It all started so innocently. My wife wanted to kick the Diet Coke habit, and I sometimes got bored with tap water, so we tried the fancy new sparkling water drink called LaCroix. Actually, we didn’t choose LaCroix as much as it chose us.
The strangest thing happened; next thing you know, we were listening to folk rock albums by Of Monsters and Men and the Lumineers, my hair avoided a barber’s scissors, cable TV was just not in our MO and we quit our jobs to renovate a vintage Airstream and travel.
Shortly after our friends doled out a diagnosis: we were becoming Hipsters. I think the LaCroixs started it all. Let our story serve as a warning to you – it starts with a simple sip but can result in life as you know it upended. Now we’re unemployed and live in a tiny town in Utah…. I blame LaCroix.
Still, as shocking as it may be, my practical side still reigns even over my hipster, so I wanted to know if we were being suckered into paying too much for magical soda water. When we moved to Utah, the question became even more prudent as we can no longer drop our recycling on the curb, instead we have to drive 1.5 hours to Colorado or it will end up in the local dump we see from the road.
I have nightmares of driving by the dump and seeing the glimmer of a green Lime LaCroix can staring at me from atop the trash heap. It’s actually staring through to my soul while sending the searing message that I knowingly chose to harm Mother Earth.
We needed a more practical, less judgmental and less consumption-based model. Luckily, there was one waiting in the wings: SodaStream.
Let’s compare the numbers to see if the trash savings of a Sodastream is the only benefit.
How SodaStream Works
The SodaStream consists of a main appliance that injects carbonation into your beverage – supplied by CO2 canisters, which give it that special fizz. You can buy “soda replacements” that are nearly as full of the same crap as regular soda (sugar, sucralose, caffeine, coloring, etc) or you can buy natural flavors that mimic LaCroix… the latter being much more Hipster approved.
There are quite a few different models of SodaStreams and they’re quickly becoming commodotized as more competitors enter the space and drive prices down. We bought the SodaStream Source, which doesn’t require power and is simple to use. I’ll use the current prices for the cost comparison.
LaCroix Vs. SodaStream Costs
SodaStream Initial Costs
- SodaStream “Source”: $80 (current price on Williams-Sonoma and Bed, Bath and Beyond)
- 60 liter canister: $30 for initial canister(s), then $15 to exchange
- Flavoring: $5 per concentrated bottle, probably lasts as long as a 60L canister
For our calculations, I use an initial purchase price of $115.
SodaStream Ongoing Costs
- Canister: $15 for 60L to exchange
- Flavoring: $5 per concentrated bottle
- 8 pack of cans: $3.30 with tax from Walmart (41 cents per can)
Now that we have the costs figured out, let’s figure out a comparison of prices. I’ll start with a regular ongoing costs and then figure out how long it will take the SodaStream to pay for itself. I’ll use a few different consumption models as some people are really addicted and others are only mildly addicted to LaCroix.
LaCroix vs Sodastream monthly costs
- We’ll use the following assumptions to calculate monthly costs and the total time until the savings from SodaStream pays for the initial purchase (Initial Purchase Payback Period).
- 60L canister will create the equivalent 169 cans of LaCroix (60L = 2,028 ounces, divided by 12 ounces per can equals 169 cans)
- Includes $15 for one 60L canister + $5 for flavoring
- SodaStream is priced at 12 cents per can, versus 41 cents per LaCroix
|Cans per Month||LaCroix||SodaStream||Initial Purchase Payback Period|
Cost Comparisons Conclusions
If you’re a “light” LaCroix drinker, it’s hard to justify the payback period of the SodaStream. In fact, after the 20 months of using SodaStream, I’m sure you’ll break the appliance and be forced to buy a new one, never enjoying the cost savings.
However, as you get into medium to high usage, the payback period quickly accelerates. In fact, if you drink three LaCroix per day, you’ll pay for the device in 4.5 months, and after that you’ll save over $26 per month with the SodaStream. That’s $315 per years in savings!
Downsides of SodaStream
The biggest challenge with SodaStream is you don’t get to identify yourself with a great Hipster label like LaCroix. If you’re really into it, you can mix your SodaStream drinks and then pour that into a LaCroix can — that would be going the extra mile and earn you some major Hipster points. Just be sure to clean the can every once in a while… my wife refuses to drink out of my reusable water container because apparently I don’t clean it enough.*
The other downside of the SodaStream is it’s easier to get that sparkly goodness and your consumption might substantially increase. We had a friend over the other day and he experimented with a lot of gas and it seriously inhibited his ability to carry on normal conversations without belch breaks. I guess that’s another downside.
If you really want to take your cost per can down even more, you can hook up your own rig. This involves going to welding shops and scuba stores to buy your CO2, which is more dedicated than I’ll ever get. For some reason, I just wouldn’t trust those guys with my beverages.
Do you partake in the soda revolution? If so, what’s your go to drink?
*Just in case you didn’t catch the sarcasm, the whole “pour into a can” was a joke. My wife thinks you might take me seriously… you wouldn’t think I’m actually embracing Hipster-ism, right???