Are water bottles safe to re-use?

April 4, 2007 at 1:34 pm | Posted in All, Australia, Health, So You May Know, TV, Water | 8 Comments

Drink lots of water everyday; That’s what the doctors say
It helps you keep hydrated; Skin moistened, joints lubricated.
Drinking lots of water; Helps curb a bit of hunger
If you are in a diet; Less food more water will help lose weight
If enough water is in your body; You feel you have more energy
Perspiration will occur constantly; Even without strenous physical activity
So here’s to you oh water; For making me feel much better
You are a healing wonder; Cheers to you and your power.

We do need to drink water. And lots of it. For the lack of safe drinking water when we are out, we resort to bottled water. But what do we do when we need more? We re-fill the bottle. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who in one time or another re-use water bottles. I did on a lot of occasions. Isn’t it always handy to have a bottle of water somewhere where you can easily reach out and have a sip?

There was an episode of the show “What’s Good For you” in Channel 9 which I think is worth re-telling. It was about re-using water bottles.

The test was conducted to find out about the health risks of refilling water bottles.

Water bottles were taken to a lab for analysis. These were:

  • A two-day old ottle from an office
  • A two-day old bottle from a car
  • A bottle that has spent a whole week being re-filled
  • One that’s been topped up for two weeks
  • A shared water bottle
  • And a bottle that someone has been re-using for six months.

The results:

The two-day old bottle from an office was found to be safe though bacteria were already starting to build up. In low doses, it will not cause any problems. Other bottle samples showed more bacterial build-up. The more they were refilled and the longer they were used, the more bacteria have grown. Yaiks!

Now, the bottle that has been used for six months showed some green colour in it. Algae! The microbiologist can not tell how the algae got into the bottle. Under the microscope, the bottle was swarming with bacteria but fortunately, the algae were not toxic. She emphasised though that there are some pretty serious water-borne toxins around.

So how did the bacteria get into the water bottles? Probably from the cells in the mouth which dislodge easily, saliva. Also, some of the food can get back into the water bottle by way of backwash. Yes, backwash, the outward flow of liquid, in this case, water.

To prove the backwash, three persons were made to dye their mouths and drink from water bottles. Two drank normally with their mouths touching the bottles. One drank by pouring water into his mouth without the bottle touching his lips.

The bottles which had benn drunk from normally have dye colours in them. This howed that any contact with lips on the bottle causes some form of backwash to go in. Nothing has changed with the bottle that has not touched the lips of the drinker.

So to avoid backwash, don’t let the bottles touch your lips as you drink. But that’s only from one’s own mouth, what about from a shared bottle?

The results from the sample taken from a shared bottle revealed staphylococcus growing. Staphylococcus? Doesn’t that sound icky? It is.

From Medterms: Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that cause a multitude of diseases. Under a microscope, Staphylococcus bacteria are round and bunched together. They can cause illness directly by infection, or indirectly through products they make, such as toxins responsible for food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome. The best known member of the Staphylococcus family is Staphylococcus aureus.

From Healthline: Staphylococcus aureus is found on humans and in the environment in dust, air and sewage. The bacteria is spread primarily by food handlers using poor sanitary practices. Almost any food can be contaminated, but salad dressings, milk products, cream pastries, and any food kept at room temperature, rather than hot or cold are likely candidates.

There is a risk of picking up something nasty from using a shared bottle. Sharing bottle also means sharing germs.

So, will you be re-using water bottles? It’s not an absolute no-no to re-use bottles. The key is to wash it regularly with hot water and detergent and if possible store it in the fridge. Bacteria grow much faster in a warmer environment.

Me? I do re-use bottles but only for the same day I started using it. It goes to the recycle bin after that.




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  1. This was a good read, even though I already knew most of it from previous articles. It’s defintelyh good info to share with others! Using water bottles over and over… really is quite dangerous.

  2. wow this article was totally amazing i really didnt know much about it thanx God 4 this article it helped me so much in my science fair project


  4. I read your posts for a long time and should tell that your posts always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

  5. hi, my name is kiersten. i live in the united states. i am trying to find a good science fair project. i was going to try to prove if reusing water bottles is safe. i have hit many dead ends. i came across this site and have decided to change the project to backwash in water bottles and the pressence of bacteria. can i please have any other info that you have on tis topic and also the website were you first heard this. i will use you as a reference when wrting my bibliography. i would appreciate any help you can give. thank you so much!!!!!

  6. shakira from november 15 2008. if you get this. please contact me!!!!!!

  7. Hey there, good topic and good info. I like a few others who have previsously posted, am working on a science fair project and would like to please have any of the sources you used for my bibliography.

    -Many thanks!

  8. This was from a show in Channel 9 Australia. The website is but unfortunately I can not find the link to this particular episode. Try googling What’s Good for You in Google Australia.

    Good luck.


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