Sunday, November 21, 2010

A candidate for best water bottle

My quest to find the best bottle to drink water out of has ended, at least for now. Read on... results at the bottom.


I used to drink water out in disposable plastic bottles. Then I started reusing the plastic bottles till I heard that disposable plastic bottles leach chemicals into the water and that reusing them is even worse. I switched to plastic bottles (e.g., Nalgene), then heard about the BPA issues. I started doing research and it seems like the next best thing was stainless steel bottles like Kleen Kanteen. Stainless steel doesn't leach plastic chemicals, though it does affect the taste of the water a bit. Kleen Kanteen is made out of food-grade stainless steel.

To take it to the next level, there's a stainless-steel bottle originally made by Guyot out of surgical-grade stainless-steel that I also started using. Surgical-grade sounds like it just has to be better than food-grade, doesn't it? I couldn't help myself. I think technically, the main difference between the two is that surgical-grade steel (Guyot is 18/10, also known as 316 stainless steel) is a bit more resistant to corrosion in salt-water. Yeah, I know that we're not using it to store ocean water, but it's the principle, right? Maybe there's a couple of grains of salt in your water on occasion... On the other hand, there is a concern that the nickel in the stainless steel isn't good for you.

So what's the ideal bottle that doesn't leach chemicals or interact with the water in any way? The gold standard for this is glass. Turns out there are some consumer glass water bottle makers, like Lifefactory and Takeya. I had two issues with these bottles. First, the largest size is 22oz, which is a bit small for me. Second, the bottles apparently may break if you put boiling water into them. This is an issue because I use boiling water to clean my stainless steel water bottles. I like cleaning with boiling water because you don't have to worry about soap residue taste and you know any bad stuff is killed.

There's gotta be a better bottle! Turns out that there is, though it's not for consumers. Remember high-school chemistry class? Glass is often used to contain chemicals. If you look at chemistry supply websites, there is a class of glassware called "media storage bottles". These bottles are intended to store potentially nasty chemicals, so the ability to store the chemical without leaching junk from the bottle is a priority. I looked around for the best media bottle. Some makers are Corning, Schott/Duran and Wheaton.

The best bottle I could find is.... [ drum roll please ]:

Duran Pressure-Plus Laboratory Bottle

Cool properties of this bottle:
  1. Made from Duran glass, which I think is basically Pyrex. Check out the link for more info. It can handle boiling water (and apparently contents up to 500 degrees Celsius). It's super resistant to all kinds of chemicals and very inert. It can handle thermal shock up to 100 degrees Celsius (e.g., boiling water on one side of the glass and an ice-cube on the other). Also, the glass is pretty thick and sturdy, though I haven't dropped it yet.
  2. The Pressure-plus bottle in particular can handle pressure between -1 bar (a vacuum inside of the bottle) and +1.5 bar (1.5 atmospheres of pressure pushing outward). One caveat is that if there is a pressure differential between the inside/outside of the bottle, the thermal shock resistance is lower (they claim up to 30 degrees Celsius difference maximum when at maximum rated pressure).

The main downside to this bottle is that it's bulky and that it it doesn't come with any consumer niceties like a holding strap, a protective silicon case or a cap. It takes a standard cap size called GL-45 - I use the cap from a runner-up bottle not described here from Corning.