How To Build Your Own Soda Maker Kit For About Ten Dollars
Items You'll Need
InstructionsFind an unwanted football, basketball or soccer ball. Use a sharp knife to poke a hole in it. Using the knife or a pair of shears, cut out the rubber valve core. Typically, sports balls have an outer covering (the part you see) and an inner bladder closely approximating the shape of the ball. The rubber bladder is thickened in the area where a rubber inflation valve is installed. If you carefully cut the thickened rubber away, the valve can be removed in a matter of minutes. It is simply a small rubber casting with a guidehole in which you insert an inflation needle to inflate the ball. The guidehole is only 1/4" deep. At the bottom of the guidehole, there is a narrow slit passageway through which the metal inflation needle will pass when inserted and pushed firmly into the valve. Watching this video or this one may give you a better idea of what to expect when you begin disecting the football.
OK, so get your string, your drill, your rubber valve and a soda bottle cap together and let's get started.
Drill a clean 1/8" hole in the center of a PET soda bottle cap.
Insert the rubber valve you disected from the football through the hole you drilled in the bottle cap. You may find it difficult to do this. One method you can use is to pick up a 16" piece of strong twine in the middle using your thumb & forefinger. Leaving the 2 ends dangling, pinch the loop end of the string together and thread it through the hole in the top of the cap so the loop ends up inside of the bottle cap.
Put the loop around the upper portion of the rubber valve in a way that allows you to pull that part of the valve up through the hole and out the top of the cap.
If only a portion of the rubber valve comes through, do not despair.
More than likely, you can pull the remainder of the rubber plug through a bit at a time using small needle nosed pliers or a decent roach clip.
You'll notice that I have a brand new rubber valve pictured. I don't recommend getting one from Wilson. They charged me $10 plus $5 S/H for the tiny thing. If you want a new one, send me a note. Include a SASE and two bucks. I'll toss one in the mail to you.
The new valve still has the extension on top of the valve. I cut it off with a pair of scissors. Screw your metal inflation needle onto the tire inflator which you have now converted into a CO2 dispenser.
Once you have the valve installed in the cap, test whether you can push your metal inflation needle into the rubber valve guidehole on top of the cap. Push it all the way through the rubber valve until you see the tip of the needle pop out the bottom of the rubber plug. Don't worry, the metal inflation needle will find its way through the valve's narrow slit passageway easily enough.
Install a CO2 cartridge in your CO2 dispenser. Make sure it contains clean food-grade gas. Often, CO2 bulbs purchased off the Wal-Mart sporting goods aisle contain clean CO2 gas that was put into dirty, oily bulbs at the manufacturing plant. Although that may not be a problem if you're buying them for a BB-gun, your soft drinks will taste like kerosene cocktails if you use them in your homemade soda maker. Press the release button once to expel a short burst of gas, just to make sure it works. If it does, you're in business. If you haven't found an inexpensive CO2 tire inflator yet, you might try the Planet Bike Air Kiss CO2 Inflator from Bike Tires Direct at only $9.95. I've never used one. But the picture looks promising. I like those having a cup that encloses the co2 bulb and is screwed onto a head/valve assembly. But they cost more. Cap a bottle of your favorite chilled liquid beverage you wish carbonated, insert the inflation needle and press the button in short bursts. Remember, your CO2 cartridge contains liquid CO2 pressurized at 850+ PSI in a steel container and your plastic bottle will balloon up and burst if you allow pressure in it to build up too high. So just add short bursts of CO2. Then shake the bottle well. On your first injection-agitation cyle, you'll feel the stiff bottle soften in your hand while shaking - kind of opposite from what you might think. Keep shaking until the bottle gets as soft as its gonna get. It's then ready for a 2nd cycle. After 3 cycles, you will notice that the bottle is not softening up as much after shaking. Your beverage is probably sufficiently carbonated at that point. Remove the cap, relax and enjoy your first truly homemade soft drink. Use caution and common sense when injecting pressurized gas into a bottle with a device that doesn't have a pressure regulator. You could get hurt pumping a soda bottle up to 200PSI and popping it in your hands. Never pump up a bottle to the point that it disfigures or swells noticeably. If you are worried about making this judgment call, forget this project. Purchase a pressure regulated Fizz Giz Soda Maker for thirty bucks or a SodaStream Penguin for about two-hundred fifty bucks or a Mr. Butler unit for around one-hundred thirty bucks. These are all safe systems that will not allow you to inflate bottles above safe maximum limits.