I just bought a motorless carbonator from a popular online retailer and set it up in my cold garage. I'm waiting on shipping for an Edgestar BR1000 to put everything in (and am kinda worried it wont fit). After all is said and done, I'm just shy of $1000 on everything. So I set up the kit like the instructions say. Its extremely simple. But after letting it charge for 2 days like suggested, I poured some water and had the following issues:
  • Soapy bubbles
  • Pretty bad metallic taste
  • VERY FLAT SODA!
There is a slight effervescent fizz, sure, but I want bubbles! I was disappointed with my Aarke tabletop seltzer maker and that was waaaay better than this. Same water source, simila carbonation method. I can't believe I've spent $1k for slightly fizzy water. Is there something I'm doing wrong? Do any of you have the same experience? Also, I paid about $70 for a regulator, $220 for a carbonator, $70 for a full 5lb CO2 tank, and $200 for an all-stainless-steel tower setup. Is that crazy? I've seen cheaper parts out there but I understand those are not compatible with anything that has carbonic acid in it.

Its just not at all what I expected and at this point, I'm wondering if I now need to return everything and go the very expensive motorized carbonator route. I just want some club soda at home! I don't feel like that's too much to ask.

Thanks
 

marc1

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Can you link to what you bought? I'm not familiar with motorless carbonators but I've made hop seltzer.

I put it in a corny keg in a fridge and hooked it up to my regulator/ CO2 that I use for beer. I used a picnic tap to serve.

If the taste is off maybe it's you're water? Are you using tap or starting with RO/distilled and adding salts to build to a profile?
 
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I'd link what I bought, but I don't want to disparage the place I got it from because the people seemed really nice and helpful. Its basically a corny keg with a infuser stone connected to the CO2 line. That's it. Which makes me wonder why it costs $220. I kinda feel like I got ripped off, but I really dont know.

The water is the same water I've been using for years. There's no reason to assume its that. I can try another source, but I don't think its the water.
 

lupulinaddict

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I don’t have much experience with soda, but it sounds like you may have the pressure too low or not enough time on the gas? Maybe check around the kegging section of the site for the fundamentals of carbonation and serving. I’m not sure what you’re working with, but if it is just water and syrup in a keg hooked up to the co2 tank, then it needs time to allow the co2 to dissolve into the liquid. Time, pressure, and temperature all play a part in getting the right carbonation level. After the liquid is sufficiently carbonated, then the resistance of your serving line to the tower plays a role in the level of carbonation in your glass.
Good luck. Hope that helps.
 

khannon

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What bar/Psi at what temp? for soda water I keep mine at ~30Psi @ 35F or so.. I threw some longer serving line in to keep more carbonation/pressure when serving. I keep the beer in the same keezer at ~12Psi for serving most styles..

Temp, CO2 pressure, and serving line length will make a huge difference in CO2 in solution in the glass.

Also, 2 days on gas may not be enough to saturate ~20l fo water with enough CO2(depending on pressure/agitation) With the "set and forget method" it takes up to a week for 20l of beer to get to carbonation.
 
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Some good questions. This is just sparkling water, no additives. The garage temp is about 45 degrees right now. I hope to get that down to 30-35 when the Edgestarr comes in. The psi is set at 80. 80! And I let it carbonate undisturbed for at least 48 hours. That's what I see as I just tried it again yesterday and its flatter than the first time. I think I have about 10' of hose.

But like I said, I've used the tabletop soda makers and those are at a way lower psi, and they carbonate way better than this. I'm really surprised. I gotta find out what the problem is and fix it.
 

khannon

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The carbonater in question, is it basically a diffuser stone that drops to the bottom?

I'm assuming this is all in a corney keg. If not, replace the word keg below with whatever vessel.

I thought most pressure relief valves for corney kegs were set at 45lbs.. at 80 you should be venting CO2. Also, 80 seems really high and depending on the container potentially unsafe.
You could also have a bad regulator. Not sure the best way to test these.

How much head space is there? This may not make as much difference with a carb stone, but liquid needs surface area to dissolve CO2..

I might try(just to see if it makes a difference) laying the keg on its side, and rolling it back and forth or shaking it for a few minutes. You should hear the gas enter when you do this, and stop when you stop. Try this a few times it might help. See many videos regarding force or burst carbonation.
 

Jtvann

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Some good questions. This is just sparkling water, no additives. The garage temp is about 45 degrees right now. I hope to get that down to 30-35 when the Edgestarr comes in. The psi is set at 80. 80! And I let it carbonate undisturbed for at least 48 hours. That's what I see as I just tried it again yesterday and its flatter than the first time. I think I have about 10' of hose.

But like I said, I've used the tabletop soda makers and those are at a way lower psi, and they carbonate way better than this. I'm really surprised. I gotta find out what the problem is and fix it.
Never tried doing what you’re doing. I did look into sparkling water for a friend though. I read about the importance of using good water briefly. I don’t see how that would affect carbonation, i think it was more for clarity. Still worth checking.

Cold temp, time, and patience are going to be your friend here. Get the temp as low as you can. I know you’re waiting on your fridge. Try to be patient until then. Give it time. I’ve heard this stuff takes up CO2 more slowly than beer.

All that being said, your keg sounds unnecessarily expensive.
 

Electric Brewer

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How cold is your garage?

I bought a SodaStream a while ago and I learned that it can't work with room temperature water. At all. And that's how I like my water.
It needs very cold water. So I had to cool the water, fizz it, then let it warm up again.

Needless to say, I don't have a SodaStream anymore.

Edit: I just read that your temp is 45. Seems a bit high. Also, are you trying to make soda right away? Can you try simple cold tap water to eliminate a possible problem with sugar?
 
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The carbonater in question, is it basically a diffuser stone that drops to the bottom?

I'm assuming this is all in a corney keg. If not, replace the word keg below with whatever vessel.

I thought most pressure relief valves for corney kegs were set at 45lbs.. at 80 you should be venting CO2. Also, 80 seems really high and depending on the container potentially unsafe.
You could also have a bad regulator. Not sure the best way to test these.

How much head space is there? This may not make as much difference with a carb stone, but liquid needs surface area to dissolve CO2..

I might try(just to see if it makes a difference) laying the keg on its side, and rolling it back and forth or shaking it for a few minutes. You should hear the gas enter when you do this, and stop when you stop. Try this a few times it might help. See many videos regarding force or burst carbonation.
It's a corny keg built out to be a carbonator, which is basically the diffuser stone. I imagine that the valves and seals are built to withstand the pressure as I know mine is rated to 100 psi.

As for the head space, I tried all the way to the top, but yeah, the stone does all the work.

Never tried doing what you’re doing. I did look into sparkling water for a friend though. I read about the importance of using good water briefly. I don’t see how that would affect carbonation, i think it was more for clarity. Still worth checking.

Cold temp, time, and patience are going to be your friend here. Get the temp as low as you can. I know you’re waiting on your fridge. Try to be patient until then. Give it time. I’ve heard this stuff takes up CO2 more slowly than beer.

All that being said, your keg sounds unnecessarily expensive.
So like I mentioned earlier, I've had a more primitive, cheaper setup with all the same water and temps and have gotten a way better product. I decided to come here trying to figure out if I did something wrong. And yeah, this keg definitely seems unnecessarily expensive.

All of the above, and also be sure to purge your headspace. If you have a lot of air in there it slows CO2 absorption.
I did that, unfortunately no results.

How cold is your garage?

I bought a SodaStream a while ago and I learned that it can't work with room temperature water. At all. And that's how I like my water.
It needs very cold water. So I had to cool the water, fizz it, then let it warm up again.

Needless to say, I don't have a SodaStream anymore.

Edit: I just read that your temp is 45. Seems a bit high. Also, are you trying to make soda right away? Can you try simple cold tap water to eliminate a possible problem with sugar?
Well, I should've clarified that I'm just making soda water. No additives planned. And like you experienced with the sodastream, it shouldn't be nearly flat. Something seems definitely wrong.
 

IslandLizard

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I'd link what I bought, but I don't want to disparage the place I got it from because the people seemed really nice and helpful.
Its basically a corny keg with a infuser stone connected to the CO2 line. That's it. Which makes me wonder why it costs $220. I kinda feel like I got ripped off, but I really dont know.
Those 2 statements seem to contradict each other. ;)

The stainless "carb" stones we use in beer cost $5-10.
With beer those are mostly used for oxygenating the wort, not carbonating the beer, although some do, often in combination with smaller vessels.
They're about an inch long and 1/2" wide, with an MFL male thread or a barb on top to connect. They are sold as being 0.5 microns, or 2 microns when using an aquarium air pump. But the jury is still out on their actual pore size.
A new corny type keg runs $50 75-100 depending on manufacturer and source.

What are you dispensing through now? A picnic tap on 4-6' 3/16" ID vinyl line?

Did that company provide you with instructions? Optimum carbonation and at what temperatures?
Is it a new corny keg? Is it sealing well, holding pressure when the CO2 is disconnected?
45°F seems too high a temp for good carbonation at 80 psi.

At 80 psi that water should shoot out of a picnic tap on a 4-6' 3/16" ID line like a rocket. Would be hard to fill a glass that way. And yup, big bubbles.
 
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wsmith1625

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It would be helpful if you posted a picture of your equipment, but it does sound like you paid a lot for the carbonator. If it's just a corny key ($75-$100) and a lid with a CO2 post connected to a carbonation stone ($35) you paid too much. If your config has additional parts, maybe it could justify the extra cost.
New 5 Gallon Cornelius Keg - AIH Ball Lock Corny Keg (homebrewing.org)
Keg Carbonation Lid (williamsbrewing.com)

Also, not sure if you've seen these, but if you have access to a water line, you can set up a keg to continually make soda water. When the water level drops in the key, the valve opens to fill the keg automatically.
Continuous Soda Water On Tap - Mains Water Connected - Forget about Sodastream, this is for the serious soda drinker. (kegland.com.au)

For you carbonation issues, temperature matters but at 45 degrees you should be okay. It's possible you have a leak in the lid or hose connections. Spray some soapy water on all your fittings to see if you get bubbles. At 80lbs, you will see lots of bubbles. BTW, the PRVs come in various PSI ratings, I'm guessing yours is 100psi which is typical.

I force carb beer without a stone, so my process is slightly different. I set the regular to 25 and shake the keg until I don't hear any more gas entering it. The carb stone is basically a shortcut to achieve the same result with less effort. After 24 hours my beer is carbonated.

The best advice given so far is to contact the vendor. They should be able to ID and fix any issues you have. Good luck!
 
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You could try calling the vendor to troubleshoot
Tried that. Vendor has been out of town and got back to me with a telephone shrug.

Those 2 statements seem to contradict each other. ;)

The stainless "carb" stones we use in beer cost $5-10.
With beer those are mostly used for oxygenating the wort, not carbonating the beer, although some do, often in combination with smaller vessels.
They're about an inch long and 1/2" wide, with an MFL male thread or a barb on top to connect. They are sold as being 0.5 microns, or 2 microns when using an aquarium air pump. But the jury is still out on their actual pore size.
A new corny type keg runs $50 75-100 depending on manufacturer and source.

What are you dispensing through now? A picnic tap on 4-6' 3/16" ID vinyl line?

Did that company provide you with instructions? Optimum carbonation and at what temperatures?
Is it a new corny keg? Is it sealing well, holding pressure when the CO2 is disconnected?
45°F seems too high a temp for good carbonation at 80 psi.

At 80 psi that water should shoot out of a picnic tap on a 4-6' 3/16" ID line like a rocket. Would be hard to fill a glass that way. And yup, big bubbles.
I get that the statements sound like they contradict each other. But I wasn't ready to assume expensive=ripoff.

I'm on a tower with an SS faucet and elbow shank (apparently carbonic acid eats chrome and can hurt you over time) on 1/4" ID PVC braided hose, which I think is causing the seltzer to have a bad after taste.

So I looked into it more and everything about the keg is fine. I was frustrated, getting ready to dismantle it, and opened the keg to pour it out. I looked inside and I saw bubbly crisp beautiful soda water. I tipped the keg and poured it into a glass and it was everything I wanted it to be. So the problem is somehow the faucet. It is de-gassing the soda and also adding a terrible taste to it. It might have something to do with the relief valve on the side. Its either the power of niagra falls or a 1mm turn and its a backyard pond bubbler. I tried venting the carbonated tank and setting the pressure to 40 and it seems slightly better, but still not what I found inside.

It would be helpful if you posted a picture of your equipment, but it does sound like you paid a lot for the carbonator. If it's just a corny key ($75-$100) and a lid with a CO2 post connected to a carbonation stone ($35) you paid too much. If your config has additional parts, maybe it could justify the extra cost.
New 5 Gallon Cornelius Keg - AIH Ball Lock Corny Keg (homebrewing.org)
Keg Carbonation Lid (williamsbrewing.com)

Also, not sure if you've seen these, but if you have access to a water line, you can set up a keg to continually make soda water. When the water level drops in the key, the valve opens to fill the keg automatically.
Continuous Soda Water On Tap - Mains Water Connected - Forget about Sodastream, this is for the serious soda drinker. (kegland.com.au)

For you carbonation issues, temperature matters but at 45 degrees you should be okay. It's possible you have a leak in the lid or hose connections. Spray some soapy water on all your fittings to see if you get bubbles. At 80lbs, you will see lots of bubbles. BTW, the PRVs come in various PSI ratings, I'm guessing yours is 100psi which is typical.

I force carb beer without a stone, so my process is slightly different. I set the regular to 25 and shake the keg until I don't hear any more gas entering it. The carb stone is basically a shortcut to achieve the same result with less effort. After 24 hours my beer is carbonated.

The best advice given so far is to contact the vendor. They should be able to ID and fix any issues you have. Good luck!
Thank you very much for the links. Constant water on tap would be huge. Plus I wouldn't be wasting CO2 between refills. I will definitely look into grabbing one of those. As far as the setup I have. Its a AEB Italian Corny Keg (which I've found for $120 online). I'm not sure what makes the one from my vendor another $100 but I do know that a stainless steel line tube is installed (maybe welded?) to both valves and the gas side has the diffuser stone. I'll ask the vendor when I finally get a hold of them.

So I responded to the other poster with an update. The problem is at the faucet. I'm somehow getting de-gassed there because I opened up the keg to dump and inspect it and the water inside was like a magical well of carbonated goodness. Its also adding a terrible aftertaste to the water too which is either the faucet but probably more likely the PVC line. So I'll probably just return the tower and faucet and try to get something else. I'm thinking maybe an in-line regulator might slow the output down but it might just do the same thing the valve on the faucet does.
 

IslandLizard

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1/4" ID PVC braided hose
Definitely suspect.
Look into using 4mm ID EVA Barrier lines, together with matching John Guest push-to-connect fittings/adapters. Use for both water and CO2.

What kind (brand/model) faucet do you use?
Do some research on which faucets work best for dispensing carbonated water. Maybe they need a special design.

I hope you thoroughly cleaned the inside of the keg, and all its parts before using with beverages.
 

wsmith1625

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I don't know the proper regulator settings for soda, but it sounds like it's set too high causing the off flavor and degassing at the faucet. When I force carb beer, I set the regulator higher than serving pressure just to speed up carbonating. Then I back it down to serving pressure and leave it until the keg is finished. For beer and my equipment, the magical numbers have been 25 to force carb and 8-10 to serve.
 
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