Carbonated Water: Yes or No?

I’ve become a fan of flavored seltzer water. With flavors like lime, pomegranate, green apple, and, yes, even eggnog (at holiday time), one can never get bored. Also, thanks to seltzer, I’ve been able to wean myself off Diet Coke to some degree. But is carbonated water really all that good? And what’s the difference, anyway, between club soda, seltzer, and tonic water?

Know Your Fizzy Waters
“Drink more water.” “Drink water instead of soda or juice.” You hear these phrases a lot, especially if you have diabetes. Regular soda and other soft drinks, along with fruit juice, contain a lot of carbohydrate and calories, which equals higher blood glucose levels and can add pounds to the scale. But sometimes, plain old water is well, a little too plain. Fizzy waters like seltzer and club soda at least provide a bit more interest. What’s the difference, though?


Seltzer water. Seltzer water is regular water to which carbon dioxide gas has been added. It usually does not contain any minerals. Seltzer water comes “plain” as well as “flavored,” usually with natural extracts that don’t add any carbs or calories. Seltzer water is sometimes called sparkling water, too.

Club soda. Often used interchangeably with seltzer, club soda is also water to which carbon dioxide gas is added. However, club soda usually contains added minerals, such as potassium bicarbonate or potassium sulfate, which add a subtle flavor, as well as some sodium.

Mineral water. If your tastes run to Perrier or San Pellegrino, you’re drinking water that contains naturally-dissolved minerals and that comes from a natural underground source. Mineral waters cost more than seltzer or club soda.

Tonic water. Tonic water is carbonated water that contains quinine, and, often, a little bit of sugar (or, more likely, high fructose corn syrup), along with citric acid and sodium benzoate. Quinine adds a bitter taste, making tonic water a great pairing with gin for, you guessed it, a gin and tonic. Tonic water, by the way, was originally used to help ward off malaria and reduce fever and inflammation. Diet tonic water contains a nonnutritive sweetener, such as aspartame or saccharin.

Healthy or Not?
Whatever your choice of carbonated waters is, they provide refreshment and flavor. But many people believe that these fizzy waters aren’t healthy, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation on the Internet about them. So let’s try to clear up any confusion.

Carbonated waters don’t hurt your teeth. One of the myths out there is that drinking fizzy water will erode tooth enamel. This probably stems from the fact that when carbon dioxide gas is pumped into water, small amounts of carbonic acid are formed. But studies have shown that this small amount of acid doesn’t hurt your teeth. In fact, fizzy waters contain calcium and other minerals (albeit, in small amounts) that can actually buffer the carbonic acid and protect tooth enamel. On the other hand both regular and diet soda contain phosphoric acid and/or citric acid, which can be harmful to dental enamel.

Carbonated water is good for digestion. Got an upset stomach? Feeling queasy? Ate too much fatty or spicy food? Rather than reach for the antacids, try drinking a glass of seltzer. Researchers have found that people with both indigestion and constipation who drank at least 1 1/2 liters of carbonated water every day for 15–30 days had a big improvement in their symptoms compared to people who drank regular tap water.

Carbonated water may lower heart disease risk. This may sound odd, but in a study where postmenopausal women were given a carbonated mineral water to drink, after two months, these women had lower LDL (“bad”) and higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, as well as lower fasting glucose levels, compared to women who drank regular water. The mineral water used in this study contained bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride. It’s thought that the alkaline pH of the water affected absorption and excretion of cholesterol.

A Few Last Words About Carbonated Water
Carbonated waters do not leech calcium from bones, nor do they contribute to kidney stone formation. However, there may be people who need to limit their intake of fizzy water.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you might want to go easy on all fizzy drinks as they can make you even more bloated than you already may be. People with acid reflux should be careful about carbonated beverages, as drinking them may sometimes aggravate symptoms. Also, if you need to watch your sodium intake, go for seltzer instead of club soda. Club soda contains about 60 to 80 milligrams of sodium per serving, whereas seltzer has none.

All in all, though, carbonated waters are a great way to help you meet your fluid needs without adding carbs and calories. Cheers!

  • Debbie Smith

    I am surprise in the power of carbonated water. I am wondering where could I find this product. I am interested on its benefits.

  • acampbell

    Hi Debbie,

    Your local supermarket should carry both club soda and seltzer water.

  • Jim Houssen

    I purchased a unit that carbonates water and I like it without adding any of the optional flavours. Just the water. I used to dislike drinking water by itself but now it is enjoyable. We have well water so I guess the natural minerals are present as well.

  • Major

    In checking a multi-drug interaction webpage, I noticed that club soda water, which contains potassium bicarbonate, potassium citrate and potassium sulfate is contraindicated for those taking lisinopril, carvedilol (Coreg), HCTZ (hydrochlorothiazide) and triamterene. Triamterene is often prescribed with HCTZ. These drugs are commonly prescribed for high blood pressure problems.
    I don’t know about other water options but Soda Water may not be a wise choice for those with hypertension or diabetes or kidney problems.

  • jim snell

    Not to be a party spoiler; for anybody on well – is it shallow or deep artesian on old water.

    I have in past done checks on some folks well water and promptly did reverse osmosis and in some cases distilled. The human coliform bacteria test and the giardia/cryptosporidian tests lit up real bright.

    Everybody does all the old chemical tests looking for mineral and poison contanimation but skip the biologics.

    Many wells are near the surface ( 500 feet or less and have all sorts of extra nuisance from all over.

  • ce stanley

    For several years, I’ve drank 50 to 60 oz. of seltzer water daily. I have never acquired a taste for regular water out of the store or elsewhere but I’d “stomached” it. But this seltzer water, I have an addiction to it! I have HPB and take 2 meds for it. I also take several supplements because of swelling in feet and ankles (ginkgo bilboba, horse chestnut, potassium citrate). I hope I’m on right track….can’t go by doctors alone these days.

  • acampbell

    Hi ce,
    Drinking 50 to 60 ounces of seltzer water each day should be fine unless your doctor has advised you to limit your fluid intake.

  • S.A.

    Amy Campbell..thank you so very much for Seltzer water info.I drink a lot of lime and lemon falvored Seltzer waer with zero calories,sugars and sodium. Recently someone advised me not to take it as it may be bad for kidneys.Now after reading your post abt seltzer i am sure they are not bad for your health in any way!!! I am so relieved! I prefer it to the tap water we get in this town where i recently moved and buy cartons of Seltzer! Again,Thank you for your post abt harmlessness of S.water! Appreciate it highly!

  • Tim

    I realize this is just anecdotal and only my experience – I have a history of kidney stones and kidney problems. For the past few months I’ve had pain in my right kidney, as if it were an incipient stone or blockage (and I know what that feels like).

    Now that I have purchased one of the popular machines to carbonate water and flavor your own soft drinks, I have started drinking carbonated water as I find I enjoy it alone (and yes some of the flavors too, but more water than anything!).

    My kidney pain has gone away in just several weeks of drinking mostly carbonated water. This may be due to just drinking more water, but I feel the carbonation may have some good effect, too. Both my wife and I have also noticed that the carbonated water seems to cause one to urinate more. Again, that may be just due to increased water intake, carbonated or no. But the overall effect of carbonated water seems to be beneficial for me.

  • Ina

    Hi, I love carbonated or seltzer plain water, it also keeps my appetite down. All the above information is really good, but I read somewhere in the Internet that carbonated or seltzer water may cause having more cellulite or, at least does NOT help in getting rid of it.
    So my question, please, if you are trying to get rid of cellulite- is it recommended or not to drink carbonated (seltzer) water?
    Thank you in advance of your help!

  • acampbell

    Hi Ina,

    The information that you’ve seen on the internet regarding seltzer water causing cellulite is not true. Seltzer water and sparkling water are perfectly fine to drink and are excellent choices if you are trying to lose weight.

  • Tultul


    I’m a Type 2 diabetic patient My pp Glocuse is 160 and firsting FP glucose is 100. using prescribed drugs.
    Nad my thyriod hormone is high (6.7) using Altrox 50.

    I’hae some constipation.

    Suddenly i observed that I’m drinking plain co2 mixed water of 250 Ml after my office work for a week( as I’m not allowed to drink soft drinks By doctor’s advice).

    I observed that my constipation is gone as well as cramps in feet is not appearing , my somewhat sleep disorder is also reduced.

    I dont know wheather this is a action of drinking club soda?..
    Please let me know this (Drinking of Club Soda) has any side effect over my case of health status.

    Thanking you.

  • acampbell

    Hi Asis,

    Your club soda may contain some minerals, such as potassium, which might have helped with the cramps in your feet. And if you’ve been drinking more than usual, that may have helped your constipation and your sleep disorder. Basically, though, club soda is mostly just water, which is good for everyone!

  • Crystal

    I am 30 yrs and have gestational diabetes. I am also 32 weeks pregnant. I have to check my sugar 4 times a day and the last 3 days have been drinking Club Soda and my blood sugar has been alot lower. I am also on Glyburide which helps keep it lowered but the club soda has lowered even more. Which is awesome.

  • Amanda

    Does anyone have any suggestions/cautions/information about the Sodastream? I just got one for my birthday and I really love it, but I’m diabetic. I’m not a big soda drinker so I stick mostly to the Kool-aid and diet flavors like Pink Grapefruit. I’ve also started just adding the liquid drops of flavor to the plain carbonated water just like you can regular water but I starting wondering if the carbonation might be bad for me.

  • acampbell

    Hi Amanda,

    Carbonation isn’t bad for you. And using the SodaStream is a great way to make no-calorie, no-carb beverages and can save you money at the same time. Just make sure that you use the diet flavors, which are carbohydrate-and sugar-free. The Kool-Aid does contain carbohydrate, so it’s best to avoid or limit that. Check the label on the bottle to be sure. The MyWater Flavor Essences are fine to use, too. They add flavor but no calories or carbs.

  • lindy

    Hi, I am trying to lose at least 7kg but I drink a LOT of tea with sugar added.I am trying to cut back on my sugar intake.Recently I discovered that I like the taste of naartjie flavoured sparkling seltzer water, it contains no presevates and is sweetened with sucrose and glucose.Should I continue drinking this and how many calories and carbs does it have? I am really struggling to lose that 7kg. HELP!

  • acampbell

    Hi lindy,

    Keep in mind that sucrose and glucose are basically sugar, and that means that your seltzer water contains calories and carbohydrate. I don’t know how many, but I would think that there is a food label on the bottle that should tell you. You might also be able to go online and look up the product; perhaps the company’s Web site can give you more information. Otherwise, my suggestion is to look for a seltzer water that contains no sucrose or glucose or other types of sugar-based sweeteners.

  • Lynn

    Does seltzer water contain aspartame?

  • acampbell

    Hi Lynn,

    No, seltzer water does not contain aspartame.

  • Katharine

    This is very helpful. I would also like to know how much sodium 2 liters of club soda has in it? I use club soda to make drinking water more intersting and also in place of gingerale for occasional migraine relief. Would it be better to switch over to mineral water which is sodium free?
    Thank you.

  • acampbell

    Thanks, Katharine. A 2-liter bottle of club soda contains about 400 mg of sodium. As far as mineral water, it’s actually not sodium-free. However, the amount of sodium varies from brand to brand. For example, San Pellegrino water contains about 80 mg per 2 liters, but Vichy contains about 2200 mg. You’ll need to read the label and compare brands. Why not try seltzer water? There’s no sodium in that.

  • Jean

    I have hypertension and diabetes. I am doing well as far as diabetes, but can’t seem to lower my numbers for hypertension. I have recently tried to drink more water and have been drinking Deer Park bottled water, and my numbers have gone up instead of down. I never gave a thought to sodium content until now. Would like some recommendations. Thanks.

    • Donna

      I would also try some hibiscus tea. There are several studies about the BP lowering effects of drinking it over a 6 week period. I make it a pitcher at a time and store it the fridge. Best of luck to you!

  • acampbell

    Hi Jean,

    I wasn’t able to determine from Deer Park’s website whether their bottled water contains sodium or not. I suspect that it does not, but check the label to be sure. Have you made any other changes in your diet — for example, eating more processed or canned foods? Going out to eat more than usual? There are many factors that can affect your blood pressure and cause it to rise — inactivity, weight gain, a high intake of sodium, smoking, drinking more alcohol than usual, and certain medicines, like ibuprofen, aspirin, and decongestants. Stress is a culprit too. Also, not getting enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium may lead to higher blood pressure numbers. The DASH diet, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods can help one manage his blood pressure. To learn more about the DASH diet, visit this website: In the meantime, I suggest that you talk with your doctor about your blood pressure in terms of what might be affecting it and the best steps to take to help bring it down to a safe level.

  • jezz2k .

    In regards to carbonic acid, is it safe to brush my teeth 10 minutes after drinking sparkling water? I want to switch from Diet Pepsi because I believe drinking that before brushing my teeth is what caused them to start eroding :(

  • acampbell

    Hi jezz2k,
    It should be fine to brush your teeth after drinking sparkling water. The amount of carbonic acid in the water is very low.

  • MaryKay Simoni

    I don’t think carbonated water is bad for your teeth or contributes to diabetes etc….What I’m concerned about, that no one has mentioned is the fact that you’re introducing carbon dioxide into your system, which is a waste product. After all, many like to add oxygenated expensive drinks. Am wondering if anyone has researched this aspect. Thanks.

    • acampbell

      Thanks for your question. At high doses, carbon dioxide can certainly be harmful. However, there’s no evidence that the carbon dioxide in sparkling or seltzer water poses a health hazard. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the air we breathe, but the amount in air and the amount in soda or other carbonated beverages is very low, so there’s no need to worry.