When we’re at events we often get asked something along the lines of “So, I recently received a metal water bottle (from work, a sporting event, etc.). Is it safe to drink from?”
Are All Steel Water Bottles Created Equal?
And our answer is always “Maybe...but maybe not.” Unfortunately, not all metal water bottles are created equal.
We drink from a reusable water bottle for several reasons: cost, convenience, flavor, environmental concern, and our own physical health. Depending upon the amount of water you consume, some estimates suggest monthly savings up to $93 (for one person) switching to a reusable water bottle. That’s a significant savings.
Even if you aren’t the type to exclusively consume bottled water, disposable water bottles are always a more expensive alternative no matter the amount.
As for the other reasons we choose to drink from a reusable water bottle, convenience and flavor may be a preference, but the environmental impact is a valid concern. Throughout the world, one million bottles are purchased every minute. And even though considered highly recyclable, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), takes 400 years to naturally decompose.
According to research projections, by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish.
Using reusable water bottles for health concerns
Another common reason we prefer a reusable bottle over bottled water is our own health. But if bottled water brings to mind a grizzly bear lapping up water from a fresh mountain spring, you may be disappointed to know that’s rarely the case.
According to an ABC News report, most bottled water is repurposed tap water. “Big-selling [brands] are just reprocessed tap water from cities around the country. One of [a popular bottled water’s] sources is the Detroit River!”
However, there’s one major difference between the water flowing from your sink and what’s in bottled water. Bottled water isn’t held to the same standards as municipal water, so you really don’t know what you’re drinking. The FDA regulates bottled water and the EPA regulates tap water.
Tap water often gets a bad wrap. We hear the words “tap water” and think of a dirty, industrial water treatment plant. And then we hear “bottled water” and think of the sparkling, crystal water that’s portrayed in commercials. But between the two administrations regulating water, take a guess who has the more strict water guidelines...
The dangers of drinking bottled water
But the major health concern over bottled water isn’t what’s inside the bottle – it’s the bottle itself. The plastics used in the bottles contain harmful chemicals, such as BPA (bisphenol A - an endocrine disruptor linked to cancer, neurological issues, diabetes, reproductive issues and more). And the longer you drink from a disposable bottle the more likely it is to release BPA.
Drinking from these containers presents serious health risks. Equally concerning is 30 billion plastic water bottles that land in our oceans and landfills each year. As these chemicals break down, they continue to contaminate the environment around us further impacting our health.
But steel water bottles provide an alternative drinking source that covers all the bases. They’re cost-effective, convenient, they don’t add a bad flavor to the water, and they don’t add to growing amount of plastics in our landfills and oceans.
Steel is durable and can withstand a beating. No matter what life experience you throw its way, it won’t wear out over time.
But, are all steel bottles the same?
Unfortunately, the answer is “No”.
There are various types of metal used in bottles. Aluminum, which has been linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's, is often used by even popular companies. Since aluminum is not a food grade metal, these companies line the bottle with plastic which can contain BPA and/or other harmful chemicals that leach into your water. What’s worse is when the plastic liner is scratched or worn down it can expose you to the aluminum.
So, what type of metal should I drink from?
Since you’re aware of the environmental impact and health-related concerns associated with plastic water bottles, like any responsible consumer, you’ve decided to choose a metal water bottle.
But what type of metal bottle should you buy?
The only metal bottle you drink from should be a stainless steel bottle. Stainless steel bottles are able to hold both hot and cold drinks and provide several other practical benefits.
Stainless steel doesn’t contain the chemicals found in plastics that can cause severe health risks even in very small 'doses'. And unlike aluminum, stainless steel doesn’t require a liner since it doesn’t give off any harmful chemicals. However, there is still a word of warning you should consider when purchasing a stainless steel bottle.
Even some stainless steel bottles have been found to contain toxic levels of lead. So, if you want to be guaranteed you’re drinking from a safe, reusable, steel water bottle, look for #304 or 18/8 food grade stainless steel.
#304 or 18/8 food grade stainless steel is safe at any temperature and won’t leach chemicals into your water if it’s scratched or ages.
If you want to be sure you aren’t consuming any toxic chemicals with your water, choose a bottle that is made with #304 or 18/8 food grade stainless steel. Disregard any reusable bottles that are made with anything else.