Flavor-infused water is making waves in a big way. In fact, water in general is a hit these days, with bottled water sales outpacing soda in the US for the past couple of years.1 And one famous, Michigan-based seltzer brand has more than doubled their profits in the same time span.2
While choosing water may be better for our health and our waistlines, buying prepackaged water isn’t good for the environment since it takes at least 450 years for plastic bottles to degrade, and Americans throw away about 1,500 aluminum cans per second.3,4 Some flavored waters sold commercially have additives that may not be so good for you, either.5
Here’s a better way to get your daily H2O—make your own infusions! Whether you like yours flat or bubbly, your options are endless. And you'll get a nutritional boost from using only natural ingredients. Plus, it’s easier on your wallet to make infused water yourself and it only takes a little fruit to get big flavor!
What is Fruit-Infused Water vs. Fruit-Flavored Water?
It may sound like the same thing, but there are a few critical differences between fruit-infused and fruit-flavored water. The differences are in the calorie count, flavor and appearance.
What's Infused Water?
Infused water is made by adding chunks or slices of fruit and other natural ingredients to water and letting it sit for a few hours so the flavors can infiltrate the water.
What’s Flavored Water?
Flavored water is made by adding juices or extracts to water.
While both of these options are tasty, infused water usually has fewer calories because the fruit stays intact, imparting flavor but keeping most of the juice inside the fruit. Since fruit juice contains natural sugars, thus calories, you’ll get more calories if you squeeze the fruit to flavor your water. But you may get more nutrients that way, too!
Infused water can also taste a little different from flavored waters, even if you use the same fruit for both. When you infuse water with fruit versus squeezing the fruit and using the juice to flavor the water, the rind or skin of the fruit also provides some flavor, especially with citrus fruits. Citrus peels lend a bright and tangy zing to infused water.
Since the fruit pieces can stay in your infused water while you drink it, you get a fun splash of color along with your flavor, so don’t be surprised if someone asks about the delicious-looking concoction in your water bottle!
How to Fruit-Infuse Water
The first step to making infused water is to choose your flavors! But don’t limit yourself to fruit. You can add herbs, spices, edible flowers, and even vegetables to your H2O infusions.
Citrus fruits, berries, apples, pears, mango, pineapple, coconut, passionfruit, cucumber, you name it! You can use practically any fruit in water infusions.
Celery, carrots and fennel can all be used in water infusions.
Rosemary, mint, basil, parsley, cilantro and thyme make great additions to infused water.
Water Infusions with Spices
Try adding cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, cloves or vanilla bean.
After you have your ingredients, rinse them thoroughly and slice into smaller pieces so the flavors will infuse your water more quickly. You can leave smaller berries whole if you want, and keep the skins on the fruits, depending on your preference. You can use many spices whole (like pairing cinnamon sticks with green apple slices), chopped (like adding chunks of ginger to a peach infusion) or mix in a pinch of powdered herbs or spices (like adding a pinch of cayenne to lemon-infused water). See below for more recipe ideas using herbs and spices.
Next, add your ingredients of choice to a water infuser, or you can use large-mouthed glass bottles or jars with lids. Pour in some filtered water, cover the jars and put them in the fridge. Some ingredients need a couple of hours to impart their flavor. Citrus will be detectable almost instantly, though berries and herbs take a little longer.
Once you’ve finished drinking your infused water, you can refill the container with more filtered water and reuse the ingredients, but the flavor won’t be as potent the second time around.
Although they aren’t absolutely necessary to have, infuser bottles or water infusion pitchers are great, especially if you plan to use herbs that you might accidentally swallow while drinking—like basil leaves or small berries. There’s nothing wrong with eating the ingredients, of course, but loose ingredients can be a choking hazard if you aren’t expecting to swallow them.
Water infusers work a little bit like teapots or tea infusers. A basket-like container within the bottle keeps the flavor-contributing ingredients separated from the water while still letting them mingle.
You can also use a smaller infuser, such as a mesh tea infuser, to infuse a smaller amount of water, like 32 ounces (4 cups), with fresh herbs like ginger or basil.
Healthy Water Flavoring
The best infused-water recipes use natural ingredients, in flavor combinations you’ll love, to help get you drinking more water! Most homemade infusions with natural fruits, vegetables and herbs are worlds healthier than store-bought flavored water, for both you and the environment. Many commercially available flavored-water drinks contain artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that aren’t 100% natural or nutritional.5 There are options with no artificial additives or other ingredients, like added sugar, but why not just make your own healthy water flavors at home by infusing your water with fruit, herbs and spices, or adding your own natural fruit juices and extracts. Here are some recipes to try at home.
Fresh Fruit Infused Water Recipes
Citrus Fruit Blends
Add slices of citrus fruits, like lemons, limes and oranges for a boost of antioxidant vitamin C. You can even add them in colored stacks so you have a citrus rainbow in your glass!
Choose cucumber to add a refreshing flavor to your water and help keep you hydrated.
Berry Infused Water
Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are full of vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals for help against oxidative stress.
Blueberry Citrus Infusion
Add blueberries and orange slices for a unique, zingy flavor combination.
Cherry Peach Perfection
This cheery blend of peach slices and cherries is the perfect sip for spring.
Mango Water Infusions
Mango goes well with so many flavors! We like combining it with either strawberries or oranges.
More Infused Water Recipes
Combine organic herbs, healthy spices and fruits for unique flavor infusions, like watermelon and basil, peppermint and blackberry, pear and cinnamon, ginger and peach—here are even more water infusion recipes that include herbs and spices below!
Cayenne & Apple Cider Vinegar
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper and a splash of organic apple cider with mother from Swanson Health, which contains beneficial enzymes, minerals and acetic acid. Read 30 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for more ACV recipes.
Lavender & Lemon
Give your lemon water a new twist with a sprig of fresh lavender!
Mint & Berries
Toss some mint leaves and sliced strawberries or blackberries into your bottle for a refreshing infusion.
Basil & Watermelon
These two flavors go together spectacularly—it’s the perfect water infusion for a warm summer day.
Jalapeño & Strawberries
Try combining a few jalapeño slices with strawberries for a spicy and sweet infusion.
Cinnamon Apple Water
Slice some apples and toss in a cinnamon stick to make your water evoke the comfort of apple pie.
There’s no way you’ll get bored with your daily H2O when you have so many flavors to try. You can even get your children involved to come up with their own fun flavor combinations. They’ll be inspired to drink more water and get a mini culinary lesson, too!
Share your favorite water infusion recipes below! Also, boost your H2O IQ with Water for the Win: Benefits of Water, Plus 5 Water Infusions to Try, and check out the rest of Swanson Health’s A-Z Guide to Modern Wellness.
1 Americans Are Now Drinking More Bottled Water Than Soda. Fortune. http://fortune.com/2017/03/10/soda-tax-bottled-water-americans/
2 Bears Are Betting LaCroix Is Too Bubbly. The Wall Street Journal. https://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2017/04/05/bears-are-betting-lacroix-is-too-bubbly/
3 How Long Does It Take a Plastic Bottle to Biodegrade? Postconsumers. https://www.postconsumers.com/2011/10/31/how-long-does-it-take-a-plastic-bottle-to-biodegrade/
4 Americans Throw Away 1,500 Aluminum Cans Per Second. The Good Human. https://thegoodhuman.com/americans-throw-away-1500-aluminum-cans-per-second/
5 5 Hidden Dangers of Flavored Water. WellnessNova. http://www.wellnessnova.com/2016/04/5-hidden-dangers-of-flavored-water/
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.