A Different Type of Wellness: Hot Water Bottles


Happy 2019! Here on this blog, we’re all about hydration and wellness. When it comes to both, smart water bottles are always a wise choice. We’ve also covered edible water bottles, stainless steel water bottles, and other options you can feel good about using since they don’t hurt our planet.

Today, we want to discuss a different type of wellness: the hot water bottle. You may have heard of hot water bottles before and maybe you even know someone who swears by them. If you’re curious about what these bottles are, what they’re made of, and if they’re safe to use, then read on, as this is the article for you.

What Are Hot Water Bottles?

Hot water bottles are nothing like the traditional water bottles we’ve covered on this blog thus far. Instead, these are rubber vessels with a stopper that’s meant to hold warm or hot water. While they’re often vaguely bottle-shaped, hot water bottles can be almost any shape.

Their use dates back to the 16th century, although hot water bottles in the form we use them today did not exist then. Instead, people would take fresh coals from a weakening fire and use them for warmth. Sounds painful, right?

People of the time thought so, too. That’s why, eventually, containers were created to hold hot water instead of hot coals. The bottles themselves would be constructed from wood, earthenware, glass, brass, copper, or zinc. None of those materials are super-safe, which is why the hot water bottles of the day required a cloth bag for use. That’s also why hot water bottles are no longer made from those materials.

What Are Hot Water Bottles Used for?

While in the 16th century, the earliest version of the hot water bottle was used to warm up an otherwise cold bed, that’s not always why they’re used today. These days, we have furnaces to keep our homes toasty as well as mattress pads that can make our beds warm. Of course, if you are indeed still cold, a hot water bottle might help.

In the 21st century, most people use hot water bottles for either pain or comfort. Here are several reasons you might reach for one of these bottles yourself.

  • Stomach Pain 

If you have stomach cramps caused from premenstrual syndrome, menstruation, diarrhea, nausea, or any other stomach malady, then fill up a hot water bottle. All you have to do is place the bottle on your stomach and lie down. With time, your stomach pain should be lessened or alleviated altogether.

  • Colon Cleanses

Applying a hot water bottle to the abdominal area as outlined above can also be used to perform a colon cleanse. Both your colon and your liver will benefit from this practice.

  • Plant Watering

Okay, this one might seem a little strange, but bear with us. After your hot water bottle goes cold, you could always use that lukewarm or cool water on any plants and flowers you have growing. Whether these plants are inside or out in your garden, they’ll appreciate being tended to. Just make sure you don’t pour hot water on them!

  • As an Ice Pack

Do you not have any ice packs handy but you’re suffering from aches and pains? No problem! Simply fill up your hot water bottle with lukewarm or cold water and stash it in the freezer for a few hours. You can then apply it to the affected area and soothe your pain away.

  • Headache Pain

Few things are worse than a headache. If you have one, do you typically raid your cabinets for an over-the-counter painkiller? Why not try treating your headache naturally with a hot water bottle instead? You might want to wrap the bottle in a cloth so the condensation doesn’t wet the side or front of your head.

Try this for a while and see if it treats your headache. You just might be surprised.

  • Back Pain

Whether it’s lower, mid, or upper back pain, a hot water bottle can be there for you. Heat may be able to treat muscle spasms and back cramps. If you have swelling and inflammation, then an ice pack is the best solution. Remember your hot water bottle can also double as an ice pack.

What Are These Bottles Made of?

We’ve talked a lot about what hot water bottles are and what they’re used for, but what about the material the bottles themselves are made of?

Rubber is the primary material used for hot water bottles. This dates way back to 1875, when India rubber or natural rubber was used to make the bottles. This rubber includes isoprene and polymers.

As you may recall, for a while there, hot water bottles were made of all sorts of materials, including wood and glass. Once Eduard Penkala patented rubber hot water bottles in 1903, PVC or natural rubber were pretty much the only materials used. That continues today.

Where Can You Find Hot Water Bottles?

If you’re interested in buying your own hot water bottles, you can find them just about anywhere and everywhere. Walgreen’s hot water bottles are one such option. You can also try similar pharmacy retailers or your favorite big-box stores.

Of course, if you want a hot water bottle on your doorstep in a day or two, you can try online retailers like Amazon or even eBay.

Know the best water bottle you can use: The Best Water Bottle.

Are They Safe for Long-Term Use?

If you use your hot water bottle properly, then there should be few if any safety risks to worry about. The keyword in the above sentence is “properly.” There are two downsides to hot water bottles that make them a little less frequently used these days. The first is that you’re filling up the hot water bottle with, well, hot water. You’re then putting the bottle on your body, sometimes even directly on the skin.

Most hot water bottles undergo strict regulations, especially regarding both the welding and the closing of the bottle. Other regulations cover the chemical components of the hot water bottle, ensuring that through short-term or long-term use the bottles won’t cause any ill effects.

Unfortunately, not every part of the world has regulations in place. Also, sometimes manufacturing issues occur. Both these matters could lead to problems with the hot water bottle you have in your home. For instance, most hot water bottles, before being sold, must pass a series of tests. These include fitness and strength tests. If the bottles fail the testing but are sold anyway, it’s possible for the hot water bottle to turn brittle or even break.

There are also some questions about the long-term use of natural rubber, especially if it has calcium carbonate in it. The polymers can break down if exposed to temperature highs over and over again. Considering that’s the entire purpose of a hot water bottle, this can be problematic. Not only that, but oxidation is a possibility as well.

If the bottle turns brittle and/or cracks, serious injury can occur. The hot water bottle will no longer be stable and may break further. If you are going to use a hot water bottle then, make sure you don’t pour boiling water inside. This could increase the chances of the bottle breaking since the rubber polymers cannot handle the very hot temperatures. Use hot water from your faucet only.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Using Hot Water Bottles?

Again, if you buy a high-quality hot water bottle and use it the right way, then there should be no risks.

The risks all come down to user error and manufacturer error. If your hot water bottle never went through the proper fitness and strength testing, then it might not be as durable as other hot water bottles that were tested. Likewise, if your bottle failed the tests, its quality becomes questionable. It shouldn’t be sold, even if it sometimes is anyway.

Overfilling the hot water bottle is a no-no. Although the stopper in the bottle is supposed to keep liquid from pouring out, if the bottle is overfilled, then the stopper might not work the way it should. That means you could have hot water leaks, which could cause burns and injuries.

The temperature of the water is also extremely important, as we discussed in the last section. You might think it’s a good idea to boil a pot of water to get the bottle truly hot so you’ll get some relief from your aches and pains. However, the water is actually too hot for natural rubber bottles, which can turn brittle or otherwise become unstable. The hot water bottle is likely to crack, leaving you with an armful of burning hot water. That will surely leave burns on your skin.

You could also burn yourself if the hot water bottle has direct contact with your skin for too long. Listen to your body and its pain signals. If the bottle feels uncomfortably hot against your skin, then remove it for a while. Take a break. If you feel like you still need some pain relief, then use the bottle for a few minutes and then take another break.

When your hot water bottle turns several years old, you might want to throw it away and buy a new one. Again, the natural rubber of the bottles can degrade in quality if heated up often enough. That means your bottle might not be as stable as you think.

If you have a full hot water bottle that you’re using, make sure you never sit on it, lean on it, or otherwise apply pressure to it. This could cause the stopper to fly open and the water to come seeping out, which again can be injurious to you.

Don’t be fooled; hot water bottles can cause significant injuries. Some burns are severe enough that skin graft surgery is needed to repair the damages. Therefore, it’s always best that you exercise extreme caution when using a hot water bottle.

Conclusion

Hot water bottles are not like the reusable water bottles you drink from. Instead, you fill these rubber vessels up with hot water and apply them to a painful area of the body.

Like anything with direct heat, it’s possible to burn yourself if you use your hot water bottle improperly. Always buy high-quality hot water bottles and cap them up tight so they don’t leak or spill.

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