What’s the Difference Between Club Soda, Seltzer, and Sparkling Mineral Water?

published Oct 21, 2014
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Buying water, especially fizzy, carbonated water, seems to be a bit complicated today. There are so many different labels, not to mention brands, that make the whole process a bit confusing. Here’s the scoop on the three most popular kinds of bubbly water: seltzer, club soda, and sparkling mineral water!

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

What Makes the Water Bubbly?

While carbonation may occur naturally in mineral water, all other carbonated waters get effervescence from being highly charged with carbon dioxide. What distinguishes the different types of carbonated water, however, is what else is in the bottle, namely the water and other ingredients.

Here’s a guide with each water’s ingredients, carbonation method, flavor profile, and uses!

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Seltzer Water

  • Ingredient: Plain water
  • Carbonation: Added carbon dioxide
  • Flavor: Very clean tasting, although this is the most common variety of carbonated water to be “flavored” with other ingredients like citrus
  • Uses: Everyday drinking; cocktails; can be used interchangeably with club soda

Club Soda

  • Ingredients: Plain water and mineral-like ingredients like sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, potassium sulfate, and disodium phosphate
  • Carbonation: Added carbon dioxide
  • Flavor: Slightly more mineral-y tasting than seltzer water, but still a relatively clean taste
  • Uses: Everyday drinking; cocktails; can be used interchangeably with seltzer water

Sparkling Mineral Water

  • Ingredients: Natural spring or well water, sometimes bottled at the source, which contains minerals like salts and sulfur compounds
  • Carbonation: Naturally-occurring carbonation due to gases or carbonated by adding carbon dioxide
  • Flavor: Due to the the minerals and sodium, sparkling mineral water has a heavier mouthfeel and distinct taste that can vary depending on where the water came from
  • Uses: Everyday drinking; not recommended for use in cocktails since it has a distinct flavor and is the most expensive of the carbonated waters