Forward Thinking

Hacking SodaStream Debate

By Naomi Zeveloff

  • Print
  • Share Share

In addition to the Scarlett Johansson Super Bowl ad, part of the reason that SodaStream has gotten so much attention — as opposed to many other products on the boycott Israel list — is because it presents an ethical conundrum for its lefty customers. SodaStream has become a symbol for health and environmentalism, but also for the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

In other words, if you want to make your soda at home, but you’re also a BDS adherent — or even if you’re practicing limited, West-Bank-only BDS — you’re mostly out of luck. As a recent New York Magazine story pointed out, “Even the most fervent anti-Zionists will admit that, for seltzer addicts, SodaStream’s competitors leave something to be desired.”

But what happens if you’re a SodaStream detractor who happens to own a SodaStream — whether by dint of a gift, or a purchase made previous to a political awakening (or maybe even a guilty one-time acquisition)? Rather than toss their seltzer makers, some SodaStream owners are taking a cue from hackers who have figured out how to use the machines without continuing to support the company by buying its CO2. For the hackers, it’s all about saving money — a SodaStream CO2 cartridge, which must be replaced every two to four months, costs between $15 and $45. For the anti-occupation SodaStream owners, on the other hand, it’s political.

One such SodaStream owner is Daniel Sieradski, a Jewish activist and writer. At the height of the Scarlett Johansson debacle, Sieradski Tweeted about his own seltzer maker. “Just a reminder, I own a Sodastream and have absolutely zero problems with them other than the fact that they have a plant in the West Bank,” he wrote on January 31. “But until the (sic) move their plant, I will be using my own CO2.” Sieradski, who declined an interview request by the Forward, linked to a web site called Critical Paintball, which sells a metal adapter that can be screwed onto a paintball CO2 canister to be used in place of the SodaStream cartridge. The kit costs $59.99. Unlike SodaStream cartridges, the paintball canister is reusable and can be refilled for $2 or $3.

Unable to reach Critical Paintball, I emailed another web site, CO2Doctor, which is selling a similar kit to hack the SodaStream. The site’s sales manager, Dann Johnson, declined my interview request: “…I am concerned that we will somehow get caught up in the ongoing turmoil surrounding the Sodastream boycott movement which we have no interest in participation, for or against,” he wrote. “If anything, anything detrimental to Sodastream’s success is ultimately detrimental to us since we rely on their success as a means of obtaining success for our product offering.”

Other SodaStream hackers have gone even more rogue, figuring out how to use the SodaStream without purchasing new hardware at all. One YouTube video demonstrates how to crack open the SodaStream CO2 cartridge, fill it with dry ice, and reseal it for use in the machine.

Then there are those who game the system by hoodwinking SodaStream. According to New York Magazine, when journalist Ali Gharib told his cousin about SodaStream’s West Bank factory, the cousin launched a year-long “‘subversive campaign’ to undermine SodaStream’s business model by using the gas cylinders, then mailing them back to the company claiming they’d been defective and receiving free replacements in return.”

What these hackers teach us is that, for BDS-following seltzer drinkers, yes, it’s possible to have your SodaStream and drink it too.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: occupation, hacking, West Bank, Super Bowl, SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson, Israel, Dan Sieradski, BDS

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.