Carbonated, sparkling water is a source of attraction for people in all parts of the world and is used for various purposes. 

Club soda and tonic are two forms of water that confuse people’s minds because of their similarities. 

Both have substances added to add flavor to pure carbonated water, and both are used for mixing beverages. 

The big difference between them is that the tonic water contains quinine and sugar, which give this drink its distinctively sweet, bitter taste. Because of the presence of sugar, tonic water has calories. Club soda doesn’t.

This article has attempted to look at these two types of soda based on their characteristics to clear any doubts.

Table of Contents

1. Definitions

Club Soda

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Club soda is a liquid with carbon dioxide combined with water at high pressure. Sometimes sodium chloride is also added to this water, depending on the manufacturer. 

The process used to add carbon dioxide to water is called carbonation, which creates a bubble in the water. 

The carbon dioxide is added in low concentrations (0.2% to 1.0%) to water, forming carbonic acid making the drink acidic. 

Sodium or potassium salts are sometimes added to this carbonated water to control this sour taste. 

Tonic Water

Tonic water is also carbonated water, implying the addition of carbon dioxide to the water. However, it is called a tonic because it always contains a small amount of quinine. 

The addition of quinine prevented malaria in India by British administrators. Today the addition of quinine is primarily symbolic, although a small amount of quinine is still added to give its distinct bitter taste. 

Once this bitter (acidic) taste is offset, usually with corn syrup, tonic water makes refreshing drinks with gin and mineral water. 

We hear names like gin and tonics and vodka tonics because we use tonic water with these alcoholic drinks.

2. Origin

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British settlers developed tonic water in the 19th century in tropical countries as a medicine against malaria.

The Englishman, William Cunnington, at the end of the 19th century, while in India for geological explorations, observed that the local people had a very refreshing natural concoction with digestive properties. 

Its main ingredients were Quassia amara extract and quinine. When he returned to London, he made a soft drink with those characteristics and made it fizzy. He named it luu Tonic Cunnington (Indian Cunnington Tonic).

The drink arose when quinine was added to carbonated water as a prophylactic measure against malaria. 

Only English colonies of the tropical zones of Asia and Africa consumed the fluid initially, but then it spread all over the world.

The settlers added gin and sugar to counteract the bitter quinine flavor. And so they created the popular drink known as gin and tonic. 

Tonic water sold today contains only 83 mg of quinine per liter, less than half a percent of the therapeutic dose. 

Club soda, by contrast, is carbonated water with added minerals to emulate the taste of naturally carbonated mineral waters.

Club Soda was established in the eighteenth century in England by Joseph Priestley; like so many inventions, this was another accident. 

Joseph placed a container of water over a vat of beer. The beer fermentation is mixed with the water, giving it a different taste. 

He ended up producing more for his customers who liked this sparkling water. Club Soda is currently made by dissolving carbon dioxide in water, forming carbonic acid.

3. Ingredients

Tonic water contains carbonated water, corn syrup rich in fructose and sugar, citric acid, natural flavors (fruit extracts), and quinine, in addition to sodium benzoate as a preservative. 

Quinine is present in the bark of the cinchona tree. In the past, tonic water was mainly used as a preventative drink to prevent malaria. 

Currently, tonic water contains only a little quinine – just enough to give it a bitter boost. 

It also includes sweeteners to enhance the flavor. Toning water is often used in mixed drinks such as gin and tonic.

Club soda comprises carbonated water, potassium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium chloride (salt). 

Other bottlers use different mixes of minerals in their club sodas. Initially, it mainly helped in the digestive level when it was created. 

When we overeat, Club Soda’s consumption helps release the gas accumulated in the stomach, releasing pressure and relieving that feeling of fullness. 

Nowadays, it serves as a soda but without the extra addition of sugar and other components.

4. Flavor

Club soda is unflavored and has little taste, although it causes a mouthfeel due to carbonation. Tonic water has added sweetener and quinine (an artificial substitute), a bitter-tasting ingredient. 

This component gives it a very distinct taste, used on alcoholic drinks. Typically, tonic water is mixed with clear beverages such as gin or vodka, while club soda goes well with brown alcohols such as whiskey.

5. Carbohydrates and Calories

Club soda contains water and occasionally a little additional salt, so it has no calories and no carbs. 

Typical club soda has zero calories, 50 mg of sodium (2 percent of the RDA), 4.7 mg of potassium, and 11.8 mg of calcium.

On the other hand, tonic water usually has sugar or glucose syrup as ingredients, so 240 ml of the drink can contain about 90 calories and 23 grams of carbohydrates.

Tonic water contains:

  • 21.5 g of sugar (7 percent of the recommended daily allowance).
  • 29 mg of sodium (1 percent of the RDA).
  • 2.4 mg of calcium. 

6. Recommendation

Club Soda is promoted to be consumed in place of sugary carbonated drinks to encourage a healthy lifestyle. 

Tonic water production is usually closely monitored by food authorities due to the quinine content. Due to quinine’s side effects, using tonic water in large amounts is not recommended.

7. Favored cocktail

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It is widespread to mix wine with club soda to soften the taste of the former. The well-known summer red color is obtained with the mixture, so rich and refreshing at summer time of year. 

However, other fermented beverages such as beer incorporate club soda, although fewer adherents. 

If we combine soda and beer, we will obtain the white-colored cocktail. The primary use of tonic water is combined with other drinks, usually alcoholic. 

It is strange to drink a tonic without mixing it with another liquor, although the water alone also has its audience. 

It is not surprising to see people in bars asking for a gin and tonic, the almost perfect pairing for drinks lovers. 

8. Benefits 

Benefits of Tonic water

Nutrition Fact about tonic water
Nutrition Fact about Tonic Water| Infographic by Alexandra Shystman
  • The benefits of tonic water come from quinine powder, and it is this natural substance that positively affects our body and our health.
  • The quinine present in the drink facilitates digestion, as it stimulates the saliva production. Saliva contains essential substances for digestion and our oral health, as it has an antibacterial action.
  • The tonic water also favors the gastric glands, generating a great relief from burning, nausea, and those unpleasant feelings of heaviness in the stomach.
  • By consuming tonic water, you will be simultaneously cleansing your body. This drink helps eliminate toxins in our bodies due to the consumption of dyes, preservatives, and even constant exposure to pollution.
  • Quinine is an antioxidant. This characteristic of quinine favors healing, as it works by neutralizing free radicals responsible for the oxidation of our cells. 
  • The presence of quinine in tonic water favors skin regeneration, reduces acne and wrinkles, aids in blood circulation, improves hair health, among other benefits. 

Benefits of Club Soda

Club Soda benefits
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Club Soda commonly has a different amount of minerals than regular water. However, the nutritional differences are negligible.

For this reason, drinking Club Soda is an excellent way to keep your body hydrated. Here are the benefits of club soda:

  • Club soda can keep you hydrated; if you don’t want to drink plain water, club soda will be a better choice.
  • Club soda, in general, has a satiating effect, so it goes well in all kinds of diets when we want to control what we usually eat. 
  • It is suitable for coronary health; it helps control cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Regular consumption of club soda reduces the risk of suffering from chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and obesity in healthy adults.
  • It also helps reduce stomach acidity during digestion, improves the metabolism of lipids, and helps lower glucose levels.

9. Drink for Pregnant Women 

Although many women seek tonic water to eliminate the feeling of nausea and heartburn, the truth is that this drink is not entirely safe for pregnant women.

Its consumption should be very sporadic and moderate or, preferably, completely avoided.

The main reason it is not recommended for pregnant women to take tonic water is related to the presence of quinine in its composition. 

This substance has analgesic and antipyretic action used to treat serious diseases. Such as malaria, which can cause hypersensitivity reactions during pregnancy.

Club soda is water with carbonic acid and minerals, depending on the source from which it comes. Beyond these compounds, the myth that this drink is harmful during pregnancy is false. 

Club soda is not recommended for those people who suffer from flatulence and aerophagia, as carbonic acid would increase the amount of gas in your body. 

But beyond these two discomforts, there are no contraindications for a pregnant woman to consume it.

Comparison Table

Comparison ParametersTonicClub soda
IngredientsIt contains quinine as an essential ingredient.It is just carbonated water with a small amount of salt added.
FlavorIt usually tastes bitter because of the presence of quinine.It tastes less like water.
MineralIt contains sodium and calcium.It contains potassium sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium chloride (salt).
Usefulness Initially, people used it to cure malaria.It can cure digestive problems and hence improve digestion.
OriginIt comes from India.It comes from England. 
FeatureTonic Water glows under ultraviolet light due to the presence of quinine. Club Soda does not have this effect.


Tonic and club soda water are used in many mocktails and cocktails. These are carbonated beverages that add fizz to any typical drink. 

They generally do not have such a disadvantage. While these drinks are not considered healthy beverages, they are better than alcoholic beverages. 

These drinks are not drunk all on their own but can be a great combination with other ingredients such as fruits and herbs.

This battle between similar things has some mind-blowing facts to read. Want some more? Feel free to read our articles on (I) Water Lilies Vs. Water Lotus and (II) River otter Vs. Sea otter.

(Last Updated on February 6, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Ankur Pradhan holds a bachelor’s degree in education and health and three years of content writing experience. Addicted to online creative writing, she puts some of what she feels inside her stormy heart on paper. She loves nature, so she is trying to motivate people to switch to alternative energy sources through her articles.