Tonic water vs soda water vs sparkling water – which is healthier?

February 25, 2020

Fizzy water: whether you call it tonic water, sparkling water or soda water, it’s all the same, right?

Ummm, not so much, as it turns out.

Yes, they’re all bubbly forms of water, but they’re also all completely different drinks. Each has its own different flavours and qualities. So, before you start using sparkling water to make that G&T (or pouring yourself a big, refreshing glass of tonic water), read on.

Tonic water or soda water healthier lifestyle

Tonic water vs soda water vs sparkling water

Let’s start by laying out the basic similarities and differences between ‘the three fizzy amigos’ before we go into each fizz type in detail.

First, the similarities – all three are made from carbonated water, which is created by injecting bubbles of carbon dioxide (CO2) into water to make it fizz.

As for the differences… check out the table below.

Tonic water

Sparkling water

Soda water

Slightly sweet-yet-bitter taste

Clean, neutral taste

Slightly salty, bitter taste

Mainly used as a mixer in cocktails

Mainly used in cooking and as a substitute for water

Used as both a mixer for cocktails AND a substitute for water


  • carbonated water
  • sugar
  • quinine
  • preservatives


  • carbonated water


  • carbonated water
  • salts and minerals

What is tonic water?

Tonic water is a sweet-yet-bitter, bubbly little number that’s mainly used as a mixer for cocktails. It’s the fizz that gave its name to the popular ‘gin and tonic’ enjoyed by millions.

What is tonic water made of?

Traditional tonic water generally contains four ingredients:

  • Carbonated water
  • Sugar
  • Quinine and other flavours
  • Preservatives

The key to tonic water’s unique bitter taste is quinine: a drug that was actually developed to treat malaria and other diseases! Of course, doctors use it in much bigger doses than you’ll find in store-bought tonic waters.

What is sparkling water?

Sparkling water has a clean, neutral taste that makes it great for cooking – not to mention a refreshing alternative to plain old tap water. If you’ve ever had a waiter ask whether you wanted, “still or sparkling?”, you’ve met sparkling water before. It’s the option that sparkles with bubbles.

What about ‘sparkling mineral water’?

Sometimes, you’ll see sparkling water advertised as sparkling mineral water. In fact, many people think the two interchangeable, but there IS a difference. 

Genuine sparkling mineral waters come from underground water sources that are rich in natural minerals and salts. They get their bubbles from the natural gasses in these mineral springs (although manufacturers often add more CO2 afterwards to up the bubble-factor).

Sparkling mineral water’s taste is still subtle, but the minerals it contains often add a bit of flavour. That means it can taste a little bitter and salty. 

What is sparkling water made of?

Plain sparkling water generally contains just one ingredient – carbonated water.

Flavoured sparkling waters typically also contain:

  • Added flavours
  • Sugar and/or artificial sweeteners
  • Preservatives

What is soda water?

Soda water is sometimes known as ‘club soda’. It’s a slightly salty drink that most commonly gets used as a cocktail mixer, although some folks enjoy it on its own. 

Fun factoid: soda water was originally created as a cheaper version of sparkling mineral water. To mimic the taste, manufacturers add minerals like: 

  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Sodium citrate
  • Disodium phosphate
  • (and occasionally) sodium chloride, aka table salt. 
  • What is soda water made of?

    Soda water contains:

    • Carbonated water
    • Added salts and minerals

    Sparkling water, tonic water or soda water – which one is healthiest?

    Some people believe that tonic water is bad for you. And, based purely on sugar content, plain sparkling water or soda water is probably healthier than most tonic waters out there. In fact, read our article here if you fancy learning about just how much sugar is in tonic water.

    That’s because neither plain sparkling water or soda water have sugar in them. Meanwhile, traditional tonic water has, on average, 6.5 teaspoons of sugar per 300mL serve!

    That said, watch out for flavoured sparkling waters too. They may appear healthy, but they sometimes come loaded with a stack of sugar and artificial additives. 

    Thankfully Nexba’s Tonic Waters and Flavoured Sparkling Waters aren’t like that at all and are actually just as healthy as soda water or sparkling water!

    Your favourite bubbly beverages with none of the nasty stuffNexba tonic water, flavoured sparkling water and live sparkling water

    Look, we don’t want to knock plain sparkling water if that’s what you’re in the mood for. But we also know that sometimes, you just crave a bit more FLAVOUR in your life.

    That’s why, at Nexba, we’ve made it our mission to take the traditional drinks we all already know and love, and make them healthier (and just as delicious). 

    We knew we had to give traditional tonic water and flavoured sparkling water a makeover. So we added our top-secret Nexba Naturally Sugar Free sweetener blend, along with 100% natural flavours.

    So now, our Nexba Tonic Water has all the amazing, tangy-bitter flavour of a premium tonic water, minus the mountain of sugar. And it’s available in two flavours: lime, cucumber and mint, and classic. Why not try some of our epic Nexba Tonic recipes here. 

    Our flavoured sparkling waters are also totally sugar-free, and come in a range of mouth-watering flavours, including:

    • watermelon
    • lemon and lime
    • cucumber and mint 
    • lychee lemon 
    • coconut and mango. 

    And unlike most traditional tonic waters and flavoured sparkling waters on the market, our drinks have:

    • No sugar
    • No artificial sweeteners
    • No fructose
    • No caffeine
    • No GMOs
    • No nasties

    And best of all, they’re also:

    • 100% Vegan
    • All-natural
    • Low-calorie
    • Australian made and owned

    Want to taste the Nexba difference?

    Buy Nexba Tonic Water or Flavoured Sparkling Water today!

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