Are All Reusable Water Bottles Safe?

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Making the move from using single-use water bottles to reusable is a better experience for you and the environment. However, not all reusable water bottles provide the same level of safety. The search for the perfect one is seemingly endless since there are so many options to choose from. If you’re lost in the sea of bottles, wondering what the major differences are and why they matter, we’ve provided a simple guide to safety as you search for the healthiest water bottle options. 

Amidst the various bottled water brands (and knock-offs), features and designs, the most important aspects related to health and safety can often be missed. Not to worry, though, we’ll help you sift through the wide selection available to find a safe reusable water bottle that meets your needs. 

How to Determine If a Water Bottle Is Safe?

You can combat the largest health concerns related to water bottles by simply switching from single-use to a reusable water bottle. Using disposable plastic water bottles is where the real danger lies, due to their chemicals, plastic particles and bacteria. Making the switch is also a sustainable option for the environment, which helps to lower our carbon footprint and promote cleaner air. 

Most reusable water bottles are deemed safe and healthy to use on a regular basis. However, certain bottle materials are safer than others. When deciding on the safest reusable water bottle for you, consider what it’s made of and how easy it is to clean.

Check the Material 

The material is one of the largest factors contributing to the safety of your water bottle. There is a slew of reusable water bottles on the market that can be hazardous to drink out of, making the perfectly safe water you put in them unsafe to drink, all because of what they’re made out of. In addition, not all brands offer the same benefits even if they fall into the same material category. 

Stainless Steel

When comparing the difference between plastic vs. stainless steel water bottles, the material of a stainless steel bottle is BPA/BPS-free and makes it a safer option to drink from. The durability of this steel bottle material means it’s less likely to wear down and will last longer. 

Stainless steel water bottles are also rust and stain-resistant, leak-proof, shatter-proof and free from harmful chemicals. They can withstand high temperatures and be easily sanitized, not to mention hold your hot drinks when vacuum insulated. S’well bottles, in particular, are made of 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, which means the steel is 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel, which are non-toxic, naturally occurring elements. 

Plastic 

When people first started making the switch from single-use plastic water bottles to reusable plastic bottle options, it seemed like the safest way to go. However, many are made of polycarbonate plastic, which contains a compound called BPA and has been linked to several adverse health conditions. In 2012, the FDA restricted the use of BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups. As a result, several states also initiated their own laws to prohibit the manufacturing, sale and distribution of any bottles or cups that contain BPA due to its potential health hazards. 

Today, most name-brand reusable plastic water bottles have shifted away from using this compound and are now BPA-free. Although, the harmful chemical that once was commonly used in all plastics has been replaced with other chemicals, such as BPS, that have unknown effects. It’s important to review labels and check for reusable water bottles that are free from both chemicals or turn to an alternative material altogether, such as stainless steel or glass. 

Aluminum 

Aluminum water bottles solve the problem of plastic, right? Not necessarily. Aluminum, like disposable plastic, also leaches from the bottle into the liquid and requires an inner liner. This liner is often made of BPA/BPS plastic or epoxy. This brings us back to the negative side effects of BPA on human health. Fortunately, there are safe reusable water bottles that have BPA-free protective liners to ensure a safer drinking experience. 

Glass

Glass is a safer material to drink from as it is natural, non-toxic and easy to clean. Plus, unlike plastic, it doesn’t scratch, which means it is less susceptible to bacteria growth. Nevertheless, it is fragile and can easily break, which makes it prohibited to use in most public spaces, and it is heavier than other materials, which may not make it the most convenient for everyday use. 

Glass reusable water bottles also tend to be more expensive than their stainless steel counterparts, especially if sealed with a non-breakable layer. While it may not be the best option as an on-the-go container, it can still be a safer material for using at home.

Make Sure It Is Easy to Clean

By and large, how clean you keep your reusable water bottle directly affects how safe it is to drink from. A dirty water bottle is a breeding ground for germs, mold and potentially harmful bacteria. All of these can make your bottle unsafe for drinking and have negative effects on your health. 

The more complex the style and features of a water bottle, the harder it is to keep clean. Thus, bottles that have a simpler design are often a safer choice. When choosing your reusable water bottle, consider how easy it is to reach the full interior and lip of the bottle as well as the lid or cap. To keep your reusable water bottle in optimal condition and safe for drinking, hand-washing with a bottle brush is almost always recommended. 

Stainless steel S’well bottles are easily cleaned with a simple mixture of soap and warm water and can be deep cleaned with a concoction of vinegar and warm water. Simply fill your reusable water bottle a quarter of the way full with vinegar, and to the brim with hot water. Let it soak overnight. Rinse the bottle thoroughly with warm water in the morning and let it dry upside down. Another option is to use cleaning tablets that clean a bottle in less than 30 minutes with powerful effervescent bubbles. 

Additionally, the better you maintain your bottle, the longer it will last. In a study on contamination levels in common reusable water bottles, researchers found bottles that held beverages other than water, such as coffee, tea or soda, were found to be more contaminated than bottles that held only water. And, participants who said they share their reusable bottle with others also had more contamination. 

In general, you should wash your bottle after every use and deep clean it a few times a month or after using it for liquids other than water. Once you’re ready for a new water bottle, recycle it and invest in a shiny new one. 

Check the Water Quality

While you can do everything in your power to make sure the reusable water bottle you’re drinking from is safe, it doesn’t matter if the water you are drinking isn’t. It’s a good idea to have your water at home tested on a regular, yearly basis. Access a current water quality report online from your municipal water provider or order an at-home testing kit. 

This will reveal the levels of contaminants detected in the water and how they compare with the EPA’s drinking water standards. Tap water often contains varying levels of chemicals, microplastics, and other contaminants you should be aware of before consuming. Installing a water filter (and replacing them on schedule) is a great way to ensure you’re drinking healthy, pure water at home at all times. 

Ensuring your water is safe to drink is as important as ensuring your bottle is safe to drink from. Access to clean water has become a priority in public spaces as well, such as airports, hotels and workplaces. When you have the right filtration and bottle, it’s easier to achieve the recommended daily water intake. It allows you to fill up with ease, keeping you hydrated and healthy. 

The Safest Reusable Water Bottle

When you make the choice to use a reusable water bottle, you’re already making a good choice. But it is possible to make a safer choice at the same time. To confirm your water bottle is safe, perform your due diligence to research the bottle you are using by visiting the brand’s site for more information and frequently asked questions to crosscheck the material, production process, and cleaning guidelines against our checklist above. 

If you’re in the market for a new water bottle, opt for one of the many safe options from S’well to ensure you’re getting a bottle made with high-quality, non-toxic material that you can easily clean and recycle when you can no longer use it (or want a new color). S’well bottles feature triple-layered, vacuum-insulated construction, designed to keep beverages cold or hot, longer than all the rest. 

They are also made from 18/8, food-grade stainless steel with superior construction and have a copper layer that creates a condensation-free exterior. Plus, the reusable bottles are available in designs and colors that make your water bottle customizable and more desirable. 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/policy-update-on-state-restrictions-on-bisphenol-a.aspx; http://www.foodprotection.org/files/food-protection-trends/nov-dec-17-sun.pdf

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-11/documents/2005_09_14_faq_fs_homewatertesting.pdf