The best reusable water bottle material – why we use stainless steel

The best reusable water bottle material – why we use stainless steel

Choosing to reuse is always going to be better than a single use option. It will save you money, help protect the planet from single use plastics and be so much nicer to use. But should you be choosing stainless steel, glass or plastic for your reusable bottle? Which is the best material for a reusable water bottle?

What is stainless steel?

Stainless steel is an iron based alloyed metal that contains a minimum of 10.5% Chromium and covers a range of different materials. Stainless steel water bottles may come in various grades of stainless steel, with some having food grade stainless steel on the inside, with a cheaper grade externally (Ohelo bottles are 18/8 food grade stainless steel inside and out).

18/8 stainless steel has 18% Chromium and 8% Nickel. The Chromium gives it its “stainless” quality. The Nickel is used to improve strength and durability. It also helps protect against corrosion.

Why is stainless steel used for reusable water bottles?

18/8 stainless steel is commonly used for premium reusable steel bottles as it is easy to clean and durable. 

18/8 stainless steel will not impart flavour and does not leach chemicals into your drink. It’s food safety means it can be used as a bottle material without the need for an internal liner (which would be needed for an aluminium water bottle, for instance).

It is tough and durable and can be also used to create a true vacuum flask, allowing it to be perfect for keeping your drinks hotter and colder for significantly longer than other options. The durability of stainless steel water bottle means it should not need replacing as much as alternatives that are more easily broken. 

Stainless steel is also endlessly recyclable and easily recycled. This means that even though a stainless steel water bottle should last you for years, when it does finally come to the end of its life it can be fully recycled into another object.

Insulated stainless steel water bottles may not be the cheapest reusable bottles available, but they should last you a long time, saving you money in the long run.

Do stainless steel water bottles contain any nasty surprises?

Sadly, almost all stainless steel insulated bottles on the market contain lead. This is found in the sealing dot of the bottle that seals in the vacuum layer. Lead is toxic, and the use of it in insulated flasks means both the makers and their environment are being exposed to Lead. Trace amounts of lead may also be found across the bottle surface due to the vacuumisation process.

Ohelo are one of the only bottle brands in the world to be using a lead free solder material in our stainless steel insulated bottles – ensuring they are not only safe for you, but for our makers and their environment.

Ohelo stainless steel reusable water bottle in black blue yellow and pink

What about glass?

Most reusable glass water bottles are made from borosilicate glass, a material which can be safely used with hot or cold drinks. Glass is a safe, inert material that will not impart chemicals or flavours into your water.

Glass is also 100% recyclable and has a very high recycling rate here in the UK, making it very environmentally friendly at the end of its life.

Glass is not as life proof as stainless steel. It is not as durable and is more easily broken when dropped. As all of us accidentally drop things from time to time this does mean that glass bottles are less likely to last as long as plastic or stainless steel bottles.

Glass can also be considerably heavier than stainless steel or plastic – and that is before adding the weight of the water you want to carry with you.

There are both insulated and non-insulated versions of glass bottles available, both of which are suitable for use with hot and cold drinks. However, non-insulated bottles will not keep your drink hot or cold for very long, so you will have to drink it in a similar time to a cup you use at home if you want to have it hot. Insulated glass bottles are air insulated rather than vacuum insulated. This means that they will keep your drink hotter than a single skin glass bottle, but they won’t have the thermal retention of a stainless steel vacuum insulated water bottle.

Why reusable plastic bottles are a bad idea:

Plastic reusable bottles have long been popular as they are cheap, lightweight and durable. However, they have some rather significant downfalls – including health concerns and a lasting environmental impact.

Plastics get smelly and can impart flavour. This is due to the atomic structure of plastics. Thermoplastics that are commonly used for water bottles are formed from long polymer chains which may allow the smaller particles to be absorbed, including some smelly ones. This can lead to staining and flavour retention.

Sadly, it may not just be old flavours that a reusable plastic bottle leaches into your water. BPA is a common ingredient for polycarbonate plastics, which are typically used for reusable water bottles. BPA has hormone-mimicking properties. Small amounts of BPA can leach from plastic drinks bottles into the drinks inside. Even BPA free plastic bottles may pose a health risk, as the Bisphenols that are commonly used as replacements to BPA in BPA-free plastics are being shown to have similar hormone mimicking properties.

They are only suitable for cold drinks – so when the weather turns colder you do not have a way of carrying your coffee with you on that crisp winter walk.

Furthermore, there are significant issues at the end of product life for plastic drinks bottles. They are rarely recycled due to the unknown composition of the plastics and generally end up in landfill. If they are recycled, most plastics can only be recycled 2-3 times before the material degrades too much to allow further recycling. They can take hundreds of years to break down in landfill and even then, there is the issue of the microplastics that will be left behind. With microplastics now being found in the most remote areas of the planet, and even human blood, this is definitely worth consideration.

To summarise:

Choosing to reuse is definitely a step in the right direction.

With the average 1l bottle of water costing 65p and 1l of tap water costing 0.1p a reusable water bottle will inevitably save you money in the long run. If choosing a stainless steel or glass reusable bottle it will be better for your health. It will also help protect the planet from the onslaught of single use plastic.

Looking at all of the available options we believe 18/8 food grade stainless steel is the best material for reusable water bottles. That is why as a family run brand we chose 18/8 stainless steel for our unique range of water bottles and travel cups. It is durable, safe, can be used with both hot and cold drinks, and is 100% recyclable. Shop our full range of insulated stainless reusable water bottles now and join team choose to reuse!

 Ohelo insulated vacuum flask in white swallows and yellow designs cheers pose in front of ocean

News and insights from the Ohelo HQ