Are Club Soda, Seltzer, and Sparkling Water All the Same Thing?

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The short answer is no, they’re not. if you’re looking for more in depth information as to how they differ and how that means they can be used in manners that are not interchangeable, keep reading!

I’m going to, and not just because I’m writing this article, but because I’m making mojitos tonight and want to be sure that club soda is the right choice for the bubble.

First up…

Club soda!


It’s mostly just water with a few add-ins like carbon dioxide and sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, and potassium sulfate (the “minerals”). There’s no flavor, which is why many people favor it as a cocktail mixer.

If you’re curious, it got the name club soda because it was (and still is) trademarked by Dublin-based beverage company Contrell and Cochrane. They lost a lawsuit in 1896, meaning that other companies could use the term “club soda,” and that was that.

Then, we have…



It’s club soda without the mineral additions – so, just carbonated water. Seltzer, though, is often sweetened and flavored with citrus or other fruits, meaning that it’s currently enjoying quite the rebirth with alcohol-infused versions.

It was also a once-trademarked product from Germany, and was sold as far back as 1728. European immigrants brought it when they immigrated and eventually, the term became generic.

Last but never least, let’s talk about…

Sparkling water!


It contains natural minerals and usually comes from a spring or well that may provide natural carbonation. Or it’s just carbonated water that’s not mineral based and might be flavored. You never know.

Okay, and if you’re wondering, “but what about tonic water I love gin and tonic!” here you go:


It’s also carbonated water, but it also contains quinine (yes, the same stuff that was originally used as a malaria medicine). It’s found in the bark of the South American cinchona tree and British soldiers (supposedly) began mixing it with their soda water, sugar, and gin to ward off the disease.

So, there you go! Personally, I’ll stick with the club soda for my mojitos tonight (though I’m not against a nice can of Truly, either!).

When in Europe, I’ll have the “no bubbles,” please.

And thank you.