Soda Water vs Sparkling Water

Written by Abigail Jolly
February 28, 2024 | Reading time 6 minutes

Whether you're making a drink, at the grocery store, or simply looking for something bubbly to drink instead of plain water, it can feel confusing differentiating between soda water and sparkling water. If you've ever wondered which carbonated beverage to buy then you've come to the right place as the difference between soda water and sparkling water is quite simple.

What's the Difference Between Soda Water and Sparkling Water?

soda water vs sparkling water

Soda water and sparkling water are both made by infusing still water with carbon dioxide by forced pressure, however soda water typically is also infused with bicarbonate soda as well, where sparkling water is not.

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Is Soda Water the Same as Sparkling Water?

Yes and no. Any kind of water, whether it be from the well, filtered, unfiltered, you name it, can be considered sparkling water once forced carbonation is added. Sparkling water can also go by similar names such as seltzer water.

However, not all soda water can be considered sparkling water. If soda water has been infused with more than simple CO2, it can no longer be classified as sparkling water.

The best way to determine if your bubbly beverage is considered to be a part of the sparkling water family simply comes down to one thing: additives. If your drink is carbonated but contains added ingredients, then it is no longer just sparkling water. This is not to be mistaken with natural ingredients though as even filtered water contains common ingredients like calcium, sodium, and magnesium.

This graphic is a great tool to easily spot the differences in your commonly used carbonated beverages:

What is in Soda Water?

Soda water is essentially carbonated water that has been infused with added minerals, primarily bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). This inclusion not only imparts a slight taste difference when compared to plain sparkling water but also makes soda water especially useful in various culinary and beverage applications.

The infusion of bicarbonate of soda into soda water doesn't just contribute to its unique taste; it also enhances its fizziness. This is because when bicarbonate of soda dissolves in water, it interacts with carbon dioxide (CO2) to produce carbonic acid. This reaction slightly increases the carbonation level, leading to a more effervescent and tangy experience compared to plain sparkling water. This extra fizz makes soda water a preferred choice for many cocktail recipes and beverages seeking a vibrant, refreshing quality.

Sparkling Water vs. Carbonated Water

While the terms "sparkling water" and "carbonated water" are often used interchangeably, it's important to note a subtle difference. Carbonated water is a broad term that includes any water into which carbon dioxide gas has been dissolved under pressure, giving it fizz and bubbles. This category encompasses sparkling water, seltzer water, club soda, and tonic water.

Each variant can serve different purposes and may contain varying levels of minerals and additives. Sparkling water typically refers to natural spring or mineral water that has been carbonated, whereas seltzer water is just plain water that has been artificially carbonated and lacks added minerals.

Learn more about the differences between each carbonated beverage.

Sparkling Water vs. Soda

When we move our focus towards sodas, things begin to diverge significantly from sparkling water. Sodas contain carbonated water, but they are characterized by the addition of sweeteners—like sugar or artificial sweeteners—and flavors. Unlike sparkling water which aims to maintain the purity of water with just added carbonation, sodas venture into the realm of sweetened beverages designed for taste rather than hydration.

The prevalence of sodas across the globe is tied to their wide array of flavors, from classic cola to exotic fruit blends, catering to a broad spectrum of palates. However, the high sugar content or the presence of artificial sweeteners in sodas has led to health concerns over their regular consumption, including issues related to obesity, dental health, and cardiovascular diseases.

On the healthier spectrum, sparkling water offers a bubbly alternative that caters to those seeking the sensory experience of soda without health drawbacks. Increasingly popular are flavored sparkling waters, which infuse carbonated water with natural essences and extracts without adding sugar or artificial sweeteners. This evolution has positioned sparkling water as a healthier, calorie-free alternative for those looking to satisfy their carbonation cravings. Make sure to read the sparkling water label though to ensure there are no hidden chemicals or harmful ingredients.

The conversation around sparkling water versus soda often settles on this point: while soda may offer more robust flavors and satisfying sweetness, sparkling water provides a guilt-free, hydrating experience with the added bonus of carbonation, making it a favored choice for health-conscious consumers and those looking to reduce their sugar intake.

Sparkling Water vs. Club Soda

What separates club soda from soda water, or sparkling water, are the additives found in each beverage. Club soda is in fact a carbonated beverage, however, it contains specific additives - like sodium, potassium salts, and minerals; whereas sparkling water's mineral density is not as strong. This means that club soda has a much stronger flavor than either soda water or sparkling water. Due to its consistent flavor, club soda is often used in many cocktail pairings.

If you are concerned that consuming carbonated water regularly could be harmful to your health, rest assured this fear has been debunked by many health specialists including Healthline who have actually found potential health benefits to consuming carbonated water.

What about Sparkling Water vs. Sparkling Spring Water?

soda water vs sparkling water

If you go down the beverage aisle in your local grocery store, you've likely noticed there's a large price difference between regular sparkling water, or soda water, vs sparkling spring water. There is a good reason for that!

As we know, sparkling water, or soda water, is filtered water that has been artificially carbonated with CO2 -- leaving endless bubbles for you to enjoy. Sparkling spring water, however, is naturally carbonated from underground springs. Meaning the carbonation process has not been done through artificial means.

This leaves the beverage with not only real bubbles from the earth but also consists of natural minerals found from underground sources -- similar to mineral water. To put it simply, sparkling spring water is more expensive in stores because it is purer, contains real bubbles from the earth, and is packed with natural minerals.

If you are curious about the difference between mineral water vs sparkling water, you can read more about it here.

Can I Only Buy Sparkling Water or Soda Water at the Store?

The great news about carbonated, filtered water is it can be produced just about anywhere! Due to its simplicity in ingredients, all you'll need to have endless bubbles right at your fingertips are a soda machine and CO2 canisters. Many brands have great soda machines at an affordable price, but the Sensei Soda Maker is great if you are looking to purchase soda machines nearby and carbonate anything, not just water!

If you already have a soda machine but are running into issues with keeping full CO2 canisters in the home, join the Soda Sense CO2 refill club to ship and receive canisters right from your home!

Key Take Aways:

  1. Soda water and sparkling water are virtually the same things. Both beverages are filtered water that has been artificially carbonated with CO2, giving them their signature bubbles.
  2. Club soda contains specific additives - like sodium, potassium salts, and minerals - which give it a much stronger flavor than either soda water or sparkling water.
  3. Sparkling spring water is naturally carbonated from underground springs and contains real bubbles from the earth as well as natural minerals found in mineral waters.
  4. You can purchase sparkling spring water, club soda, and sparkling water at the store. However, you can only make sparkling water or soda water at home. To do so, all you'll need are a soda machine and CO2 canisters.

Start Making Your Own Sparkling Water

There are many options when it comes to purchasing these bubbly drinks; one can buy them at stores or get a soda machine for home use that uses CO2 canisters to provide endless bubbles right at your fingertips! Ultimately, all of these fizzy beverages offer something unique depending on what you're looking for in terms of taste and price point – so be sure to look into all of your available options before making a purchase.

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