Are all types of carbonated water the same?

glass of bubbly water

Recently as I stared at my Top Chico (current fave), procrastinating on a project, I noticed it was labeled sparkling mineral water. That got me wondering…why called it sparkling mineral water and not just sparkling water? Is there a difference? Is it proper to call all bubbly carbonated waters “sparkling water”? Or is there something more specific that makes a brand put different words on the can or bottle? Is a marketing scheme or a real fact?

I am a big fan of bubbles. Because of that love for bubbles and (at the time) the growing trend of carbonated water, I latched on to the craze and cut down my soda cravings significantly by replacing it with a healthy sparkling carbonated water option instead. If you’re looking for a way to cut back on diet or regular soda, I honestly recommend you try out a carbonated water option and see what you think!

Although it has been around since the 80s, La Croix really spearheaded the carbonated water trend and broke through the market over a decade ago now, making a name for themselves (even though no one still knows how to properly pronounce it… or wait is that just me?). Since that time, there have been a crazy number of carbonated drinks that have shown up in stores and restaurants. Or maybe they were always there but we all finally started noticing them?

After a ton of research about carbonated water (and I mean more than was probably necessary) I found some pretty solid answers that I can’t wait to share. If you were wondering if carbonated water is hydrating or even good for you, read more on that topic in another one of our water related posts. There was a lot of varying definitions out there of what makes each carbonated water unique but I believe I was able to find the best sources of truth for this topic. 

In this post, I break each carbonated water down specifically, water by water, and include some well-known brands associated with each category so we can all be fully educated on what carbonated water we want the next time we make a choice! 

Sparkling water

THE FACTS

Sparkling water by definition is when the carbonation or “bubbles” are naturally occurring, straight from the source. These waters do not contain any added minerals such as sodium and only contain natural flavor if they have been added. Also, because it is categorized as sparkling water, it is regulated like bottled water.

Sparkling water brands we love:

  • Spindrift
  • Bubly
  • La Croix
  • Waterloo
  • AHA (Fun fact. Coca-Cola replaced their Dasani Sparkling Water brand with AHA.)
  • Zevia sparkling water

Mineral water

THE FACTS

Sparkling mineral water also gets its carbonation from an underground source but it also naturally contains minerals like calcium, sodium, magnesium or manganese. The amount of minerals can differ from drink to drink but these are natural and not added later.

Sodium is actually a great source for electrolytes (what you lose through sweating during those tough workouts). Because sparkling mineral water contains sodium, it may actually help quicken hydration after you exercise. On the opposite end of that, if you are someone who is watching their sodium levels, it may be better to stick to other carbonated water alternatives. 

Mineral water brands we love:

  • Topo Chico
  • Perrier
  • San Pellegrino

Seltzer water

The FACTS

Seltzer water is different because it gets its carbonation artificially. You have to be careful with seltzers too as they more commonly have added sweeteners. Club soda is actually also considered in the same seltzer category and has a slight addition of sodium. Due to carbon dioxide gas being added manually, seltzer water is regulated by the FDA like a soda.

In the 90s, the FDA actually required the well-known brand “Perrier” to remove the claim that it was naturally sparkling water, from its labels. Since that time, it has changed to a sparkling natural mineral water label.

A little tip: Next time you find yourself out of club soda for your mixed drink, you can actually use seltzer water as a very close substitution!

Seltzer water brands we love:

  • Polar
  • Canada Dry
  • Schweppes

Tonic water

THE FACTS

Last but not least, there is tonic water. So like club soda, tonic water contains minerals. The big difference with tonic water is that it also contains quinine, a compound isolated from the bark of cinchona trees. Basically quinine is what gives tonic water its unique, bitter taste. Also, it is fairly common for tonic to contain some sort of sweetener by default, so check your labels to see!

Tonic water brands we love:

  • Canada Dry
  • Fever Tree
  • Schweppes
  • Seagrams
  • Polar
  • Zevia

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