Quick Guide to Sparkling Water (Carbonated Water or Seltzer)

What is sparkling water, aka carbonated water or seltzer water? Is it good for you? Here’s what you need to know about this bubbly beverage.

Vodka Soda

Bubbly sparkling water has exploded onto the scene, and these days grocery store shelves are loaded with dizzying colorful cans from LaCroix to Sprindrift. But what is it exactly, and how is it different from carbonated water or seltzer? Is it good for you and your teeth? How is it different from club soda?

Here we’ll break down the technical terminology and clear up the health benefits (spoiler: don’t worry about your teeth!). And, we’ll share some of our favorite cocktail recipes starring this bubbly mixer.

What is sparkling water? What’s carbonated or seltzer water?

What is sparkling water? Is it the same thing as carbonated water or seltzer water? What about club soda? Here are some of the differences between these very similar products:

  • Sparkling water, aka seltzer water, soda water, or carbonated water is water with no additives, carbonated by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s the base for brands like La Croix, or what comes out of a SodaStream.
  • Sparkling mineral water is water from a natural mineral spring that’s been carbonated. Examples of brands are Perrier or Topo Chico.

Keep in mind, many sparkling water brands have added flavors or sweeteners. Make sure to look for brands with no additives for your regular drinking, or if you’re using it for a cocktail that calls for soda water.

Then what’s club soda? And tonic water?

Sparkling water has a few differences from other types of carbonated beverages. Here’s what to know about club soda and tonic water:

  • Club soda is carbonated water infused with added minerals, which give it a salty or lightly sweet flavor. Club soda is most often used for cocktails. Stick to sparkling water for your regular drinking.
  • Tonic water is carbonated water with added quinine and sugar. It was first sold commercially in the 1850’s as a way to drink quinine, prescribed at the time to fight malaria. It tastes sweet and bitter, and is mostly used in cocktails, like the classic gin and tonic. 

Is sparkling water good for you?

Yes, as long as you stick to unflavored sparkling water with no additives and sugars! Sparkling water is just as hydrating as still, and some studies show it may have benefits for digestion.

Is sparkling water bad for your teeth? No, as long as its plain and unflavored. The American Dental Association indicates studies show that water and sparkling water have the same minimal impact on tooth enamel. Even better, it’s much better for your teeth than sugary drinks and soda. Keep in mind, though: citrus-flavored waters do have higher acid levels that increase the risk of damage to your enamel, so try to enjoy them in one sitting or with meals.

Can you make carbonated water at home?

Yes! There are lots of home carbonation systems on the market, due to the massive interest in sparkling water. The advantage to these systems? There’s much less aluminum can or bottle waste! We use a SodaStream to make our own water on demand.

Sparkling water or seltzer water have been used in cocktails for hundreds of years. You can use club soda interchangeably in cocktail recipes since it’s so similar. Add bubbles to wine and you’ve got a wine spritzer! Add it to gin and you’ve got a Gin Rickey or go non-alcoholic with a Lime Rickey or Cherry Lime Rickey. There are so many tasty drinks try: here are some of the most popular:


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Try these bubbly drinks with sparkling water (aka seltzer or carbonated water)! The Lime Rickey is outrageously refreshing drink with lime and soda water. Or go for a Vodka Soda: a tangy, bubbly cocktail!

Lime Rickey

  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) fresh lime juice*
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) soda water
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: lime wedges

Vodka Soda

  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) vodka
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) soda water
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)

  1. Lime rickey: Add the lime juice and simple syrup to highball glass and stir. Fill with ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with lime wedges.
  2. Vodka soda: Place the vodka and lime juice in a highball or lowball glass and add ice. Top off with soda water and enjoy. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

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