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[Edit: If you came here from Digg, hello. Once again, this is NOT my own recipe] I’m not sure about you, but when I was a kid I absolutely delighted in creating strange and inedible food concoctions. These early period “food pastiches” inevitably included ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, mayonaise and salad dressing. The trick then was to try to make it an inviting color (usually through liberal dashes of food coloring) so that an unexpecting parent would try and drink it.

I didn’t have much success back then, but those memories are part of the reason I still enjoy messing with food today. So, a combination of the hot weather blasting us, my need for something to drink at rollerhockey and money being short as usual, I decided to see if I couldn’t mix me up a batch of Homemade Gatorade. I mean, how hard could it be to make salty flavored water?

A plethora of Gatorade recipes exist, and though some of them rely on things like Potassium Chloride (salt substitute branded as Nu-Salt?), fructose and Kool-Aid mix, the basic ingredients are pretty much water, salt, sugar and some flavoring. I decided to have a shoot-out of Homemade Gatorade versus the real stuff since I had a couple bottles of Gatorade leftover.

Here’s the basic recipe I picked, I went with one that featured OJ because that’s what I had (apparently you can get some potassium from the OJ?)

Homemade Gatorade Recipe

1/2 cup orange juice — $0.15
9 tbs. Sugar — $0.03
3/8 tsp Salt – negligible
2 liters (approx) water – negligible

Total: $0.18

Using boiling or hot water can make things go faster, but you’ll need to chill it down somehow before fridging it. So just mix everything together and see if it tastes like Gatorade. Does it? Read on…


As I was mixing up the homemade batch, I started to have just the first inklings of some serious doubt about what I was getting myself into. After all, I think you can get ferociously sick or even croak from drinking too much salt water, right? And if it was so easy, why weren’t all my friends at hockey doing it? (aside: it turns out that some of them DO make their own “homemade stuff” … but many actually buy a ready-mixed powder cheaply as the base)

I lined up one glass of Homemade Gatorade and Real Orange flavored Gatorade. I took a swig of fakey Gatorade. My first impressions were: “Gag”, “Retch”, “Bleahhrg” and “Barf” in that exact order.

After I recovered and got up off the floor, I washed out my mouth with water and drank some of the real Gatorade. The difference is pretty much what you expect. I guess they’re not lying about those years of research spent perfecting it.

Real Gatorade tastes like Gatorade.. it also has a smoother feel to it which I suspect comes from them using corn syrup or fructose or whatever it is to make it easier to drink. Fakey Homemade Gatorade tastes like Orange Flavored Ocean (trademark pending).

I guess one of the only bright things about the homemade stuff is that it doesn’t have all that artificial coloring. That’s definitely evident when looking at the picture.

Ok, so this shouldn’t be surprising. Actually, my main complaint was that there wasn’t enough “taste” to the orange flavored ocean. So I tried dumping in some more orange juice and found the going to be much better. A bit more sugar helped too. At 1 1/2 cups of OJ it actually started to be drinkable. I ended up taking a small amount in a jar to rollerhockey and didn’t suffer any ill effects from ingesting it.

I think it would have been better with even more OJ flavoring. However, adding more OJ has it’s issues… I know all that citric acid is not supposed to be that good for some people when exercising. Causes stomach and heartburn issues? Also, at some point the economical benefits of making your own Sports Drink are going to be cancelled out by adding that much OJ. At that point, you’re better off buying the Kirkland brand (CostCo) of sports drink. Which is not too bad, by the way.

I’m not saying I’m never going to go “mad scientist” again on Cheap Eats, but I think there are certain things that you just might be better buying at the store instead of trying to save a few pennies. I think Gatorade definitely qualifies, at least for me. Though 18 cents for two litres of the homemade stuff is mighty cheap…

Price: $0.18
Cheap Eats Score: 3/10

24 Responses to “Making Homemade Gatorade”

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  1. Marvo Says:

    Wow! That sure was a lot of sugar.

  2. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    marvo – yeh, i thought 9 tbsp was too much at first. But actually it wasn’t enough!

  3. Ace N. Says:

    Of all the hundreds of Gatorades(and its cheaper imitator Powerade) that I’ve drank, it has never occurred to me to make it myself. The first picture looks like freshly dispensed urine…appealing to some, but not to me.

  4. skibs Says:

    Ooo…I did have a thing for making “strange and inedible food concoctions”…mainly for the rude neighborhood bully. And my concoction involved ointments from the medicine cabinet as well as garden pickings, which ending up looking like semi-chocolatey goodness amidst some white unmixable globs with a little “garnish” in a huge ziploc. He wasn’t home, so I left it with his mother. Nowdays, that would get a call to the police.

    Anyway, homeade gatorade sounds weird. At first, it reminded me of a cheap way to water down OJ for a large family with kids..but worse?!
    I’d definitely splurge for real gatorade if I needed some.

  5. Dan Says:

    not that I’m going to try myself to be sure, but I bet you’d get a lot more orange flavor if you used the super cheap frozen concentrated OJ instead of just regular oj.

  6. seanbear Says:

    Maybe you should have tried zesting an orange instead of adding juice. The zest is far more flavorful than the actual fruit and no citric acid.

  7. ozgur alaz Says:

    I like your recipes and submit it to digg
    I hope it will climb to front page
    Readers, if you like it
    Please add your diggs
    http://digg.com/mods/Homemade_Gatorade_Costs_only_0_18

  8. nick Says:

    Yeah, it made it to Digg’s front page. :-)

  9. Chris Says:

    Unfortunately, all you’ve made is a salty orange drink. As a sports drink , something you’d use while exercising, it’s mostly useless. One of those things Gatorade learned during those years of research was that the body can only absorb so many carbs so fast. So the optimal solution is one where carbs are ~6%. Any more than that will make you sick to your stomach.

  10. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    ace – ahh… i knew pee would be mentioned sooner or later

    skibs – yeah, i can afford the gatorade now. or at least the kirkland brand sports drink, but i couldn’t resist trying it. so, what did the bully do after you gave him the concoction?

    dan – didn’t think of that… but you’re probably right about concentrate

    seanbear – i’ve heard of using zest in recipes.. but wouldnt that be an awful lot of zest?

    ozgur alar – err, thank you. i think. man, my stats exploded all of the sudden..

    nick – eek. uh, yeah thank you all…

    chris – i think you are pretty much correct. but i didn’t get sick at all and i drank the entire pitcher while playing hockey, so i suspect i just got lucky w/ the amounts. I’d like to clarify that this is NOT my own recipe. I just found it while surfing around… searched for homemade gatorade and there was a ton of recipes. I chose the one where I had all the ingredients…

  11. Potash Says:

    You need a balanced electrolyte solution to replace the lost sodium and potassium. Mortons used to sell an “light” salt that had both sodium and potassium chloride salt mixture. This is less salty then regular salt and better for you. Check if Gatorade™ has potassium, You probably find it listed.

  12. Stu Says:

    I came up with an awesome idea!

    Take a bottle of water, and buy an actual orange. Drink when you’re thirsty and then eat the orange at the mid-point or something like they do (or used to do) in soccer matches.

  13. Paul Corsa Says:

    Lots of Athletes cut the sports drinks with water to reduce the sugar intake . OR, drink water and eat a banana-nature’s way.

  14. Mygirls Says:

    LOL! What a brave person you are.

  15. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    potash – it does list potassium. And yes, a couple of the recipes did list Morton’s Light Salt but i didn’t have that on hand.

    stu – actually, that used to be the drill at soccer when I was a kid. Parents were assigned to bring water or juice and then a big trash bag full of cut oranges. Only thing – with hockey you’re wearing gloves and your hands smell like yuck, so i don’t know if i’d want to mess w/ oranges.

    paul – yeah, another guy at hockey always has a banana. he also told me to forget about the sports drinks and just have water.

    mygirls – i’ll try nearly anything once… which can be a dangerous philosophy at times…

  16. Deb Says:

    Right on the money about the banana bit. Prevents cramps as well. If you really want to play all day, about an hour before you leave the house, make a banana and yogurt smoothie with blueberries. You get protein from the yogurt, high vitamin C from the blueberries, and potassium and sugar from our friend the banana. If you don’t like yogurt, you could make a shake with milk instead. Almond milk buys you more protein and fiber. ‘Course, that’s not cheap eats, just healthy.

    I really enjoy your blog. Good job!

  17. bingsy Says:

    Gatorade is a good remedy for a hangover. That’s the only time I think I’d need to drink it. Otherwise I just drink water when exercising.

  18. Tatsz Says:

    i just recently made ” fakey” gatorade with corn syrup and the stuff listed on the directions and some that only used directions the directions. the one with corn syrup was way sweeter and drinkable. the other one was dull and salty

  19. Sibyl Jynx Says:

    I randomly wandered onto this thread and found it terribly intriguing. I partcipate in a group that does medieval re-enacting and we drink what we refer to as ‘medieval gatorade’ that works the same as powerdrinks, has less sugar, is made at home, can be made in any variety of flavors you like and is so cheap and easy to make.

    Sekanjabin, is a drink that originated (the argument continues between people who care about exact dates and origins) in the Middle East and was documented in the tenth century in Persia and travelled from there due to the crusades to Europe. Sekanjibin is still drunk in the Middle east, usually very cold for refreshment and during certain holidays, or hot (in the case of lemon sekinjabin and some others) to comfort one during illness, similar to the our use of hot lemon tea.

    Basic recipes consist of vinegar, water, sugar (or sugar substitute, my friend is diabetic and makes hers with whatever fake sugar she has around and loves it) and whatever you want to use to flavor it (generally you let any herbs steep in the solution while it is coolin, gentler to the herbs so you don’t get a burned flavor in the background, although stuff like lemon juice we like to squeeze in while it is boiling). You heat this solution to make it blend and then cool it (with any herbs you used steeping, remember?), strain the herbs once cool and stick it in a bottle for storage and keep it on a shelf.

    The consistency is thick and syrupy as it is basically concentrated gatorade. When you want to drink it you pour a little bit of the syrup into a glass, plastic bottle, whatever, and add water to taste. I prefer mine a bit more watery than my friends because the more one uses the sweeter it gets and on ice if I have it. We camp in humid August weather of PA and it got over 100F this year. However, with this stuff you won’t dehydrate even with the 5-10 mi of hiking a day and hours and hours spent sweating in the sun on the archery range.

    Great stuff! Play with how much water you want, play with what flavors you like (I made a fake sugar lime sekinjibin for my diabetic friend, a hardcore tequilla drinker once she found out that it is ok to drink tequilla as a diabetic and she loves to mix it! We have also done a pomegranite sekinjibin (some liked it, I hated it as it reminded me of robutussin) a lavender sekinjibin, yum, and always have some mint, rosemary and thyme lying around the house) and give it some time, for some people it is a bit of an acquired taste for others, like me, I was hooked on my second sip.

    Basic Sekanjabin Recipe, Persian Style
    4 cups sugar (you can use less if you like or even sugar substitute. Remember though that this make a concentrate and you use only a tsp-tbls for an entire glass of water, dependant upon how strong and sweet you like it to taste)
    2 1/2 cups water
    1 cup vinegar (Red Wine works best) (we usually use cider but have also used white and a variety of random other stuff, play with it what do you think would taste good?)
    Lots of fresh mint or Lemon Balm (dried will do)(we also like to do a thyme or a rosemary. At many events rosemary and thyme are very popular. Once again play with it!)

    Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the vinegar and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat and insert sprigs of mint into the pan.

    To serve, cut with water to taste (a little grated cucumber can be added.)

    Sekinjibin Recipes on the web
    (scroll down to the sekinjibin section, there are quite a few different websites listed)

    another basic recipe with a pic and some modern history

    this is a great site. it is basically a blog with more of the period conscious individualls sharing ideas and asking eachother quesitons…. great recipes and a large variety of styles!

    Just google it….. about 10K sites come up.

    Give it a try. If you aren’t sure, play with it a bit and try again. I have yet to meet someone who hated every sikanjibin. I didn’t do a price check on how much it costs but on my tight budget there is always room for the ingredients considering how long a bottle lasts us. We made 2 bottles for our camp this summer of 40 people and still had enough for 5 more glasses in the bottle when we broke camp 2 weeks later. Let me know how you like it!

    Thanks,
    SJ

  20. Josh Says:

    Hello,

    I wanted to let you know that your recipe is really nothing like Gatorade.

    It’s not the sugar in Gatorade that improves performance or hydration, it’s actually a combination of processed sugars, water and carbohydrates. Important ingredients include sucrose and potassium.

    The amount of sugar in this recipe can be bad for you. Off the shelf granular or baker’s sugar is not the same as sucrose syrup and does not provide the same benefits. That is why sports drinks such as Lucozade and Gatorade contain processed syrups especially suited for the purpose for which they are included rather than sugar.

  21. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    josh – fair enough. But did you read the second sentence of the post? THIS IS NOT MY RECIPE.

  22. Celestia Says:

    For someone so intent on bashing the recipe, Josh completely forgot the sodium. I love your blog.

  23. Thea Says:

    ok…well i tried this recipe and i did not like it at all!
    there was too much salt i tasted…and when i added more OJ and sugar it didnt help.
    I think id rather spend money on this part of my foods rather than puking on this kind of drink

  24. Thea Says:

    oh and i tried it with just OJ,sugar and water and it was pretty good but i think the salt was the point of why its a sports drink and not just a juice you can drink.




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