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What is Club Soda?

By Matt Brady
Updated May 16, 2024
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Club soda is one of the many names for carbonated water, which is also referred to as sparkling water, fizzy water and seltzer water. Carbonated water is a simple concoction of carbon dioxide gas mixed with plain water. Carbon dioxide is scientifically known as CO2 and water as H20; combining them creates H2CO3. Almost all carbonated drinks use club soda, including soft drinks, Italian sodas, many bar drinks and flavored water beverages.

People sometimes confuse club soda with tonic, another clear, carbonated mixer. Tonic, however, contains quinine, an ingredient which gives it a special flavor that plain soda water does not possess. Tonic is also sweet. Both clear, fizzy mixtures are essential staples of any bar, where club soda and tonic water are mixed in with a variety of drinks. When not mixed in a well drink or cocktail, or adding bubbles to juices and soft drinks, club soda is often served on ice with a slice of lime.

People use carbonated water for more than quenching their thirst. It's a well-known stain remover as well. It can also help alleviate an upset stomach, especially with a dash of bitters mixed in; the mild, carbonated mixture can have a soothing effect on gassy, irritated bowels. Carbonated water and bitters is also said to be a heartburn remedy.

Its stain-removing powers have led many to use club soda as an all-purpose cleaning agent. Some people add an extra sheen to their jewelry and silverware by soaking them in carbonated water. Others use the drink to help remove most stains found on carpet and clothes. It can also help clean counter tops and remove rust. Restaurants, most of which are never without an abundant supply of carbonated water, often use it to clean numerous tools and appliances.

Difficult as it may be to imagine, there was a time when club soda didn't exist, or rather hadn't yet been discovered. It was invented in 1767 by Joseph Priestley, one of Benjamin Franklin's English compatriots. Priestley was a multi-talented individual—a scientist, philosopher and inventor. Priestley created the drink when he placed a bowl of water over a container of fermented beer. The carbon dioxide given off by the beer mixed with the water, carbonating it. Priestley found that his friends enjoyed the drink's flavor. Although he never manufactured carbonated water for a profit, he wrote a paper describing how club soda was made, elaborately titled, Directions for Impregnating Water with Fixed Air.

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Discussion Comments

By lovelife — On Mar 17, 2011

@donna61--Yes! You can go on-line or to any specialty kitchen shop and buy a soda maker. A friend of mine has one of these and absolutely loves it!

It just carbonates regular tap water, so you don't get any crazy additives -- just what's in your water normally. It's also good for reducing your carbon footprint, since you can use fewer plastic bottles.

By donna61 — On Mar 14, 2011

I love the fizz of club soda! I don't like that there are so many additives in it when bought from the grocery store, or that we waste the bottles. Is there a way for me to make club soda or carbonated water at home?

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