Over the past couple years, consumption of flavored sparkling water has skyrocketed. The trend has held true in my own household, where we’ve started downing so much of the fizzy stuff I’ve given thought to putting a home drink carbonator on my holiday wish list.
In the past that usually meant buying a SodaStream or one of its many clones, but as of today I have another option: The Spärkel.
What’s the difference between a Spärkel and a SodaStream? Unlike a SodaStream or one its competitors, the Spärkel doesn’t require a CO2 cartridge, instead using a small single-use “sachet” that includes a combination of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate that combines with water to create CO2. The CO2 is cycled through the water chamber to infuse flavors and carbonate.
And while a SodaStream user can chop up and mix natural ingredients into their water and infuse them, the company (now owned by Pepsi) puts a big emphasis on flavor drops. Spärkel doesn’t push flavored syrups, instead pushing its users to add their own ingredients.
Why would you want to eliminate the CO2 cartridges? For one, it would allow you to do away with empty cartridges, which often time go in the garbage. And while CO2 cartridges on home carbonators like the SodaStream are generally considered safe, they have been known to occasionally blow up.
If there’s a downside to using a Spärkel compared to a standard system with a CO2 cartridge, it’s that the users has to pour in the fizz-making chemicals into the system with each use.
Since the CO2 ingredient sachets are made specifically for Spärkel, that means the user has to reorder ever time they cycle through a packet of 90. A packet of carbonators is available for about $50 on Amazon, which translates to about 55 cents per use, or roughly about the same per use cost for CO2 from cylinders (a 60 liter CO2 cartridge can be bought on Amazon for $35).
The chemicals – citric acid (a naturally occuring acid in fruit) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) – are fairly harmless and are kept separate from the water as the resulting CO2 is cycled through the beverage chamber. Once used, the CO2-causing ingredients are then emptied into the sink after use. From an environmental standpoint, the Spärkel has a fairly small footprint, and is certainly better than tossing can after empty can of Spindrift into the recycle bin.
The Spärkel system was first sold through an Indiegogo campaign, raising over $150 thousand on the strength of over 2300 backers. And while Bonne O, the company behind Spärkel, may have used crowdfunding to launch the project’s trajectory, they hardly needed the funds since they raised a $7.5 million in series B funding round this past May.
While over seven million bucks seems like a lot of money for a new product, I’m sure part of the reason for the sizeable funding round was the company behind Sparkel had already brought an earlier version of the product to market. The company’s first product was called the Bonne O Sparkling Water System, and apparently things went well enough with the first product that it convinced investors to chip in on the sizeable series B.
I’m also guessing the investors are betting on the continued growth of the sparkling water category, as consumers pull away from sugary sodas and look to drink healthier options. They no doubt saw the SodaStream exit of over $3 billion to Pepsi and figured that at some point another big drink maker might want to add a home carbonator to their portfolio.
You can buy a Spärkel on the company’s website starting today for $99.