Club soda vs seltzer, aka sparkling water: what’s the difference between these carbonated beverages? When to use one or the other? Here’s what you need to know.

Club soda vs seltzer

Club soda vs seltzer: what’s the difference? They’re both carbonated water, but there’s a slight difference between the two. Then of course there’s tonic water…and what’s sparkling water? Which should you use as a cocktail mixer, vs drink on a regular basis? We will admit, the terminology requires some research: and at the store it can still be a little confusing. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between these carbonated beverages.

Club soda vs seltzer (sparkling water): what’s the difference?

Club soda and seltzer are two types of carbonated water. To understand the difference, it’s also helpful to compare them with tonic water and sparkling water. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Seltzer, aka soda water or sparkling water is carbonated water with no additives, carbonated by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s the base for brands like La Croix, or what comes out of a SodaStream. Sparkling mineral water is made with water from a mineral spring, like Perrier or Topo Chico.
  • Club soda is carbonated water infused with added minerals, which give it a salty or lightly sweet flavor. Additives you may see in club soda are potassium sulfate, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate, or sodium bicarbonate.
  • Tonic water is carbonated water with added quinine and sugar. It was first sold commercially in the 1850’s as a way to drink quinine, prescribed at the time to fight malaria. It tastes sweet and bitter, and is used in many cocktails like the gin and tonic. (Here’s more about tonic water.)

Interestingly, it’s hard to find anything at the store that’s labeled “seltzer,” though that’s what it is. Sparkling mineral water is easier to find, and of course you can find LaCroix just about anywhere.

Club soda vs seltzer (sparkling water): when to use them?

The flavor differences between club soda vs seltzer are pretty subtle. In terms of health benefits between the two, club soda has slightly more sodium and a few added minerals. So our top choice for drinking on a daily basis is seltzer! Here’s a breakdown of when to use these products:

  • Seltzer (aka sparkling water) has a clear, crisp flavor and is the most pure form of carbonated water. It has 0 calories and sugar. It’s our top choice for drinking on a regular basis. You can use a SodaStream or other type of home carbonation system to make your own seltzer on demand. It’s also a great cocktail mixer.
  • Club soda has a slightly more salt than seltzer, but overall the flavor difference is very subtle. Even so, use club soda for cocktails instead of everyday drinking. You can use it in any of the cocktails below. But it’s not required! We typically don’t buy club soda and just use our SodaStream to make soda water on demand.

Bottom line: Opt for seltzer, soda water or sparkling mineral water most often: it’s best for everyday drinking. You can buy club soda if you like, but it’s not required for cocktails, either! You can use soda water for both.

There are lots of famous club soda cocktails! You can use either sparkling water or club soda interchangeably to make any of these drinks. We use the term “soda water” in our recipes to mean seltzer, but club soda is so similar that you can use it as a substitute.

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Lime rickey

Lime Soda

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


The lime soda is an outrageously refreshing drink that works as a cocktail or mocktail! It’s equally as delicious with gin or virgin.


  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) fresh lime juice
  • For a cocktail: 3 ounces gin or whiskey
  • For a mocktail: ¼ teaspoon caper juice or pickle juice*, ½ ounce simple syrup, or omit entirely
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) soda water
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: lime wedges


  1. Add the lime juice and alcoholic or non-alcoholic mixer (whiskey, gin, caper juice or simple syrup) to highball glass and stir.
  2. Fill with ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with lime wedges.


*Caper juice or pickle juice may sound unusual, but they’re a way to mimic the flavor of alcohol (see our Virgin Margarita). 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Poured
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

Keywords: Club soda vs seltzer

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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