What's the Difference Between Club Soda and Seltzer?
Bridget Reed @ 2022-04-19 08:46:04 -0700
Drinking water is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health. Staying hydrated is a simple, low-cost wellness habit, but it’s a bit boring for many people. It’s certainly not as fun as drinking soda or wine. Regular water isn’t enjoyable for everyone, especially for anyone cutting soda out of their diet for the first time.
However, club soda and seltzer water are excellent ways to make drinking water something you look forward to doing.
Is there a difference between the two?
The short answer is yes. It’s a relatively minor distinction but deserves some attention. After reading about these drinks, you might find that you prefer one to the other. Let’s look at the difference between club soda and seltzer.
A Quick History of Seltzer and Club Soda
Before we had modern medicine, we had carbonated water.
It was touted for its healing properties, and naturally, bubbling springs around the world were turned into healing spas. These springs were used to treat all kinds of ailments and were often used to heal wounded soldiers during World War I.
One of the most famous healing springs was Niederselters in Germany. In the 1700s, they even bottled their bubbling mineral water in clay jugs and shipped it worldwide. From the name of this spa, we got the word “seltzer.”
In 1767, an English scientist named Joseph Priestly discovered how to carbonate water artificially. He published his methods in a pamphlet called “Directions for Impregnating Water With Fixed Air.” He believed the water to be a cure for scurvy, but he didn’t foresee the commercial success that his product would have.
It was twenty years later when Johan Jacob Schweppe, an amateur scientist and jeweler, began to produce carbonated water commercially. Thus, seltzer and club soda were born.
Today, we don’t use these products for their supposed healing properties. However, we do use them to promote good health and wellness. As you’ll see, seltzer and club soda keep us hydrated, which helps speed up the body's healing processes and prevents us from getting sick in the first place.
The Difference Between Club Soda and Seltzer
Club soda and seltzer are essentially the same products made in two slightly different ways. However, the two are often interchangeable, and you typically won’t notice a difference unless you’re a fan. Let’s look at how club soda and seltzer are different from each other.
What Is Seltzer?
Seltzer originated in Germany with the Niederselter spa, a naturally bubbling mineral spring that was used to heal all kinds of ailments.
The word has variations across the globe. In Turkey, it’s called seltz suyu, and in France, eau de seltz. The beverage is carbonated water — just CO2, H20, and nothing else.
Because of its simplicity, seltzer is plain and flavorless. For this reason, seltzer is the preferred drink to use as a base for hard seltzer and flavored seltzers, which need a blank canvas on which to work.
What Is Club Soda?
Club soda originated in the U.S. and was known as soda water until it adopted the name “club soda.” The name refers to the sodium salts found in it and the fact that it’s a soda-like beverage. Club soda was sold in beverage fountains for two cents, making it the cheapest carbonated beverage. You could add syrup for another penny at some fountains to give it flavor.
Like seltzer, club soda is made by adding CO2 to water to give it fizz. But several minerals are also added to mimic the mineral content and flavor of the naturally bubbling springs. The most common minerals added to club soda are potassium sulfate, potassium citrate, potassium bicarbonate, and sodium bicarbonate.
These minerals give club soda a salty flavor and a little more body. This makes it an ideal choice for bartenders to mix with their spirits. A little salt rounds out the cocktail nicely, and this is why “gin and soda” is not “gin and seltzer,” although you could certainly try it.
Club soda is famous for being able to reverse wine stains. This is due to the dissolved gas acting as a surfactant, which pulls the pigment out of the fabric.
So, whether you’re hydrating, celebrating cocktail hour, or cleaning, club soda is great to have around.
Are Seltzer and Club Soda Healthy Options?
There are some myths about the health benefits and consequences of carbonated water. Some say that club soda is healthy for you and aids digestion, while others say it rots your teeth over time. Let’s get to the truth of the matter, shall we?
According to the USDA, carbonated water—including mineral water—has minimal nutritional value. Even though some minerals like salt and potassium are present, the amounts are so small that they’re not a more nutritious option than still water.
However, carbonated water isn’t an unhealthy option, either.
Is Seltzer Water Bad for Your Teeth?
As far as your dental health, carbonated water is perfectly safe as long as it doesn’t contain added sugar. Club soda and seltzer are both slightly more acidic than still water — but not enough to have a detrimental effect.
Plus, if you’re choosing a club soda over a sugary soda, you’re making a choice that will improve your health. Club soda and seltzer water are 100 times better for your teeth than regular soda.
Technically, we haven’t figured out if carbonated water aids digestion, but research points to yes. Many studies have shown that drinking club soda or seltzer improves swallowing ability and helps decrease symptoms of constipation, indigestion, and stomach pain.
The Benefits of Hydration
At the end of the day, both club soda and seltzer water are hydrating. The benefits of hydration are endless; water is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Here are just a few:
- Helps your body access nutrients and oxygen
- Improves cognitive function and prevents headaches
- Flushes bacteria from your bladder
- Protects your organs and tissues
- Keeps you from getting sick and helps you recover faster
- Helps you burn calories, even while you’re sitting
- Promotes healthy skin and prevents wrinkles
Some studies show that carbonated water, specifically, might improve heart health, decreasing the risk of heart disease and lowering cholesterol. But more research is needed to understand the relationship between club soda and heart health.
In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt, so why not have a little bubbly water from time to time?
Other Types of Carbonated Water
There are other kinds of carbonated water that you can try out. Some have unique flavors, and others are neutral. Keep in mind that some of these products contain added sugar, so always read the label when you’re shopping.
Mineral water is naturally carbonated.
The water is sourced from naturally bubbling springs, and they contain trace amounts of natural minerals like salt, magnesium, and calcium. Because the minerals are naturally occurring, the flavor of the water can vary depending on where the water comes from.
The carbonation can vary, and some producers will add a little extra to give their product a consistent bubble.
Tonic water, gin's other best friend, is carbonated water with added minerals, including quinine. Quinine comes from the bark of cinchona trees, native to Central America but also found in Indonesia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Quinine is what gives tonic its signature bitter flavor and is more likely to contain added sugar to offset the bitter profile of the water.
Quinine was added to carbonated water in the 1870s to combat malaria. The cinchona tree is also called the fever tree (sound familiar?) because of its ability to reduce fevers.
Which Sparkling Water Is Right for You?
Everyone develops a preference: club soda or mineral water. Which one will be your favorite? Do you prefer a little salt or a blank canvas on which to create a flavorful, carbonated drink? You’ll have to see for yourself.
Either way, incorporating these fizzy drinks into your life is a great way to cut out sugary beverages that are bad for your health. But they’re also a great way to encourage yourself to drink more water, which is never a bad idea.
Add slices of citrus or stone fruit, sprigs of mint or thyme, or infuse ginger and cinnamon to make things even more interesting. The possibilities are endless!
Looking for a delicious sparkling cocktail? Try our Spritz Sampler, a sampler of our two most popular Spanish wine cocktails made with seltzer, wine and natural ingredients, in a can.