Watering Plants with Sparkling Water May be Surprisingly Beneficial

Green plant in a scientific flask

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Can you water plants with sparkling water? The truth is, you could water your plants with anything you like — but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. However, it turns out that carbonated water may actually be a decent alternative to tap water for hydrating your plants.

Researchers found that a plant given carbonated water grew significantly faster than one given regular flat water. But was this is a fluke or a legitimate discovery? Well, people have found quite a few interesting uses for sparkling water — including skincare and cleaning.

When you consider the ingredients that may have been in the carbonated water, it begins to sound more believable. The results may even tempt you to conduct your own experiment at home.

Glass of sparkling water next to a can

Limited Research Says Carbonated Water Can be Good for Plants

No, this isn’t some clever marketing ploy by LaCroix to get you to buy more sparkling water. The idea that sparkling water can aid plant growth is backed by research, albeit a single experiment that is more than two decades old.

A 2002 study conducted by students at Colorado University Boulder compared the effects of watering plants with flat versus carbonated water. While this study is no longer available online, many websites still reference it. Interestingly, the researchers found that unflavored soda water helped a plant grow significantly more quickly.

During the study, the researchers gave two plants the exact same resources – the same soil, fertilizer, and sunlight exposure. As the sole variable, they gave one plant sparkling water and the other flat water over a period of 10 days.

The plant that received carbonated water grew more than twice as fast as the other. It also developed more vivid shades of green in its leaves, suggesting the plant absorbed extra nutrients from the club soda. Or, perhaps the carbonated water allowed the plant’s roots to absorb more of the nutrients.

We should note that the experiment took place over a very short period of time. It is possible that if watered with carbonated water for a longer period, the plants may have suffered ill effects. If you’re curious about the long-term impacts of sparkling water on plants, it may be worthwhile to conduct your own experiment.

Plants growing in soil outdoors

Why is Carbonated Water Good for Plants?

Some sparkling water contains dissolved solids of nutrients that help plants grow. Certain brands of sparkling water may contain minerals and elements such as:

  • Magnesium – a key component of chlorophyll in plant tissue
  • Calcium – necessary for the formation of cell walls and cell membranes
  • Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen – the primary elements plants use to grow
  • Sodium – aids in metabolism and synthesis of chlorophyll
  • Sulfur – helps with the formation of chlorophyll and allows for photosynthesis
  • Phosphorus – stimulates root development and other growth
  • Potassium – an essential nutrient for plant growth

Sparkling water that contains these dissolved solids may act as a fertilizer for plants. What’s more, the liquid can absorb easily into their root system.

Not all carbonated water contains dissolved solids in higher quantities than what is found in tap water. Beverages labeled as mineral water, for example, will have higher total dissolved solids (TDS). TDS is a measurement of the amount of materials dissolved in a particular volume of water – from metals to minerals, salts and ions.

But here’s something to consider: The liquid used to water the plants in the 2002 experiment was only club soda – not sparkling water with greater than normal dissolved solids. That means the fast-growing plant must have benefited simply from the increased concentration of carbon and oxygen in the water.

How to Water Plants with Sparkling Water

You should approach plants with carbonated water as more of an experiment than a foolproof new method for faster plant growth. While you may see beneficial results, it’s possible you might not, especially over a longer period of time. As previously noted, the experiment that was conducted was very brief. However, there are some things we know for sure on the subject.

Soda cans on shelves

Avoid Watering Plants with Soda

Do not use soda or other sugary beverages to water plants. Sugar can wreak havoc on a plant’s root system. It feeds microorganisms in the soil, which can embolden them to attack the roots and kill the plant.

It’s also much more difficult for a plant to absorb water that has dissolved sugar in it. If you were to try it, you’d notice that the soil would stay moist for longer than it would with water, because the plant struggles to absorb it.

Additionally, soda may attract pests to your plants. You may draw fruit flies and other small insects into your home with the superfluously sweet, syrupy beverage in your plant’s soil.

Do Not Water Plants with Flavored Sparkling Water

Flavored sparkling water is another bad choice for watering plants. LaCroix, Bubly, Topo Chico and popular brands contain natural and/or artificial flavors that can lead to unpredictable consequences for plants. In some cases, these flavors can damage plant roots, damaging their immune systems and increasing the possibility for disease.

Should You Water Plants with Sparkling Water?

Plants do not need sparkling water to survive, let alone thrive. Limited research tells us that it may be beneficial, but it’s probably best done as a fun experiment to conduct with your plants, rather than a permanent change to your horticultural habits.

We can’t guarantee positive results when using sparkling water to water. It can also become quite expensive to water plants with carbonated water. Consider the fact that a gallon of tap water costs less than a penny. Generally, if your tap water is safe to drink, it is perfectly fine to water plants with. Sparkling water like LaCroix Pure hovers around $.42 per can, making it significantly more expensive.

If you’d still like to give it a try, be sure to use unflavored, unsweetened sparkling water to conduct your experiment.