Guest Post: How to Build a Carbonator!

September 6, 2012 § 3 Comments

You asked, and here you go 🙂 Carly was kind enough to write up details on how she built our awesome carbonation system.  I have to say, since it’s inception not a day goes by where we haven’t been carbonating!!

Okay, so full disclosure, I didn’t come up with this all on my own.  I got my instructions from this website.

 
It’s SUPER sciencey, but for nerds it’s a fun read about how it works and the chemistry/physics behind carbonating.
 
My “simple” version…
 
MATERIALS:
1 – CO2 tank – 5lb is plenty big, ours is a 20lb, but mainly because that’s what I could find on Craigslist for cheap. This is the most difficult thing to find without spending a lot of money.  You can buy them new online or in a beverage store, but they’re pricey (~$100).  Also, like propane, most places you swap out your tank, so its sad to trade-in a nice shiny, new tank for an old clunker.  I’d suggest keeping an eye on craigslist.  I paid $35 for mine empty, and a fill was $23 (at Robert’s Oxygen) and should last for quite some time.
 
1 – dual gauge regulator (The only other pricey gadget you need ~$45).  I have this one and it works great!  http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Series-Gauge-Draft-Regulator
 
1 – piece of 6ft of vinyl tubing (non-braided as a safety against over-pressurizing) – I got mine at Ace Hardware.  For that regulator you want one with an internal diameter of 1/2″, external of 5/8″.  Costs a few dollars – $3-4 maybe.
 
1 roll of plumbing tape (PTFE tape) – Also Ace Hardware.  $2
 
2 hose clamps – Ace Hardware $3
1 tire valve with the stem removed (you can use needlenose pliers to just twist it out).  I bought the clamp in kind to be sure I can get a tight seal on the cap.  You can find these at an auto parts store, and they should be less than $5.  They make a “snap-in” kind that should work as well, but I’ve never tried it.  Make sure the cap has that little plastic washer underneath it.  Pepsi bottles still have it.  Drill a hole in the cap and put the valve up through the cap.  Tighten it down and connect to the hose.
 
You then just connect all the parts!  Tank to Regulator.  Regulator to Hose.  Hose to valve.  Clamp the hose on both ends.  I wrapped all the connections in the PTFE tape to be sure it was sealed.  Also, the regulator needs to have a washer between the regulator and the opening of the CO2 tank, otherwise you’ll get a leak – There should be a washer attached to your tank when you get it filled, but if not, you can find one at a hardware store.
 
To carbonate, take a regular soda or seltzer bottle filled with cool water, squeeze out the air, attach it, turn on the gas and shake.  I set my regulator to 45psi to get nice bubbles.  You can freeze a little water in the bottoms of the bottles to chill the water better.  The colder your liquid, the better carbonation.  

Happy carbonating everyone! Please feel free to ask questions in the comments, and Carly will help you out!

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