Contents

Glaceau Smartwater Bottle Review

Smartwater Bottle

  • Amazon US $37.20 See it

Last updated: 2020-01-30 08:32:11

Backpackers.com is a small, independent team that writes unsponsored reviews and outdoor guides. If you’re thinking about buying this product please use the links below – that really helps us. Thank you.

Glaceau Smartwater Bottle Overview

Water has forever been our lifeblood. But it’s also our leash, tethering humanity to its flow, keeping our pioneers from venturing into the wild unknowns of the world. Over many millennia our brightest minds have worked out new ways to carry water across long distances: everything from animal bladders to woven plant matter to pottery. Human ingenuity never ceases to amaze me.

Modern day explorers are fortunate to live in a time when one of the best water-carrying devices to have ever existed is stocked by the pallet upon grocery store shelves, and it usually costs a buck or two. That’s right, I’m talking about the Smartwater Bottle, brought to you by Glaceau. Don’t roll your eyes — you know the one.

Smartwater bottles are cheap, durable, featherlight, and fit into just about any water bottle pocket on any backpack. You can find them almost anywhere and they come with the water inside!

For these reasons we’re awarding the Glaceau Smartwater Bottle our Budget Pick award for the Ultralight Backpacker.

Smartwater Bottle Star Rating
  • Lid
  • Durability
  • Form Factor
  • Drinkability

3.1

Summary

The Smartwater Bottle is a basic, disposable bottle that can be found in gas stations, grocery stores, and almost any roadside stop. And yet, it’s one of the most common bottles for the backcountry due to its lightweight and sleek design, the fact that it threads with popular water filters, and bcause it’s just so darn cheap.

Now, we know what you’re thinking. A disposable, $1 water bottle as an award winning product? The reality is that many folks on the trail, especially thru-hikers and weight-conscious backpackers, use a Smartwater Bottle. Our goal is to tell you what works in the wild, and this water bottle does the trick.

Read below for the full Smartwater Bottle review.

Smartwater Bottle 1L Specifications

Feature Type Feature Specs What This Means
Weight 1.2 oz. ( 34 g) when empty This is about as light as you’re going to get for any water bottle.
Volume 32 oz. (1 L) One liter of water is typical for backpacking activities.
Body Material Plastic, Generic This is very basic plastic. It will dent, puncture, and crumple if put under heavy strain. Yet it’s stronger than many other disposable water bottles.
Mouth Type Narrow The Smartwater lids are very small. You can’t fit an ice cube in them, and for hydration tabs (like Nuun) you have to break them in half. Easy to drink from.
Lid Very basic screw on cap Basic Smartwater Bottles come with a simple screw on/off cap. You can get them with a squeeze lid with a protector cap if you’re looking for something fancy.
Height 12 in. (30 cm) This is a tall, narrow bottle. Fits easily in backpack side pockets.
Base Diameter 2.75 in. (7 cm) Very narrow, especially compared to other more robust bottles. Good for gripping.
Mouth Diameter 1 in. (2.5 cm) A tiny mouth. Great for drinking, not great for putting anything in the bottle.
Free Of BPA This is a disposable bottle, so it doesn’t win any awards for best materials used. That said, it is BPA free.
Other Sizes 16.9 oz, 20 oz, 23.7 oz, 1L, 1.5 L Glaceau offers the Smartwater Bottle in many sizes. The one liter version is the best suited for backpacking, and the one usually found at gas stations.
Manufacturer Warranty N/A This is a disposable water bottle. You’re actually paying for the water, not the bottle. It’s not refundable.
Retail Price $1.00 This is an estimate, but the price is lower than anything you’ll find on our site!

Gear Review of the Glaceau Smartwater Bottle

Revelation: The Moment I Knew

The Smartwater Bottle has been my backpacking water bottle of choice for years. That said I only used it for drinking clean water until, one day on the trail, I learned it could help me filter dirty water as well.

Smartwater Bottles look good on the trail.

When I first started using the Sawyer Squeeze water filtration system I quickly broke through a number of Sawyer and Platypus water bladders. The seams at the neck would always pop. Those plastic pouches are no match for my super-strong squeezing muscles, apparently.

One day, upon hearing my frustrations, a passing hiker told me to try screwing a Smartwater Bottle into the other end of my water filter. Then simply “squeeze” the dirty water through.

Sawyer Squeeze plus Smatwater Bottle equals thru-hiker heaven.

And it worked! I was done destroying bladders from that day forward. Now anytime you catch me out in the wilds I’ve got one “dirty water” Smartwater Bottle and one clean one. Double fisting, as the kids say.

The “dirty” Smartwater Bottle sits in my backpack pocket as such, with the Squeeze attached and ready to filter.

Digging Deeper

Lid

The lid is the universal “small” size for disposable water bottles. The threads are the same as most other disposable bottles, and work specifically with the Sawyer Squeeze or Sawyer MINI filters and other, larger filters with water bottle adaptors.

The Smartwater Bottle lid is classic for most disposable water bottles. Tiny, which is great for drinking. These threads are also the “universal” ones that fit with a lot of different water filters.

The lid screws down tight onto the Smartwater Bottle ensuring a good seal, even after a lot of use. That said, it’s small, doesn’t attach automatically, and is therefore easy to misplace or drop down a cliff, so be conscious of that.

Durability

Smartwater Bottles can take a beating. I’ve dropped them on rocks and squeezed the hell out of them when filtering with the Sawyer Squeeze. The bottle will get crinkled and scarred, but I’ve never had one leak on me, and there have been times when I used the same bottles for months at a time on thru-hikes.

About a thousand squeezes in, a Smartwater Bottle is still going strong.

Form Factor

This bottle is a little longer and thinner than your average one liter water or soda bottle. It fits well in every backpack side pocket I’ve ever used, and its length just makes it that much easier to grab. Your hand comfortably wraps around it, unlike those chunky Gatorade bottles or more burly water bottles.

Easy to store and hold.

Drinkability

Flows well and simply out of the small lid. The best part is that you can squeeze the bottle and gush cool water all over your face on a hot day. Ahh…!

Grievances

What about the penguins?

The only real downside is that it’s a disposable bottle, and you will eventually toss it to grab a new one at the next town or before your next trip (because it comes with free water, so why not?). Recycling is usually an option in trail towns, but not always, and even if you do recycle the bottle who knows where it will really end up.

Final Word

The pinnacle of human engineering? Perhaps. The Glacaeu Smartwater Bottle can hold its own against any outdoor water bottle on the market, and it costs as much as that candy bar you were going to grab anyway. If you need a water bottle, just buy it.

Where to Buy Glaceau Smartwater Bottle

We know, this is a unique and surprising review, but the reality is it’s an amazing piece of backpacking gear. You probably know what a Smartwater Bottle is and where to get one. In case you don’t, go to almost any gas station, roadside stop with a refrigerated section, or grocery store in the U.S., and you’ll find them. You can also buy in bulk.

A Glaceau Smartwater Bottle typically costs about $1. If you want to buy them in bulk, you can below.

  • Amazon US $37.20 See it

Last updated: 2020-01-30 08:32:11

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It’s as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets — he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn’t stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures at arthurmcmahon.com and on Instagram.

Review Policy: We do not accept payments or gifts from brands and vendors, and strive to provide unbiased, independent advice. Brands typically provide review samples which we return, and in some cases we purchase the item so we can keep using it long after the review. Affiliate Policy: We support the hours that go into our reviews and testing through affiliate commissions on purchases made through links in this article. These don’t effect the outcome of our reviews or selection of gear, as per our Review Policy.

We all know most of our body is made up of water but it turns out that the majority of people have a hard time remembering to drink water! For me personally, it wasn’t until my late teens that I started to realize that I am constantly dehydrated. I don’t even remember drinking much water up until high school. Plastic water bottles, which are so common nowadays, weren’t even the norm back then. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large chunk of people are living their entire lives dehydrated. Hopefully this article will help change that for a few of you out there in Internet land.

Why should you strive to stay hydrated?

Water is the universal solvent and lubricant for our bodies. Just think about it… the saliva in your mouth right now is mostly water. The blood that’s pumping throughout your body is mostly water as well. Your brain is 90% water!

Water helps…

• Your skin stay moisturized, elastic and looking good,
• Loosen and break up phlegm so your cough will be more productive,
• Carry and flush wastes and toxins out of all tissues and into the urinary system,
• Move digested food out of the colon,
• Reduce fat deposits.

Just like how you can’t wash the dishes without making the dishwater dirty or wash the car without making the rags and water dirty, or mop the floor without making the mop and mop-water dirty, your body can’t easily move the waste and toxins out your body if you’re dehydrated all the time. Suffice it to say, you need to drink water regularly in order to help make it easy for your body to make the constant changes it needs to stay healthy.

How do I know how much water I should drink?

Doctors aren’t sure where the 8-glasses-a-day rule came from. We think the government came out with the 8 x 8 glass rule just to tell people a number, any number. There are so many different body types and different climates people live in, not to mention varying levels of activity to be able to just give out a number like that.

So how do we know if we’re hydrated?

Urine color! If your urine is dark yellow, orange or has a strong smell to it, you need to drink more water. Strive to have your urine color be pale yellow to clear. Colorless urine indicates over-hydration, which is usually considered much healthier than dehydration but one should not over do it. Drink water regularly throughout the day but like most things, in moderation.

How do I drink more water at home and work?

Buy this 1 liter bottle once and reuse it constantly.

The trick is to simply dedicate a big mug or a refillable water bottle for yourself. It’s important that it’s larger than usual so you don’t have to constantly refill it. This will be your go-to-bottle or cup. Place it on your desk so it’s always within reach and in view so there are no excuses! I keep mine on my computer desk because that’s where I am most of the time.

Practice the opposite of “out-of-sight-out-of-mind.” If you keep a large bottle of water in your view and reach, it’s an inherent reminder to drink water. So don’t put it on the ground, or on the desk behind you, but next to the monitor you’re using to read this.

How do I drink more water when I’m on the go?

Before you leave the house, have a glass of water and make a habit of always leaving the house with a full water bottle. I’m not talking about those standard 12-16oz bottles but those 1 liter bottles because they’ll last you a long time.

If you run out of water while on the road, food establishments will not refuse to give you free water, especially if you have your own cup or bottle. I usually stop by a fast food joint and refill my bottle using their fountain drink machine.

If you’re going to school, slip a large bottle in your book bag so you can drink during your class. I am astonished that I almost never see anybody drinking water throughout a 3 hour class.

What refillable water bottle should I use?

I tend to reuse 1 liter plastic water bottles. They are not too heavy and it’s enough to last you several hours if you’re out of the house and running errands. I always avoid putting the bottle in direct sunlight because the water tastes funny if the bottle heats up. Even worse, if it is a certain type of plastic, Bisphenol A (BPA) will leach into the water.

What is Bisphenol A?

Watch out for #7 plastics as they contain BPA

BPA is a hormone-mimicking chemical that is found in some plastic bottles that leaches into the water. BPA is well proven to disrupt the endocrine system at very low concentrations.

If you look under a plastic bottle, there is a recycling symbol with a number in it that indicates the type of plastic it is. The #7 type plastic bottles are the ones most likely to contain BPA while others don’t. The “Smart Water” brand of bottles, for example, are stamped #1 (PETE) and don’t contain BPA.

Sometimes I’ll reuse a glass bottle because glass is inert and the water will remain fine even if I leave it in the direct sunlight in a hot car. However, it is heavy and has a chance of breaking.

Stainless steel bottles are a good option too as they are also inert and won’t shatter if dropped. Plus, they can come in a variety of shapes and colors.

Some more tips…

In the morning when you wake up, before you do anything, drink a glass or two of water. You’ll notice that you will annihilate that water pretty fast simply because you haven’t drank any in the past 8 hours. Which reminds me, before you go to sleep, go pee so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night.

Please be aware that we often confuse hunger with thirst because the signals are very alike! If you drink a glass of water before your snacks or meal, it will help prevent you from overeating. While you’re at it, replace carbonated sodas with water, especially during your meals and you’ll feel a lot less bloated.

Anyway, I hope this helps! I wish all of you hydrated and healthy lives.

By Clare Wilson

What’s in the plastic?

ULTRA.F/Getty

Talk about unintended consequences. A compound called BPA is being phased out of plastic packaging due to fears it may disrupt our hormones – but a replacement for it may be just as harmful.

BPA, or bisphenol A, is often found in disposable water bottles and babies’ milk bottles and cups. Small amounts can dissolve into the food and drink inside these containers.

This is a concern because a host of studies have shown that BPA can mimic the actions of oestrogen, binding to the same receptor in the body. Oestrogen is normally involved in breast development, regulating periods and maintaining pregnancies. Animals exposed to BPA develop abnormal reproductive systems, but it is unclear if people are exposed to high enough doses to be affected.

Due to public pressure – and bans in a few countries – many manufacturers have started replacing BPA. One substitute, fluorene-9-bisphenol, or BHPF, is already widely used in a variety of materials.

But Jianying Hu of Peking University in Beijing and her team have found that BHPF also binds to the body’s oestrogen receptors. Unlike BPA, it does this without stimulating them, instead blocking their normal activity. In tests on female mice, BHPF caused the animals to have smaller wombs and smaller pups than controls, and in some cases miscarriages.

If BHPF binds to the same receptor in humans, it has the potential to cause fertility problems. “That’s pretty scary,” says Frederick vom Saal of the University of Missouri.

Detected in blood

As food and drink containers don’t usually reveal detailed information about what they are made from, Hu’s team tested a variety of plastic bottles labelled “BPA-free” to see if they released BHPF into hot water stored inside, as heat encourages such compounds to dissolve.

They found the compound was released from 23 of the 52 items tested, including all three babies’ bottles they examined.

When they took blood samples from 100 college students who regularly drank water from plastic bottles, Hu’s team detected low levels of BHPF in seven people.

It is unknown if the compound came from their drinking water – as there are many materials containing BHPF in the environment – nor if that would be high enough to cause harm. But vom Saal says even low levels could in theory disrupt our hormonal systems.

Vom Saal says he tries to use plastic as little as possible, and avoids putting plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher, as they degrade under heat.

Journal reference: Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14585

Is Smart Water Really Good for You?

We’ve all heard about mineral enhanced water and bottled water that comes with added vitamins and electrolytes.But is smart water good for you or not?

We’ve all heard about mineral enhanced water and bottled water that comes with added vitamins and electrolytes. This water is marketed as offering superior hydration and as an aid for your bodily processes through added benefits of the vitamins included in the water. With all the different types of enhanced or “smart” water available to us these days, how can we figure out which ones are worth the hype?

Does mineral or vitamin enhanced water really improve hydration or performance?

Scientists have found that regular water works just fine for normal rehydration. Only during times or extreme dehydration or high activity level, you may require added vitamins and minerals namely electrolytes.

So why do bottled water companies keep manufacturing water with added vitamins and minerals?

First, it is important to read the ingredients on the bottled water label. If you find that there are added sugars or calories, then they probably aren’t going to help your hydration levels (and actually may take away from your performance). Vitamins and electrolytes do not add any calories, sugars or carbohydrates so if your bottled water has these extra elements added then it is probably for other benefits like taste and won’t serve the purpose of rehydration.

Second, it has been found that vitamins added to water aren’t absorbed through the body as well as they are when eaten with food. This is because water soluble vitamins are passed too quickly through the digestion system and cannot be absorbed in time. Also some bottled “enhanced smart water” does not have an adequate amount of electrolytes or vitamins to make any significant difference. Our bodies are very efficient at getting the nutrients and vitamins we need from our food sources. Enhanced smart water is not as effective working with the body processes as much as the absorption rate through food.

Third, while it has been shown that moderate amounts of minerals are found in regular drinking water and are good for you (like calcium) – these are already added to tap water. Buying bottled water with added minerals can be costly for the purchaser but good for the manufacturer. Keep reading, below we will discuss alternatives to buying smart, mineral enhanced water as a way to keep getting your vitamins and alleviate the strain on your wallet.

However, some users will swear that electrolytes or vitamins added to their water really do make a difference whether it is for performance or taste. This could be a perceived placebo effect where the consumer wants to feel like they are getting benefits from the water that they are spending so much money on. It has been found out that some bottled water brands simply filter out municipal water sources and add minerals to the water. They use a vapor distilled filtration process which removes all contaminants and heavy metals. After the water is filtered, companies add back minerals for taste and to balance out the distillation of the water. (See our other post on if Distilled Water is Healthy to Drink). So the consumer is not buying a special water, just one that has been filtered and enhanced. Some studies have found that enhanced water does help but it depends on the types of vitamins added and the health reasons that they are being consumed for.

Another thing to consider is that not all plastic water bottles are BPA free and some of the plastics used to make the bottles have harmful chemicals. These chemicals (especially when exposed to heat or sunlight) can leak into the water and can be toxic to the human body. When this happens it makes it redundant to be adding minerals or vitamins to water that could be influenced by chemicals leaking from the bottle. These chemicals can also influence the taste of the water, so how does the consumer know they are tasting minerals or toxins from the plastic?

What are some alternative to smart water?

Since smart water is essentially filtered tap water you can purchase a filter for your faucet and add minerals or vitamins to tap water. The filter is important to remove metals and contaminants that could be in the water or household piping. The most common vitamins added to bottled smart water are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. It could be helpful to contact your municipal water company and get reports (they usually publish these on a regular basis) about the mineral content in your water already. Tap water has some minerals, like calcium, already added to it so you may not need to add very many additional vitamins.

To add vitamins to tap water, you can purchase packets of vitamins or even electrolytes that are packaged into individual serving sizes. For those who cannot get calcium from dairy sources – it may be helpful to add it to their water. These packets are cheaper to purchase than bottled smart water and usually have other vitamins included that can be added to water. Other vitamins like magnesium can be taken in supplements, which offer the same benefits, instead of being added to water.

So is smart water good for you? The bottom line:

While it may seem like these smart waters are helpful to keep your body healthy – the most important thing is to keep your body hydrated and sustain an intake of healthy fluids. Avoiding sodas and enhanced sports drinks is crucial to keeping your body running smoothly. Whether or not minerals added to water will contribute that much to your body’s processes is still up for debate. Bottled smart water may not be the answer to your hydration needs since filtered tap water can be just as beneficial. For those occasions when you are very dehydrated or after an intense exercise regime, electrolyte water can be helpful to replenish fluid loss. On an everyday basis, it has been found that we can efficiently receive our necessary vitamins and minerals from the foods that we eat.

We also have to weigh the potential environmental consequences and negatives before only purchasing enhanced bottled smart water. The cost of plastics and shipping water from other sources may not be feasible in the long run. Especially when we can add minerals to tap water or other local sources which are eco-friendly alternatives to bottled water.

Smart Water Bottle Market Analysis By Type (Metal, Polymer), By Component (In-built, Hardware, Hydration Tracking Apps), By Distribution Channel, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2018 – 2025

Industry Insights

The global smart water bottle market size was valued at USD 7,000.0 thousand in 2016 and is projected to witness lucrative growth over the next eight years. Factors such as growing awareness among users about maintaining the hydration level in the body and increasing disposable income are expected to drive the market growth.

The increasing health consciousness among individuals across the globe is a significantly impelling the growth of smart water bottle market. Government initiatives such as ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ by Indian government to reduce the plastic waste generation and promote the use of reusable materials are on a rise. Advancements in the fields of chemicals and materials have resulted in the development of Bisphenol A (BPA)-free polymer ‘Tritan’, that is used for manufacturing the bottles.

Technological advancements in the fields of Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning have resulted in the development of mobile apps that provide information to users about their daily hydration levels and required water intake. These applications play a vital role in keeping the athletes and gymnasts informed about their hydration levels throughout the day.

The increasing disposable income and improved standard of living are estimated to drive the industry growth over the forecast period. Fitness-enthusiasts are increasingly opting for products that enhance their experience of exercising, subsequently increasing the demand for interactive vessels.

Type Insights

Nowadays, most bottles are made from polymer ‘Tritan’ as they are BPA-free and can be reused. Bottles made of polymer do not allow quick heat transfer and hence help in maintaining the temperature of the fluid stored inside. Moreover, the material is preferred by numerous manufacturers as it is light in weight and durable.

The size of the polymer type segment was valued at USD 5,208.7 thousand in 2016. The segment accounted for the largest share in terms of revenue in 2016 and is expected to grow rapidly over the forecast period. The metal segment is expected to lose market share over a period of time due to properties such as heavy weight and transfer of taste to the water.

Component Insights

Hydration tracking apps are gaining traction among many people across the globe. The segment is presumed to grow at a CAGR of 28.3% over the forecast period. Various interactive bottle manufacturers provide their users with accurate information related to their daily water intake and enable them to set personalized hydration goals.

The hardware segment captured a major share in terms of revenue. It was valued at USD 3,557.8 thousand in 2016. This segment includes smart caps or sensor bands that are compatible with any regular bottles and therefore preferred largely by customers. Additionally, these sensor bands and caps have the ability to connect with the smart devices of users, thereby providing easy access to the information obtained throughout the day regarding their water intake

Distribution Channel Insights

The online distribution channel segment accounted for the largest share in terms of revenue and was valued at USD 6,070.4 thousand in 2016.The increasing trends of shopping online and easy availability of internet connection on computers, laptops, and several other smart devices are expected to boost the sales through online distribution channel segment.

The offline distribution channel segment is estimated to witness a lucrative growth owing to the increasing presence of smart accessories offline. Additionally, numerous manufacturers are focusing on launching company exclusive stores in order to establish their presence in the regions with low internet penetration levels. The market is still evolving and there is lack of awareness about the product among people, which has resulted the offline segment to capture a relatively smaller share in the industry.

Regional Insights

The North American region dominated the market and was valued at USD 2,450.7 thousand in 2016. The presence of large number of industry participants in the U.S. and continuous research and development in the fields of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have resulted in the region to gain maximum market share in terms of revenue.

The Asia Pacific regional market is anticipated to grow at a high rate in the coming years. The increasing demand in the emerging economies can be attributed to initiatives such as Digital India, Make in India, among others. Additionally, the increased awareness toward maintaining the hydration levels in the body is further expected to drive the market.

Competitive Insights

Prominent players dominating the industry include Caktus, Inc., Ecomo, Groking Lab Limited, Hidrate Inc., HydraCoach, Inc., Moikit, Open-2, LLC, Out of Galaxy, Inc., Thermos L.L.C., and Trago, Inc., among others. These companies design, develop, and manufacture the smart water bottles and are focusing on adopting innovative promotional strategies to attract consumers from different age groups.

Industry players are laying significant emphasis on research and development activities to come up with better features. For instance, apart from the hydration tracking sensor band, Ecomo, a hydration solution provider, has come up with an additional feature of three-in-one filter that is installed in the flask. All these new features in the interactive water bottles are anticipated to fuel the industry growth over the forecast period.

Report Scope

Attribute

Details

Base year for estimation

Actual estimates/Historical data

Forecast period

2017 – 2025

Market representation

Revenue in USD Thousand and CAGR from 2017 to 2025

Regional scope

North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and MEA

Country scope

U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, India, Japan, China, Brazil

Report coverage

Revenue forecast, volume forecast, company ranking, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends

15% free customization scope (equivalent to 5 analyst working days)

If you need specific market information that is not currently within the scope of the report, we will provide it to you as a part of the customization

Segments Covered in the Report

This report forecasts revenue growth at the global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2017 to 2025. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global smart water bottle market on the basis of types, components, distribution channels, and regions.

  • Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Thousand; 2016 – 2025)

    • Metal

    • Polymer

    • Others

  • Component Outlook (Revenue, USD Thousand; 2016 – 2025)

    • In-built

    • Hardware

    • Hydration tracking apps

  • Distribution Channel Outlook (Revenue, USD Thousand; 2016 – 2025)

    • Online

    • Offline

  • Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Thousand; 2016 – 2025)

    • North America

      • U.S.

      • Canada

    • Europe

      • UK

      • Germany

    • Asia Pacific

      • China

      • Japan

      • India

    • Latin America

      • Brazil

    • Middle East & Africa (MEA)

What’s BPA, and do I really need a new water bottle?

There’s no doubt about it: We live in a plastic world. We wake up in the morning and brush our teeth with a plastic toothbrush and toothpaste squeezed from a plastic tube. We pour ourselves cereal from a plastic bag and milk from a plastic carton, work all day on a computer monitor and keyboard made of plastic, and return home for ­a nice dinner of chicken noodle soup from a can lined with, you guessed it: plastic. We might as well be Ken and Barbie.

Until recently, the abundance of plastic wasn’t a pressing health concern, despite being on our environmental radar. Now a growing body of research links the chemical bisphenol-a (BPA), commonly found in a variety of consumer products, to a range of human health problems, including a higher risk of certain cancers, reduced fertility, birth defects and diabetes .

Advertisement

BPA is the main component of polycarbonate, the hard, clear plastic sometimes used to make water bottles, baby bottles, food storage containers and other items like contact lenses, CDs and electronics devices. BPA is even used in places you wouldn’t normally think of, like the protective lining in tin cans and in dental sealants. If you’ve noticed the little arrows stamped on plastic items with numbers inside, the number to look for here is 7. Although not all plastics labeled “7” contain BPA, it’s still a good identifier, as are the letters “PC.”

As of 2005, 94 of 115 peer-reviewed studies confirmed BPA’s toxicity . For example, one study found that women with frequent miscarriages have approximately three times the blood levels of BPA as women with successful pregnancies . Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration maintains that the use of BPA in food-containing products is safe, and a U.S. National Institutes of Health panel declared BPA posed “negligible concern” concerning reproductive effects in adults .

Despite the disagreement over BPA’s actual impact on humans, several high-profile companies like Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have gone ahead and promised to phase out polycarbonate baby bottles and feeding products by the end of 2008. In addition, both Playtex (a major baby bottle manufacturer) and Nalgene (of water bottle fame) have pledged to stop using BPA in their products .

So is your kitchen full of BPA plastic a health hazard? Or is this publicity all just hype? Take a closer look into the BPA brouhaha on the next page.

Best BPA-Free Water Bottle

Water, Water: Everywhere?

As World Water Week 2018 comes to a close, I can’t stop thinking about the West African dry seasons I lived through. “Strange,” you may think. But not really. Here’s why.

Aside from

  • Scorching, relentless sun
  • Air so dry that bad hair days didn’t exist and
  • Sweat-soaked bed sheets every morning,

the most frightening thing about an African dry season was a bone-dry well and dried out stream that used to flow behind my house.

So for 2-3 months every year, when I wanted to do laundry, I biked 10 miles to a small village whose wells had not gone dry yet.

My friends there were happy to share their water. Unlike some water-stressed places in the world today where people hoard and fight over clean water. Some even think WWIII will be fought over water, not oil.

Here’s a short video by charitywater.org that explains, well, (no pun intended), how water changes everything.

In the USA, a water crisis is brewing in California and other western states that depends on the liquid gold for many water-intensive activities like farming, fracking & ranching. There, it’s mostly about the quantity of water.

But everywhere in the US, and in the world, for that matter, the quality of water is a concern. Do you know what’s in your water?

Water’s Toxic Chemicals

Chemical contaminants in water are more common than we’d like to think or admit. Just a few recent news stories highlight just how bad it is:

  • Lead in Flint & Detroit, MI
  • PFAS in Kalamazoo, MI & elsewhere
  • Glyphosate

There are also chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) identified as likely present in drinking water but largely unregulated. Governmental oversight is lacking because we know so little about them. Very few voluntary advisories are in place. A few states have placed limits on some of them and these are higher than any federal standard (if the latter even exists). Some examples include:

  • MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether)
  • NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) & other nitrosamines
  • perchlorate (in rocket fuel, fireworks, some bleach & fertilizers)
  • 1,2,3-trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) – in some cleaning solvents, pesticide production
  • 1,4-dioxane (industrial solvent)
  • pharmaceuticals (steroids, sex hormones, antibiotics, etc.)
  • personal care product ingredients
  • nanomaterials
  • endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs)

Take Home Message: Plenty of toxic chemicals present at even low levels are in our drinking water.

Not all water treatment plants are able to remove all of these chemical contaminants. Some cannot adequately test for them either to know if they’re present or not. Levels could be so low that they are undetectable by their methods but still present. And still able to cause harm.

And there have been cases where the resins (read “plastic”) of disposable water filters themselves added cancer-causing nitrosamines to the water it was supposed to be treating!

Or, carcinogenic nitrosamine is a by-product of some water treatment processes.

Aren’t Low Chemical Levels in Water OK?

This really depends on the chemical but the short answer is “No.”

In fact, EDCs operate totally outside of convention by only wreaking havoc on people when they’re at low levels!

Here’s a brief look at what even low levels of some of these water-borne toxins do:

  • Lead: neurotoxin (reduced IQ, learning difficulties), organ damage
  • PFASs: cancer, hormonal imbalance, immune system & organ damage
  • glyphosate-containing products: cancer, hormone imbalance
  • nitrosamines: cancer
  • EDCs: developmental & sexual abnormalities, cancer

This is only the tip of the toxic chemical iceberg when it comes to water. Find out more about each one on Toxic Chemical Tracker website & blog.

And, I’ll be looking at the 10 chemicals of emerging concern (CEC) that USEPA is mandated to review in a special blog post series starting this month. I’ll be answering questions like:

  • What is it?
  • Where is it?
  • How can I avoid it?

For now, suffice it to say that there are lots of very bad stuff that is in our water and not all of it is captured by water treatment plants.

There are plenty of water filters on the market. Some are definitely better than others. I’ve contacted several companies and provide brief rundowns of our convos. I’ve also listed questions specific to each major type of water filter that you can ask yourself. Take a look at Toxic Chemical Tracker’s water page for these. If you have anything to add, please do so in the Comments Section below! Through shared knowledge we’re empowered.

The Only Chemical That Should Be in Water is…

Water! Pure & simple.

Let’s face it. Water is essential to life. In fact, some say water IS life.

When we say that, we’re talking about clean water with no toxic chemicals.

I believe the best way to get pure, clean water that you know for a fact is pure & clean…and not at a high cost is with a home countertop water distiller.

Why? My water distiller:

  • removes the water from the toxins (not the other way around like filters do) leaving the bad stuff behind
  • has no plastic parts made with petrochemicals that can leach into my water like most other water filters
  • has no need for costly & wasteful filter changes (works great all the time without wondering if filter’s full)
  • is totally recyclable, (if I should ever invest in a whole-home system in which case my portable unit won’t be needed), unlike all other water filters on the market

Visit Toxic Chemical Tracker’s AquaNui® page to learn more.

For the rest of this blog post, I’ll focus on the second point stated above: chemicals leaching from the container itself. Because, quite simply, what’s the point of having high quality water if the very container it’s in contaminates it?

This brings me to bisphenol A, better known as BPA.

Why BPA in Bottles Is Bad

Here’s my starting point:

As a mom concerned about endocrine disrupting chemicals wreaking havoc with my kids’ hormones, I wanna make sure that I limit my children’s exposures as much as is humanly possible.

Here’s my ending point:

I do not use plastic in any way, shape or form for food or beverage. See below for what I choose instead.

There’s a lot of info in between my starting and ending points. So let’s begin.

First thing’s first. What’s BPA?

BPA is a petrochemical. Basically, this means that it’s made from crude oil distillation products just like the gas you put in your car. It’s used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.

Examples of the most common stuff we encounter daily that contains BPA:

  • water bottles
  • food storage containers
  • tableware (plates, forks, knives, etc.)
  • canned good liners
  • store receipts & tickets

BPA is in a ton of other stuff but these are the major ways people are exposed to it.

FYI: Phosgene, a chlorine-containing WW1 chemical weapon, is used to make the type of polycarbonate plastic (generally called “thermoplastic”) common in food containers & water bottles. Pleasant thought, isn’t it?

The word “thermoplastic” is revealing, however. It means that this type of plastic can be molded when heated. Ever seen how deformed the food storage containers get when you add hot liquid to them? Just as the hot water affects it, the plastic releases some BPA into it.

I’ll spare you the complete chemical equation in all its gory detail. Simply put, remember:

BPA + phosgene = polycarbonate plastic

What are the health effects on BPA & other EDCs?

There are literally hundreds of studies on the topic of BPA & health. The FDA picked only 4 on which to base its conclusion that BPA was a pretty safe chemical.

Whether those 4 were the “best” ones to consider or not is hotly disputed.

Much of the debate centers on whether BPA, like other EDCs, affect people in low doses or at high doses. If it’s low doses, FDA needs to reconsider its choice of studies.

Given the nature of hormones which function at low doses, only a little BPA from an extra source could cause damage especially if encountered during critical windows of development.

Thus, I take very seriously the multitude of studies, (in rodents, cell culture & some human epidemiological studies), showing that exposure to BPA and other EDCs is associated with:

  • breast & other cancers
  • early puberty
  • reduced sperm counts
  • abnormal sexual development
  • diminished fertility
  • cardiovascular problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • asthma
  • obesity
  • ADHD

There may not yet be direct cause-effect relationships firmly established for humans. But I will not ignore the preponderance of evidence that suggests BPA is harmful. I’ll use the precautionary principle and avoid all products containing BPA or similar chemicals as far as is humanly possible because alternatives exist. Better to take precautions now than to regret it later after damage (irreversible or not) is done.

How does BPA leach into food & water?

First off, it’s the unreacted BPA that breaks loose from the plastic lattice and migrates into food & water.

Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how complete the initial chemical reaction was so we can’t guesstimate how much “free” BPA is available to leach in any given product.

We do know that BPA (or other EDC) migration into food & water is worsened when:

  • the container + food or beverage is heated
  • the bottle or container has been through a dishwasher or washed in hot water
  • a “single use” container is reused
  • a container has been scratched
  • ithe food/beverage has set in the container for a long time
  • there are fatty or oily foods/drink in the container

Is BPA-Free Really BPA-Free?

Maybe, maybe not. Here’s what we know:

1. One study reports:

No detectable BPA contamination in water stored in bottles made from:

  • Tritan® copolyester plastic
  • uncoated stainless steel
  • aluminum lined with EcoCare®

What that study did find was that some metal bottles may be lined with epoxy resins containing BPA which leached into water.

This is important to keep in mind if choosing a metal water bottle. See below for my recommended water bottle.

2. Another researcher found that a BPA alternative, fluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF), did leach into water from polycarbonate bottles labeled “BPA-Free.” Interestingly, one of the bottles tested was the Tritan® copolyester that tested off the hook in the previous study for BPA.

NOTE: It’s important to know that the term “BPA-Free” is a marketing ploy that is not legally defined. Different companies most likely use different chemicals. This means if you’re interested in using a “BPA-Free” bottle, call the company and ask:

  • What do you use instead of BPA?
  • May I see the results of independent safety studies you’ve done on this chemical?
  • Does your BPA alternative leach into water?

Tell us in the Comments below how companies respond to these questions. Share the knowledge!

3. What about BPA alternatives like BPS (4,4-dihydroxydiphenyl sulphone)? It is believed that the central sulphur atom (rather than a central carbon atom like in BPA) would make the chemical less likely to leach because of its greater stability to heat and sunlight. However, a study demonstrates endocrine disrupting effects of BPS in an animal model even at a level of 1 ppt (that’s one part in a trillion).

4. Another study went beyond looking at just one EDC individually. In 2013, a research group replicated how people experience EDCs in real life. They looked at three endocrine disrupting chemicals, BPA, BPS and nonylphenol (another common endocrine disruptor). They showed that the effect of all three on hormone-directed processes was far greater than each one individually.

The researchers stated in their discussion:

“These results not only highlight the need for stricter regulatory requirements for xenoestrogens, but also address the need to identify potentially adverse interactions of new chemicals with already existing chemicals in the environment. Such endocrine-disrupting effects should be identified during the initial phases of product development so that hazardous new combination exposures can be prevented.”

(Note: “Xenoestrogens” in the quote above refer to endocrine disruptors that we’re exposed to.)

It is my sincere hope that companies & governments heed this suggestion in the name of public health. In the mean time, we should do our best to reduce our exposure to EDCs.

5. Please don’t think that it’s only plastics #3 & #7 that could possibly contain BPA, BPS or any other estrogen-mimicking chemical. A study showed that phthalates and antimony (two EDCs) were found leaching from plastic #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET plastic is often thought of as “safe.” Please don’t believe this.

This plastic is common in:

  • bottled water
  • soft drinks
  • sports drinks
  • condiments (like salad dressing)
  • personal care products (like shampoo)

6. But the bad news doesn’t stop there. A study showed that all plastic leaches endocrine disrupting chemicals. What’s worse, and very frightening, is that even some “BPA-Free” products contained higher levels of an EDC than BPA-containing products!

Upshot: Play it safe for your health & and your children’s. Avoid all plastic for food & drink. Alternatives exist. See below for my recommendation.

Your Best Water Bottle: Glass

You shouldn’t be surprised that I’ve reached this conclusion.

I’ve listed many studies that show how plastic, in all its forms, leaches endocrine-disrupting chemicals into food & drink. Including plastic that is labeled “BPA-Free.”

Do not be duped by claims that a bottle is BPA-Free. Better safe than sorry.

And I haven’t mentioned the environmental cost of all this plastic. Most winds up polluting our waterways.

Plastic is made from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel burning drives climate change. So by not buying plastic, you’re making a small dent in the demand for it.

Just think for a minute: What if everyone stopped buying plastic? Our planet and human civilization could be salvaged, at least somewhat, from the extreme weather events we’re experiencing the world over.

What about metal? The studies I’ve cited show that metal bottles with liners can leach endocrine disruptors into water.

Some with certain kinds of liners have not been shown to leach EDCs.

Those liners are proprietary meaning companies refuse to divulge composition. I find this unsettling.

The liners are probably petrochemical-based. I say this because today all canned good liners are.

For the same environmental reasons that I reject plastic, I reject plastic-lined metal bottles.

What about unlined metal bottles? I’ll explore this in my next blog post. Suffice it to say here that I’m not a huge fan of them.

We are left with 2 options. Silicone and glass. Silicone has its own issues which I’ll leave to another blog post as well.

I am a huge fan of glass for these reasons:

  • production is less energy-intensive than metal alternatives
  • infinitely recyclable unlike its plastic counterparts
  • manufacture and disposal less toxic than plastic and steel
  • no EDC leaching

Recommended Product:

Lifefactory® Glass Water Bottle

  • American company
  • Made in France
  • Only glass bottle available in US that is not made in China

Lifefactory® Glass Baby Bottle

  • 4 oz. size
  • silicone sleeve, nipple

If you know of any other glass bottles not made in China, please share it with us in the Comments section below.

This page contains affiliate links. We earn a small commission if you click through and purchase our recommended products. This helps keep Toxic Chemical Tracker up & running. Read more about this on our disclosure page.

You may not have heard of Bisphenol-A, but you’ve probably heard of it’s abbreviation—BPA—because of products advertising its absence, like BPA-free water bottles, baby bottles, and tupperware.

BPA is a chemical added to clear plastics, so it shows up pretty much everywhere. The concern is that when it’s used in food containers, it can leech into food or drinks and wind up in our blood stream. In one study by the US Centers for Disease Control, it appeared in over 90% of people’s blood. It also tends to linger in the body long after the food is digested.

Although BPA is considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, hundreds of animal studies have shown that the chemical interrupts hormonal signaling in animals. BPA in rivers has been shown to alter the mating habits of fish, causing them to breed with other species. It’s hard to prove the same effect on people, because testing them by exposing them to a possibly harmful chemical would be unethical.

Even though it’s still legal for manufacturing companies to use BPA, many consumers have distanced themselves from it, forcing the plastics industry to find alternatives that work.

Enter fluorene-9-bisphenol, or BHFP for short. This chemical is frequently used in water bottles that are BPA-free, although it may have its own problems—and scientists are only now beginning to study whether it is actually toxic. In a paper published Feb. 28 in Nature Communications, Chinese researchers found that in mice, BHFP caused uterine problems and miscarriages.

They also found trace amounts of BHFP in the blood of seven out of 100 college students, raising the possibility that BHFP can make its way into food and water, just like BPA—but notably, the student’s water bottles weren’t tested themselves, nor was there a control group.

These chemicals clearly have some effect on animals, but it’s really difficult to say to what degree they may be harmful for us. Chemicals like BHFP and BPA are not directly toxic themselves; instead, they could potentially alter the way our bodies carry out their day-to-day business. BPA works like the hormone estrogen, which is critical for reproduction and found throughout the body. The chemical has been associated with obesity, heart and liver disease, and diabetes. Scientists think that BHFP works in the opposite way. Rather than ramping up the effects of estrogen, BHFP appears to block it.

Some argue that chemicals that alter hormones at any level pose a threat. There’s no level at which BHPF or BPA are safe, says Frederick S. vom Saal, an endocrinologist studying hormone disruptors at the University of Missouri-Columbia (who is not affiliated with the study). “This is a case where corporations and their friends in regulatory agencies simply ignore that a chemical is an intrinsic hazardous chemical,” he says.

But for the most part, this work highlights the need to better understand how chemicals that disrupt hormones work in the body. ”I don’t feel like they provided a compelling case for their being a human health risk in this publication,” says Christopher Kassotis, an endocrinologist at Duke University, also unaffiliated with the study. Kassotis says further study is needed, and pointed out that the mice were exposed to BHFP at levels humans are unlikely to encounter, so it’s hard to make a direct comparison. Additionally, the number of mice studied wasn’t large enough to draw conclusions.

Smartwater Bottles

Summary

I switched from Nalgene to disposable water bottles for most (3+ season) trips. If you go that route, the Smartwater bottles are the sturdiest disposables out there except for Gatorade/Powerade, but have some distinct advantages over those brands. They are my regular water bottle on the majority of trips and haven’t let me down, and at least let me reuse, rather than just recycle, if I have to buy bottled water sometimes.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Sturdy (for the type of bottle)
  • Flip cap option
  • Fit a Sawyer water filter
  • Easy to get in/out of side pack pocket
  • Price
  • Avoids recycling if you have one already
  • Comes with free water!

Cons

  • Long term durability (extended trips)
  • Not good for winter use
  • Potential BPA/other plastic chemicals
  • Can’t take boiling water
  • Thin mouth
  • Not environmentally sustainable!!!!

Note that there is a recognized health risk associated with reuse of disposable bottles due to the release of BPA and other chemicals. Other research indicates there may be other issues associated with BPA Free bottles as well (due to the use of BPS and BPF). This review is not a recommendation to use these type of bottles and ignore these risks. It is a comparison of this bottle vs other disposable/recyclable bottles and not an endorsement of the practice (and certainly not a recommendation by Trailspace or any staff or members). You should thoroughly research the safety of this practice before making a decision to take this approach.

Please note that this review is not about the water itself, but the bottle. Also, the rating is not a comparison of a recyclable/disposable bottle versus a designed bottle such as the ever present and indestructible Nalgene. The rating is based on a comparison to other disposable bottles. That is why there is a long list of inherent weaknesses for the TYPE of bottle but my rating is high. I am not sure you can consider the Smartwater, or any, disposable bottle as “Gear,” but since these are really prevalent now I thought it would be good to review.

Water bottles have evolved a lot since I started backpacking, from metal canteens to the white plastic bottles with inner plug and outer cap, to Nalgene products. Now you see a lot of disposable water bottles on the trail, which I admit to having carried for about 5 years in combination with other water storage. Thought it was time to review my current favorite…Smartwater.

Summary:

If you are going to carry disposable water bottles as part of your kit, you can’t do much better than the Smartwater series. For this class of cheap bottle, they are extremely light, sturdy, adaptable (different caps, accept the Aquaclip, and fit a Sawyer filter), and easy to use. Their negatives are basically the same for any disposable bottle: long term durability, three-season limits, potential release of chemicals, and not environmentally sustainable.

I would recommend these if you like to carry disposable bottles, as part of a storage system that also includes something like a Platypus SoftBottle and maybe a regular Nalgene, for short to mid length trips from spring through fall. For those of you doing long distance hikes, I will let your experience guide you on the increased risk of failure. In winter, I recommend switching back to sturdier options that can handle boiling water and freezing temperatures.

And of course, in the quest to have less environmental impact, I can’t recommend purchasing these specifically for equipment but rather using them if you happen to have to buy a drink in a gas station so you can reuse rather than recycle the bottle.

Specs:

The Smartwater series of water bottles come in a range of sizes including 1 liter, 750 ml, and 591 ml. I use all three depending on the length of trips and terrain/availability of water.
Weights range from 1 3/8 oz to 1 oz depending on the size and cap. Basically they weight almost nothing — the picture below is the 750 ml version.
Durability:

The construction is sturdy compared to most water/soda bottles you can buy in the store/gas station. Gatorade and Powerade bottles are even sturdier, but slightly heavier (I don’t really consider a few grams an issue but some might) and don’t have some of the benefits listed below (the reason I prefer Smartwater). These bottles can be squeezed and do show some creases (hope you can see them in the picture below) but I have never had one fail.

I use these with my Sawyer filter a lot and put them through a significant amount of squeezing and pressure without an issue. The 1-liter size works best with the Sawyer as it has a greater length to squeeze.

I have dropped them many times on rocks, hard ground, concrete (loading the car), etc. and none have broken. The longest trip I have taken using these as the primary water holder is five nights, but I have reused several bottles for at least a year before changing out just in case.

I filled a 750 ml and 1 liter bottle and did a little “testing” on my concrete patio. Both bottles were dropped, full of water, from a height of about 8 ft (as high as I can reach). First test was right side up, followed by a drop directly on the caps.
As you can see, the bottles were deformed after testing — the 750 ml bottle was bulged out a little on the bottom (slight slant in the picture) after the first drop, and both caps were compressed in by the second test when dropped directly on the cap. These issues were fixed easily in a couple of seconds, and both bottles recovered to their original shape:
The cap-drop test did scuff up and damage both caps, but the integrity of each seemed unaffected. I guess if you had worries/issues you could carry an extra cap for almost no additional weight in your repair kit.

Overall sturdiness is excellent for this type of bottle but obviously doesn’t compare to Nalgene or other designed bottles. I often carry the 1L version in my side pack pocket and do a lot of off-trail hiking which sometimes lands me in brush terrain. These bottles have been poked and prodded by branches and snagged by vines and briers, but have not been damaged yet.

Benefits:

There are many benefits of using a bottle like this as well as some distinct disadvantages, and I am not going to try to convince anyone to switch off the reliable and indestructible Nalgene or other designed outdoor gear. However, if you already use disposable bottles and are looking for one with more reliability, don’t want to carry multiple Nalgenes, or want to have another backup to a water bag type, this may suit you.

I find these bottles so lightweight that I don’t mind throwing in an extra one for good measure if water sources are iffy. I tend to use the smallest for a sipper bottle on my shoulder strap (using either an Aquaclip or built-in straps). In most of my trip reports, you will see the small size clipped to my shoulder to allow easy hydrating.

Some of them have standard lids, but I keep around the “flip-top” lid for my sipper bottle as I find it convenient and so far surprisingly leak-proof.
The smooth sides and thin shape on these bottles make them very easy to slip in and out of a side pocket on the pack if you don’t carry a sipper bottle like me or carry more than one. However, you probably should be careful if your pockets are low that they don’t slip out. Both my regular backpacks have deep side pockets so this hasn’t been an issue for me.

One of the main benefits of using the Smartwater brand is that their threads fit a regular Sawyer water filter. Most other disposables do not. While I usually use a Platypus or the Sawyer bag (although it can have issues) on the filter, it is nice to have this option especially when it is easier to use a bottle to collect the water, which happens occasionally depending on the source.

The light weight and variety of size allow for a flexible approach to water storage. I always carry a sipper bottle and a Platypus soft bottle, then supplement with additional water bottles (like the 1L) or another bag type storage depending on the time of year and terrain. In fact you will often find me with up to four different storage containers as I do a lot of dry camps well away from streams.

You can see three bottles in the photo below along with the Sawyer water bag on the right (and there is a hidden 2L Platypus as well) as I was loading up at an AT shelter source before taking back off onto wilderness trails and camping on a dry ridge. I usually carry most of them empty and load up like a mule for the last hour or two so I have a surplus of water for the evening through lunch the next day just in case.

These bottles are so light that carrying an extra is a question only of space, not weight.
I also tend to use one of these bottles for storing alcohol for my stove on longer trips where my standard container may be a bit small. In fact now that I think about it, one of the bottles in the photo above is a fuel container. I have stored alcohol (not gas!) in one of these bottles for up to 6 months and seen no decrease in fuel efficiency or degradation of the plastic. Just make sure you CLEARLY distinguish the fuel from the water — I store my duct tape there.
OK, I guess I have to mention the “free water” that comes with the bottle…

Negatives:
As I mentioned above, the negatives of the Smartwater bottle for backpacking are basically the same negatives for any disposable bottle (therefore the high rating).

  • Long term durability of any non-designed water bottle is suspect at minimum. I have used bottles for at least a year with no issues, but tend to acquire another one or two by then and switch them out.
  • They freeze much more quickly than a Nalgene and I would not recommend using them in winter. I have used them into the low teens without issues, but keep the bottles inside the tent where the air is warmer.
  • Thin mouth on the bottle is easier to drink from (in my opinion) but some like wider mouths better for drinking, collecting water, or being able to use a device like a Steripen.
  • They don’t handle boiling water, which is another reason not to use them in winter (snow melting). In addition they are not dishwasher safe when you get home…even if they were see the next bullet for reasons I wouldn’t do either of these.
  • Long term use of these cheap bottles may have health issues related to the chemicals released into the water. The main one you hear about is BPA. However, if you look at recent articles and research, others like BPS are maybe just as much an issue and are apparently in most plastics including those of permanent water bottles. I am not an expert in this area, so don’t begin to claim that anything is safe or dangerous.

Probably the biggest negative to me is the sustainability of these bottles. I carry Nalgene or stainless steel every day, but occasionally am in a situation where I need a bottle of water on the road. In that event, I will buy Smartwater over other brands so I can reuse rather than recycle the bottle.

Sustainability of any cheap plastic bottle is terrible, as it takes about three times the amount of water to make one than it can hold. They don’t biodegrade for thousands of years. The more I write about this, the guiltier I feel for this review if it promotes purchase of these bottles.

If you have one re-use it instead of recycling, but don’t buy it just for this use!

  • Drink tap water or rely on BPA-free stainless steel water bottles (from companies like Nalgene or Sigg) instead of slugging down bottled water. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Instead of eating microwavable meals that come out of plastic containers, eat only freshly-prepared, organic foods. Difficulty Rating: Moderate (or hard, depending on where you live, the size of your bank account, and how lazy you are).
  • Instead of using plastic utensils, rely on the longer-lasting variety. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • To be safe, avoid all canned foods and replace with non-canned variations (replace canned soup with soup in a carton, for example) unless cans denote that they have a BPA-free lining. If that’s not possible, avoid these specific canned foods, which are known to be high in BPA: coconut milk, soup, meat, vegetables, meals, juice, fish, beans, meal-replacement drinks, and fruit (yes, we realize that encompasses most canned foods). Take special care to avoid foods that are acidic, salty, or fatty. Difficulty Rating: Hard
  • Steer clear of plastic storage containers for leftover food. Instead, use glass containers along with BPA-free plastic lids. The food should not touch the lids. Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Instead of using a plastic coffee-maker or going out for coffee, use a French press or ceramic drip. Difficulty Rating: Moderate (if you like to drink your coffee during the workday)

Even if you follow all of these steps, BPA will inevitably linger in your body; traces of it are found in extremely unlikely places, such as whole eggs and milk (due to pre-market processing). But many of these suggestions will lead to a healthier lifestyle, regardless–there’s little downside to eating fresh food, avoiding bottled water, and cutting back on impulse coffee purchases. There’s no harm in trying, and certainly no harm in reducing the poisonous toxins in your body. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Related: BPA-Free Plastics Still Leach Estrogen-Mimicking Chemicals: Report

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

This post contains affiliated links. Please read my disclosure page.

Which bottled water brand is safe?

After I heard the news about microplastics found in almost all of bottled waters, I wanted to find a safe bottled water brand for me and my family. While researching, I realized that bottled water not only contains microplastics in it, but also plastic bottles can leach toxic chemicals such as endocrine disruptors into the water. Also , some bottled water brands source their water from municipal supply and their purification of this water makes water mineral-deficient. Many of these bottled waters are also acidic and take minerals out of our body. In addition, there is a possibility that spring or mineral water with high minerals are contaminated with harmful metals or viruses. I’ve been enjoying bottled water for a long time now but which brands are safe? In this post, I share with you my findings about bottled water brands and the brand that I chose.

Bottled Water That Is Not Packaged In Plastics

Microplastics

In the study done by journalism organization Orb Media, 11 brands were tested across nine countries for microplastics. Brands include Aqua, Aquafina, Bisleri, Dasani, E-Pura, Evian, Gerolsteliner, Minaba, Nestle Pure and San Pellegrino. 93% of bottled water tested had microplastics. That means almost all bottled water contained microplastics. Amount of microplastics found in the bottle differed even within the same brands. Some bottles of Bisleri and E-Pura showed no micro plastics, however, when they were purchased elsewhere, they contained microplastics. Other brands were the same. While they contained small amount of microplastics when they were purchased at one location, large amount of microplastics were found when they were purchased elsewhere. This could mean all bottled water has microplastics in the water. Even within same brands, some will contain it and some will not. We just don’t know which bottles have it.

So how did micro plastics end up in a bottle? One theory is that while opening the bottle, the debris from bottle cap may have fallen into the water. Bottle caps are made of polypropylene and 54% of microplastics found in bottled water was also polypropylene. So does that mean microplastics only get into the water when you open a water bottle? Just like research done by by journalism organization Orb Media, researchers at McGill University also did the study on microplastics in bottled water. They used a sampling of Aquafina, Dasani, Eska, Naya and Nestle Pure Life brands. They tested bottled water purchased from Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, Canada. 30 of 50 bottled water tested had microplastics in their water. Each brand had microplastics found including a glass bottle of Eska. (Eska’s glass bottle cap is not plastic.) Amount of microplastics found in glass bottles were lower amount than microplastics found in plastic bottles. However, the fact that they were found in even glass bottles suggests that microplastics may have gotten in the water where bottling took place. These studies suggest that all bottled water brands can contain microplastics. Therefore, I didn’t find any bottled water that is safe from microplastics. Now another study has also came out and said 83% of tap water in the world are contaminated with microplastics. US had 94%, the highest contamination rate. So microplastics are everywhere, not just in bottled water.

(Microplastics found in some Canadian bottled water)

(Plastic Fibers Found In Tap Water Around The World, Study Reveals)

Plastics Leaching Harmful Chemicals (antimony, phthalates, Bisphenol A(BPA) or Bfluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF)

Bottled water is packaged in plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). However, this plastic material leaches harmful chemicals into the water. Leaching chemicals include antimony, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) or Bfluorene-9-bisphenol (BHPF). These chemicals will be released more and faster if the water bottles are placed in a warm or hot temperature. Also, the longer water is stored in the bottle, the more chemicals will be leached. Unfortunately, most bottled water is packaged in plastics so it is hard to avoid this problem. If you don’t want to drink bottled water, you can use filter for the tap water at home and filter water yourself. If you do drink bottled water, do not store in a warm, hot place for a long period of time. Another option is to buy bottled water packaged in glass or paper instead of plastic.

Bottled water that is packaged in glass or paper is as follows. (However, there are other factors to be considered other than packaging to choose safe bottled water so please read on!)

Water Packaged In Glass

Voss Artesian Sparkling Water

Mountain Valley Spring Water

Eska Water

Frank Water

Perrier

S. Pellegrino

Water Packaged In Paper

Boxed Water

Just Water

Rethink Water

Bottled Water With A Safe pH Level

The neutral pH level of water is 7. Ideal pH of water should be between 6.5 ~ 8.5 which is close to the pH level our bodies naturally maintain. (7.35 to 7.45.) PH water that is too acidic or alkaline can damage our health. Some popular brands such as Dasani and Aquafina, have a pH of 5 which is too acidic. Beverages such as Gatorade and Vitamin Water also have pH level that is too low, 3.5 and 3.4.

Here are some brands that fall into neutral pH range. If you want to find more about what water pH levels are and how acidic & alkaline water affect health, please read my previous post, Safe Bottled Water Guides: How Bottled Water Can Be Toxic.

(Analyzing And Comparing Brands Of Bottled Water)

* I have also put ORP (Oxidation-Reduction Potential) number after water’s pH level. ORP measures the cleanliness of the water and its ability to break down contaminants. The higher the reading, the more oxidizing water is. I left it blank if I didn’t have an ORP number available. (What is ORP?)

*San Pellegrino, Mountain Valley Spring Water, Eska Water and Just Water which are not packaged in plastic bottles, have pH level between 7 and 8. However, quality of water also depends on its source and treatment it receives. I will talk about that next.

Good Quality Bottled Water Based On Source And Treatment

Bottled water can be naturally sourced from glaciers, lakes and springs. It is also sourced from public water such as municipal supply. When water is sourced, it may or may not go through filtration or purifying process before getting bottled to remove contaminants or chemicals. Let’s take a look at types of water based on its source and treatment. I have categorized bottled water as following: Water with natural minerals and water without natural minerals.

1. Water With Natural Minerals

Mineral Water

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies mineral water as water coming from an underground source and containing at least 250 parts per million total dissolved solids. Minerals must come from the source and can not be added later. Mineral water could be natural spring water or artesian well water.

Spring Water

Spring water is surface water that come naturally from the ground of the earth. It is filtered naturally through layers of sand and rock formations as it moves through an underground aquifer which is contamination-free. It may or may not be filtered or purified artificially before getting bottled. According to U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole that taps the underground formation feeding the spring. If water is collected through a borehole, it must have the same quality as water collected at the spring. If spring water goes through purification process, the water will be classified as purified water, not spring water. (Bottled Water Everywhere: Keeping it Safe)

Spring water contains natural minerals that are healthy for our body unlike tap water or treated water. Minerals such as calcium, lithium and magnesium are essential minerals we can get from water. On top of this healthy benefits, spring water doesn’t have harmful chemicals that tap water contains. However, spring water can be contaminated from human or animal waste, storm water runoff, improperly treated septic and sewage discharges and wildlife. Groundwater may be pure but when the groundwater is on its way to the surface, it can become contaminated. The quality of spring water can be vary greatly depending on a spring. Some spring water can be safe to drink without any treatment while some may have contaminants. Spring water is generally more pricier than other types of bottled water since it is rich in natural minerals that are healthy. (Spring water not as pure as you may think)

Examples of spring water includes as follows.

Evian – Derived from springs in France, naturally filtered

Icelandic – Spring water from Iceland, naturally filtered

Eternal – Naturally filtered spring water from Shasta-Trinity Alps of California

Volvic – Filtered, treated spring water

Zephyrhills – Filtered, treated spring water

Absopure– Filtered, treated spring water

San Pellegrino – carbonated water derived from natural springs at the foothills of the Italian Alps near Bergamo (Lombardy)

Spring Water I like

Evian: Evian mineral water is from French Alps where a natural filter developed over several ice ages. The water source is protected under a fortress of geological layers built up by glaciers 30,000 years ago, it slowly travels through a natural glacial sand filter. Water is bottled at the source and also samples are taken every day to ensure quality.

Mineral content of bottled water is one of the most important part of water quality. Evian has the highest mineral content, lowest turbidity (how clear water is the lower number the better), highest conductivity/ but Evian has the highest nitrite and nitrate contamination compared to other brands. Contamination found in Evian water is not health threatening to immune competent people. However, infants, children, elderly, cancer, transplant, HIV patients should not drink water with Nitrite or Nitrate. Evian also has the highest barium compared to other brands. However, nitrite, nitrate and barium Evian contain are all well under federal maximum contaminant level. (Heavy Metals detected In Bottled Spring Water.) (A Guide To Healthy Drinking Water)

*You can get Evian Water in a glass bottle if you want to avoid plastic.

*Evian Water pH level: 7.0

Altesian Well Water

Artesian well water is an underground water that doesn’t rise to the surface naturally so it is collected from a well that taps an aquifer. Water is tapped by artesian pressure in the aquifer pushing water above the level of the aquifer.

Examples of Artesian Water is as follows.

Fiji Water – Derived from springs in Fiji, naturally filtered

Artesian Water I like

Fiji Water: Fiji Water comes from an artesian aquifer in Viti Levu of Fiji. The water slowly filters through layers of volcanic rock, slowly gathering the natural minerals and electrolytes. The water is bottled at the source.

Back in 2006, Fiji water had the highest arsenic level found in their water compared to other brands in the study conducted by the City of Cleveland. However, in the 2015 test of Fiji Water bottled in November 2014, there was no arsenic found above FDA limits. FDA limit is 10micrograms per litre where as arsenic level found in Fiji water was only 1.2 microgram per liter.

*There is no glass bottle version of Fiji Water at the moment.

*Fiji Water pH level: 7.5

Well Water

Well water is acquired by a hole drilled in to the ground to tap into an aquifer.

Voss – Well water from Norway

Evamor – Filtered well water

Perrier – Filtered, Carbonated water derived from wells

Carbonated Water

Carbonated water also known as sparkling water has carbon dioxide added in the water. It may be treated beyond carbonation to purify the water to be safe. Some natural sparkling mineral waters which are sourced naturally from a mineral spring, may be carbonated as well. Some examples include Perrier and San Pellegrino and they contain natural minerals and sulphur in their water. Since carbon dioxide and water react chemically make carbonic acid, there is a concern that sparkling water can damage tooth enamel. However, studies show that only when sugar is added to the water, it can be damaging to enamel, not when you drink plain sparkling water. Therefore, avoid drinking sparkling water that is flavored with sugar.

Carbonated water examples are as follows.

Perrier – Filtered, carbonated water derived from wells

San Pellegrino – carbonated water derived from natural springs at the foothills of the Italian Alps near Bergamo (Lombardy) They have plain sparkling water as well as flavored beverage.

Carbonated Water I like

San Pellegrino: This water is not only packaged in a glass but also contains lots of minerals in the water. San Pellegrino water if from natural springs at San Pellegrino Terme, Bergamo, Italy. I only like their plain carbonate water, not the flavored beverages since sugar can damage tooth enamel.

San Pellegrino pH Level: 7.7

Filtered Water

If the water is not bottled at the spring but is pumped into large tanker trucks to be transported to the bottling facility, water may get contaminated on the way. Therefore, filtration may be needed. When water is filtered, minerals can be retained rather than being killed. Filtered water goes through carbon filters or a micron filters to remove chemicals, parasites, bacteria, etc. Filtration does not remove everything like purifying water does. Therefore, filtered water can still contain dissolved inorganic contaminants and heavy metals. However, it can still retain natural minerals that are healthy. Filtration method includes carbon filtration, absolute 1 micron filtration and ozonation.

Volvic – Filtered, treated spring water

Zephyrhills – Filtered, treated spring water

Evamor – Filtered well water

Absopure– Filtered, treated spring water

Perrier – Filtered, Carbonated water derived from wells

Ozonated Water -Filtered Water

Ozonated water is basically water that has been ozonated. Ozone gas is used to disinfect the water instead of chlorine. It can destroy bacteria, viruses, and odors. Oxygen we breathe in ever day is O2 which has 2 atoms of oxygen. Ozone has 3 atoms of oxygen bound together (O3). Many people believe ozonated water oxygenates and detoxes our body. Some believe ozonated water has healing and therapeutic properties. Some experts say it can stop the spreading of cancer.

On the other hand, some experts say there is no scientific proof that ozonated water is beneficial. Not only that, ozone can cause harm if used and consumed in the wrong way. Cancer Tutor, the cancer treatment resource website includes drinking ozonated water as a supplemental treatment for cancer. However, they say the container the purified or spring water is in, absolutely must be made of glass. They said that ozone will tear apart a plastic container and you will end up drinking plastic. Also, ozone is an unstable form of oxygen and they don’t last very long. It readily decays back to normal oxygen. Cancer Tutor advised to drink ozonated water as soon as it is made because the ozone only lasts about 10 minutes.

Whether ozonated water is beneficial to our health or not, if ozone will tear apart a plastic container and I end up drinking plastics, that is not what I want to drink.

(Drinking Ozonated Water -What Is It and How Is It Made?)

(Ozonated Water: Supplemental Treatment For Cancer)

Here are some examples of ozonated water.

Dasani – Filtered, RO, minerals added and ozonated

Great Value Walmart – Filtered, RO, minerals added and ozonated

Ice Mountain – Demineralized, filtered and ozonated

2. Water Without Natural Minerals – Purified Water

Purified water can come from any water sources such as tap water or spring water. It is purified to remove any chemicals or contaminants. When water is purified, water impurities must be removed to extremely low levels. Filtered water is not same as purified water. Purified water has less impurities than filtered water. While purified water removes all of the impurities in water, it also kills healthy minerals that our body needs. For this reason, I didn’t choose any of the purified water as my choice. Purified water includes water that is refined in one of following ways: distillation, reverse osmosis or deionization.

Distilled water – Purified Water

Distillation is different from other demineralization process such as reverse osmosis or deionization. In the distillation process, water is boiled and condensed steam is collected. Any impurities or contaminants are left behind, however, so do minerals. Since distilled water does not have minerals, we should not drink distilled water for a long period of time. Drinking distilled water can lead to mineral deficiencies. When one drinks distilled water for a few weeks or months, the water grabs and holds onto minerals in our body then passes them out of the body causing mineral deficiencies. (Water For Health And Longevity)

Examples of distilled water includes following.

Deer Park – Derived from springs and distilled city water

Poland Springs – Derived from springs and distilled water

Function – Distilled with minerals added

Smart water – Filtered, distilled and remineralized

Arrowhead – Derived from springs and distilled city water

Reverse Osmosis Water – Purified Water

Reverse Osmosis is a commonly used way of purifying water. According to Dr.Lawrence Wilson from L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc., reverse osmosis makes an extremely mineral-deficient water. He warned that drinking mineral-deficient water such as distilled, reverse osmosis or demineralized water for a few months will bring minerals out of the body. Therefore, many bottled water that used any of purifying method such as reverse osmosis, distillation or demineralization is not good for your heath. (Reverse Osmosis Water – A Poor Product)
(Differences Between Drinking Water And Distilled Water)

Examples of reverse osmosis (RO) water are as follows.

Dasani – Filtered, RO, minerals added and ozonated

Great Value Walmart – Filtered, RO, minerals added and ozonated

Essentia – RO filtered, minerals added, ionized water

Deionized Water – Purified Water

Deionizing water uses ion exchange resins to remove ionized salts from the water. Often, a term, demineralization is used interchangeably with deionization. However, deionizing water removes ionized salts and demineralization removes minerals from water. Deionized water still lacks minerals that our body needs. Therefore, long term drinking of deionized water can lead to organ damage even if minerals are coming from one’s diet. (Is It Safe To Drink Deionized Water?)

Demineralized Water

Demineralized water goes through various filtration and chemical treatment to remove minerals and impurities. It is obtained through reverse osmosis, distillation or deionization of the water. This type of water is often used at lab when dissolved minerals can alter results. Often, in order to get the final product with certain quality, the water will undergo several stages such as distillation, filtration, reverse osmosis. According to World Health Organization (WHO), drinking demineralized or low mineral water has a negative health effects on us. According to their report, drinking demineralized or low mineral water not only results low intake of essential minerals our body needs such as calcium, magnesium and essential elements but also causes loss of essential minerals and elements in prepared food. It also possibly increases dietary intake of toxic metals. In addition, it has direct effect on the intestinal mucous membrane metabolism and mineral homeostasis or other body functions.
(Health Risks From Drinking Demineralized Water)

(Difference Between Purified Water and Demineralized Water)

(Health Risks From Drinking Demineralized Water)

Here are some examples of demineralized water.

Vitamin Water – Demineralized with minerals and flavors added

Propel Zero- Gatorade – Demineralized with minerals and flavours added

Ice Mountain – Demineralized, filtered and ozonated

Gerber Pure Water – Demineralized with minerals added

Final Thoughts

Spring water has lots of healthy minerals that are good for our health, however, they can get contaminated and contain heavy metals, viruses, bacterias since the water is not purified or treated. Water from some springs are safe without treatment, however, we, the consumers won’t know that for sure unless we see the test results of water especially after bottling process has been done. Purified water, on the other hand, has very low impurities and the water is very safe to drink. However, purified water filtering and purifying process such as reverses osmosis, distillation, deionization kill healthy minerals water contains. When we drink demineralized or low mineral water for some time, water will leach minerals from our body. In addition, almost all bottled water has microplastics in water which we end up ingesting while drinking water. On top of that, almost all bottled water is packaged in plastic bottles which can leach harmful chemicals into the water. There are just too many uncertainties involved with bottled water that I can not conclude bottled water in general is absolutely safe. However, I would still liked to continue drinking bottled water for now until I find a better solution. Therefore, between all of these bottled water, I choose natural spring water such as Evian water, Fiji water, Icelandic and carbonated water such as San Pellegrino as a bottled water choice for me and my family. I will not just choose one brand but I will rotate between these four brands.

Smart water bottle bpa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *