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What’s sparkling water, aka carbonated water or seltzer water? Is it good for you? Here’s what you need to know about this bubbly beverage.

Vodka Soda
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Bubbly sparkling water has exploded onto the scene, and these days grocery store shelves are loaded with dizzying colorful cans from LaCroix to Sprindrift. But what is it exactly, and how is it different from carbonated water or seltzer? Is it good for you and your teeth? How is it different from club soda? Here we’ll break down the technical terminology and clear up the health benefits (spoiler: don’t worry about your teeth!). And, we’ll share some of our favorite cocktail recipes starring this bubbly mixer.

What is sparkling water? What’s carbonated or seltzer water?

What is sparkling water? Is it the same thing as carbonated water or seltzer water? What about club soda? Here are some of the differences between these very similar products:

  • Sparkling water, aka seltzer water, soda water, or carbonated water is 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 water from a natural mineral spring that’s been carbonated. Examples of brands are Perrier or Topo Chico.

Keep in mind, many sparkling water brands have added flavors or sweeteners. Make sure to look for brands with no additives for your regular drinking, or if you’re using it for a cocktail that calls for soda water.

Then what’s club soda? And tonic water?

Sparkling water has a few differences from other types of carbonated beverages. Here’s what to know about club soda and tonic water:

  • Club soda is carbonated water infused with added minerals, which give it a salty or lightly sweet flavor. Club soda is most often used for cocktails. Stick to sparkling water for your regular drinking.
  • 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 mostly used in cocktails, like the classic gin and tonic

Is sparkling water good for you?

Yes, as long as you stick to unflavored sparkling water with no additives and sugars! Sparkling water is just as hydrating as still, and some studies show it may have benefits for digestion.

Is sparkling water bad for your teeth? No, as long as its plain and unflavored. The American Dental Association indicates studies show that water and sparkling water have the same minimal impact on tooth enamel. Even better, it’s much better for your teeth than sugary drinks and soda. Keep in mind, though: citrus-flavored waters do have higher acid levels that increase the risk of damage to your enamel, so try to enjoy them in one sitting or with meals.

Can you make carbonated water at home?

Yes! There are lots of home carbonation systems on the market, due to the massive interest in sparkling water. The advantage to these systems? There’s much less aluminum can or bottle waste! We use a SodaStream to make our own water on demand.

Sparkling water or seltzer water have been used in cocktails for hundreds of years. You can use club soda interchangeably in cocktail recipes since it’s so similar. Add bubbles to wine and you’ve got a wine spritzer! Add it to gin and you’ve got a Gin Rickey. There are so many tasty drinks try: here are some of the most popular:

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Vodka Soda

Vodka Soda with Sparkling Water

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


Try this Vodka Soda recipe: a tangy, bubbly drink! It’s light and refreshing, with slightly less calories than the typical cocktail.


  • 2 ounces (¼ cup) vodka
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) soda water
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)


  1. Place the vodka and lime juice in a highball or lowball glass and add ice. 
  2. Top off with soda water and enjoy. 
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

More drink guides & resources

Need more guides? We’ve got them! Here’s what you need to know about these drink ingredients:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. LJ says:

    Forget alcoholic drinks, the world doesn’t need more of THAT. I’m interested in using plain carbonated water for helping the texture of a baked good, especially a gluten free loaf that we make and it already rises nicely. Just curious and hoping some cooking nerds could weigh in on this matter… in fact, an internet search with the query string “how to use carbonated water in baking” led me to your website! Oh well… :-(

    1. Hi! Yes, it you use it in something like a quick bread you will get a little extra rise from the carbonation.

  2. Leona Stein says:

    Gave me some great ideas..and so informative re. different waters..
    Thank you,LS


    Don’t use seltzer or sodastream water for drinks like fizzes (e.g., gin fizz, Ramos fizz, amaretto fizz). The basic minerals (pH >7, such as bicarb) react with the acid of the citrus to contribute to the excellent, creamy foam.