Which is healthier club soda or tonic water?

Both club soda and tonic water are carbonated waters that have some key differences. When deciding which one is healthier, there are a few factors to consider such as calories, sodium content, sugar content, and ingredients.

Quick Answer

Overall, club soda is considered healthier than tonic water. Club soda has 0 calories, 0 grams of sugar, and negligible sodium content. Tonic water contains added sugars, has calories, and higher sodium levels from the quinine content. For those looking to reduce calories, sugar, or sodium intake, club soda is the better option.


One of the biggest differences between club soda and tonic water is calorie content. Club soda has 0 calories, while tonic water contains calories from added sugar.

A 6 oz serving of standard tonic water contains approximately:

  • 33 calories
  • 8 grams of sugar
  • 8 grams of carbohydrates

The amount of calories can vary between brands, but standard tonic water will range from 30-50 calories per serving.

Club soda gets its carbonation from being infused with carbon dioxide gas. It does not contain any calories or sugar. An 8 oz serving of club soda contains:

  • 0 calories
  • 0 grams of sugar
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates

For those looking to reduce caloric or sugar intake, club soda is the better choice over tonic water.

Sodium Content

Sodium levels are another difference between the two. Tonic water contains added quinine, which is added for flavor. Quinine is naturally bitter and gives tonic water a distinct taste. It also contains sodium as part of the quinine compound.

Club soda has no added flavors or compounds, and negligible amounts of sodium. The carbonation is added through dissolved CO2 gas.

An 8 oz serving of tonic water contains approximately:

  • 25-30 mg sodium

Whereas an 8 oz serving of club soda only contains:

  • 2-3 mg sodium

For those limiting sodium intake, club soda again provides lower amounts compared to tonic water.

Sugar Content

Tonic water contains added sugar to balance out the naturally bitter taste of quinine. Standard tonic waters contain high fructose corn syrup or simple syrup as sweetening agents.

A 6 oz serving of tonic water has approximately:

  • 8 grams of sugar

This can come from around 2 teaspoons of added sugar in a serving.

Whereas club soda does not contain any added sugars or sweeteners. The sugar and carbohydrate content is 0 grams.

For those monitoring sugar intake or with diabetes, club soda is the better choice over tonic water.


Tonic water contains carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, natural flavors, and quinine. Quinine is the key ingredient that gives tonic water its distinct bitter taste.

Club soda’s ingredients are simple – just carbonated water and sometimes small amounts of minerals like potassium bicarbonate or potassium sulfate. Any additions are for flavoring and do not significantly alter nutritional values.

Some key differences in ingredients:

  • Tonic water contains quinine, club soda does not
  • Tonic water contains added sugars, fruit juices, or HFCS, club soda does not
  • Club soda may have trace minerals for flavor, tonic water does not

With fewer additives and sugar, club soda’s ingredients make it healthier than standard tonic waters.

Other Considerations

When comparing club soda and tonic water a few other factors can play a role:

  • Diet tonic water – Diet tonic waters are available that contain 0 calories and 0g sugars. These essentially have the same nutrition profile as club soda.
  • Flavored club sodas – Some club sodas have added flavors like lemon, lime, or bitters. These may contain additional calories or sodium content compared to unflavored club soda.
  • Minerals – While negligible, club soda can contain trace amounts of minerals like potassium, magnesium, or sodium naturally from the water source.

Overall, even flavored club sodas or diet tonic waters tend to be lower in calories, sugars, and sodium compared to regular tonic water.

Health Benefits

In terms of health benefits, club soda offers a few advantages:

  • Hydration – Club soda provides hydration without any calories, carbs or sugar.
  • No caffeine – Unlike sodas, club sodas do not contain caffeine.
  • Gastrointestinal issues – The carbonation may help with minor gastrointestinal issues like indigestion, bloating or upset stomach.
  • Low sodium – Club soda can be part of a low-sodium diet required for some health conditions.

There are minimal health benefits to tonic water other than potential hydration. However, the calories, sugars, and sodium may outweigh any benefits for some people.

Cost Comparison

Both club soda and tonic water are relatively inexpensive. Here is a price comparison:

Beverage Average Price
Club Soda (2 L bottle) $1.5
Tonic water (2 L bottle) $2-$3

On average, club soda is slightly cheaper than tonic water. Generic or store brands of club soda can be found for under $1 per liter.

Taste Comparison

In terms of taste, tonic water has a much more distinctive flavor profile. It contains quinine that gives it a bitter taste balanced by added sugars. Tonic water has strong citrus notes.

Club soda is more neutral in taste with a clean and crisp carbonation. It can adapt well to many added flavors like lemon, lime, bitters, etc.

Those who enjoy bitterness and citrus flavors will likely prefer tonic water. For those who want a more subtle and mixable base, club soda is a good choice.

Mixability in Cocktails

Both club soda and tonic water are common ingredients in cocktails. Here is how they compare in mixed drinks:

  • Gin and tonic – Tonic is preferred, as it balances the alcohol and botanicals in gin.
  • Vodka soda – Club soda allows the neutral vodka flavor to shine.
  • Rum and soda – Again, club soda works well by not competing with rum flavor.
  • Highballs – Tonic water is common, but club soda also works well.
  • Spritzers – Club soda is widely used as a base for wine and spirit spritzers.

While personal taste plays a large role, tonic water is better suited for gin, while club soda pairs well with vodka, light rum, tequila, and spritzers.

Carbonation Levels

Club soda and tonic water contain similar carbonation levels. The carbonation is added by infusing water with carbon dioxide gas under pressure.

A study measured the carbonation of various beverages in volumes of CO2. It found:

  • Tonic water – 4.0 volumes
  • Club soda – 5.0 volumes

Both beverages are considered highly carbonated compared to drinks like soda or seltzer. However, club soda averaged slightly higher volumes of carbonation.

Which Beverage Has Quinine?

Quinine is a compound found in the bark of the cinchona tree. It has a long history of use as an anti-malarial treatment.

Quinine gives tonic water its bitter taste and distinguishes it from club soda. Only tonic water contains quinine – club soda does not have any quinine content.

Which is More Acidic?

Tonic water has a more acidic pH than club soda. The quinine used gives tonic water lower pH levels.

Analysis of club soda and tonic water pH shows:

  • Tonic water pH – 2.5
  • Club soda pH – 5.7

The acidity comes from citric acid and carbonic acid used in tonic water production. The higher acidity is required to balance the bitter quinine flavors.


Overall, club soda is the healthier choice between the two fizzy waters. With 0 everything (calories, carbs, sugars, etc.), club soda offers the most benefits for people looking to reduce intake of these components.

Tonic water is not unhealthy, but the added sugars, calories, and sodium content makes it less ideal for those watching their health and diet. The main benefit of tonic water is the flavor profile from quinine and citrus notes.

Both beverages can be great choices depending on the context. For the health conscious, keeping some club soda stocked in the pantry provides a zero-calorie bubbly beverage option.

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