For those with an active life style, having a glass water bottle might just seem like a way to invite disaster into one of your more extreme outings. Yet despite its inherent fragility, glass remains one of the most popular options as a container for all sorts of drink items and even some food stuffs. So why is it that in the age of neigh-invincible stainless steel bottles and high quality modern plastics that so many are still going for glass?
Find our top choices for glass water bottles in our Top 5 Best Glass Water Bottles Review.
The Long History of Glass
If we look at any of the materials used to make the water bottles on the market today, most of them have a relatively short history of human use. The first production of plastic and stainless steel did not begin until the mid-1800’s, with neither product really taking off until the beginning of the 1900’s. Modern varieties of plastic and stainless steel have been updated and refined at an incredible pace since their initial development, further shortening the history of human use.
In contrast, the first known evidence for the use of glass as a container object span back as far as 1500 BC, when ancient Egyptians fashioned hollow glass containers by covering a core made of sand with molten glass. When the glass cooled, the sand was removed and a simple glass cup was formed. Evidence of early man-made glass goes back much further still to 4000 BC or possibly earlier, leaving open the possibility that mankind has been using glass containers for many thousands of years.
What we can derive from this is the safety of glass as a container.
In the world of the water bottle, there is no concern greater than the problem of contamination or “leaching.” You may have experienced first hand how certain containers leave whats inside them with a strange taste which is definitely more than just water. As it turns out, plastic and even metal bottles made with certain manufacturing techniques can release compounds into their contents which are harmful to human health.
Certainly the most famous of these compounds is the dreaded bisphenol A, more commonly known as BPA, which can act as an endocrine distruptor in the human body. Studies have shown that BPA is harmful to human health, with problems impacting metabolism, development and reproduction.
Although wide spread knowledge of the dangers of BPA has forced many companies to change their production methods and more carefully consider their use of materials, the production of modern water bottles is a highly industrialized business. During production, water bottles have the potential to be exposed to a huge number of industrial contaminants, and the materials and procedures used to manufacture the bottles often have a very short history of human usage and little to no scientific study as to health or environmental impacts of the process.
Compared to the questionable safety record of modern industry, glass is thoroughly enshrined as the leader in contamination free containers. You can always shatter the chemical conundrum of wondering what strange industrial techniques were used to make your modern plastic or metal water bottle by just sticking with good ole glass.
Environmentally Friendly in So Many Ways
If you’ve read our article about the problems created by the bottled water industry you probably know just how bad plastic production truly is for the planet. Even reusable plastic water bottles are responsible for being similarly energy hungry, consuming huge amounts of petroleum products for their manufacturing.
Stainless steel water bottles also suffer from being environmentally unfriendly to produce. In an article published in The New York Times, the authors explore the life cycle of a stainless steel bottle. From the earliest phases of its production, stainless steel is inherently environmentally destructive. Beginning with mining of ores such as chromium which can cause workers increased cancer risk, the process carries risks and damage at every phase. Once mined, ore must be refined with extremely energy-expensive, pollution-rich techniques – only to be further processed into stainless steel, which results in about 10 times more pollution than regular steel.
While glass production is certainly not without its pollution-byproducts the impact of manufacturing glass is far less severe than plastic or stainless steel. Most pollution from glass production is the result of emissions from furnaces used to heat the glass and is not inherent to making the glass itself.
To further compound the environmentally friendly nature of glass we have its incredible recyclability. Glass can be recycled indefinitely. Today most glass manufacturing relies on the use of crushed recycled post-consumer glass, which is melted down and made into new glass products.
Keeping the Outside Out
While the main concern with water bottles is that something from your bottle itself will find its way into your water, contaminants from the outside environment also have the potential to find their way into the bottle. As explored in this great blog post by Glasstic Water Bottles, this is yet another inherent benefit of glass. Far less permeable than plastics, glass won’t allow any unwanted flavors or chemicals into the water – meaning your drink always tastes just like what you put in it, not whatever weird funk it might have picked up from the outside world.
Glass fixes the problem of keeping the outside out while simultaneously letting you rest at ease knowing that with every sip from your bottle, you’re just drinking the water and not the bottle! Improvements in technology and manufacturing has even allowed companies like Glasstic to remove some of the fragility of glass, with products like their Shatterproof 16 Ounce Glass Water Bottle which, while it might not be quite as tough as stainless steel, is more than well suited to surviving everyday use.
Consider going glass on your next water bottle purchase! You might be surprised what a great decision it can be. If you need some suggestions on a great glass water bottle, check out our review of the ApaViata or the Glasstic! But should neither of those fit your style, Amazon has a vast selection to browse!
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Glass is the most environmentally friendly option for water bottles - we examine the reasons why glass is the healthiest option for your body and for the planet.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.