Reusable water bottles - are they safe?

Reusable water bottles are a great alternative to single-use plastic bottles. They are much cheaper, healthier and eco friendly. But despite their environmental benefits, how safe are reusable bottles?

Using reusable bottles do not come without risks. Because of their frequent use, reusable bottles can pose serious health risks due to the growth of harmful bacteria. The moist and often dark environment of the bottle can be a breeding ground for bacteria. A recent study found that reusable bottles hosted both harmless and harmful bacteria. But the dangerous bacteria can cause illnesses such as antibiotic-resistant strep and staph infections. 

Reusable bottles that have not been washed for a few days have been found to be unsafe because they house dangerous bacteria. Treadmill reviews tested reusable bottles that had been used for a week. They found bottles that contained over 900,000 colony forming units of bacteria per square cm. This is more germs than on your standard toilet seat. Drinking water from these contaminated bottles is not safe and has serious health implications. These include urinary tract infection, diarrhoea, strep, sepsis and staph infections. If left unwashed these bacteria can thrive in the warm conditions and multiply at a fast rate.

To prevent harmful bacteria growing inside your reusable bottles, daily cleaning is needed. For a daily clean, simple washing up liquid and hot water will be fine. But every now and again a deep clean is needed to make sure your reusable bottle is bacteria free and safe to drink from. The safest and least abrasive method to do this is to use distilled white vinegar or baking powder. Both baking powder and white vinegar are natural cleaning ingredients that kill bacteria. First, rinse your bottle with water. Then you can either fill your bottle one-fifth of the way with white vinegar and fill the rest with water. Or create a paste of baking powder and water and coat the inside of the bottle. Let either mixture sit in your bottle for 10 minutes. Then rinse the bottle thoroughly and let the bottle air dry. These steps need to be followed to make sure your reusable water bottle is safe to use.

Similarly to disposable plastic bottles, reusable plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate are unsafe because they contain the dangerous chemical BPA. When exposed to light and heat, BPA leaches into your drink, meaning harmful toxins are ingested. BPA is also found in plastic toys, canned foods, and food containers. So, we are exposed to more BPA than we think. High BPA exposure has been linked to reproductive issues, asthma and even cancer. Plastic bottles tend to be problematic havens for the growth of bacteria compared to other materials including stainless steel and glass. Thus, the best way to reduce BPA exposure and stay safe is to buy a reusable water bottle made of stainless steel or glass. 

The best way to minimise the risk of drinking contaminated water caused by harmful bacteria is to make sure that your reusable water bottle is cleaned thoroughly. Cleaning daily and an occasional deep clean will help keep pesky bacteria at bay. To prevent contamination from BPA consider purchasing a stainless steel water bottle rather than plastic. Following these steps will allow you to continue using your reusable water bottle safely.

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

Stainless steel water bottles are great alternatives to plastic water bottles. Not only are plastic water bottles bad for your health, they add to the amounts of trash in landfills and oceans which is harmful for the planet. Also, some chemicals used in manufacturing plastic water bottles can leach into the water that you drink. In the past decade, stainless steel water bottles have seen an increase in popularity. If your main reason for buying bottled water is to avoid discarding plastic bottles, you don’t have to compromise anymore. Stainless steel water bottles are the perfect option for those who want to drink more water, without contributing to pollution. Efforts to reduce plastic waste has seen positive results in some areas but it is still not enough. Only 1 out of 6 plastic water bottles is being recycled and the others are still being thrown away.

There are many good alternatives to single use plastic water bottles and stainless steel water bottles being the most popular and widely available and there are many reasons to buy stainless steel water bottles. Drinking from a stainless steel water bottle has a lot of benefits. It is safer than plastic and saves you money and better for our environment. However, there are many low quality stainless steel water bottles out there and drinking from these water bottles might be dangerous to your health.

Generally, stainless steel water bottles are much safer than other metals used in water bottles. Aluminium, the other type of metal that has been used to make reusable water bottles, has been linked to various diseases like Alzheimer's. Moreover, aluminium is not food grade which means it is not safe to use as material for food and beverage containers. To make it safer to use, many companies use a lining made of plastic which could contain BPA or bisphenol-A. When the plastic liner gets worn down, it could expose you to the aluminium.

Unlike aluminum, there are types of stainless steel that are considered food grade. 18/10 and 18/8 are probably the most common stainless steel that are used in food and beverage containers. The first number indicates the amount of chromium present while the second number represents the amount of nickel. For instance, 18/10 means the stainless steel materials have 18% chromium and 10% nickel. Both chemical elements serve a purpose. Chromium protects the material from oxidation or rust while nickel makes stainless steel more resistant to corrosion.

When buying a stainless steel water bottle, make sure that you check what kind of stainless steel was used in making the water bottle. If the manufacturer did not indicate the type of stainless steel used in producing their water bottle, there is a big chance that it is not food grade. Buy from known brands if you can help it. Sure, stainless steel water bottles from known brands are more expensive than those from unknown brands but keep in mind you can’t put a price on your health and safety.

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