Is sparkling water naturally occurring? You might find it hard to believe, but the answer is yes. In fact, you can even visit some of these wondrous springs and wells of natural effervescence.
And while not all brands of sparkling water source their water from natural springs or wells, some do. Examples include Perrier of France, Gerolsteiner of Germany, and Topo Chico of Mexico.
Naturally occurring sparkling water offers a taste of its source’s unique mineral profile. This minerality often lends itself to a more interesting tasting water, without any added flavors or artificial sweeteners.
Interested in how man-made sparkling water was first manufactured? Learn about the invention of sparkling water.
How Sparkling Water is Naturally Carbonated
Mother nature still holds many surprises, including naturally occurring sparkling water. Naturally carbonated water forms when geothermal gases dissolve into the water of natural wells or springs. This often occurs in areas with significant volcanic activity.
The high temperatures aid in dissolving carbon dioxide (CO2) into the water – the same gas used to artificially carbonate soda, beer and other beverages. Under intense geothermal heat, minerals from the rock surrounding the spring are also dissolved into the water. This gives it a distinctive flavor.
Most of the carbonation dissipates before the water reaches the surface of the spring. This is why natural sparkling water bottlers tend to gather water deeper underground at the source.
Where Can You Find Natural Sparkling Water Springs?
You might be excited by the prospect of visiting a naturally carbonated spring. Why wouldn’t you want to see how water gets its carbonation naturally? But where in the world are there natural springs that produce carbonated water?
It turns out, you don’t have to travel to Gerolsteiner, Germany or the south of France to taste natural spring water at the source. There are several natural springs all over the United States where you can visit to taste and bathe in the effervescent sparkling mineral water.
1. Soda Springs: Idaho
Before we could artificially carbonate water, people were drinking from Soda Springs. The naturally carbonated spring water was even a popular attraction for pioneers along the Oregon Trail.
Soda Springs’ naturally occurring geyser is described as the world’s only captive geyser. In 1937, a businessman in Soda Springs drilled a well, looking for hot water to build a bathhouse. Instead of striking water, he accidentally drilled into a chamber of carbon dioxide gas, causing a geyser to erupt from the ground. The city was able to engineer a way to force the geyser to erupt with regularity — on an hourly basis.
In 1893, water from Soda Springs won a top prize at Chicago’s World Fair. You can sample the water in multiple places in the town. Apparently, it has a mildly sweet flavor.
2. Mineral Springs Park: Mississippi
You can find Mineral Springs Park in Iuka, Mississippi – named for Chickasaw Chief Iuka. According to the legend, Iuka drank the curative waters, which healed him of an illness. When it comes to natural spring water, you’ll find that purported healing properties are a common theme.
In 1902, Mineral Springs Park water won the World’s Fair prize for best mineral water. The park features three mineral springs, each of which locals say has its own unique healing property.
3. Manitou Springs: Colorado
Manitou Springs features 8 naturally carbonated mineral water springs. According to the Manitou Springs tourism website, “each spring has its own unique taste.”
As part of a guided or self-guided tour, visitors can taste the naturally carbonated water, which comes from a deep underground system of cavernous aquifers. You’ll be provided a map, a cup, and the opportunity to stroll from fountain to fountain, tasting waters of various mineral compositions.
Dozens of other naturally carbonated springs exist in the United States and all over the world. That means no matter where you are, it’s likely you’ll find a historically significant and potentially healing natural mineral water spring nearby.
Naturally Carbonated Sparkling Water Brands
You might be asking yourself what brands of sparkling water are naturally carbonated. If you prefer the taste and carbonation of natural sparkling water, there are several widely available options from a variety of origins.
Shop natural sparkling water on Amazon:
There is even such a thing as alkaline sparkling water, which comes from a natural source in the Andes Mountains of Chile.
Sparkling Waters That Are Not Naturally Carbonated
Most sparkling water brands available on supermarket shelves are not naturally carbonated. However, these beverages can still be quite enjoyable. Instead of getting their flavor naturally from minerals, bottlers often flavor them with natural fruit essences.
- Polar Seltzer
The Differences Between Natural and Manufactured Sparkling Water
If you drink enough sparkling water, you’ll begin to note subtle differences between the various brands. Flavor can vary drastically from brand to brand, as well as carbonation intensity.
Artificial vs. Naturally Carbonated
The carbonation in naturally occurring sparkling water is not inherently better, but it certainly is different from manufactured carbonation. Naturally occurring sparkling water tends to have a “fizzier” quality. Topo Chico, for example, has tiny bubbles that permeate throughout the bottle.
Meanwhile, you could describe manufactured brands like Polar Seltzer as more “bubbly” than fizzy. The bubbles feel and look bigger, contributing to an entirely different mouthfeel, and likely lending to differences in flavor as well.
Artificial vs. Natural Minerality
Naturally carbonated water is sought after because of its minerality. Minerals you might find in sparkling water include sodium, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. Certain brands of sparkling water will contain significantly greater volumes of these minerals than others.
Minerals in varying quantities impart unique flavors. Some people enjoy intense mineral flavors, but for others, it’s more of an acquired taste. When you drink sparkling mineral water, you are tasting the essence of the water’s source. Often, the carbonation of natural sparkling water is because of volcanic activity.
Many medical professionals believe that the minerals dissolved in sparkling water impart health benefits. They may contribute to heart health, or assist in lowering blood pressure. The minerals in sparkling mineral water may also assist with faster hydration after an intense workout.
Scientists describe the volume of minerals in sparkling water using a measurement called total dissolved solids (TDS). Generally, natural sparkling water will have a significantly higher TDS. However, some manufacturers will add minerals to artificially carbonated water.
Theoretically, an artificial sparkling water manufacturer could replicate the flavors of natural sparkling water by adding certain mineral compositions. However, most artificial sparkling water is instead features more marketable fruit flavors – often of natural origin.
Not all naturally derived sparkling water is completely natural. Some brands, including Perrier and Topo Chico, adjust the carbonation of the natural sparkling water during the bottling process. Additionally, some natural sparkling water brands will adjust the mineral content of the water to improve its flavor.
Is Natural Sparkling Water Better?
Better is a very objective term. However, many people prefer the taste of sparkling water that has been flavored naturally with minerals. There are certainly differences in flavor and carbonation between natural and artificially manufactured carbonated water.
Natural sparkling water features a fizzier bubble profile and greater minerality. Conversely, manufacturers often flavor artificial sparkling water with fruit essences and sometimes even artificial sweeteners. It’s up to you to decide which you prefer more.