Okay, I need to come clean about something. I used to think sparkling water was kind of….bad? It gave me headaches, made my stomach feel a little funky, and if I left a can open for an hour or two, it’d start to taste like a science experiment gone wrong.
But after doing a deep dive into my sparkling water aversion, I learned a secret about sparkling water: while it may seem like pure, clean yum it’s often filled with a little something called citric acid.
What is citric acid, you may ask? It’s a weak acid that’s found naturally in a lot of citrus. If you’ve ever chomped into a lemon… first of all, we’re concerned, and secondly, that sour taste in your mouth is all thanks to citric acid. While we won’t name any names, a lot of big name brands add citric acid in their water to bring out stronger fruit flavors (hi Pamplemousse). Plus, it’s also widely used as a preservative in drinks, meaning a can of sparkling water will last a little longer in your pantry.
Here’s the catch. While citric acid is not inherently bad for you, there are a few notable downsides to infusing citric acid into our favorite bubbly beverages:
- The levels of acidity in citric acid can be harsh on your teeth and your stomach, especially if you’ve been known to chug a few cans, cases, or truckloads of sparkling water a day (guilty).
- Foods and drinks with higher acidity levels often cause headaches in headache prone humans (also guilty).
- If you have food sensitivities due to IBS or Crohn’s Disease, citric acid can wreak havoc on your digestive system.
- Acid… tastes bad.
Moral of the story? My sparkling water vendetta had nothing to do with a deep-seated bubble aversion — it was all due to citric acid. To all the bubbles out there: I was wrong, and I’m sorry.
p.s. If you ARE looking for the citric-acid free-est, cleanest, and all around bestest sparkling water in all the land — nice to meet you, we’re Aura Bora.