The Difference Between Soda Water and Sparkling Mineral Water

The Difference Between Soda Water and Sparkling Mineral Water

Ever order yourself a bottle of sparkling mineral water and wonder, “how is this different to the soda I top my vodka up with”? (Or something along those lines.) The two bubbly beverages can have a similar taste – depending on the type you’re drinking. And in theory, they kind of sound the same, too.

But are they the same drink?

Not really.

We did some digging so you can flex your knowledge the next time this question comes up in a group setting.

Club soda and sparkling mineral water both have bubbles of carbon dioxide gas suspended within their liquidy matrices, but it’s their other additives that define them. Here are the key differences (and what you should use them for.)

  • Soda Water: Soda water is plain water with added minerals and dissolved solids, usually sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, disodium phosphate, and — less commonly — plain ol’ sodium chloride. The carbonation is added, rather than naturally occurring, and the taste can range from practically flavourless to slightly salty or bitter. Its lack of strong flavour makes it a good choice for adding some effervescence to cocktails or juice.
  • Sparkling Mineral Water: Sparkling mineral water usually comes from a natural spring or well, and can be naturally carbonated, depending on the source. As its name would suggest, there are some minerals in there, though the type and amount of dissolved solids vary from brand to brand. Mineral water is usually best enjoyed on its own, as the flavour imparted by all the minerals (such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium) can be distracting in a cocktail.In short, sparkling is a little fancier; it’s more natural and it’s got a more distinctive flavour.

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, I recommend celebrating with a bubbly beverage. Whether or not it’s boozy and bubbly is up to you.

And if you’d like to dig even deeper, check out this explainer we wrote up on spiked seltzer and the booze it’s made with.

This article has been updated since its original publication


  • I dimly recall a major manufacturer of aerated beveridges got into trouble years ago for trying to make mineral water from the factory and was told mineral water has to come from the ground.

  • Soda water in Australia is just carbonated water. No added minerals.

    Has this article been edited from a US article? Because Club Soda is not soda water. Club soda has those extra additives. I think the yanks call soda water seltzer. Better change that, otherwise you will scare my dad off soda water again thinking he’s going to raise his sodium levels (He’s not with Soda water and will with mineral water).

  • Locally sourced mineral water can be lie as deep as the Deep Spring itself. Bottlers can use whatever they like, tap water, river or spring, there is no law. Profit margins depict the recipe, and the gullible lap it up.

    Of course the water is boiled and then highly filtered with diatomaceous Earth. Minerals and fizz added too, so it is all good.

    Do watch out for “naturally sparking” in the ingredients list and you might end up with real spring water. If you look at the name only, under Australian law that is part of the name and does not need to match the contents. Bit like free range eggs.

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