SodaStream vs. Canned Seltzer: Which One Will Save You More Money?

SodaStream and a can of soda water are pictured side by side.
Is it cheaper to buy a SodaStream over canned or bottled soda water? The short answer: It depends. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Like many millennials, I am obsessed with sparkling water. What was an addiction to Diet Coke changed when I started making healthier choices and discovered the deliciousness that is LaCroix. 

Before I knew it, I was going through 2-3 cans per day… and unfortunately, my wallet was feeling the strain.

I shopped around to find the best deals, and eventually purchased a SodaStream to see if it would be a cheaper and more efficient way to feed my addiction. Here’s what I found out.

The Cost of SodaStream

The premise is simple: Fill the plastic bottle with water, secure it onto the SodaStream, push the button a few times, and it’s ready to drink. You can add flavoring if you wish, though I never have.

I purchased the most basic SodaStream model for $89.99 from Target. It came with a full CO2 canister and a plastic bottle. (You can get a better model with a one-touch button for $129.99, but the extra cost wasn’t worth it to me.) With the model I chose, I have to push down on a button several times depending on the level of fizziness you want to achieve. (That’d be five for me because I love fizz.)

The cost of the water was negligible because I use plain old tap water that I already pay for. 

The CO2 canister lasted about three weeks with fairly continual use. After that, I took the empty canister back to Target’s Guest Services and exchanged it for a full one. Doing this saves you money — up to 50%, according to Target. When I traded mine in, I paid $15 for a new canister filled with CO2.

Now let’s do the math. If a canister lasts me three weeks, that means I’m replacing them 17-18 times per year if I consistently drink a large quantity of sparkling water. That’s a total annual cost of $260 for the canisters, plus the initial cost of $89.99 plus tax.

Total cost: About $350

Is SodaStream Cheaper Than Buying Cans?

As a fairly thrifty person, I’ve never been the type to buy full-price cans of name brand sparkling water from the grocery store. Rather, I used my Costco membership to my advantage to test out the different sparkling waters they sell and see which one offers the best taste for the best price.

Until recently, Costco only sold name brand sparkling water like LaCroix or San Pellegrino. A case of 24 cans of lime-flavored LaCroix costs $7.99 at my local Costco. Let’s say my husband and I get through five or six cases per month. That means we’re spending $40-$48 per month, or $480-$576 per year.

Costco does make its own Kirkland Signature sparkling water now, and we made the switch pretty quickly. The taste is just as good as LaCroix, and each case has three flavors (lime, lemon and grapefruit) compared to LaCroix’s one (lime only in the cases we bought).

Kirkland Signature sparkling water costs $7.49 for a case of 32. If we go through four per month, that’s just shy of $30, or $360 per year.

Total cost for La Croix: $480-$576

Total cost for Kirkland Signature: $360

Other Considerations

From a pure cost perspective, there’s not much difference between buying a generic brand like Costco’s or using a SodaStream. Of course, if you can make your SodaStream last several years, you’ll only pay for the canisters, which reduces your cost to $260 per year — a full $100 less than a year’s supply of Kirkland Signature sparkling water.

The other benefit of switching to SodaStream is that you’re producing less waste, which is a serious concern in today’s world of climate change and trash-filled oceans. Four cases of Kirkland Signature sparkling water produces 144 cans on its own.

And while aluminum is a much better option than plastic when it comes to recycling, it’s still waste you wouldn’t produce if you used a SodaStream in place.

If space is a concern in your home and you don’t want to have multiple cans hanging out in your recycling bin until trash day, a SodaStream could be a good option. Just make sure you have the counter space in your kitchen since it’ll be out on display at all times.

Making the Choice

For me, it came down to convenience. As a full-time working mother of two young and highly energetic kids, I found it hard to be able to replace my CO2 canister right after it ran out, and would end up waiting a few days or even a week before I had time to get to Target for a replacement.

I would, therefore, stock up on cans of Kirkland Signature sparkling water to tide me over until I could make the Target run and use my SodaStream again. I found myself using it less and less, and it eventually made its way into the basement in favor of pre-carbonated cans of water.

I want to try building a SodaStream habit again, but I need to find a better process where I have a spare canister on hand at all times for when one runs out. It’s definitely the more economical and eco-friendly option, and I would recommend it to any sparkling water fiend like myself.

Cat Hiles is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.