On Demand Seltzer Water

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AnOldUR

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My wife and I go through almost five gallons of seltzer water a week during the summer. Refilling the keg gets to be a PITA. There've been threads on HBT about ways to get it on demand, but some of the systems are more complex and costly. My idea was to keep it simple. Got around to setting it up today. It may be too optimistic to post now, but nothings leaking, so I'm happy.

Total cost around $50 (not including keg):
Float Valve
Filter
Ice Maker Kit
Check Valve

As previously, I filled the keg and shook to carb it up, so I'm getting seltzer from the tap. The valve on the ice maker kit is set low, so it should fill at a slow rate after the keg gets low enough to open the float valve. So, the question is, will the daily gallon or less of fresh water that dilutes the existing seltzer water, be too much to maintain a good level of carbonation?

Wish me luck!

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day_trippr

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Is the water temperature entering the keg much warmer than your dispensing temperature? Along with the dilutive effect, I'd think warm-ish water would knock CO2 out of your nicely carbed soda and flatten it a bit, so there'd be that recovery time as well as carbing the "new" water from 0 to something in the high 3s.

I suspect you'll still be shaking the keg, but at least you won't have to refill it...

Cheers!
 
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AnOldUR

AnOldUR

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You have a point. I hadn't considered temperature. The things working in my favor are the amount of dilution and the flow rate. There will be close to 4 1/2 gallon of water and the way the float is set it will start to replace water after almost every serving, so the level won't drop much. Also the flow of the water coming in is very slow, so even if a lot of seltzer is drawn at once, it will take some time before the level stabilizes. Hopefully this will give the carbonation and temperature the ability to keep up.

Wife and I have been hitting the water tap pretty hard today and so far so good.
 

mattd2

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If you want/need to get quicker carbing, maybe try using a diffuser/air stone dropped into the water on the gas side. That should speed things up for carbing.
The issue I see (and maybe it doesn't matter) is you are refilling it with mains pressure water, which is likely at >80 PSI - and so the system will likely be at 80(ish) PSI which will mean no CO2 will flow into the keg????
 
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AnOldUR

AnOldUR

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I could be wrong, but my thought is that if the water is going in slow and shuts off after around a pint, the pressure in the keg will never equal the water pressure. And with the CO2 set at 25psi, the water pressure should be enough to over come it and allow water in.

A day and a half and about a gallon drawn and it's still working, but I like the idea of putting a diffusion stone on the gas side. I may use that idea. Thanks!
 

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Done like a true engineer! I'm impressed by your ingenuity.

We never drink carbonated water, except now I'm making a bit (2L at a time) for cocktails. Since I don't drink soda, and don't use sugar, it gets tough to make cocktails! I've found that using some carbonated tap water and some lemon or lime juice and some gin can make a nice cocktail.

Now I'm thinking that I could make a bubbly sugar free lemonade by using some selter water and a little bit of fresh lemon juice.

I assume that your water is very good, as it's coming out of the ice maker, and ours tastes good as well. Does your seltzer come out with a bitter afterbite due to the carbonation?
 
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AnOldUR

AnOldUR

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I assume that your water is very good, as it's coming out of the ice maker, and ours tastes good as well. Does your seltzer come out with a bitter afterbite due to the carbonation?
Our water comes from a community well, but they do treat it, so I filter it and use campden for my brew water. The carbon filter I put in the beer fridge takes away any of the off flavors in the seltzer. Adding the filter to the beer fridge was the most expensive part of this project, but worth it. There is a carbonic bite to my seltzer water just like the commercial stuff. Like you, we don't drink soda, but think seltzer is a lot more refreshing than plain water.
 

DrunkleJon

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Nice solution. I assume that is a one way valve there where your float valve kit connects to the line from the filter and you have no reversing of water/CO2 into the filter?
Also, if the temperature difference bothers you too much you could always lengthen the lines between the filter and the keg, though the filter should hold enough water to have it prechilled.
 
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AnOldUR

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A one way valve at the intake would have been a good idea. My water pressure is around 50psi and the CO2 is set at 25psi, but if for some reason there was a drop in water pressure, it could flow in reverse.

And I like the idea of coiling some tubing in the fridge. I have some excess tubing that's now coiled in the basement. I'll pull that up into the fridge. Nice!
 

DrunkleJon

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A one way valve at the intake would have been a good idea. My water pressure is around 50psi and the CO2 is set at 25psi, but if for some reason there was a drop in water pressure, it could flow in reverse.

And I like the idea of coiling some tubing in the fridge. I have some excess tubing that's now coiled in the basement. I'll pull that up into the fridge. Nice!
You have to admit, it would be kinda hilarious if you somehow carbonated the cold water lines in your house. Would make for a really surprising time when you discover it (not to mention an empty CO2 tank).
 

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Ok so I'm sure I'm just overlooking something but where is your water coming from? I understand at some point it is passing through the filter but how are you getting it pressurized and into the keg? Also could this be done with a half keg? I feel like that would put the possibility of flattening on refill to bed just because of capacity.
 
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AnOldUR

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. . . where is your water coming from?
The $7 icemaker kit linked to in the first post is really easy to connect to any cold water line and the tubing pushes into the side of the filter without any need for other fittings. Water pressure is around 50psi, so when the level in the keg drops, the 25psi keg pressure doesn't restrict the flow.

 

cheezydemon3

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Carbonation will be a non-issue. Unless you drain 2 gallons in 20 minutes or less, you should notice no drop in carbonation......especially since you clearly stay raging drunk all summer.....;)

Water pressure may be an issue....especially when watering the lawn or showering.
 

Taz420NJ

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You have to admit, it would be kinda hilarious if you somehow carbonated the cold water lines in your house. Would make for a really surprising time when you discover it (not to mention an empty CO2 tank).
Hilarious? Sure.. But it would also be toxic. There's a reason why carbonation systems require a check valve to prevent carbonated water from backflowing into the supply plumbing. Carbonated water (carbonic acid) eats away at copper plumbing, and drinking the copper-contaminated water causes severe copper poisoning. Also if there are any brass or galvanized fittings in the mix, the acid will also leach lead out of them.

Carbonated water can only come in contact with stainless or PVC. What you have without a check valve is a really bad idea. If you are drinking that much, you should consider using a carbonator pump with a storage tank.
 

cheezydemon3

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hilarious? Sure.. But it would also be toxic. There's a reason why carbonation systems require a check valve to prevent carbonated water from backflowing into the supply plumbing. Carbonated water (carbonic acid) eats away at copper plumbing, and drinking the copper-contaminated water causes severe copper poisoning. Also if there are any brass or galvanized fittings in the mix, the acid will also leach lead out of them.

Carbonated water can only come in contact with stainless or pvc. What you have without a check valve is a really bad idea. If you are drinking that much, you should consider using a carbonator pump with a storage tank.
great info!!!!!
 
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AnOldUR

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great info!!!!!
Yes. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Our water comes from a community well and is gravity fed from a tower, so drops in pressure are rare, but still a possibility.

Just ordered this check valve. Four bucks for some peace of mind is worth it.

In researching this, it was amazing how many jockey box builds I found that still use copper. Although here on HBT someone will normally step in with a warning.
 
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DrunkleJon

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Hilarious? Sure.. But it would also be toxic. There's a reason why carbonation systems require a check valve to prevent carbonated water from backflowing into the supply plumbing. Carbonated water (carbonic acid) eats away at copper plumbing, and drinking the copper-contaminated water causes severe copper poisoning. Also if there are any brass or galvanized fittings in the mix, the acid will also leach lead out of them.

Carbonated water can only come in contact with stainless or PVC. What you have without a check valve is a really bad idea. If you are drinking that much, you should consider using a carbonator pump with a storage tank.
I knew it wouldn't be good for the system, but did not realize it would be that detrimental. I was thinking along the lines of taking a shower/bath and not knowing what is going on. I take it the gag where some guys plumbed a guys house pipes to a bunch of kegs might have been a bad idea in retrospect?

 
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AnOldUR

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What you have without a check valve is a really bad idea.
I'm going to install the check valve, but there are a couple of other things about the system the way it's set up now. First the float valve is in the off position except for short periods of time after a glass is drawn from the tap. Any short period of possible low water pressure would have to happen during a fill to back flow and even then would have to last long enough to make it through all the plastic tubing before making it to the copper. The other thing is that there is a carbon filter in the beer fridge. From what I've read, it does a pretty good job of filtering copper, so in the slight chance that carbonated water got to the copper plumbing, it would be filtered before making its way back to the keg.

And for the most part short term copper poisoning will cause stomach distress and is rarely life threatening. Your more likely to have issues with it from long term exposure from copper plumbing and an acidic water supply.



edit:
Just saying that "what I have . . . is a really bad idea" is a bit of an exaggeration.
 

Ramdough

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Nice setup!

I have a McCanns Big Mac carbonator. It runs at 80 psi co2. It does have a check valve on the water input. Instead of a float valve controlling water input passively, it has an electric float that turns on a pump that keeps the water level constant Ina tank and at the same psi as the co2.

Your setup looks like it would work, but at a lower pressure and longer time. My pump is designed to be continuous on demand so it has to carb up faster. I think if you use a check valve and you are getting the volume and carb level you want, you are good to go. Great job on your diy carbonator!


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 

Taz420NJ

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I'm going to install the check valve, but there are a couple of other things about the system the way it's set up now. First the float valve is in the off position except for short periods of time after a glass is drawn from the tap. Any short period of possible low water pressure would have to happen during a fill to back flow and even then would have to last long enough to make it through all the plastic tubing before making it to the copper. The other thing is that there is a carbon filter in the beer fridge. From what I've read, it does a pretty good job of filtering copper, so in the slight chance that carbonated water got to the copper plumbing, it would be filtered before making its way back to the keg.

And for the most part short term copper poisoning will cause stomach distress and is rarely life threatening. Your more likely to have issues with it from long term exposure from copper plumbing and an acidic water supply.



edit:
Just saying that "what I have . . . is a really bad idea" is a bit of an exaggeration.
Cheap plastic float valves break. They don't seal properly. Regulators malfunction. Do you know what your running average water pressure is? How far below the lowest observed pressure is the CO2 pressure set?

It's an incredibly unlikely scenario that water pressure will drop so severely that it can suck water from your sprinkler system (potentially containing deadly bacteria/poisons/etc) back into the house plumbing, but vacuum breakers are required in sprinkler systems by nearly every code jurisdiction in this country. The check valve between your carbonation system and the plumbing in your house is required by code too.

Seriously, don't argue semantics, just do it - because it's the RIGHT way. Last thing anyone wants is someone reading this to take it lightly and get sick.
 

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Nice build, but I know people who would kill you for cutting the hole in that keg... That's like sacrilegious or something.

Why couldn't you modify the lid instead to do this same thing? That way you're able to swap the lid and have a whole keg again (if need be)
 

insanim8er

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I knew it wouldn't be good for the system, but did not realize it would be that detrimental. I was thinking along the lines of taking a shower/bath and not knowing what is going on. I take it the gag where some guys plumbed a guys house pipes to a bunch of kegs might have been a bad idea in retrospect?
Oh my god that's epic... I hope he doesn't turn the washer machine on. Oh the hot water tank...
 
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AnOldUR

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I know people who would kill you for cutting the hole in that keg... That's like sacrilegious or something.
Two things. First, I bought my used kegs when they were still inexpensive. Even so, compared to the cost of some of the other carbonated water builds here on HBT, this is really cheap. Second, I’ve had this keg dedicated to seltzer water for almost five years. Having a hole in it doesn’t change anything.

An update. It’s been 10 days. Well past when I should have had to refill the keg. Water and carbonation level are holding.
 

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two things. First, i bought my used kegs when they were still inexpensive. Even so, compared to the cost of some of the other carbonated water builds here on hbt, this is really cheap. Second, i’ve had this keg dedicated to seltzer water for almost five years. Having a hole in it doesn’t change anything.

An update. It’s been 10 days. Well past when i should have had to refill the keg. Water and carbonation level are holding.
awesome!!!!
 

Yooper

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Two things. First, I bought my used kegs when they were still inexpensive. Even so, compared to the cost of some of the other carbonated water builds here on HBT, this is really cheap. Second, I’ve had this keg dedicated to seltzer water for almost five years. Having a hole in it doesn’t change anything.

An update. It’s been 10 days. Well past when I should have had to refill the keg. Water and carbonation level are holding.
That is so cool.

Going back to the flavor, I saw somewhere else on this forum that folks were adding things like CaS04, or other salts for flavor. Have you tried that? Like making a carbonated mineral water seltzer, I guess.

I'm trying to get interested in drinking more water, and I just can't get into it. I thought that the carbonated water would help, but the "bite" from the carbonation isn't doing it for me. It's nice in cocktails for fizz, though.
 
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AnOldUR

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Never tried adding salts or that type of thing. We're both fond of the carbonic bite from seltzer. Trying to get Jean's mom to drink more healthy, but neither straight water or seltzer can break her of her soda habit. Jean just found a mixed berry "flavor enhancer" from Dasani that has done the trick. You might want to give it a try.


edit:
If I'm looking for more flavor, I'm with cheezy and the unsweetened tea idea.
 

Yooper

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I like unsweet tea Yooper. I can drink gallons and gallons and it is rich in antioxidants.
Yes, me too. I do drink iced tea. I just forget about it sometimes.

I have no sweet tooth at all, so iced tea with lemon really is great. I wonder if a fizzy iced tea with lemon would be as good? Hmmmm.
 

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That is so cool.

Going back to the flavor, I saw somewhere else on this forum that folks were adding things like CaS04, or other salts for flavor. Have you tried that? Like making a carbonated mineral water seltzer, I guess.

I'm trying to get interested in drinking more water, and I just can't get into it. I thought that the carbonated water would help, but the "bite" from the carbonation isn't doing it for me. It's nice in cocktails for fizz, though.
I'm the exact opposite. When one of my taps run try, I'll put on some carbonated water and wonder why I don't have that all the time.
 

DrunkleJon

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Yes, me too. I do drink iced tea. I just forget about it sometimes.

I have no sweet tooth at all, so iced tea with lemon really is great. I wonder if a fizzy iced tea with lemon would be as good? Hmmmm.
I was thinking the same thing when you all mentioned unsweetened iced tea. If you try it let us know how it works out. Otherwise I am going to have to break out my carbonator cap and an empty 2 liter and try it out.
 

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I just had a club soda (small bottled one), with a slice of lemon and lime, and it was nice.

I read the ingredients, and it said "carbonated water, potassium phospate, magnesium sulfate, potassium bicarbonate."

Ok, I can do carbonated water, either RO or tap. I can do mag sulfate (epsom salt). However, I have no idea about k phosphate or k bicarbonate.

I read in another thread (can't find it now) about additions for club soda.

Since the club soda out of this little bottle tastes good to me, less "biting" than the homemade version, I have to assume it's my tap water and will start with RO water. That may taste better to my palate.
 
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AnOldUR

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As you can see from the photos, I originally didn't use hose clamps on the barbed fittings. After a year I noticed a little drip coming from the rigid ice-maker tubing. I've put hose clamps on all just to be safe.
 

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This is a great build. I wonder if there was any way to attach a float valve inline to the gas in port etc, so you wouldn't have to scrap the keg. Additionally, adding a carbonator lid would allow you to have a gas in on the lid, a liquid out and a liquid in(repurposed gas in). Plus you would have the carbonating stone on the bottom making quicker work of the carbonation.

edit: something like this perhaps: http://wholesaler.alibaba.com/product-detail/Long-line-1-Inch-Plastic-Mechanical_1882795015.html
The only issues are its not food safe, and it might be a little too big. Can anyone find something similar?

edit #2:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008OMKBVO/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

this one is food safe and seems reasonably priced, perhaps can configure it to use a ball as in the first link.


Edit #3 (sorry for those subscribed): instead of having gas in become liquid in, you could drill a hole in a lid and add a weldless fitting to attach to float valve in Link 2 using a ball attached to a line (link 1).You can also add a ball lock fitting on top (or any kind of fitting you want). The gas in will have a carbonator stone with a line to the bottom, and the liquid out will remain the same. This way you dont have to screw in a fitting in the inside of a keg, instead you can just use the lid. For the carbonating stone you can attach a small amount of silicone tubing to the gas in. which is simple.
 
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crane

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As you can see from the photos, I originally didn't use hose clamps on the barbed fittings. After a year I noticed a little drip coming from the rigid ice-maker tubing. I've put hose clamps on all just to be safe.
How is this setup holding up to time?
 
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AnOldUR

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How is this setup holding up to time?
It's been maintenance free with daily uses for 2-1/2 years.

That reminds me. I should probably change the filter, but no noticeable change in taste, so I'm not in a rush.
 

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Oh dear lord change the filter! LOL.

I work in the purified water industry. Not in the residential side, but in the pharmaceutical and health industry.
Most in-line filters like yours are not a depth filter , a physical barrier filter, but are an absorption filter. Usually various types of charcoal. They absorb "nasty" in the water with out clogging up. You could run that filter for 10 years and it wouldn't really affect the flow of water, but it would at best be useless and most likely adding bacteria and other nasty back in to your water. Manufacture's spec on that filter is a 6 month replacement (750 gallons,) but most of those spec are written for a worst case. Still, replacing your filter once a year is a good thing.

Your check valve is a good addition, but that style is pretty cheap can fail quite often. I'd replace that yearly too. You could (should by code?) have a back flow preventer on your feed line if you wanted to be uber safe.

I'll have to keep my wife off of this thread. She'll want me to figure out how to plumb tonic into the fridge.....
 
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