Sparkling water vs Club Soda vs Seltzer vs Tonic

When at a local restaurant or walking down the aisle of a grocery store, you’ll likely find various types of carbonated beverages, including:

  • Sparkling Water
  • Club Soda
  • Seltzer
  • Tonic

Many people assume these products are the same; however, this is not the case. These products are quite different from one another. Below, we’ve provided you with a breakdown of the various carbonated beverages so that you know which one to purchase when you want to quench your thirst.

Sparkling Water

Sparkling water, often sold as sparkling mineral water, is a product that comes naturally carbonated. The carbonation comes from a natural spring or well. Sparkling water also contains calcium, sodium, and magnesium. These minerals could be an excellent addition to your dietary plan.

When you buy sparkling mineral water, you need to pay extra-close attention to the label. Manufacturers source the water from different locations, so the number of minerals in each could be different. For instance, one manufacturer could offer water with more calcium, while another offers more sodium.

Due to the various minerals, you may find that the taste of sparkling water can also vary. You may need to sample different brands to find the one that you like best. You will probably also find out very quickly that this kind of carbonated water is more expensive than the other tasty varieties we are sharing with you.

Club Soda

Another product that you’ll find is club soda. Club soda is similar to sparkling water because it also has some minerals. However, the biggest difference between the two is that manufacturers add carbonation and minerals after the fact. They don't occur naturally in club soda like they do in sparkling water.

Each manufacturer adds the minerals they want so the flavor and nutritional profile of club soda can vary from one brand to the other just like with sparkling water. Many people find club soda to have a slightly salty taste too.


Another type of carbonated water that you’ll find is seltzer. Seltzer, like carbonated water, gets its carbonation later on. However, unlike club soda, seltzer does not contain any minerals. Many people find that seltzer tastes much more like “natural spring water” than sparkling mineral water or club soda.

You may also find that seltzers often come with natural flavors. This is not something that sparkling mineral water and club soda can do because the minerals take over the taste of the other waters. Since there are no flavors, the manufacturers can add them in. Like citrus? They can add citrus flavor for a boost of tasty excitement.

Tonic Water

Tonic water likely has the most exciting taste of the four different types of carbonated water on our list. However, it also is the least healthy. That’s because many manufacturers often add high-fructose corn syrup or natural sugar to the beverage to improve the taste. Because of the added sugary substances, it really is not much different than grabbing a soda.  

Tonic water contains something called quinine. This compound adds a bitter taste to the water. Because the flavor tends to be so bitter, many manufacturers don’t add more than trace amounts to the water. A good thing about the bitterness though is that it pairs pretty well with lime and gin, so it is a popular bar drink.

Of the four different carbonated waters on our list, tonic water is the one that you’re least likely to drink on its own. Many people drink seltzer straight-up. And, if you find one with a taste that you like, you can drink sparkling mineral water and club soda out of the bottle. However, you likely won’t do this with tonic water. Instead, you’ll find yourself using tonic water as a mixer for cocktails.

Which One Is Best?

If you’re trying to figure out which one of the four carbonated waters you should drink, you should identify your reasons for wanting to drink them in the first place. If you struggle with drinking enough water during the day, then you’ll likely want to drink seltzer. Seltzer comes in many natural flavors, making it easier to swallow than tap or spring water.

Carbonated water hydrates you just as well as regular water. So, if you find yourself struggling to drink the recommended 64-ounce water requirement, you’ll want to try seltzer water.

If you find minerals lacking in your diet, you’ll want to try either sparkling water or club soda. You’ll need to try various products to find one that you enjoy. 

All these bubbly waters are calorie free and are considered to be pretty healthy, so don't feel bad about trying a few until you find the one you like best. And hey, maybe you will even go as far as ditching the sugary soda while you're at it too!