Aarke Carbonator Pro Review
This sleek machine makes sparkling water in seconds
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If you consider yourself a seltzer fiend, constantly feeding your addiction with cans and bottles that fill up your recycling bin way too fast—it might be time to invest in a soda making machine to reduce waste and save money.
We've tried some of these machines in the past—from SodaStream and Aarke—which we found to both perform well and fulfill our desire for all things bubbly. So when Aarke announced the launch of its brand-new Carbonator Pro, we had to try it for ourselves.
What's new about the Carbonator Pro?
The first product launch to come from the company in four years, Aarke's Carbonator Pro is a continuation of the brand's commitment to sustainability, with the inclusion of a glass bottle instead of its usual plastic.
The functionality of this carbonator is also different from its predecessor. You no longer have to screw the bottle up onto the nozzle. Instead, it boasts a one-handed operation that can be completed in seconds with minimal effort. Just place the filled glass bottle onto the base, push the cover down, and press the carbonation button for a few seconds until it buzzes. Then release the handle, and voilà! Your seltzer is ready to be enjoyed.
What we like about the Carbonator Pro
The eco-friendly component
That's why I was excited to learn that this product comes with a high-quality glass bottle that can hold up to 27 ounces of water and be tossed in the dishwasher without a second thought. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Aarke's gas cylinder is made from 100% renewable CO2.
The cylinder doesn't automatically come with the Carbonator Pro, but Aarke offers a kit that includes a cylinder with the carbonator for an extra $30, and they recommend heading to Soda Sense when it's time for a replacement.
Another environmentally friendly plus: Similar to its predecessor, the Carbonator Pro doesn't require batteries or electricity. So you can feel good about saving resources on that end, too.
The easy set-up
Before getting my hands on this product, I had never used an at-home carbonator before. Luckily, the Carbonator Pro comes with a high quality manual that includes plenty of clear instructions and illustrations on how to set everything up, maintain the machine, and conduct everyday use.
After unboxing the Carbonator Pro and accompanying manual, it wasn't long before the gas cylinder was installed, the machine was buzzing, and I was drinking pleasantly sparkling seltzer—without opening a can or single-use bottle. The most time-consuming part of the process was probably filling the glass bottle with fresh water (which, as you might guess, didn't take long).
The innovative design
I didn't think it would be possible to create a product that was somehow even easier to use than the Carbonator III—but this machine was. The Carbonator Pro requires merely one hand to turn a bottle of still water into sparkling. All it takes is a snap of the cover and the push of a button. There's no bottle-screwing required, which is especially a plus because we struggled with that step a bit when testing the older Aarke carbonator model.
What we don't like
Its large, heftier footprint
The ease of use—and high-quality glass bottle—featured in this model comes at a cost: a much heavier machine. I was unable to lift this machine with one arm, and I sometimes struggled to push the cover down without using both hands.
It has to be placed on its side on a flat surface in order to install the gas cylinder. (For context, we could install the CO2 tank in the Carbonator III by holding the machine in one hand and the gas cylinder in the other.)
It’s also 20 inches tall. That means if you invest in this machine, you'll probably have to permanently keep it out on your countertop (if it'll fit under your cabinets) instead of struggling to safely stow it away when it's not in use. Luckily, the Carbonator Pro is anything but an eyesore—so if you have the space for it, it wouldn't hurt to show it off.
The glass bottle lacks convenience
The main focus of this new model is its eco-friendly starlet: the glass bottle. And while this feature is great for the environment, your dishwasher, and your general wellbeing, it also has its own drawbacks.
First, I wouldn't feel comfortable taking this bottle out into the world, at least not without some kind of silicone sleeve for protection (which Aarke doesn't offer). It might be ideal for filling up and placing on the table during dinner, but it's less convenient for travel. Of course, you could always empty the sparkling water into a travel bottle of your choice, but that just adds one more item to the dirty dishes pile at the end of the day.
I also had trouble getting this bottle to fully dry after washing. Each time I placed it in the top rack of the dishwasher, there was lingering condensation inside that wouldn't completely dry—even after I placed it on my countertop dish rack for an entire day. And given the small opening at the top, it's not necessarily easy to get in there manually with a kitchen towel, either.
We'd be remiss not to mention the fact that this machine is pricey. Especially because, at $100 more than its predecessor, the Carbonator Pro doesn't have many new features—aside from its glass bottle and corresponding design. And in comparison to the more affordable SodaStream, which offers machines ranging in price from $90 to $190, the Carbonator Pro's price tag of $349 becomes even more intimidating.
Of course, even a fancier soda maker can have the ability to save you money in the long run, depending on how serious your seltzer addiction is. (One of our writers was spending $400 a year on cans of the stuff—and that was before inflation.) So it all depends on your spending habits and individual priorities.
Is the Carbonator Pro worth it?
Yes, if you're a big seltzer fan
Investing in something like the Carbonator Pro means you're probably someone who drinks seltzer every single day (maybe multiple times a day). And if you also value aesthetics and high-quality materials, this would be a worthwhile investment.
It's also a great product for anyone who's environmentally conscious, interested in downsizing the single-use plastic bottles and aluminum cans that clog our recycling centers and landfills.
But if you're not quite ready to drop hundreds on a seltzer machine yet, there are other (read: cheaper) options from brands like SodaStream that can help diminish your carbon footprint and sustain your seltzer addiction without breaking the bank.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.