Copper bottles have been used in Ayurveda for hundreds of years.
And why wouldn’t they? Drinking water from copper bottles is associated with a vast array of different health benefits. Even tiny amounts of copper water may provide you with a lot of health benefits.
Do you want to drink water that will be clean from microbes and bacteria? Well, copper is great at sanitizing water. This is one of the reasons so many people have used copper vessels for storing water in the past.
But a bottle is only going to be as good for us as clean and hygienic we can keep it.
And if you have owned any copperware, you may have noticed that it tends to darken and change its color, which may have caused you to have some questions about copper in general.
But don’t worry, even if you have never owned a copper water bottle and don’t know how to clean it here, we will go through all the necessary details.We will need to make some essential distinctions along the way because not all copper water bottles are created equal. The different copper water bottles may require you to adjust your cleaning process slightly. So without further ado here we go.
Is It Easy to Clean a Copper Water Bottle?
Maybe I got you a little worried, but I wanted to make sure you understand your copper bottle better.
Cleaning copper water bottles is easy. You need just a couple of very basic ingredients and a few minutes of your time. Copper water bottles stain and darken with time due to the natural processes of oxidation. The ingredients you need are readily and easily available in any kitchen.
The ease with which you will be able to clean your copper water bottle will also be determined by the size of the mouth your bottle has.
This is why a lot of people like using bottles with wide mouths because they are easier to clean and maintain. A bottle that has a larger opening can easily be cleaned with a brush, while the bottles with smaller mouths may be very tricky to clean.
Keep in mind that, unlike glass water bottles, you will not be able to have a clear view of how well you have cleaned the inside of your copper water bottle. Combining that with a small opening, you may find yourself having a hard time knowing how clean your bottle actually is.
The Three Types of Copper Water Bottles
Now, before we move on, we need to make two important distinctions.
1. Copper Water Bottles with Protective (Lacquer) Lining
Some copper water bottles can have a layer of protective lining, epoxy, or lacquer coating inside the bottle.
This lining is protecting and stopping the water from interacting with the copper. As a result, no amount of copper should be able to leach into your water.
Although that way, you cannot benefit from the healthy aspects copper can provide you with, this also means that the water will not have any metallic aftertaste.
In other words, you are giving up the health benefits for a cleaner tasting water.
And that’s perfectly okay, but there is an important caveat when it comes to cleaning these bottles.
You need to be careful not to damage or break that protective epoxy as this will lead to copper and potentially other chemicals leaching into your drink.
You will stumble upon the same thing if you want to clean an aluminum water bottle, as it, too, has a protective layer inside.
Let me give you a quick example in the face of aluminum water bottles. Since aluminum is also reactive metal and more dangerous health-wise, it needs to have a similar protective lining inside the bottle.
However, this protective lining has been found to contain harmful chemicals like BPA, which is a well-known carcinogen.
So this is going to be the only caveat here.
If you happen to have a bottle that has such lacquer lining, you should not use the cleaning methods I have listed below. To clean them, use warm water and some light detergent.
As a general rule of thumb, such copper water bottles should be avoided.
2. Copper Water Bottles from 100% Pure Copper
The really high-quality copper bottles often will contain nothing but pure copper. In other words, they will be manufactured from 100% copper. The only thing that you may have on your bottle, which is not made from copper, will be the O-ring, which insulates the lid.
Additionally, there will be no protective lining inside the bottle.
Here’s why – to get all the benefits of drinking copper water, the water needs to be able to get in contact with the copper.
This is why many manufacturers moved on to remove any protective lining inside the bottle.
That is the only way the water will be able to absorb some of the copper ions, which are the reason why copper water is considered so healthy.
When you clean a copper water bottle that has no protective lining, you don’t have to worry about damaging the epoxy. Simply because there isn’t any, right?
3. Copper plated water bottles
And lastly, make sure you have a 100% pure copper water bottle and not a copper-plated one.
If you try cleaning a copper-plated bottle using the methods below, you may end up damaging and ruining the copper surface of your bottle.
An excellent and easy way to test that is by using a magnet. Place the magnet on the bottle if it sticks to the bottle then this is a copper-plated bottle.
If you want to clean a copper-plated water bottle, use warm water and some light detergent. To bring out the shine of the bottle, you may apply some copper polish.
How to Clean the Inside of a Water Bottle?
The inside of the water bottle is where you will be storing your water and beverages.
Because of that, this is one of the first places we need to make sure we keep clean and sanitized correctly. But we also need to be very careful about how we do that. Here’s why.
It doesn’t take much for bacteria to grow in our water bottles. You need warmth, humidity, and add to the mix a few little nutrients in the form of saliva or food, and you have the perfect environment to grow your very own micro-organisms.
Usually, copper water bottles have a screw top. And one study which focused on the number of germs found on the different water bottles discovered that screw-top water bottles could have about 159,060 CFU (colony-forming units of bacteria). The worst performers were the slide-top water bottles with more than 900,000 CFU. (1)
1. Vinegar and Salt
The first and most common method is to use vinegar and salt. Here’s what you need:
- Two tablespoons of vinegar;
- One tablespoon of salt; and
- One 8-oz cup of water;
Mix the vinegar and salt with the water. Pour the mixture in the copper water bottle, close the lid tightly and give it a good little shake. After a few minutes, pour out the mixture and rinse your copper water bottle with clean water.
You can repeat that process a few times if you want.
When you are ready, dry the bottle with a piece of cloth.
2. Baking Soda and Lemon
Another very popular method for cleaning the inside of a copper water bottle is by mixing baking soda and lemon (or vinegar again). What you will need is:
- Two tablespoons of lemon (or vinegar);
- One tablespoon of baking soda; and
- One 8-oz cup of water;
Again follow the same steps as mentioned above.
Mix the ingredients in a cup of water and pour it inside the bottle and give it a good and thorough shake. When ready, rinse, and repeat if necessary.
Use a towel to dry the inside of the bottle as much as possible.
How to Clean the Outside of the Copper Bottle?
The outside of the copper water bottle is going to be one of the first places that will get very dirty very quickly. Also, the outside of the copper water bottle is the most prone to oxidation and darkening. It doesn’t take much time for your once shiny and stylish copper water bottle to start looking a bit grim and scary.
Additionally, our hands will come in contact with a lot of objects during the day. All of these can and most likely will contaminate our hands with different kinds of bacteria and microorganisms, which we will then transfer to the outside walls of our copper water bottle.
For example, something that we all use every day is money. Money is one of the dirtiest things we can come in contact with. Quite literally. (2)
Thus cleaning the outside of the water bottle is something that you need to do on a daily basis or at least as often as you possibly can in order to maintain proper hygiene.
Lemon and Salt
The most popular method to clean the outside of the copper bottles is by using lemon and salt.
You will need:
- One bowl;
- One fresh lemon; and
- One or two tablespoons of salt;
And this is all you need.
To clean a copper water bottle, you need a source of some weak acid. Usually, the majority of people use lemon, lime, or vinegar.
The salt will work as a scrubber, while the acidity from the lemon water will help to remove the tarnish and oxidation.
Place the salt in the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and dip it in the salt. You can also squeeze some lemon juice in the salt and mix it until you have a homogeneous paste-like mixture;
Proceed to rub and scrub the copper water bottle with the lemon; Alternatively, you can scoop a little of the salt and lemon juice mixture with a kitchen sponge;
Try squeezing the lemon to have some of the lemon juice flow over the water bottle;
Make sure to clean the bottle thoroughly that way;
Rinse with warm water and make sure to dry the bottle with a paper towel or a regular towel.
How to clean the lid of the copper bottle?
Now that we have covered the inside and the outside of the bottle. I want to focus your attention on the lid of your copper water bottle. Here’s why.
The lid is often one of the areas – regardless of what type of water bottle you have – that gets frequently neglected.
The majority of people always make sure to clean the inside of the bottle since this is where the water is stored. But I want to teach you better.
The lid is also part of that container that stores your water, and the water gets in contact with the lid on a constant basis.
Additionally, there is another reason why you should be cleaning your lid. The lid gets in contact with the mouth of the bottle, which is where you will place your lips while drinking it.
This is going to make the bottle’s mouth a potentially very dangerous place where germs and bacteria can grow and multiply. And as we saw earlier, we may be looking at hundreds of thousands of bacteria and germs.
I would argue that keeping the lid clean can be as important, if not more, as the rest of the bottle is.
And to make matters worse, the lid is also one of the hardest places to clean.
The reason for that is because of the tiny spaces, knurling, and the threads which provide a great, safe, and damp environment for bacteria, mold, and microbes to multiply and thrive.
Again the ingredients are going to be easily found in any kitchen, and you don’t need any expensive tools to clean the lid of your copper water bottle properly.
What you will need:
- One bowl;
- Baking soda;
- One or two Q-tips;
- Lemon juice;
How to clean the lid of your copper water bottle:
- Start by filling up a bowl with hot water;
- Add one or two tablespoons of baking soda to the warm water;
- Place the lid in the bowl and leave it to soak for at least two hours;
- Remove the lid from the bowl and wash it with some water and soap;
- Use a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to reach those hard to reach places and threads inside the lid.
- Continue and use a mixture of lemon juice and salt to polish the copper lid to remove the oxidation;
- Finally, rinse it with warm water, use a paper towel to dry the lid.
When you are cleaning the lid, make sure to disassemble any O-rings that there may be in the lid and everything else which can be removed and clean each thing individually.
How Does Copper Oxidation Work?
Pure copper water bottles that have no protective lining on the inside or the outside will change their color and turn black and eventually green.
This may be a bit of a turn off for a lot of people as their once clean and shiny amber looking copper bottle now looks just dirty and a little weird.
Is It Normal for the Copper to Oxidize?
Copper oxidation is an entirely normal and natural process. Every object made from copper oxidizes. Just take a look at the statue of liberty. It is made of copper, and this is why it is so green.
A copper bottle will oxidize quicker after washing if you don’t dry it. If you wash or use your copper bottle frequently and you leave it wet, it will discolor and oxidize very quickly.
The rate of oxidation and discoloration will depend on the contact of the metal with the air.
What this means is the outside of the copper bottle will oxidize much quicker compared to the inside of the bottle.
This happens because when you keep the lid on, the inside of the bottle gets in contact with air at much lower rates compared to the outside of it.
So it is also normal to witness oxidation of the copper at different rates.
Is Drinking From an Oxidized Copper Water Bottle Safe?
One of the biggest concerns people have with copper water bottles is how safe is drinking from them.
Of course, they have been recommended and used in Ayurveda for hundreds of years, but the question remains, and it is a valid question.
The main concern is regarding the copper ions, which will leach into the water. According to the scientists, the amounts of copper that will leach into the water are well within the health requirements and guidelines of the World Health Organization.
On the other side, people that may already have high levels of copper in their system may find that a bit concerning. Copper toxicity may be a hard thing to achieve, but it can happen nonetheless.
This is why it is not recommended to keep certain foods, drinks, and beverages inside a copper vessel. Namely, acidic foods and liquids, for example, lemon juice, orange juice, vinegar.
They react with the copper leading to high amounts of copper to be released. This is why lemon is so good at cleaning copper.
Interestingly enough, there is a surprising lack of information online about how safe it is to drink from an oxidized copper bottle. However, I would say that it is probably not recommended at all as it may potentially lead to even higher exposure to copper ions.
So, it is best to keep your water bottle clean from any discoloration and oxidation spots. And if you don’t have the time to clean it today, just use another bottle for a while, it will be much better than potentially exposing yourself to high levels of copper.
How to Clean Badly Oxidized Copper Water Bottles?
If you have left your copper water bottle unattended for a while, it may get severely oxidized and tarnished. As you already know, this is normal. But is a bottle that has stayed like this for an extended period of time safe and can you clean it?
Fortunately, the answer is yes, just because it has been severely tarnished; this doesn’t change the basics of the bottle. The green build-up is tarnish, and it doesn’t affect the quality and durability of the copper bottle (this is something unique to copper).
The cleaning process is going to be very similar like before.
Create a paste-like substance from salt and lemon juice (or vinegar).
However, this time, you may want to apply the paste to the copper bottle and leave it like that for a quarter of an hour before using a kitchen sponge to rub it.
You may need to apply more pressure to the bottle in order to clean it properly.
If the copper bottle is in a really bad condition, you may need to use a copper polish like this one on Amazon.So this can be very beneficial in maintaining proper hygiene levels. However, despite these qualities, I would recommend washing your copper water bottle on a daily basis. Make sure to always dry it after cleaning it in order to minimize the oxidation.
Can I Wash My Copper Water Bottle in the Dishwasher?
Undoubtedly one of the easiest ways to clean your copper water bottle is by placing it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Right? Well, it depends.
More frequently than not, a copper bottle is not recommended for use in the dishwasher.
The way dishwashers work is by using high-pressure and high-temperature water torrents, which can be very harsh on the surface of your copper water bottle.
This can lead to your copper water bottle to dull. So it is better to avoid the dishwasher. Also, a dishwasher may not be very good at removing the oxidation and polishing your copper bottle to bring out its shine.
Is It Safe to Wash Your Copper Bottle by Hand?
Since placing the copper water bottle in the dishwasher may be out of the question, we are left with cleaning it by hand.
It is completely safe to do so.
In fact, there is one huge advantage here. For starters, you don’t really need to own a dishwasher. Secondly, cleaning the copper water bottle is going to be a lot faster that way.
However, as we have explored in this article, you may need to use slightly acidic substances like vinegar, lemon juice, etc. You may also need to use warm or hot water.
Depending on how sensitive your skin is, this may leave you with very dry skin.
So it is recommended to use rubber gloves if you have some laying around to give your skin some extra protection.
You may also want to get yourself a suitable water bottle cleaning brush.
How often should you wash copper water bottles?
As we have seen, bottles can provide for the right environment where bacteria, mold, and germs can grow (especially around the mouthpiece and the lid).
In fact, it doesn’t take much for the bacteria to establish itself and start growing. This can happen within hours.
If you are adding different fruits like cucumber, for example, this may even speed up the whole process.
What experts recommend for the standard reusable water bottle is to wash them after each use. They say that you can use very hot water between 131 and 159 degrees Fahrenheit. And in addition to that, you can use soap and some cloth or sponge. After you are done with cleaning the bottle, make sure to dry it. (3)
Interesting enough, copper water bottles have been found to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. So the copper may actually be used for water purification. (4)