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Is carbonated water harmful?

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In order to improve the taste characteristics of drinking water, various treatment methods are available today. One of them is saturating water with carbon dioxide. This kind of water is popular because of its pleasant taste, when drinking some of the gas dissolves and is released in the mouth, esophagus and stomach.

In the framework of this article we will consider the topic of carbonated water, its properties and effects on the human body.

The history of carbonated water

The first researcher who discovered the way to obtain carbonated water is the English chemist Joseph Priestley who in 1172, after experiments with the gas that formed in the vats of breweries during the fermentation process, invented a device that saturates water with bubbles of carbonic acid gas with the help of a pump .

Johann Jacob Schweppe was the first to start the industrial production of carbonated water. In 1783 he invented an industrial machine for the production of carbonated water. In order to reduce production costs, in the 19th century Schwepp started to use soda to aerate the water. Therefore, carbonated water began to be called “soda“. This product quickly became popular in England, which resulted in the establishment of J. Schweppe & Co. and creating the well-known brand name “Schweppes”.

Chemical properties of carbonated water

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The solubility of carbon dioxide in water is almost 0.9. One liter of water (at normal pressure, at 20 °C) can dissolve 0.9 liters of carbon dioxide. Store-bought carbonated water may have a slightly higher carbon dioxide content. This is due to the fact that the gas is introduced into the water under high pressure, which allows to increase its degree of solubility.

Today there are 3 types of carbonated water available on the market, which differ in carbon dioxide saturation:

  • lightly carbonated: saturation 0.2 to 0.3%;
  • moderately carbonated: saturation 0.3-0.4%;
  • highly carbonated: saturation more than 0.4%.

From a chemical point of view carbon dioxide in water is a solution of carbon dioxide:

CO2 + H2O ⇄ H2CO3

If the carbon dioxide solution is acidic, then its pH level will also be acidic. Accordingly, normal drinking water with carbon dioxide has a pH below 7. According to a study conducted on regular carbonated water, the pH level was found to be around 5, for water with additives it is even lower (pH value around 3).

Carbon dioxide as a preservative

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In addition to having a pleasant taste, carbonated water also has a longer life. This is due to the fact that carbonic acid is also a weak preservative. It has antimicrobial properties and is labeled as E290 in products. A great example of its effectiveness is fermentation processes that can be affected by controlling the amount of carbon dioxide. If it is not diverted, fermentation slows down, while if it is diverted, fermentation becomes more active.

It was the flavor and preservative properties that contributed to such widespread use of carbon dioxide in carbonated water. Despite the fact that there are other methods of storing water, for example, saturating it with a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, oxygen or hydrogen.

Is carbonated water harmful?


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As regular carbonated water has a slightly acidic pH, some think that it can be harmful to tooth enamel. A study was conducted on the effects of various drinks to the teeth. Different drinks were poured into several containers and particles of human teeth, or crushed hydroxyapatite, the main component of tooth enamel, were placed in them.

The study concluded that sugar drinks containing juices and artificial acidity regulators (such as phosphoric acid or citric acid) had a negative effect on tooth enamel, while mineral water and drinking water containing carbon dioxide showed minimal enamel damage. The same study confirms that the presence of calcium, magnesium and sulfates in water can stop tooth enamel from decomposition.


A study was conducted among adolescents that examined the correlation between the incidence of fractures and the consumption of carbonated beverages. A study found that fizzy drinks can negatively affect the quality of the bones. During the study teenagers most often chose “Coca-Cola” from carbonated drinks, which contains a large amount of phosphoric acid. Phosphorus can significantly affect the removal of calcium from the human body.


There are studies that confirm that sparkling water can be helpful in weight loss. Both still and carbonated water can fill the stomach, reducing the feeling of hunger. In addition, people do not always distinguish thirst and hunger, so they often replace liquid with food, not observing proper drinking habits. Carbonated water can also help with this problem.


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In the course of medical research, carbonated water has not been proven harmful to the stomach but at the same time many note that it causes excessive flatulence. If a person has irritable bowel syndrome, carbonated water can cause negative effects as certain amount of gas can pass from the stomach to the intestines.


According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, it is recommended for children to drink only clean drinking water, and not to use juices and sweet drinks, which generally also applies to the adults. Although carbonated water may not pose a direct threat to children or adults, it can disrupt drinking habits that are very important to learn in childhood.


Carbonated water without additional sweeteners and flavors practically does not differ from ordinary drinking water. It is not harmful but at the same time it is not very useful. The decision about what kind of water to use must be taken by each of us individually. The most important thing to consider is that the water used is clean, without harmful pollutants.

Read also: Tap water: to drink or not to drink?

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