Carbonated Water – water containing enough carbon dioxide gas to be perceptibly fizzy. Originally, naturally-carbonated waters were bottled at their sources, such as near the town of Selters in Germany. ‘Seltzer’ water was originally a trademarked brand of naturally-sparkling mineral water from Selters. Now, the word is now more-generally used to refer to low-sodium, low-mineral, sparkling water that is charged (or artificially carbonated). Soda water or ‘club soda’ is charged water that also contains relatively-large amounts of sodium – hence the word ‘soda.’
This means that true soda water has a slightly different flavor than ‘seltzer’ water (including charged water from a siphon, ‘fountain,’ or ‘gun’) and naturally-carbonated waters that are low in sodium.
Here are the sodium levels (as would be found in the old, traditional 6 fluid-ounce bottle) of some well-known brands of carbonated water, arranged from most to least:
Apollinaris – Classic = 83 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Canada Dry – Club Soda = 57 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Schweppes – Club Soda = 48 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Shasta – Club Soda = 41 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Gerolsteiner – Naturally Sparkling Mineral Water = 23 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Seagram’s – Club Soda = 19 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Fever Tree – Club Soda = 16 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
San Pellegrino – Classic = 6 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Hansen’s Natural – Blue Sky True Seltzer = 5 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Perrier – Classic = 1.7 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Boylan’s – Pure Seltzer = 0 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
Canada Dry – Sparkling Seltzer Water = 0 milligrams sodium per 6 fl-oz.
It is important to note that though some natural sparkling waters are low in sodium, they are usually rich in other minerals, which does affect their flavor.
Today, most carbonated water used in drinks is charged. Between the 1880’s and some time around the onset of prohibition, the widespread availability of charged water led to a fad of bar-tenders using it as much of it as made sense – or even beyond sense. Splashes of charged water were added to true cocktails, used to dissolve sugar with, and so on. The use of charged water in sours was almost uniform in the 1880’s and 1890’s, but it is almost unheard of today. Thankfully, the charged water fad is long gone – except when a bar-tender sadly uses it in making an Old-fashioned Bourbon Cocktail.
Which is best in drinks – soda water, ‘seltzer’ water, or sparkling mineral water? That is up to you. It may even be that one type is better in one drink, while the another type is best in another drink.