Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Soda Siphon Fail!

The story goes far back in time to when Nicole used to live in Daytona Beach, Florida. I visited her one time with my dad, and she took me to an antique shop near the beach. It had a lot of junk in it, but I found something really cool - a 1920s art deco style soda siphon! It was around $10, so I thought, what the heck, I'll buy it and see if it works. When I got home, the soda siphon confused me, because I knew you had to buy CO2 bombs for it, but none of the ones the stores and restaurant supply shops sold were threaded, and there was thread on the section where the CO2 was supposed to attach. That actually stumped me for a while, so I put the thing in a cabinet in the kitchen and forgot about it until now.

Antique Sparklet Soda Siphon
My 1920s soda siphon.

A few weeks ago, I took a fresh look at the soda siphon, and it all of a sudden dawned on me that the CO2 bomb doesn't have to be threaded, because there must be something else that holds it tight onto the bottle. Once I got that idea, a quick search on the internet solved the mystery. There really is something, called a charge holder, that cups the CO2 bomb and screws onto the soda siphon, forcing the bomb to be pierced open. The CO2 then rushes out of the bomb and pressurizes the water in the soda siphon bottle. Gas gets forced into the water and carbonates it, while also creating pressure so that the soda will stream out of the soda siphon when you open a valve.

The next problem was finding parts for my antique soda siphon. Many modern ones exist, but I guess there is a small cult which collects and uses antique soda siphons. What a relief it was when I found some parts on, a beverage company. The siphon needed new rubber gaskets, a charge holder, CO2 bombs, and a special tool to unscrew the part where the CO2 bomb attaches.

Antique Sparklet Soda Siphon
Romy screws in the CO2 bomb in the charger holder.

The UPS truck came today with all of the parts from Prairie Moon. Romy and I were so excited, we opened the package right away and started putting the new gaskets on the soda siphon and basically revamping it. When we did everything we could, we decided to go ahead and try making our first liter of bubbly water! Fearing that the thing might explode or something, we took it to the back porch steps outside and attached the CO2 bomb in the holder, screwed it in, and . . . .

Antique Sparklet Soda Siphon FAIL!
No!!! A leak!

There was a small pop and then a rush of gas into the bottle. The water bubbled like crazy, and the air inside turned all cloudy with CO2. But then all of a sudden, a steady stream of water started leaking from the most unexpected place - the valve handle! We thought that we replaced all of the seals! And in fact, it didn't leak from anywhere but the valve handle, and we weren't even aware that there was a gasket there, but apparently there is and it went bad sometime in the past 80 years!

After all of the pressure escaped, we opened it up to try to find a way to access the gasket, but it appears that there is a permanent cap of soft metal covering the area, like a lid. The only way to get to the valve and gasket is to remove the metal cap, but we will have to destroy it to do so. I guess that is what we will have to do, and then we'll have to make a new lid when we're done.

I'm so happy that we at least got it going!


jonathan snow said...

I recently picked up three siphons identical to yours. After replacing the seal in the neck, I got one of them working really well for a while. In the past couple of days however, it seems to be having the same problem that the plagues the other two; namely, that the valve through which the co2 bulb forces the gas into the water doesn't seem to be closing properly, so liquid is coming out of there after charging. Have you had a similar problem? Any ideas on how to fix it?

Jenn said...

My guess is that you will have to open it up and look to see if the seal/gasket is bad. The only way these things seal is with rubber gaskets and they all have to be replaced; unfortunately, they are hard to find and hard to get to!

James said...

I got my Soda Siphon at

kevin sprouls said...

Here is the fix: Go to the auto parts store and buy a pack of 5/16th size vacuum caps (rubber). I can send anyone a picture of this if you contact me. The brand I used was "VACU-TITE!" Take one cap and slice off a bit more than 1/2 of it. Take a drill and drill a 1/8" hole in the center of the dome of the cap. After stripping out the old gasket material from the gas injection valve, push this into place around the needle which punctures the cartridge. This fix worked miraculously for me. This was for an alluminum bottle siphon with the name "Kayser"

Unknown said...

Hi, I am Patricio, and live in Buenos Aires. Don´t hesitate and remove the cap carefully, opening with a small screwdriver and being carefull as not to damage the cap.I did it that way. Then you have to deattach the handle, by removing the copper axis (I used a drill to cut the riveted part. When you remove the handle, a small cilinder can be extracted. It has, on the bottom, the valve seal that may be replaced (I had to do it with a similar piece and cutting it to fit) and a gasket (rectangular o-ring) that is the one that maintains the soda from going to the handle. I couldn´t find something that fits so I made several rounds of teflon tape to make a seal. And it works !!!