Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

The Soda Siphon

Call it a soda siphon, a syphon or a seltzer bottle—it’s a pressurized container for dispensing carbonated water. Remember The Three Stooges or the Marx Brothers shaking bottles and spraying each other in the face? Same thing. But why would you want one? Can’t you just buy club soda? You certainly can. In fact, we used to buy cases of San Pellegrino, and if you are making a bunch of drinks, screw-top bottled soda water works just fine. But what if all you need is a couple of ounces to top up a Collins? Maybe you made some fantastic ginger syrup and you want to have some ginger beer? You could open a bottle of club soda, but most of that water is going to go flat. Once it’s open, you need to use it or lose it.

That’s the real benefit having your own siphon in the refrigerator. Each time you use it, you are not actually opening the bottle. You are merely opening a valve to release only the amount you need. Pull it out for your next round or ignore it until next week—it remains cold and pressurized until it’s gone. No more half bottles going flat and ending up down the drain.

Using a siphon also allows you to drink whatever water you choose. If your tap water is good, go ahead and use it. Do you filter your drinking water and want to use that? No problem. Fill your siphon and charge it with gas. You do that by attaching a carbon dioxide capsule specifically made for the purpose. Give it a good shake and the gas will start to dissolve into the water. The carbonation works best on very cold water, so leave the capsule attached while you chill the bottle. After a few hours or on the following day, you can remove the capsule and the water is ready to use. A one-way valve prevents gas from escaping and a hand lever allows you to dispense the water whenever you need it. Capsules are small and recyclable so you aren’t buying more plastic or glass. The resulting seltzer ends up costing a fraction of the price you would pay for individual bottles. It saves money, storage space and the environment. If you drink sparkling water, we don’t know why you wouldn’t want to use a siphon.

Can I use the gorgeous siphon I found on eBay?
The antique seltzer bottles are beautiful, but they aren’t exactly useable at home. First of all, most of them require filling at a special facility. The fittings allow for commercial companies to charge the bottles, but don’t fit the carbon dioxide capsules. Second, most of the antique bottles were made in Czechoslovakia and parts are scarce. Old rubber seals get hard and crumble, and valve springs and gaskets can be difficult to replace. Finally, the opportunity for accidents are far greater with old glass bottles than with modern metal ones. You don’t want to drop a heavy glass bottle under that much pressure on the kitchen floor or your granite counter tops unless you feel like dodging the exploding glass fragments.

Most modern siphons are made of aluminum or steel with heavy plastic fittings and solid metal parts. The safe, metal canisters are durable and have a low thermal capacity often making them cool faster in the refrigerator. Some are enamel coated and come in a variety of colors, but our favorite is made out of stainless steel and will last a lifetime. If you buy one second-hand, be sure that the seals are good and that it does not leak water or pressure over time. We used a siphon from the 1950s for years before finally replacing it with stainless steel, but any modern siphon with good seals will work fine, since they all use the same charging mechanism.

There are a few people out there that love to make their own ginger beer, root beer or other flavor of soft drink right in the siphon itself. They add syrup and water to the siphon, seal it and charge it with CO2. This works, but dedicates your siphon to one specific flavor. Because the carbonation will survive a long time in the bottle, you won’t be able to use the siphon for anything else until it’s empty. A more versatile approach is to keep your siphon filled with water, not a complete drink. That way, you can use homemade syrups to mix your ginger ale, root beer or tonic water when you need it and still be able to add seltzer to your Collins or Mojito. The syrups will keep better at full strength and you only use what you need. A good ratio is one part syrup to 3 or 4 parts seltzer water, but you can obviously adjust to your taste. This is exactly how soft drinks are mixed into your glass at fast food restaurants. It also saves you the trouble of cleaning your siphon of a sugary mess.

There’s a lot you can do once you start using a soda siphon, even if it only comes out of the refrigerator occasionally. Having carbonated water when you need it is so convenient, you will wonder why you didn’t get one sooner. Still not sold on the idea? Here are some of the reasons we love having a siphon with links where appropriate:

The Collins
Mojito
Ginger Beer (SO useful for Moscow Mules, Dark and Stormies, Pimm’s. . .)
Homemade Tonic
Americano
Ramos Gin Fizz (or any Fizz for that matter)

Actually, here is every post tagged with Seltzer.
Fresh soda flavors: You can mix almost anything with simple syrup to make the most amazing soda pop flavors. How about honey soda? Amerena cherry pop? Fresh lemon lime? Vanilla? Cinnamon?

Do you already own a soda siphon? What do you make with it? Let us know in the comments below.

You might enjoy:

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
87 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Peter Velloff
Peter Velloff
9 years ago

Hi there,
I was hoping for some assistance.
I have recntly aquired some vintage soda syphon bottles and I was wanting to clean them as there is water in the bottle.
How do I get the syphon out. The bottles are Schweppes bottles from Australia. Some are metal tops and some are bacalite.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Regards Peter.

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
9 years ago

Normally, the tops simply unscrew, but vintage bottles could have old, brittle gaskets. If they are glass you might be able to shine light from the bottom and try to see if there are threads in the glass neck. I have seen video of the only remaining seltzer delivery company in NY and the owner uses a wooden jig to open or close the bottles. It’s basically a block with a hole cut out to match the shape of the syphon head that he can use to unscrew the bottle from the nozzle to get good leverage without marring the… Read more »

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
9 years ago

Some have threaded parts made of metal attached to the glass and the nozzle assembly screws down onto that.

Peter Velloff
Peter Velloff
9 years ago

Hi Randy, Thanks so much for you help on my question. I have found that the 2 types of syphons in Australia have different ways of removing the nozzle. The both the metal and bacalite nozzles uncrew off the 2 piece clamp. The metal one can be clamped and turned by hand (if not stuck) but the bacalite nozzle with metal ring is only removed by a tool / machinery from their factory. I have been in contact with an old bottle collector and he is going to look around his shed and see if he has a tool to… Read more »

liza
liza
Reply to  Peter Velloff
9 years ago

dear peter
did you find the man with the tool to open the bottles? i just bought one in sydney and brought it to melbourne, we would like to get it cleaned to re use
regards
liza

liza
liza
9 years ago

dear peter, did you find the man with the tool to open the bottle? we are in melbourne but i travel to sydney and would like to get it opened and cleaned to try and re use. regards liza

Marcia Chaloux
Marcia Chaloux
9 years ago

Dear Peter, my company is looking to source the old fashioned looking siphons like the ones pictures above. Does anyone still make these in that vintage style that may be used on a modern day product? Any information you can provide with be much appreciated. Thank you for the article. Marcia

Niklas
Niklas
Reply to  Marcia Chaloux
8 years ago

Hi Marcia!
Since you are interested in vintage soda siphons, you might want to check out the variety of vintage 1920s and 1930s soda siphons we offer. They are 100% ready to use and we offer 5 years of warranty.
We are specialised on the Sparklets Soda Siphons which look a little different but are very beautiful.
Maybe you find something you like

Peter Velloff
Peter Velloff
9 years ago

Hi Liza,
Sorry for the delay in response.
The tool that I saw was for the metal cap syphons only. The bakalite models were done by machine in a factory.

Peter Velloff
Peter Velloff
9 years ago

Hi Marcia,
I am unaware of any company making glass syphons. You are able to purchase the metal/hard plastic syphons for soda bulb use.
If there was a company around offering the glass syphons, they would certainly do a good trade.

Marcia Chaloux
Marcia Chaloux
9 years ago

Peter,
Thanks for the quick reply. Do you have a source for the metal/hard plastic syphons that you can share? It would be a great place for us to start. Marcia

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Marcia Chaloux
4 years ago

Hello Marcia,
I come from the Czech republic and being a passionate bartender myself, I’ve just started looking for a nice vintage Czechoslovak syphon bottle. Just yesterday I made a short trip and bought 2 complete bottles for as little as 10 dollars, plus the man found 1 maybe hundred years old seltzer syphon bottle, for which they wanted 5 dollars more, I gave them 10.
These people usually don’t speak English and don’t sell overseas, but if you like, I can assist you with the purchase. Let me know if interested. Regards,
Andrew

Andrew W
Andrew W
Reply to  Andrew
3 years ago

Hi Andrew,
Great name :) I’m from Australia and am very intrigued in using syphon bottles in my bar as well. I was looking for a lot of these bottles. Can you give me an idea of where its possible to buy them.
Thanks,
Andrew!

Peter Velloff
Peter Velloff
9 years ago

Marcia,
Most good hospitality store have them. You may also find some one eBay.Peter

Terri Hultman
Terri Hultman
9 years ago

I have a Hungarian gold siphon. It may have a crack in the inner glass shell but all of gold is intact. Felt like crack because when I shake it more water comes out. After I soaked it. Is it safe to use with the soda chargers?

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
Reply to  Terri Hultman
9 years ago

A cracked and leaking vintage siphon is good for decoration at best, dangerous at worst. I would not risk pressurizing a siphon in questionable condition. There are so many new options, it’s not worth the possibly of injury. That’s my advice.

Moritz
Moritz
8 years ago

Hello!

Very nice article! I’m contributing editor for a vintage-style print-magazine and currently also writing an article about soda syphons. Could you kindly give me permission to use the beautiful syhpon image you used in your article?

I would be very thankful!

Kind regards,

Moritz

Diane Stirling
Diane Stirling
7 years ago

I too have just purchased the schweppes soda water vintage bottle with a Bakelite siphon. I was wondering how I could open it without breaking it but it does appear that it is not possible. Never mind, I’ll just have to have it on display with the old water in it. Thank you everyone for your information.

pat parker
pat parker
7 years ago

Hi
Great article…I was wondering, can I put wine in the bottle and then add fizzy to make a “sparkling wine?’

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
Reply to  pat parker
7 years ago

Pat, you could put anything in the siphon, but you run the risk of gumming up the valve. This is why most folks use only water in their siphon. One way to get around this is the inverted release method. Basically, you put the ice cold wine in, carbonate as you normally would with the cartridge, then, turn the siphon upside down and release the pressure. The idea is that the internal tube is now in the open gas space, not under the level of the wine. You should be able to release the pressure without squirting wine, but this… Read more »

Roderic
Roderic
7 years ago

Great website!I have just purchased an old Czech soda syphon. Had to hunt down the charger holder … so rare! Can I do 2 bulbs to make extra fizzy or am i risking bursting the bottle?

Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson
Reply to  Roderic
7 years ago

Roderic, thanks for the kind words. Regarding the Czech siphon, you probably could get away with a double charge if the release valve doesn’t let the pressure out. Normally, you press the lever to release the seltzer, but this is merely a spring release. It has limits and basically functions as a pressure release valve like you might see on a water heater. You pull the lever to release the pressurized water, but if the pressure is above a certain point, it overcomes the spring and the water comes out anyway. This safety keeps the glass from breaking due to… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Roderic
4 years ago

Hello Roderic,
I come from the Czech republic and if you need, I can send you some parts, if it’s still up to date :) We have a company that still makes the parts, so should’t be a problem, only they do not send overseas.
Andrew

Jeff Higbie
Jeff Higbie
Reply to  Andrew
4 years ago

Andrew, I just purchased a Czech soda siphon the other day and finally charged it up tonight. Awesome! And especially awesome is squeezing the handle and getting water out of it. Can’t say how cool that is. Unfortunately, some of the seals leak – the CO2 port leaks a bit after removing the cartridge, and the spout where the soda is dispensed slowly drips. The fact that the seals are worn is disappointing but unsurprising. What is your recommendation? Should I try and rebuild the head? Or can you purchase a new head (or rebuilt head) and ship to me… Read more »

Anthony Fountain
Anthony Fountain
Reply to  Andrew
1 year ago

Hello Andrew,

I realize three years on the Internet is a near-eternity in the real world, but if the company you write of is still in business, I need to get parts for an ACC soda syphon I just bought (see attachment). Specifically, I need a charger holder and tube (plus a base, but I imagine that will be impossible). Any help is greatly appreciated.

20210501_124643.jpg
John
John
Reply to  Anthony Fountain
9 months ago

Anthony:
I may have the exact same soda syphon. Have you been able to find replacement parts?

Anne Dougherty
Anne Dougherty
7 years ago

So, just to clarify….. I can fill a siphon with club soda, keep it in the fridge,and use as needed to make chocolate sodas????????

Anyone used them this way?????!

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

Hi we moved and lost the upper part of my soda syphon that screws the charger. Is there any place I could find a replacement part or must I buy the whole thing?

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

Hi Randy,

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately the company went under some time ago. The syphon bottle is threaded, has a steel net covering and it is very nice looking, having been used just a few times (then we moved). I could not find the proper piece in Google so far. Again, thanks a lot.
Robert

larry
larry
7 years ago

I have been looking at soda siphon reviews. We don’t use enough soda to warrant a SodaStream, primarily using it for cocktails. My old iSi Classic (plastic bottle) is no longer made. I liked the notion that I could look into the charged soda bottle and see how much was left, but have read a couple reviews of the glass “exploding”. Does anyone know if these are “outliers” or is the fact that you don’t see many glass siphons imply that they are more prone to safety problems? with my old iSi, I was always able to get a fully… Read more »

Bobby McPherson
Bobby McPherson
7 years ago

I think that remaking glass syphons for todays market would be a no no on the grounds of public stupidity and dangerous fools , However judging by the replies there is a market opportunity perhaps an enterprising company would take a look at polycarbonates certainly it is tough enough and almost as transparent as glass , it can be coloured and printed on and use standard cartridges and you could charge a premium as people will pay for *The look*

Adrien
Adrien
6 years ago

Hi there, Just came across your website as I am looking for website on how to open a syphon water. I just bought one from a garage sale and I would like to clean it as there is still water in it. I tried to open it but the top wouldn’t come off. I don’t want to damage it and I’m wondering if I can even open it as I read that some of those bottle were sealed. The syphon bottle I bought is a Nu Jersey-Creme Co Toronto bottle. Link is below so I have a better idea of… Read more »

Virginia Ford
Virginia Ford
6 years ago

I am in dire need of a cartridge holder for a vintage Chrome Wire Mesh Over Clear Glass Soda Siphon Seltzer Bottle.
It is Made In Czechoslovakia. It is a large bottle that stands about 13-3/4″ tall and about 4-3/4″ at it’s widest. It weighs a little over 5 lbs. and is very well constructed. It is marked with an M in a triangle on the thick glass base with #79. I believe this is MERKURIA Glass Co. it is marked MADE IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA around the top.
Would you happen to have a holder that would fit?
Thanks in advance.

Frankie
Frankie
Reply to  Virginia Ford
5 years ago

I’m in the exact same situation, I bought the siphon on e bay abs the charger holder is missing. The company who did make them no longer does
Did you find one?
Thanks

Dusty
Dusty
6 years ago

The seltzer bottles above look great! Do you sell them couldn’t find a price????
If not where can you find modern seltzer bottles??
Thanks for any help..

Roberto
Roberto
6 years ago

I have a very old siphon bottle (I’m sorry I can’t send to you a photo). The mechanism has become unusable, mainly because of the “tube”, the mobile parts and the O-rings of the top valve are not fitted any more. I don’t want to change the cap (it has engraved the name of the product on it). Is it possible to repair it ?
The bottle has belonged to my family for quite a [very] long time.
I beg you to excuse my non-technical descriptions.

Thanks, in advance, for the attention you may give to my message,

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Randy Hanson
4 years ago

Hello Randy,
I feel a little priviliged being Czech now :) As I’ve added under other posts too, I’m able to send you basically whatever syphon parts you need. Although the old Czechoslovak syphon company-KOVOČAS – has closed, there is a new one making spare parts only, and they’re quite cheap, plus many Czech people nowadays sell their old syphon in online second hand stores. None of the websites are in English, and do not sell overseas, but If you’re interested, I can be helpful in that.
Best,
Andrew

Mathias
Mathias
Reply to  Roberto
6 years ago

Dear Roberto,

you can look at http://www.siphonmanufaktur.de. We are restoring and selling antique Sparklets Soda Siphons. The siphons become fully functionable and are often used also in professional environments like bars etc.

Best

Mathias

Mathias
Mathias
Reply to  Randy Hanson
6 years ago

Yes – we also provide a certain range of spare parts – glass tubes, pierce pin seals, tube gaskets, bulb holders. You can have a look at our Website under “spare parts”.

Regards

Jill Zimmer
Jill Zimmer
6 years ago

Hi Peter,

This is a comment not a question :-)

I recently purchased a matching pair of green, mesh covered Czech seltzer bottles and landed on your site in my quest for more information on them.

Your answers are not only helpful but your tone is kind and gracious! I have found this to be very refreshing!

Keep up the nice work.

Kind regards,
Jill

Nona Meeks
Nona Meeks
6 years ago

Have read all the post, but still no help. I have a heavy glass with mesh outside made by Merkuria Siphon from what I can ascertain it was made in Chekhovikia (spelled wrong) was wondering if there is any place or anyone that may have parts?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Nona

Warren
Warren
6 years ago

Hi, any idea approximately how much water to put into an old school glass type before applying the gas? thanks

Roderic Morgan
Roderic Morgan
6 years ago

There should be a red line about 3/4 way up? Mine has faded lately so here is a pic of one showing where it is … http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Mesh-Wrapped-Glass-Seltzer-Bottle-/162106412865

Warren
Warren
6 years ago

Thanks for your assistance, most appreciated

Elaine
Elaine
5 years ago

Hello everyone
I have an old BOC made in England syphon. The water release lever is moving fine but no water comes out. It is charging fine though. Anyone have ideas about what may be the problem?
Thanks very much

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

Hi

Great site by the way!

I have just bought an old soda syphon and I’m not sure how much water I should put in it. It is a coloured, metal soda syphon so there is no line like I believe there is on the glass ones. Any ideas anyone?

Thanks in advance

Elaine
Elaine
5 years ago

And if it’s missing the plastic insert which is an overflow prevention device, the best thing is to measure one litre of water and pour it in, never more as the gas needs some air space. All of them seem to be pretty much the same size I think, just different shapes

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

Thanks for such a quick reply!

Yes it does have a plastic insert. I wondered what that was for…! Thanks you, that’s reassuring that I can’t overfill it! It does seem to make cleaning it quite difficult though, as it’s hard to empty. Any tips for emptying it? I got it from a garage sale and it was dirty but I’m regretting washing it in soapy water as I can’t seem to get the last bit of water out!

Thanks

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

Thank you, I will do that!

And thanks to Elaine for your tip too (sorry, I missed it before).

This site has been a great help, thank you

Claire
Claire
5 years ago

Hello, I’m trying to get an old 1970s Sparklets Soda Syphon to work. I wondered if anyone could help please. When I charge it, it does what it used to do, takes the gas fine but when you go to use it it’s like a fire extinguisher! Full power and then once that first bit has gone the remaining water tastes like it’s gone flat. Any ideas please? Also, as it hasn’t been used for ages I cleaned it out and left water in it to soak. I noticed the level goes down. Could it mean there’s a leak in… Read more »

Rosie
Rosie
4 years ago

Hello. I have three old Hungarian glass soda syphons which I need to clean. Can you tell me how best to clean them please? Thank you

William
William
4 years ago

I really like the bottles in your picture. I want classic looking bottles that I can actually use easily to hold carbonated water I make in a separate device. The ones in your image look perfect, but I can’t find them anywhere. Where can I get some just like those?!

Max
Max
4 years ago

Does anyone know where i can get a wrentch to open old seltzer bottles?

Phil Hoffman
Phil Hoffman
4 years ago

Is it possible to those old soda bottles through the spout from a C02 tank ? You would have to hold the lever down during the filling. I think about 50 psi. would be about right. I have purchased an old seltzer bottle on Ebay and I want to fill it and use it. I would appreciate any comments or advice

david morrison
david morrison
4 years ago

I own a few Mr.Fizz stainless seltzer bottles. Do yoi know anywhere that I can have them repaired or purchase parts and tools to do the repairs? thanks

Nick
Nick
4 years ago

I found an old sparklers bottle clearing an estate. Looks to be in good condition allbeit dusty. If anyone’s interested drop a line to mmoddey2 @gmail dot com.

Phil Hoffman
Phil Hoffman
4 years ago

I have opened many soda syphon bottles that were stuck using a strap wrench I bought at Sears. I put the nozzle into a small table vice with plastic inserts in the jaws. I tighten the vice just enough to hold the nozzle rigid. the bottle is then horizontal with the nozzle clamped into the side of the jaws. It can be supported by resting on a block of wood etc. The ring is not in the jaws. I put the strap wrench around the ring. The rubber strap grips the wring tightly without marring the surface. A small amount… Read more »

AliceC
AliceC
4 years ago

Thanks for all the info here Randy! I’m looking to purchase a soda syphon in an effort to cut down on single-use plastic waste. My husband and I drink a tonne of fizzy water and so our recycling bin is always full of the large 2 litre plastic water bottles you can buy in big packs from the supermarket. I wanted to avoid buying a Soda Stream machine because I think they’re expensive, ugly and take up too much counter space in the kitchen. With your help here I’ve just purchased a rather elegant, vintage Sparklets syphon on EBay and… Read more »

Miriam
Miriam
4 years ago

Hello, like Elaine I have a vintage BOC made in England siphon that I bought in a charity shop (thrift store for US readers!), but when I press the water lever no water comes out. When I load the cartridge there is a loud hissing sound and I can feel the gas flowing out around the siphon top so I guess maybe there is an issue with the seal? But would that affect the water lever function? I would have thought the water would come out but flat. If no water is coming out does that mean the lever is… Read more »