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It's well known that a bracha isn't made on plain, unflavoured water if one isn't [that] thirsty, the question is: what about plain seltzer (e.g. refreshe from Vons)?

Is the addition of the bubbley texture enough to be considered "flavour" in regards to making a bracha on only it, or does the seltzer need to be actually flavoured to require a bracha?

I guess Lechatchila someone should make a sha'hakol on something else, but I'm just asking about the ikar hadin.

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    I'd like to upvote this question. But, when you say, "It's well known...", I'm not sure that's true or relevant to our readers. I, for one, am unfamiliar with this rule. So, I think it would be useful to link a source for this statement. – DanF Feb 4 '19 at 2:58
  • @DanF I allowed myself to bring the source in the first part of my answer – mbloch Feb 4 '19 at 4:37
  • For the record Reb Dovid Feinstein once jokingly mentioned in passing in a shiur that maybe one should make a shehakol on seltzer in a situation where he wouldn't make the bracha on water, the reason being you enjoy the bubbles. And the proof is you chose to drink seltzer and not water. Related, Rabbi Belsky felt very strongly that mouth feel was just as important as real taste when deciding to treat something as avida litama as far as kashrus goes. His example was glycerine. – user6591 Mar 24 at 20:31
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You don't make one.

If there is no actual taste, then the extra bubbles aren't enough to require an actual brocho; according to the shulchan aruch explicitly "for water there is no brocho.. unless one is thirsty, or unless there is a taste" -- plain seltzer water is just water.

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  • Plain seltzer water is not pure water. It’s carbonic acid - carbon dioxide dissolved in water. A lower pH naturally changes its intrinsic flavor; we tend to perceive acidic substances as bitter or sour. – DonielF Mar 24 at 16:10
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As background, the Rambam in MT Brachot 8:1 writes

When a person drinks water for an intention other than fulfilling his thirst, it is not necessary for him to recite a blessing beforehand or afterward.

and this codified by SA OC 204:7.

Examples of drinking water not for the sake of thirst include clearing his throat, swallowing a pill, facilitating urination [e.g., for a medical test], etc. (R Binyomin Forst, The laws of brachos, p. 135).

Now to your question, the Mishna Brura (204:42) writes that if you get a benefit from the water, it is as if you drank because you are thirsty, and therefore have to make a blessing.

So it seems to depend on how much benefit you derive from the bubbly water. I personally don't like it and only drink it when I have no choice and I'm really thirsty, and therefore wouldn't have to make a blessing. Someone buying this bubbly water because he enjoys the bubbles would have to. (Note there are other examples of "subjective blessings", e.g., chocolate-covered raisins.)

I discussed the above with R Binyamin Tabady who agreed with the reasoning but, of course, consult your rabbi before implementing anything you learn here.

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  • Hi nice answer, but I'm looking at the mishnah berurah now and I don't see where he says that if you get benefit from the water you would need a blessing? He says: ושתה מים - דוקא מים שאין החיך נהנה מהם כ"א כששותה לצמאו אבל כששותה שאר משקים או אוכל חתיכת פת שהחיך נהנה מהם, davka "mayim", he says, that you DON'T say a blessing on, then he says that OTHER drinks and/or bread, you do, even if its only for some other purpose... I don't see in the wording that plain water with any benefit (like bubbles) would need a bracha, he seems to say the opposite. – user8832 Feb 4 '19 at 5:42
  • In fact he clearly says that "the throat doesn't benefit from it UNLESS one drinks for thirst" and he doesn't make any distinction at all, he seems to just be saying the fact, not a condition – user8832 Feb 4 '19 at 5:43
  • I understand "דוקא מים שאין החיך נהנה מהם" that because one doesn't enjoy water, one doesn't make a blessing unless it quenches thirst. But if you enjoy the water because of added taste or bubbles, then this wouldn't qualify for the exemption and you would have to say a blessing. This is also seemingly how R Forst understands it "Water provides the body with neither pleasurable taste nor normal nutrition". But you seem to buy seltzered water for taste and enjoyment so it wouldn't have the exemption. I don't find enjoyment there so would have the exemption. – mbloch Feb 4 '19 at 6:02
  • He says "It's specifically water, which the palate doesn't benefit from, that one doesn't [ever] make a bracha on, UNLESS one is thirsty", he doesn't say that "unless one is thirsy OR there is an added taste", if there is an added taste, then it wouldn't qualify as water, because he says that the definition of water is that "the palate doesn't [ever] benefit from it", if the palate DOES benefit from it, then it wouldn't be considered water, it would be "OTHER beverages", as the Mishnah Berura says in the next clause; my question is what is the exact definition of "benefit" ? – user8832 Feb 4 '19 at 6:07
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    A criteria that I heard from a rav that may help you decide. He used flavored water as an example. He said, if you needed something to quench your thirst or swallow a pill, etc. you would choose the plain water. The fact that you chose a "premium" water is enough of an indication that you need to make a bracha regardless of whether you enjoy it, benefit from it or not. I.e. - the mere nature of the drink in itself as "unstandard" makes it require a bracha. The only exception is if you needed liquid to swallow a pill immediately and the "premium" drink was the only one available. – DanF Feb 4 '19 at 15:18

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