Water is life and can be brought along in reusable drinking bottles. This is not only the case in our project country Uganda. In order to satisfy our daily need of drinking water, more and more people chose reusable water bottles. In times where there’s more plastic in our oceans than fish, this is certainly a good idea. But there are plenty of different bottle models to choose from and materials as well as the scope of application vary tremendously.
2aid.org is committed to the topic of water and we therefore hope the following abstract will provide a first orientation for you to navigate different bottle models and brands.
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Which bottle type is right for me?
Depending on the intended scope of application, the attributes for your ideal H2O drinking bottle can vary quite a bit. An athlete obviously has very different requirements with regards to his drinking bottle than an office employee or parents seeking a reusable bottle for their child. That’s why it is important to think about the application range before starting your search. Basically just ask yourself: What would I use the bottle for and which features would therefore be most important to me?
Drinking bottles for the office and everyday
We need to drink about 1.5 litres of water a day to stay efficient and active throughout the day, especially at work. A reusable drinking bottle makes this task easy and fun.
When selecting the right type of bottle, pay special attention to the volume. The perfect bottle should of course hold as much water as possible, but still fit into the backpack or handbag.
The bottle should further be fairly easy to clean to guarantee hygienic everyday use. Make sure the bottle does not contain too many small parts (difficult to clean!) and has a wide opening to fit a bottle brush without difficulty. Even though most models these days can go into the dish washer, we recommend cleaning the bottle by hand to extend the product life of the materials, especially the rubber seals.
The design is another important aspect, especially in the office or at home. A shapely designed or beautifully printed bottle can be an eye-catcher on your desk and turn your daily drinking routine into a pleasure for all senses.
If you are looking for a sport bottle you first need to ask yourself whether you want to carry the bottle on you or leave it on the side-lines. In general, sport bottles should be well-sealed (also for fizzy isotonic drinks), have an easy-to-open valve and maximum grip to avoid slipping from sweaty hands.
For sports such as running, cycling etc. we recommend drinking bottles made of lightweight materials with a volume of no more than 1 litre. These are easy to carry without too much unnecessary empty weight. Squashy materials further facilitate quick access to drinking water. Many manufacturers provide bottles with specific sport valves and straps or handles. If you would like to keep in control of the amount you drank, chose a clear bottle with scaling. Cyclist should further make sure their bottle fits the bike’s bottle holder. The standard measurements for most bottle holders are a bottle diameter of 74mm and a capacity of 0,5 – 1,0 litres.
For other sports such as football or basketball we recommend bottles with a greater capacity, however, they should also have a special sports valve to make quick drinking as easy as possible. To avoid getting your bottle mixed up with your team mates’, you might further consider picking an eccentric colour or even have your name printed on the bottle.
A reusable drinking bottle is an indispensable companion on every hike or camping trip. The most crucial criteria for an outdoor drinking bottle are its size and the durability of its materials. For instance, special outdoor drinking bottles are made from durable, but foldable PE material. This way they don’t take much space in your luggage and can be easily refilled with tab water, stream water, or snow as you go. They are available in different sizes, but we recommend you to take several smaller bottles rather than one big one to guarantee an even distribution of weight in your backpack.
Drinking bottles for children
Whether at the pool, on a day trip to the zoo or in the city centre: If you are spending time with the little ones you know how important it is to have something to drink for them quick at hand. As drinking sufficient amounts of water is crucial for children’s healthy development, you should make sure they have their water bottle on them at all times, for example at school or in kindergarten.
Drinking bottles for children are often made from especially durable materials and printed with colourful pictures. Another indicator of good quality is an absolutely tight sealing to avoid leakage in the school bag. A children’s bottle should further be easy to open and have a size that even young children can easily hold.
Especially when it comes to children’s bottles you should pay extra attention to purchase a contaminant-free (i.e. Bisphenol A (BPA)-free) model. If you want your children to not only drink water but also other drinks such as tea from the bottle, you should pay attention to odour neutrality as well. In this case we recommend selecting a metal or glass bottle rather than a plastic model. In general you should make sure all parts of the bottle can be easily disassembled and cleaned.
For children the design of their drinking bottle plays a major role. Whether it’s colourful patterns, the heroes from their favourite films or their favourite colour – there is something for every child. Many manufacturers even offer sets of matching bottles and lunchboxes and make convincing your child to take their water bottle on their next adventure a piece of cake.
When buying bottles for babies one needs to pay special attention. Even though most baby bottles these days are BPA-free, it never hurts to double-check before the purchase, just in case.
Baby bottles made of glass or stainless steel are particularly hygienic as their even surface makes them easy to clean and materials are 100% odour neutral. Another advantage of glass bottles is their transparency, making it easy to spot and remove residues and allowing you to see how much the baby has drunk.
Many manufacturers offer new-born starter sets consisting of different sizes of bottles, a variety of valves and a bottle brush. The right valve depends on the baby’s age and stage of development, with between one and four openings. So called anti-colic valves ease the drinking process and prevent the baby from getting painful digestive disorders and exhalation.
There are plenty of products also worth considering when buying baby bottles, such as bottle sterilisers (e.g. electric steam sterilisers), electric bottle warmers, milk powder dispensers, insulated bottle bags, teat tongs, and bottle thermometers.
An overview of the most significant properties of reusable drinking bottles
It is, of course, absolutely essential for your drinking bottle to be airtight. Nothing is more annoying than reaching into a completely drenched bag to pull out an empty bottle. In most cases a poorly processed valve is responsible for leakage. That’s why you should pay special attention to the quality of a bottles valve seals. Cleaning your bottle by hand extends the product life of the materials. You should also check whether your bottle is suitable for fizzy drinks. This information can usually be found in the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Valve and size of bottle opening
There’s a huge variety in terms of different valves and sizes of bottle openings. Whether a classic screw top, an individual fastening system or a sports valve is best for you depend on the intended area of use and personal preferences. Sport bottles often have bigger openings to facilitate easy drinking; bottles for the office or your home tend to have smaller openings with slender necks. The bigger the bottle opening, the easier the bottle is to clean. You should also check if all parts can go into the dishwasher. Whether your bottle should have a cap or not is entirely up to personal preference. Especially athletes often find a cap rather cumbersome, while others prefer it for additional hygiene.
- Size and shape
Reusable water bottles come in all different sizes and shapes. Which one is ideal for you depends on your intended use. For everyday use, bottles with a volume of 0.75-1.0 litres are generally most preferable as they are fairly easy to carry while still holding a reasonable amount of fluid. Children’s bottles should, however, be smaller (up to 0.5 litres). The shape and design of the bottle is up to your personal preference. Athletes should, however, make sure the bottle fits into their bike’s bottle holder or running belt.
- Materials (BPA-free drinking bottles)
One should generally refrain from bottles made from harmful materials such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and plasticisers. These are absorbed through the water and can cause lung damage. They might furthermore influence the female sex hormone oestrogen in the body, interfere with hormonal processes and cause severe health issues.
Fortunately, there are many BPA-free alternatives available: Bottles made from stainless steel, glass, aluminium, triphenyl methane, or contaminant-free plastic are just ask handy and stylish as regular plastic bottles without causing a health risk. Which material is ideal for you strongly depends on the intended area of use. For instance, while stainless steel bottles are extremely durable and easy to clean they might pose problems for people with nickel allergies. Glass bottles are completely uncritical for your health and odour-neutral, but possess a higher empty weight and are not always shatter-proof. Triphenyl methane bottles are a great alternative to classic plastic bottles as they are extremely durable, lightweight, heat resistant, and dishwasher proof. However, they are questionable from an ecologic point of view as they are much harder to recycle than glass or stainless steel bottles.
- Odour and taste neutrality
A bottle should ideally not change the taste of the water it contains, but many plastic bottles do. While stainless steel and glass bottles don’t pose such problems if regularly cleaned, plastic bottles often emit an unpleasant chemical plastic odour and chance the taste of the water. Even though many manufacturers already produce improved plastic bottles with odour neutral features, make sure you double-check customer references before your purchase.
Even if you don’t use your bottle every day you should still clean it regularly to guarantee a hygienic use and odour neutrality. Most bottles today are dishwasher proof and therefore easy to clean. Just keep in mind that manual cleaning preserves the bottle’s materials (especially the rubber seals) and prolongs its product life. In general you should check that your bottle does not consist of too many small, hard-to-clean parts (e.g. the valve).
The easiest way to clean your bottle is by using a bottle brush. These might be included when purchasing a bottle or can be bought at a low cost. Denture tabs can be used to remove resistant residues.