Club soda is a popular way for many people to stay hydrated. Club soda benefits, along with benefits from other unflavored fizzy waters, include that bubbly taste many people prefer, without the added sugar or calories that come from sweetened flavorings. Club soda and its fizzy counterparts can be good for you, but there are some caveats.
What Is Club Soda?
Club soda, often referred to as soda water, is carbonated water with salt added to it. For example, Schweppes has sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride and potassium sulfate. One of those is baking soda, while another is table salt. These salts help neutralize the acidity of club soda and give it more of the flavor of carbonated waters that occur naturally. It is not, however, seltzer water, even though the two are often used interchangeably. Seltzer water is carbonated water with no other added ingredients.
Sometimes, carbonated water occurs naturally in springs. Perrier is one example. Perrier comes from springs enriched with minerals and infused with carbon dioxide gas.
History of Soda Water
In the 18th century, Joseph Priestly lived near a brewery in Leeds, England, where he noticed vapors, or fixed air as he called the process, coming from the brewery. He realized this was the same gas that formed the effervescence in naturally occurring spring water. Priestly's story is told in a May 2018 article published by McGill University.
Resorts in Europe were serving this effervescent water as cures for illnesses, and Priestly wondered if he could cause ordinary water to react with a similar fizz in some way. Acid on marble produced a similar reaction, so he tried combining sulfuric acid and chalk to form a gas. This gas was carbon dioxide.
He collected the gas in a pig's bladder and figured out how to combine it with water to make it carbonated. He wrote "Directions for Impregnating Water With Fixed Air." His so-called soda water gained a following. It worked especially well on ship voyages, improving the flavor of the stored water that was served weeks or months after being collected from springs.
Scottish physician John Noon then developed a glass system for carbonating the water, which solved the problem of the odd taste from the pig's bladder. This is when soda water's popularity really took off.
Early Health Claims
In the 18th and 19th centuries, soda water was wrongly thought to prevent scurvy and other diseases, according to the McGill article. About the only way for carbonated water to prevent scurvy, which is caused by a vitamin C deficiency, would be to add some juice high in vitamin C to the soda water. Lemon juice would be a good way to add vitamin C while adding minimal calories.
The water may have been considered healthful because its effervescence keeps it aerated, which helps it taste better. That may be because any stagnant water after a few days loses some of its oxygen, and because refrigerated water holds more dissolved gases, like carbon dioxide.
This effervescent water has been popular for bathing in since Roman times, according to a February 2017 transcript of a Science History Institute podcast. Unproven claims of sparkling water benefits included the ability to heal tumors, joint pain and skin conditions.
Club Soda Study Findings
Today, scientific studies can test health claims, and here's some of the science around club soda and soda water:
- Carbonated water can induce feelings of fullness, according to a study published in July 2017 in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology.
- Another 2017 study seems to contradict this. A study in the September/October 2017 issue of Obesity Research & Clinical Practice indicates carbonated water can stimulate the appetite. The study found that rats who drank fizzy drinks had higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This study, unlike the study above, has not been replicated in humans.
- Carbonated water seems to hydrate people about as well as plain water, according to a March 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. So if you need that bubbly, slightly salty taste in order to drink water, club soda can be a good alternative to plain water.
- A February 2016 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that carbonated water may help with swallowing.
Little Dental Erosion
There has been some concern over the effect of carbonated water on teeth enamel. While there is some correlation between sodas with flavor and sugar and erosion of the enamel covering teeth, a study published in a 2016 edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association showed only minimal tooth enamel erosion from those who drank Canada Dry Club Soda.
Soda can cause dental erosion if it is fairly acidic. The acid level researchers considered to be erosive or extremely erosive were those with pH levels below 3.99. Canada Dry Club Soda has a pH of 5.24.
So if it's the fizz you're looking for, but you want to wean yourself off sugary or diet sodas, club soda doesn't have the same amount of acidic wear on your teeth enamel that flavored sodas are shown to have.
Club Soda and Bone Density
The conclusion to the 2006 study, which called for further research, found no such link between other carbonated drinks and bone mineral density.
Any Club Soda Side Effects?
Of potentially negative club soda side effects, there is one, and that comes from the added sodium content. Club soda does contain sodium. If your doctor has recommended you limit sodium in your diet, you may want to consider seltzer water or check the label of the club soda of your choice to see how much sodium it contains.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, most people need about 500 milligrams of sodium a day for vital functions. A typical American, on the other hand, takes in about 3,400 milligrams of sodium, much more than is needed. Too much sodium can make the kidneys work too hard, all of which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke.
To know if you're at risk, it's best to inform your doctor how much club soda you drink.
- McGill Office for Science and Society: "The Origins of Soda Water"
- Science History Institute: "Fizzy Water: The Unnatural History of a Carbonated Drink"
- Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: "Oral Carbonation Attenuates Feeling of Hunger and Gastric Myoelectrical Activity in Young Women"
- Obesity Research & Clinical Practice: "Carbon Dioxide in Carbonated Beverages Induces Ghrelin Release and Increased Food Consumption in Male Rats: Implications on the Onset of Obesity"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "A Randomized Trial to Assess the Potential of Different Beverages to Affect Hydration Status: Development of a Beverage Hydration Index"
- Journal of Applied Physiology: "Brain and Behavioral Effects of Swallowing Carbonated Water on the Human Pharyngeal Motor System"
- Coca-Cola Product Facts: "Seagram's Club Soda Original 12 Fluid Ounces"
- Canada Dry Products: "Club Soda"
- Schweppes Products: "Club Soda"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Salt and Sodium"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "By the Way Doctor: Does Carbonated Water Harm Bones?"
- ADA: "The pH of Beverages in the United States"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Colas"
- Slate: "A Taxonomy of Carbonated Waters"
- United States Geological Survey: "Dissolved Oxygen and Water"