How To Make Your Own Home Carbonation System (For DIY Ginger Beer)

Homemade lemonade, limeade or ginger beer can be an extremely refreshing weekend treat. However, most recipes aren't carbonated — which means you might as well be drinking cordial. This DIY guide explains how to add fizz to your soft drinks.

Ginger beer picture from Shutterstock

I found myself thirsty for some good ginger beer recently so I decided to look up a recipe to make it at home. I love ginger beer in the store but I just can't swallow the price tag.

Initially I made the ginger beer with sparkling water but I found it wasn't as carbonated and I wasted half the bottle because I didn't drink enough. With my home carbonation system I can drink as much very fizzy ginger beer as I want, and it produces bubbles of a very fine character. I'm going to detail how to do this with a ginger beer recipe, but you can use the same basic method to fizzy up just about any drink you'd want to me.

What You'll Need

    The following equipment shouldn't cost you too much and most of it can be used again and again:

  • Plastic PET bottles. Just use a rinsed-out soft drink bottle. 2-litre bottles require a lot of CO2 so stick to 1.25-litre and 600mL varieties.
  • Something sharp to make a hole in the bottle cap.
  • 15/32-inch drill bit.
  • Snap in valve stem.
  • CO2 pump. Try to get one that accepts non-threaded cartridges since they are cheaper. Mine is a Genuine Innovations Ultraflate; I get 5-6 bottles per 16-gram cartridge.

How It Works

Clean out your bottles and take off the labels. Mark the centre of the bottle cap on the inside of the cap with a sharp knife or awl. Drill from the inside out with the step drill until you reach the 15/32-inch size. Turn the cap around and remove the burs from the top with the step drill.

Lubricate the valve stem with a little soap and pop it through the cap. Wiggle it and pull the stem with a towel for grip if needed.

To carbonate your drink, fill the bottle with your beverage until it is 2-inch from the top of the bottle. Squeeze out the air from the top and screw the cap on tightly. Screw on the CO2 pump and then turn the bottle up side down and shoot some CO2 into the bottle in short bursts.

The internet says the bottles can withstand 200psi but I wouldn't want to try it. Just use small bursts and shake the bottle until it goes soft. Inflate again and shake. Usually three times does the trick but using the one liter bottle requires quite a few shots. Carefully open your drink and enjoy!

If you want to try my ginger beer recipe, here it is:

Ginger beer (makes one 500mL bottle)

  • 30mL fresh ginger juice (a centrifugal juicer works very well)
  • 45mL fresh lemon juice (if you use the centrifugal juicer you can add some peel for some zest. Go easy on the peel until you find the amount you like)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 15mL honey
  • 400mL cold water

This article has been revised and updated since its original publication.


Comments

    The colder the ginger beer the more CO2 will dissolve. The carbonation will be much more efficient.

    A Sodastream will do the same thing. Easier.

      And far less risky.

    There's no real risk here. The bottles can easily withstand the pressure from a CO2 cartridge and if one were to burst, it would simply spray liquid. My one recommendation would be to use an all metal valve stem. The rubber ones can flavor the bottle's contents.

    SodaStream won't let you carbonate anything but water, this lets you carbonate anything. (Other then milk)

    Or if you are making ginger beer add some sugar to the bottle and put away for 8 weeks

      That won't do anything in the given recipe, since it isn't fermented.

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