Is carbonated water safe to drink?
May 6th, 2011
07:20 AM ET

Is carbonated water safe to drink?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Vicky B. of Riverview, Michigan

I just bought a home carbonator. Is there any danger to drinking carbonated water instead of still water? Some web articles state that carbonated water does not flush toxins like still water, that it causes kidney stones because it is harder to digest and that it leaches calcium from the bones.

Expert answer:

I’m glad you asked this question as I’m addicted to my home carbonator and I find that I drink much more water, particularly with meals, than I used to. In addition, using a home carbonator is better for the environment as it saves on those plastic bottles that we see almost everywhere these days.

Regarding the health aspect, I could find no research suggesting that carbonated water would not flush toxins as effectively as plain water. With regards to leaching calcium from the bones or increased kidney stone formation (which is probably theoretically due to increase calcium loss in the urine rather than digestion difficulty), again there is no clinical evidence that this occurs. A 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that carbonated colas were associated with slightly decreased bone density in older women, but other non-cola carbonated beverages were not.

Carbonated water is created (or exists naturally) by dissolving carbon dioxide(CO2) in water. This creates carbonic acid, which is more acidic than regular water (it falls somewhere in the range of apple and orange juice) but is much less acidic than the stomach.

It is important to understand that the human body maintains pH equilibrium on a constant basis and will not be affected by water consumption. Some concern exists regarding tooth enamel erosion due to the increased acidity, but a 2001 study in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation showed that while sparkling mineral waters showed slightly greater erosive potential than still waters, the potential was considered low and was of the order of one hundred times less than soft drinks.

Some bottled or canned carbonated water contains added sodium to decrease this acidity and improve taste. If you are on a low sodium diet and consume bottled or canned carbonated water, make sure to pay attention to the sodium content and choose lower sodium options.

The only real health concern with drinking carbonated water is aggravation of irritable bowel syndrome due to the release of CO2 which could cause bloating and gas. So if you suffer from IBS, it may be best to limit or avoid intake of any carbonated beverage. If not, carbonated water is a good way to increase water intake and is also a refreshing way of diluting the calories in high calorie beverages like juice and white wine.

soundoff (975 Responses)
  1. Rick

    Yuck, who can even drink that stuff? There's nothing better than pure, ice cold filtered water.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Taylor Lasch

      Amen to that!

      People it's not that a Water Carbonater tastes better, it only disguises the taste of our Horrific City Waters. What you need to do is STOP DRINKING DISSAINI (All that is is filtered tap water so are 99% of bottled water) and invest in a Reverse Osmosis setup (it's gonna cost a couple grand) But what that is going to do is clean your water down from 200-300 Total Dissolved Solids to somewhere around 06-14 you will never want to drink anything else again so refreshing and tasty!

      Or if you cannot afford a $3,000 price tag get a Zero Water Pitcher, brings your TDS down to 00 (and tastes even better)

      Think I am crazy??? JUST TRY IT

      May 6, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Ridiculous

      @Taylor: Wait. If a Zero pitcher brings it down to 00, then why spend 3 grand for a system that only brings it down to 06-14? Am I missing something?

      May 6, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • Lori in St Pete

      Ridiculous, to answer your question: The reverse osmosis is a complete system for all your home's water sources. My brother has one, and even with all the chlorine and chemicals required to keep a swimming pool clean (the Florida sun is brutal on pool water), my hair and skin are softer after swimming at his house than showering at home because I don't have a reverse osmosis system. When I shower at his house, I don't even have to use conditioner on my hair after I wash it. At home, I have to use a moisturizing hair mask twice a week and comb conditioner through it every time I wash it. Reverse osmosis also extends the life of your clothes, thereby saving your $$$ in replacement costs. You'd also use less detergent & bleach, and there's almost no need for fabric softeners. Whites stay white, and colored cotton doesn't start looking all "linty" the first time you wash it.

      May 6, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse |
    • m00se

      @Lori in St Pete: You aren't experiencing the softness because the water is pure per se, but because the RO filter takes calcium out of the water. You can do just as well with a much cheaper water softening system. Also keep in mind that RO systems waste an incredible amount of water. For each pure gallon of water, an RO system can waste 10-50 gallons of bypass water. And they aren't practical for use on well systems due to the fact that they need a minimum of 20 psi water pressure. A whole-house RO system is wasteful and impractical.

      +1 for CO2 water by the way. I love the stuff and have been drinking it for years.

      May 7, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
  2. The Bass

    Carbonated Water is the best especially with a slice of lemon. Soda Stream's product has really saved me money and it helps the enviroment by not buying bottled water. It is weird at first but you will really start to like it quickly.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JT

    I've never tried carbonated water but I don't have any problems drinking it straight from the tap. I prefer to use a brita water filter but I think just keeping it cold is good enough. I've had some nasty water in my day and I'm glad to say my home town has excellent tasting water. When you are thirsty, there is absolutely nothing that will quench it like good old cold water.

    May 6, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ed F London

    But a question: As I once read, anything liquid that goes into the body other than pure water requries the body to do something with it. Since additional CO2 is added to the water, that would suggest the body has to do something with the extra CO2 that it would not have to do with plain water. There must be some effect. (said by someone who really enjoys San Pelligrino over any other water in the world.)

    May 6, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jenn

      Yes, burp. 🙂

      February 4, 2013 at 01:13 | Report abuse |
  5. dr. pepper

    It's the phosphoric acid- not the carbonation- in cola that binds to minerals like calcium and leaches them from your body.

    May 6, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Lori in St Pete

    Not only does St Pete's water have a funky, bitter metallic taste, it's got a texture!

    May 6, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Lori in St Pete

    I'm with you Ed F – San Pelligrino & Perrier are my faves. I'm not too worried about the effects of "frizzy" water – Italians swear by it and they live forever! They say it's better for the digestion than flat water.

    May 6, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. nina786

    ,......so which is the best??? still confuse......


    May 7, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rish10

    Doesn' t the dissolved Co2 in the water increase the Co2 level in the system and cause our bodies more work to purify our blood?

    July 21, 2011 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Fred

    A doctor should know better than to say 100 times less. One time less is 0. Anything greater than that is nonsense. I suspect she meant one one hundredth the amount.

    November 14, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Gloria C., Calif

    I recently purchased a Soda Stream & enjoy the "bubbly water". But, knowing that our livers filter everything, could that CO hurt my liver or have lasting issues? Does anyone know?

    December 6, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Benita Rice

    Kidney stones can be treated by ultrasound if the stones are not very big. Thus, early detection is very imporant. ','*:

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  15. Alida Vandeventer

    Water filtration is the process of purifying water in order to remove unwanted solids, microorganisms, gases and chemical substances. The water is passed through a strainer which retains the solids and allows only water to pass through. There are many water filters out there to choose from but when you consider cost, effectiveness, efficiency, and convenience.:

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    February 18, 2013 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Roselle Motayen

    Mineral water is water that has either naturally or artificially added minerals. Many forms of mineral water are also carbonated, which may also be the result of natural processes. Unlike sparkling water, however, mineral water does not have to be carbonated, and is defined by its having over 250 parts per million (ppm) of a mineral substance.^

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    March 22, 2013 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. S.A.

    Is drinking Seltzer water (0 cals,0 sugars no sodium) bad for health? I prefer that instead of tap water or bottled water.Please please let me know? Please email at vishmahim@gmail.com or yausma@yahoo.com.Expert's advise would be highly appreciated.Dr. Sanjay Gupta?

    May 25, 2013 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Huricane Earl

    I was hooked on diet coke. Drank at least two cans a day (regular size). I am 80 yrs old and have stage 3 kidney failure.
    My Dr. indicated I should quit. I found that drinking soda water help as a replacement. Plus I am drinking closer to the 8 glasses they recommend. So it may be a placebo?

    October 13, 2013 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 26, 2013 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. QueenPea

    I love drinking sparkling water/soda water/whatever you want to call it. It's perfect with lime and I add a bit of salt every now and then. I can't have any caffeine whatsoever, so this is a great refresher!

    November 6, 2013 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. shannon huff

    Does anyone know if i should give my grandson sparkling fruit water or not. He is 14 months and loves it.

    February 22, 2014 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. liver detoxify

    Carbonated water is not good for liver. It prevents toxic substances from being removed. Pure water is best.

    To prove it , try it on a person who have liver issues. Ask them to drink half a liter a day. Observe changes after 2 days.

    August 28, 2014 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Elizabeth Scott

    How much phosphoric does water have?

    March 5, 2015 at 10:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Lawrence K. McNamra

    I've had chronic kidney stone formation for 40 yrs, had lithotripsy (sp?) 5 times. I've started drinking Sparkling Ice brand flavored water. Will this cut back on the frequency of stone formation? Is it just colas that cause the problems?

    August 31, 2015 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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  28. Denise Larcher

    My sister has stones and kisses on her liver and she drinks soda water before her lunch and dinner. The doctor cannot operate her unless it is very urgent to do so because she was operated for lung cancer and she might not live through the operation. Please let me know. Thank you.

    January 24, 2017 at 20:55 | Report abuse | Reply
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  30. tiffany saltzer

    yes it does if u drink too much of it it will cause muscle cramps and muscle aches thats all i used to ever drink was carbonated water and now im slowly recovering from all this muscle pain!! at first i thought it was a good idea bc i was drinking more water but in the end it just caused wayyy to much pain, stress, worrying, and too much money for the hospital to tell me it was muscle spasms and now i know my muscle cramps r because of all the carbonation!!! all this and i went to patient first one time and the hospital twice... so no its not worth the money, worrying, stress, and deffinitly not the pain. oh my gosh the pain is sooo terrible i wouldnt even wish it ob my worst enemy!!! feeling better gradually day by day i tried icy hot, bio freeze, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, heating pads, massagers, ice packs pain killers u name it... now im soo glad i looked it up and found out the the muscle cramps r from all the carbonated water i drank... now i will limit myself... thank God i can sleep better tonight without worrying its something more serious...

    April 29, 2017 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Elizabeth

    I was able to kick my three-can-per-day Coke habit by switching to lightly flavored seltzer. However, I just read that aluminum beverage cans – which is what my LaCroix water comes in – contain bpa, which was a surprise to me. So now I'm going to try a home carbonation system. Anybody have any recommendations?

    May 27, 2017 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Dr George Reddy

    Hello Doctor, I am a psychiatrist from India, I have one of patient an Ex Alcholic but now developed addiction to plain carbonated soda. He is consuming about 5Litres per day. Can you help treatment option
    Max safe dose?
    Investigations to monitor
    Treatment guidelines
    Thank you
    Dr George Reddy
    Secunderabad, Telangana

    June 1, 2017 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Malcom

    When I was a drinker ! I often wondered why I got drunker quicker when drinking soda water when mixed with whiskey?
    Also champagne and sparkling wines had the same effects..
    Apparently the answer is the bubbles in soda water and sparkling wines expand the alcohol in your blood..?
    What other effects can carbonated water have upon your biological system..?

    May 7, 2018 at 02:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Hey all,
    I have looked through some of your comments and would like to suggest an alternative. An ozonator can be purchased for around $60.00 and can be used to freshen air, put actual ozone into your (disinfected and neutralized) water, and lengthen the life and freshness of your produce.
    This is just a suggestion, I am not assuming any type is better than the other, but I do know 'fizzy' waters have different levels of acid in them; which is not healthy for our teeth.

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