Tonic water, club soda, seltzer, and sparkling water are all carbonated water but they differ in their mineral content and taste.
Many people seeking a healthier lifestyle have become more mindful about their dietary choices, including what they drink.
Carbonated water has become a great substitute for soda and other sweetened soft drinks, which explains its steady growth in popularity. Plus, it appeals to many people because it’s both hydrating and fizzy (1).
However, since many types of carbonated water exist, you may wonder what sets each kind apart.
This article explains the differences between club soda, seltzer, and sparkling and tonic waters.
Simply put, club soda, seltzer, and sparkling and tonic waters are types of carbonated water.
However, they vary in processing methods and added compounds. This results in different mouthfeels or flavors, which is why some people prefer one type over another.
Here are basic definitions of each (
Club soda is water that’s carbonated by injecting it with carbon dioxide gas, or CO2, then infused with added minerals.
Minerals commonly added to club soda include:
- potassium sulfate
- sodium chloride
- disodium phosphate
- sodium bicarbonate
The amounts of minerals depend on the manufacturer. These minerals may enhance the flavor of club soda by giving it a slightly salty taste.
Like club soda, seltzer is water that has been carbonated. Given the similarities between them, you can use seltzer as a substitute for club soda in cocktail mixers.
However, seltzer generally doesn’t contain added minerals, which gives it a plainer taste — although this may depend on the brand.
Seltzer originated in Germany, where naturally occurring carbonated water was bottled and sold, before taking off in the United States.
Sparkling mineral water
Unlike club soda or seltzer, sparkling mineral water is naturally carbonated. Its bubbles come from a spring or well with naturally occurring carbonation.
Spring water contains a variety of minerals, such as sodium, magnesium, and calcium. However, the amounts vary based on the source from which the spring water was bottled.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mineral water must contain at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved solids — which include minerals and trace elements — from the bottling source (
The mineral content of water may change the taste significantly. That’s why each brand of sparkling mineral water typically has a unique taste.
Some producers further carbonate their products by adding carbon dioxide, making them even bubblier.
Tonic water has the most unique taste of all four beverages.
Like club soda, it is carbonated water with added minerals. However, tonic water also contains quinine, a compound isolated from the bark of cinchona trees that gives this drink its bitter taste (
Tonic water was historically used to prevent malaria in tropical areas where the disease was prevalent. As such, it used to contain significantly higher amounts of quinine (
Today, quinine is only present in small amounts to give tonic water its bitter taste, which is commonly masked by sweetening it with either high fructose corn syrup or sugar (
This beverage is often used as a mixer for cocktails, especially those including gin or vodka.
Club soda, seltzer, sparkling water, and tonic water are all carbonated drinks. However, differences in production, as well as mineral or additive content, result in unique tastes.
Club soda, seltzer, sparkling, and tonic water all contain very few nutrients.
This table compares the nutrients in 12 ounces (355 mL) of all four beverages (
|Club soda||Seltzer||Sparkling mineral water||Tonic water|
|Sodium||3% of the daily value (DV)||0% of the DV||2% of the DV||2% of the DV|
|Calcium||1% of the DV||0% of the DV||9% of the DV||0% of the DV|
|Zinc||3% of the DV||0% of the DV||0% of the DV||3% of the DV|
|Copper||2% of the DV||0% of the DV||0% of the DV||2% of the DV|
|Magnesium||1% of the DV||0% of the DV||9% of the DV||0% of the DV|
As you can see, tonic water is the only beverage that contains calories, all of which come from added sugar.
Although club soda, sparkling mineral water, and tonic water contain some nutrients, the amounts are very low. By and large, their minerals are added for taste and are unlikely to offer health benefits in such small amounts.
Club soda, seltzer, and sparkling and tonic waters contain very few nutrients. Tonic water is the only beverage that contains calories and sugar.
Club soda, sparkling, and tonic water contain different minerals to achieve different tastes.
Club soda is infused with mineral salts to enhance its taste and fizz. These include potassium sulfate, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate, and sodium bicarbonate.
Seltzer is made similarly to club soda but generally doesn’t contain added minerals, giving it a plainer taste.
As for sparkling mineral water, its mineral content depends on the spring or well from which it came. Each spring or well contains different amounts of minerals and trace elements.
Lastly, tonic water offers similar types and amounts of minerals as club soda but also contains quinine and sweeteners.
Taste variations between club soda, seltzer, and sparkling and tonic waters are primarily due to different types and amounts of minerals. Tonic water also contains quinine and sugar.
Club soda, seltzer, and sparkling mineral water have similar nutritional profiles. All three beverages are a great choice to quench your thirst and keep you hydrated.
If you struggle to meet your daily water needs through plain water alone, any of these drinks would make a suitable alternative.
Additionally, you may find that these beverages soothe an upset stomach due to their carbonation (
However, tonic water contains a high amount of sugar and calories. So, you should limit your intake of it, given the link between sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (
Club soda, seltzer, and sparkling mineral water are great alternatives to plain water when it comes to staying hydrated. However, aim to minimize your tonic water intake, since it’s high in calories and sugar.
Club soda, seltzer, and sparkling and tonic waters are different types of carbonated water.
Club soda is infused with carbon dioxide and mineral salts. Similarly, seltzer is artificially carbonated but generally doesn’t contain added minerals. Tonic water is also carbonated but contains added quinine and sugar, which means it provides calories.
In comparison, sparkling mineral water is naturally carbonated from a spring or well.
Among the four, club soda, seltzer, and sparkling water are all good choices that may benefit your health. Which one you choose to drink is simply a matter of preference.
However, you may want to limit your intake of tonic water due to its sugar content.
Just one thing
Try this today: My favorite way to enjoy a bubbly drink on a hot summer day is by drinking club soda mixed with lemon juice and a bit of salt. It’s genuinely refreshing — and doubles as a mocktail!