I drink sparkling water pretty much every day, and because of this, I want to know the cheapest way to consume this no-sugar-added beverage. My gut tells me that making sparkling water at home is going to be your best bet, but until we crunch some numbers, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
In this post, I’ll be comparing sparkling water prices at over 10 different grocery stores in the United States as well as comparing this to the cost of making your own sparkling water at home to ultimately find the cheapest way to enjoy it.
Cheapest Sparkling Water Price
First and foremost, I comparison-shopped sparkling water prices at these 12 grocery store chains.
Since some sparkling water comes in 8 packs and others in packs of 12, I determined the price per ounce for each brand to make sure we are comparing apples to apples.
I pretty quickly figured out that store brand sparkling water is much cheaper per ounce than the name brands like LaCroix and Bubbly, so this comparison will only be looking at store brands.
Prices ranged everywhere from $5.99 for 24 12 ounce cans at Albertsons to just $2.50 for 8 cans at Meijer.
As you can see, prices range anywhere from over 3 cents per ounce all the way down to less than 2 cent per ounce. I personally thought Walmart would have the cheapest sparkling water prices; however, it turns out that Aldi has the cheapest sparkling water prices at just 1.98 cents per ounce.
Aldi sells a variety of sparkling water flavors under the PurAqua Belle Vie store brand including lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, passion fruit, and original. These come in packs of 12, 12 ounce cans for just $2.85 which is less than 24 cents per can.
Regardless of flavor, store brand sparkling water at Aldi has a price of just $0.0198 per ounce. This is the baseline that we will use for determining if it is cheaper to make your own sparkling water at home
The Cost of Making Sparkling Water at Home
Sparkling water is simply water infused with carbon dioxide, so in order to make it at home, you have 2 options.
- Purchasing refillable CO2 cylinders
- Through a chemical reaction that naturally generates CO2
In either case, you’ll need to buy a machine like one of these to infuse the water with CO2 which costs anywhere from $75 to $120 upfront. The brands I looked at were SodaStream, Soda Sense, Drink Mate, and Spärkel.
In addition to the cost of the machine, you have to factor in the recurring cost of buying new carbon dioxide.
It seems the cheapest way to cut costs here is to buy in bulk. A pack of four replacement Soda Sense CO2 canisters that are capable of carbonating 60 liters of water each brings the cost down to 17 cents per 12 ounce serving, and not too far behind was DrinkMate with an effective serving cost of 18 cents.
But, that cost per serving does not consider the initial investment of the machine.
Buying vs Making Sparkling Water Cost
Factoring in the cost of the machine and remembering that it costs just under 24 cents per 12 ounce serving at Aldi, you’ll notice on this graph here that it will take you well over 3 years with DrinkMate to get your cost per serving down under the 24 cents benchmark, and that assumes you consistently consume a 12 ounce serving of sparkling water 365 days a year.
The same holds true for Soda Sense but this will take you over 4 years, and finally SodaStream and Spärkel have a breakeven point of over 7 years.
3 years is a long time, let alone 7 years, and the thing is, DrinkMate, SodaStream, and Soda Sense only guarantee their machines for 2 years, whereas Spärkel’s warranty is only 1 year.
In addition to that, we haven’t even considered the costs of using your own water and electricity. While these costs are minimal, at this point it’s pretty clear to me that the cheapest way to consume sparkling water is to buy it from the store, and specifically the store brand 12 pack at Aldi.
The only way that I can justify making sparking water at home is if you have multiple people who regularly drink sparkling water or if there isn’t an Aldi or Walmart around you.