Carbonated Water vs. Sparkling Water – Is There a Difference?

Most people think carbonated water and sparkling water are the same, simply because they have the same type of effervescence. While both these types of waters contain carbon that creates fizz, there are several differences between the two that make them quite distinct.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Carbonated Water?

There are several types of carbonated water, but when people say carbonated water, they tend to think of club soda or soda water. This is known for its effervescence and slightly salty taste. It’s made by adding carbon dioxide gas to water under pressure. This is what creates the bubbles that make carbonated water fizz.

Carbonated soda

The way carbonated water gets its distinct taste is through the addition of various types of salts and chemical compounds, including sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, potassium sulfate and regulasr salt. Because carbonated water is acidic, these salts are added to neutralize the acidity. These salts give carbonated water a slightly mineral-like taste. Sometimes minerals are also added.

Seltzer is the simplest type of carbonated water – containing just water with carbon dioxide. It’s often flavored with oils and fruit essences to make it more exciting but has no mineral additives. Tonic water is also another type but in addition to carbon dioxide, it also contains quinine (which gives it its distinct taste), sweeteners and flavors.

Summary: Carbonated water is artificially created by adding salts and chemical compounds to water with carbon dioxide.

What is Sparkling Water?

While sparkling water is also a type of carbonated water, the difference is that it’s a natural variety. It often contains dissolved solids of sulfur compounds and minerals like calcium, magnesium and sodium, which naturally get into the water as it percolates through underground rocks and sediment. Typically, this type of water has no additives, making it a healthier choice.

Sparkling water in glass

The effervescence in sparkling water can be either naturally occurring, coming from springs or wells where the water is combined with carbon dioxide. But because this can vary depending on the source of water, sometimes carbon dioxide is artificially added to enhance the fizziness of sparkling water.

Sparkling water can taste different, depending on the mineral content which in turn is impacted by the water source. This is why no two brands of sparkling water are exactly alike in taste.   

Summary: Sparkling water contains naturally occurring minerals and carbonation. It has no additives but may have carbon dioxide artificially added.

Carbonated Water vs. Sparkling Water – Which is Better?

So, to put it simply, sparkling water comes under the umbrella of carbonated water. Both these varieties contain few essential nutrients which are negligible in terms of health. These minerals, however, do affect the taste of the water which is why many people prefer these options. They’re both excellent alternatives if you don’t like the taste of plain water. They’re also good alternatives to sweet fizzy drinks.

Some people worry that carbonated water may be bad for you, but there’s no evidence outlining that these types of water can be harmful to your overall health. On the contrary, some research suggests that carbonated water can be good to alleviate constipation and can help you swallow better, which in turn aids digestion. 

Overall, there’s no major difference between carbonated water and sparkling water in terms of health, so which you choose comes down to your personal preference and taste.

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