How to Read & Understand Sparkling Water Labels

Written by Abigail Jolly
February 11, 2024 | Reading time 10 minutes

Understanding what's in your sparkling water is more than just reading labels; it's about deciphering the scientific vocab and understanding their implications for your health.

At Soda Sense, we believe that informed choices lead to healthier living. As advocates for transparency and control over what we consume, we encourage everyone to become label-literate. This blog post aims to guide you through the maze of sparkling water labels, so you can make an informed decision about what you're drinking.

Are There Chemicals in Canned Seltzer Waters?

sparkling water label

Yes, harmful ingredients can be hidden under un-recognizable names within some canned seltzer brands. While they are generally safer than soda, they are not devoid of additives and artificial flavorings that can have a lasting impact on your health.

Ditch the canned seltzers and switch to at-home soda makers!

Guide to Reading Canned Sparkling Water Labels

Let's take a deeper dive into the world of canned seltzer labels by uncovering some common ingredients you might stumble upon and explaining what they really mean. We're also going to provide you tips on how to spot potentially harmful additives. Knowledge is power, and with this guide, you'll have the power to choose a healthier sparkling water option.

Your first line of defense is to check for 'carbonated water' or 'sparkling water' as the primary ingredient. Be wary of 'flavored water' or 'vitamin water', as these may contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Let's read more about other ingredients you may find on sparkling water labels:

Unfamiliar Chemical Names

Often, harmful ingredients are hidden under lengthy, hard-to-pronounce chemical names. Keep an eye out for words ending in "-ose" (like dextrose, fructose), as they typically denote sugars. Artificial sweeteners can also appear as aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium.

Artificial Flavors

If a label mentions "artificial flavors," be wary. These are chemically derived additives used to mimic natural flavors, and their long-term health impacts are still under study. They can also be used to cover up the taste of low-quality ingredients.

Citric Acid

While citric acid is a common ingredient in sparkling water, it's worth checking if it's naturally or artificially derived. If artificially made, it can have traces of genetically modified corn and potentially harmful chemical compounds.


Preservatives such as sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate are used to extend the shelf life of the product but can have adverse health effects with long-term consumption. Look for preservative-free options or those using natural alternatives like vitamin C.

Remember, the best way to ensure you know what's in your drink is to make it yourself. With Soda Sense, you gain complete control over your ingredients and can enjoy refreshing sparkling water without any hidden surprises.

What Are PFAS or Forever Chemicals in Seltzer Water?

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of man-made chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. These chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. PFAS are used in a wide range of consumer products, such as non-stick pans, water-repellent clothing, pizza boxes, and even some canned seltzers due to their resistance to grease, oil, water, and heat.

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes. When choosing your sparkling water, ensure to opt for brands that openly state they test for and ensure the absence of PFAS in their products.

PFAS in Soda

sparkling water label

The presence of PFAS in sodas has become an escalating concern as investigations into these harmful chemicals persist. They are utilized in the lining of soda cans to mitigate corrosion and leaks, but minute amounts of these chemicals can permeate into the beverage itself. Elevated levels of these compounds can give rise to a range of health issues, including liver damage, elevated cholesterol, and even certain forms of cancer.

The situation becomes even more concerning due to the lack of awareness among consumers. Many soda companies do not provide transparency regarding their use of these chemicals, and the FDA does not enforce mandatory testing or reporting. Therefore, it is crucial to choose beverage brands that have committed to being PFAS-free. Opting for home soda makers, such as those offered by Soda Sense, can provide a safer alternative as you have full control over the ingredients in your beverages.

Related Read: What Are the Best Alternatives to Soda?

What Are the Lasting Health Effects of PFAS?

Extended exposure to PFAS can have numerous negative impacts on human health. Some studies have shown that PFAS have the potential to affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children, lower a woman's chance of getting pregnant, interfere with the body's natural hormones, elevate cholesterol levels, affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer, particularly kidney and testicular cancers. It's important to note that the amount and duration of exposure can significantly influence the severity of these effects. 

Further Insights into the Health Effects of PFAS

PFAS have been dubbed as 'forever chemicals' due to their persistent nature. Once consumed, they remain in the human body for extended periods, accumulating over time and potentially leading to a variety of health problems. Apart from the previously mentioned impacts, PFAS also have other concerning health effects.

Liver Damage

Exposure to high levels of PFAS can lead to increased liver enzymes, signaling the possibility of liver damage. This can manifest in reduced liver function, leading to problems with digestion and detoxification.

Harmful to Infants and Children

PFAS are particularly harmful to infants and children. They can interfere with the body's natural ability to produce antibodies, weakening the immune system and making children more susceptible to infections. Additionally, studies have indicated potential links between PFAS exposure and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

Cardiovascular Diseases

There's growing evidence suggesting that prolonged exposure to PFAS can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart diseases. Some studies indicate a potential relation between high levels of PFAS and increased cholesterol levels, a key risk factor for heart diseases.

Ensuring your beverages are free from PFAS is an important step towards maintaining your health. By using a home soda maker and CO2 canisters from Soda Sense, you can enjoy your sparkling water with peace of mind, knowing that you're not consuming any harmful substances.

Are Bottled Seltzers Healthier than Canned Seltzers?

sparkling water label

While it might seem like bottled seltzers are a healthier option due to their premium pricing and fancier packaging, the truth is, that whether a seltzer is bottled or canned doesn't necessarily determine its healthiness. It's the content inside that matters. Both canned and bottled seltzers can contain added sugars, artificial flavors, and other hidden ingredients that aren't ideal for health-conscious consumers.

Furthermore, even if a seltzer is free of sugar and artificial flavors, it may still be made with water of lesser quality. That is why opting to create your own sparkling water using a soda maker is the ideal choice. By doing so, you not only have control over the ingredients but also the assurance of water quality, ensuring that what you consume is pure and beneficial to your health.

Related Read: Soda Machine vs. Canned Seltzer Water: Which Is More Affordable?

Why Make the Switch to At-Home Soda Makers

There are numerous compelling reasons to switch to an at-home soda maker:

Soda Makers Allow You to Control the Ingredients

In making your own sparkling water at home with a soda maker, you have the unique opportunity to control every ingredient that goes into your drink. This means you can avoid potential additives or contaminants that often make their way into canned seltzers or bottled sparkling water. You are in the driver's seat and can exclude sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and those hard-to-pronounce chemical compounds.

Moreover, you can choose the quality of your water source, which further ensures the purity of your drink. You can decide the level of carbonation, suiting it to your personal preference. Whether you like your sparkling water mildly fizzy or with a strong kick, soda makers allow for this customization.

Additionally, making your own sparkling water gives you the freedom to experiment with natural flavors. You can add a splash of fresh lemon or lime, a hint of mint, or even a dash of fruit juice for a hint of natural sweetness. This way, you can enjoy a refreshing, fizzy drink that caters to your taste buds while being confident about its purity and healthiness.

Soda Makers Are More Environmentally Friendly

By reducing the consumption of single-use plastic bottles, you contribute to less waste and pollution. Canned seltzers require an extensive manufacturing process, involving resource-intensive mining for aluminum, energy-consuming production and recycling methods, and long-distance transportation, all of which contribute to carbon emissions.

In contrast, using a soda maker at home involves reusing the same bottle and replacing only the CO2 canisters, saving countless cans from ending up in landfills or oceans. Additionally, Soda Sense's CO2 canister refill and exchange service is an eco-friendly solution, further reducing waste by enabling the reuse of CO2 canisters. This service uses minimal packaging for shipping and returns, further combating the environmental impact.

By making the switch to a home soda maker, you're not only creating a healthier drink but also contributing to a more sustainable planet.

Soda Makers Are More Cost-Effective

At first, the initial investment for a soda maker might seem a bit steep. However, when you break down the economics, it's clear that making your own sparkling water at home can be far more budget-friendly in the long run.

The cost of a soda maker varies, but let's consider an average price of around $100. A new, full 60L CO2 canister from Soda Sense costs about $30, and it can be used to make up to 60 liters of sparkling water. That comes out to about $0.50 per liter.

On the other hand, a popular brand of carbonated water typically comes with a price tag of around $1.50 for a one-liter bottle. Over time, these expenses can accumulate. If you consume one liter of sparkling water daily, the cost of the soda maker will be recouped in less than four months. Beyond this breakeven point, each liter you enjoy will essentially be half the price of a commercially purchased bottle.

Moreover, Soda Sense's CO2 canister refill and exchange service adds another layer to the cost-effectiveness. Instead of buying new canisters each time, you can simply exchange your empty one for a filled one, at a much lower cost. Therefore, investing in a soda maker is a wise choice for your health, your wallet, and the environment.

Soda Makers Are Convenient and Easy to Use

Soda makers are designed with user-friendliness in mind. With just a few simple steps, you can have freshly carbonated water within seconds, without the need to carry heavy bottles from the store. Simply fill the bottle with your chosen water, attach it to the machine, and press the carbonation button until your desired level of fizz is achieved. Your sparkling water is ready to enjoy as is, or you can add your favorite flavors. Furthermore, certain soda maker models are compact and require no electricity or batteries, making them a convenient addition to your kitchen countertop or even for on-the-go use.

Maintenance of a soda maker is also straightforward. The reusable bottles are easy to clean, and the CO2 canisters are simple to replace, especially with Soda Sense's CO2 canister refill and exchange service. By providing you with regular, hassle-free deliveries of new canisters and pickups of your empty ones, Soda Sense ensures that you always have a fresh supply on hand, making your sparkling water experience seamless and enjoyable.

sparkling water label

Make the Switch to At-Home Sparkling Water

The benefits of switching to an at-home soda maker are manifold. From being able to control the quality of your drink's ingredients and reducing your environmental footprint to making significant savings in the long run, soda makers have much to offer. They also provide convenience, user-friendly operation, and ease of maintenance.

With Soda Sense's CO2 canister refill and exchange service, your soda-making experience becomes even simpler, more cost-effective, and environmentally friendly. So why continue buying canned seltzers when you can enjoy pure, customized, and healthier sparkling water right in the comfort of your own home? Make the switch today and embrace the many advantages that a soda maker has to offer.

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