The retro style soda syphon (or soda siphon), once a symbol of kitsch and bad taste, is now the height of retro cool. The Sparklets Soda Syphon was a hit at 70s parties. However, its roots go back to the era of the Boer War.
The Sparklets Soda Syphon was originally used as a way of bringing sparkling or aerated water to hot climates at the far reaches of the British Empire. Invented in the 1890s, Sparklets bulbs were used during the Boer War.
Before the introduction of Sparklets bulbs, carbonated, or aerated water, as the Victorians preferred to call it, was a luxury product. It was expensive to make, and there was no way to do it yourself. The invention of the Sparklets bulb popularised it as soda water. The original device was called a 'Prana' Sparklet Syphon, and the Company stressed that it was as easy for a housemaid in Bayswater as for an orderly in South Africa to use the device.
In 1920 Sparklets Ltd was acquired by BOC, the British Oxygen Company. By the 1960s Sparklets specialised in diecast products for the domestic industry. Naturally the Sparklets Soda Syphons were a big part of the business, but Sparklets also made diecast parts for washing machines, hairdryers and vacuum cleaners, as well as for cars.
The Sparklets bulb method may not have changed much since the days of the Boer War, but the style of the syphon moved with the times. Three basic types were around in the 60s and 70s.
The Streamline captured the classic lines of the traditional soda syphon. There is a hint of Art Deco in this 1940s style Streamline Syphon pictured right. The hammered finish was a feature of early versions of this design. Streamlines were also sprayed in familiar reds, golds, and blues. A chrome version with red or black stripes added a touch of glamour.
The Sparklets Hostmaster is the soda syphon most people are familiar with. Its profile suggested up to the minute modernity in the 60s. Used as a prop in many 70s dramas ensured it became it became a symbol of 70s kitsch.
In the 70s, Sparklets gave the Hostmaster a new look with different patterns, circles and abstract shapes.
The Globemaster was the ultimate party soda syphon. It took two sparklets bulbs, so it would last twice as long without a refill.
The Globemaster was the most expensive soda syphon in the range. Its ball shape fitted in well with a modern house.
The growth of sales of beer in party containers, such as the Watney's Party Seven, prompted a new use for the Sparklets bulb. It could now be used to produced draught beer on tap. The device was originally partnered with Davenports for their Drum Bitter, but was soon available from Watneys for the ubiquitous Party Seven.
More on Sparklets Soda Syphons
www.easyontheeye.net/soda/index.htm has a description of the Sparklets range.
Soda syphon bulbs
You can buy bulbs for Soda Syphons. These ISI, right, are available on Amazon.
Your comments on retro soda syphons
"Where can I find cartridges for my HOSTMASTER ? I am living in Paris, France. Thanks" JF Bordier
You can buy Sparklets bulbs on eBay. However, I think the ISI bulbs will also fit the Sparklets soda syphons, including the Hostmaster. Perhaps someone can confirm. I haven't tried them myself as I bought the last bulbs when Sparklets was still around. Retrowow
"I have a globemaster which needs a new seal (to stop leaks of gas!) where o where do we buy one?" Chris Harris
"I have a few BOC syphons (circa 1960's), but I need the cartridge holders. Any idea where I can buy some to fit those bottles? I did buy some generic cartridges, but they did not fit. Thanks" mo
"I have purchased a streamline and it leaks from the handle, also the taste is not at all nice, or very fizzy? can you help please." p sheehan
"I am looking for a drip tray for my soda syphon globe master any idea where I could purchase one." Cathie Clarke
"Heb een aantal BOC spuitwatersysphons maar weet niet exact hoe ze werken. Heb het geprobeerd met de patroonhouder van de slagroomspuit. Past wel maar geeft maar heel even een 'sissend' geluid, maar doet verder niets. Kun je de patronen van een slagroomspuit (Tefal) ook gebruiken voor de BOC sisphons? De houder past dus wel. heeft iemand een afbeelding van een patoon/cilinderhouder van een BOC, serienr. SHUV?" Helen
Translation from Dutch to English (thanks to Google): BOC have a number spray water syphons but do not know exactly how they work. Have a go with the cartridge of the spray whipped cream. Fits but also gives a very 'hiss' sound, but does nothing. Can the patterns of spray whipped cream (Tefal) also use the BOC sisphons? The holder fits so well. someone has a picture of a Paton / cylinder holder of a BOC, serial. SHUV?
"Where can I buy seals for sparklet soda syphons Many thanks" Derek Bensted
" I have some old cartridges (about twenty or thirty years old) for my Globemaster and am wondering if they would be safe to use." Carol
"I live in South Africa and I have a iSi soda siphon but I cannot find here a place to buy the iSi soda chargers. Can any body help me and give the name and address of a company that sells them in South Africa?" Robby van den Heuvel 25/11/2013
"Same as Derek. SO nearly there on resuscitating my GrandPa's syphon. Must be, what?, 60 years old. Some design, these things!!!. Likewise, the seal is the main problem. Have tried using a silica sealant, almost works....is it possible to actually purchase a seal?" Mark WIghtWICK 15/03/2014
I have to say I don't know a satisfactory way to fix the seals. If anyone does no I'd be grateful." Steven 16/03/2014
"have a BOC syphon serial no. SHUY where can I buy cartridge holders please, thank you O BAIN" o bain 08/04/2014
"You can find a lot of Sparklets spare parts at Die Siphon Manufaktur, we specialise in Sparklets Soda Siphons and offer repair services" niklas 07/05/2014
"Hi i have an old syphone with wire & the pin is missing..no puncture!
Is it possible to replace ..or even buy a complete top replacement mechanism .?
I have also another that needs a new top
Regards" Paul foster 21/10/2014
"My Sparklets Hostmaster is dribbling from the top - advice please, and do you know where I should go for spares? Thanks" Derek G 21/12/2014
"It is probably the rubber seal at the top. I'm not sure if you can get spares now.
best regards" Steven 21/12/2014
"Creamsupplies stock a large number of spares for the Sparklets and ISI syphons ." frederick allan jones 10/01/2015
"I see there is a comment that the fizzy drink does not taste very nice. Be careful if you are buying unbranded gas capsules as a similar capsule was used to inflate emergency life jackets and they were not filled with a food grade gas, not sure what was used but it probably wasn't intended to be used for drinks." David Neill 30/04/2015
"I'm in the UK and bought bulbs for my hostmaster mk 3 from Wilko's - Â£4 for Â£10 and they fit and work perfectly. Would love to source a drip tray though." Jill 11/06/2015
"I have 1960/70's syphon, head part marked "H[KorE?]MSYPHON", Made in germany. I need a new nylon bung for the top of the tube. Tube length 10". Can you help?" Colin Rigby 05/01/2016
"I've got a Streamline syphon, and use it with cartridges bought online from Ice Cream Supplies, but I'd love to know how much water I should be filling it with. Does anyone know?" Barbara Lacey 10/02/2016
"Any idea where i can get a replacement gasket to go round the plastic straw in a streamline syphon?" Peter Robinson 21/02/2016
"I have a Vintage SYPHOLUX Soda Siphon bottle complete with spare gas cartridges and cartridge holder.
I can send photo by email if you are interested. I live in Port Elizabeth South Africa." Pine Pienaar 15/06/2016
"Not finding much on this topic on the inter webs, but curious if the metal tubing or siphon 'straw' in a Sparklets Hostmaster is safe to use. Is it made of aluminum or with lead, as the tube is very malleable?" Ina 22/09/2016
"I am looking for one of the vintage Bulbs for a sparklet , i am in South Africa . Please can someone get a hold of me urgently." Mike Cook 15/03/2017
"I have a mesh Usa 1930s glass siphon SCG/PDP-WM ish.
Am looking for a rubber seal/ cork that goes in the tap mechanism
Anyone know where or how?" Andrew McNeilis McNeilis 04/11/2017
"I have a 1.8l Sypholux which needs to be repaired. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. Do you know whether there is an agent here that could assist?
Much appreciated!" Fred Heydenrych 21/01/2018
"I am a amateur collector of "sparklets"syphons,
both "globemaster and other types of syphon.
where can I purchase seals,washers,tubes and other spares bearing in mind the age of these items.
R W COOPER" R W COOPER 17/03/2018
"I have a lovely 1960s Streamline - Iím concerned that the internal collar or straw is made of lead - it is very soft and malleable metal. If it is lead - can it be taken out and replaced with a modern safe version. Thanks." John P 24/06/2018
"where can I purchase a plastic tube and other spares. I think mine are 60's." Steve Marples 20/07/2018
"I would try eBay. You might need to cannibalise another one. The rubber seals are the most difficult to replace as they perish." Steven 21/07/2018