Reusable water bottles are popping up all over the place these days.   At the GoGreen Festival in New York City I saw one stainless steel bottle for $27, but at local grocery stores I’ve seen metal bottles for just $10.   So what’s the difference? 

First, what it’s made of.  When you’re buying a metal bottle, make sure it’s made of non-leaching materials.  If the bottle is made of aluminum, it has to be lined because aluminum is reactive and it can leach into your drink.   Then you need to be sure the lining is made of a non-leaching material, like enamel or ceramic – not epoxy.  Easier yet, just stick with a stainless steel bottle because stainless steel doesn’t leach and doesn’t need to be lined.  Make sure it is made of food-grade stainless steel, such as type 304.  Find out if the company selling the bottles has done the proper FDA testing to ensure the safety of the material in the cap as well. 

Second, consider the thickness of the metal.  Most bottles on the market are super thin and lightweight.   Look for a slightly heavier bottle that has thicker walls.  It will still be very light, but it will be more durable because it will dent less easily if dropped on a hard surface.  

Thirdly, consider whether it is leak-proof.  The last thing you want is a bottle that leaks in your backpack, briefcase, or purse.   In general, you can tell if a cap is cheap and flimsy by looking at it and operating it, although you won’t know for sure until you fill it with water and shake it upside down vigorously. 

Fourth, you want to be sure that any painted decoration is lead-free and durable so that it’s safe and long lasting.  If it’s printed in the USA, it’s likely to be safe.  If the bottle is described as dishwasher safe, the paint is probably pretty durable. 

It turns out there is a significant difference between cheap, low quality bottles and better quality water bottles.  In the long run, a reusable bottle can save you hundreds of dollars so why scrimp and end up with an inferior bottle that you won’t use, just to save a few bucks in the short term?