BOTTLED WATER HISTORY & CONTAINERS

To see the range of bottles and containers we can offer at this time move to our Products & Services page HERE  

We are flexible with the range of water containers we can source and supply - and of course you may use your own existing container as well.

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Originally, in earlier human times, some water was 'bottled' in stitched bladders of dead animals, and animal horns and in plant shells like gourds and coconuts.  Then wicker baskets with clay or mud linings were adopted for water carriage.  Some water containers were made of clay/pottery-porcelain  --- and with that material the water was able to breath.  

It was around 5000 BC that crude forms of pottery were used for water bottling. These were lightly fired, to seal the clay. These low fired earthenware were able to keep stored water cool and clean, but water still leached into the low fired clay.

By 2000 BC earthenware was to material of choice for storing and carrying water.  Clay was by now fire to higher temperatures and the shining covering to the earthenware created what we call porcelain pots and stoneware jars or urns. Such water carriers are depicted in Egyptian statues and drawings. By 2000 BC a form of glass was created with glazed high temperature fired systems.

By 1600 BC a form of glass was molded into beakers and crude bottles. By 1st Century AD glassblowing was introduced and this revolutionised the glass making industry. With the later collapse of the Roman Empire, progress in glass making stalled.

It was around the 15th and 16th Century (middle ages) that glass making again had a renaissance. By this time glass became popular as the material to make bottles for some wine and for the newly discovered ‘medicinal’ gin.

Dip molding then became a new innovation, and this allowed for a revolution in bottle making, lowering the cost of bottles. Water and wine in bottles increased, including medicinal water from mineral springs.

Here is an example of an early New Zealand water container.

THE OLD MAORI WATER BOTTLES

In the earlier days, when people had no pottery, they grew gourds to use as containers—to keep water in and wild honey and also other foods.

Often Maori used carved wooden bowls too, and baskets of totara bark or flax. But they valued gourds very much, and went to a great deal of trouble to grow them well.

Legends say that the gourd plant was one of the earliest to be introduced to New Zealand, since its seeds were so easy to carry, easier than the tubers of the taro and kumara, for instance. It is said that Ngati Toi were the first people to cultivate it; according to one story, they were given the gourd by a god called Pu-te-hue.

Pu-te-hue was one of the offspring of Tane, the Fertiliser of all of the productions of the earth. Pu-te-hue is, at the same time, the personification of the gourd, and one of the names by which it is called; he said, as he gave himself to the people, that ‘the seeds within me shall provide water vessels for my descendants’.

Gourd seeds were always planted on the 16th or Turu, and 17th or Rakau-nui, days of the moon's age, that is to say just after the full moon. There was a ritual which had to be performed at the planting, so that the gourds would grow well.

The planter faced towards the east, with a seed in either hand. Then he raised his arms in a big circle in the air, moving them in the shape into which he wished the gourds to grow; after this he placed the seeds in their hole. 

HISTORY OF BOTTLING DRINKING WATER & BOTTLE TYPES

After air/oxygen, water is the second most necessary commodity to staying alive.

Water is also part oxygen (H2O).

Today in USA, bottled water sales each year exceed usd5 billion p a.

History teaches us that human civilizations have risen and fallen due to close-by availability of healthy drinking water. The Romans are said to have declined, in part due to lead toxification of their bodies, and this was in part due to them lining their water bottles/containers/pipes with lead substances which leached into drinking water.

The human civilisation of today might be likewise heading for similar water/water bottle catastrophe, with the additives in many water supplies and some plastic bottles/pipes, potentially causing widespread infertility of the human population.

Water for drinking has been bottled and distributed for 1000’s of years. These early systems did not all allow for longevity of water storage, as with some early containers micro-organisms, which could damage the human health balance, thrived in some of those earlier water containers. 

In Europe bottling of water began much before it did in USA. 1767 saw the first recorded USA water bottling at Boston’s Jackson’s Spa. 1820 saw the water of Saratoga Springs in New York, USA bottled for re-sale. It was variously was called Saratoga Sprouting Spring and Natural Mineral water and Glacier Sprouting Spring. By 1856, 7 million bottles per annum were produced at Saratoga Springs, as glass bottles were manufactured near the spring.

1825 A chemist in Philadelphia, USA began seriously bottling water for re-sale.

Around 1876 the Poland Spring water in Maine, USA, began and it successfully used a glass bottle made/shaped to look like Moses, as its primary water bottle.

Around 1890-1900 glass bottle making came of age, with the introduction of glass blowing machines.

BUT around 1913, when chlorination of city water supplies was introduced in USA (first in USA at Philadelphia around September 1913), the total water bottling business went into a sharp decline, and nearly disappeared in USA altogether. It clung on primarily as a deliverer of large 5 gallon/18litre glass bottles, mainly to businesses and factories and shops (for their staff), and to isolated farms.

So in the years closely following 1913, at least in USA and those countries influenced by USA, chlorinated tap water became the accepted STYLE for daily drinking water.

By the 1940’s in USA the population at large virtually worshipped the new city chlorinated water, and it became the primary source for drinking waters in USA. In Europe bottle mineral water remained a major player, as it served an additional purpose, namely as a nourishment through mineral supplementation and for health and medicinal purposes.

By 1960’s the tide began to turn in USA, with rumblings of dissatisfaction with tap water. Both the positive ‘aura’ and propaganda of chlorination had faded with time, and the odour of chlorine began to be rejected as being less than desirable in every day drinking water. In addition a minority of people became concerned about the sources for municipal tap water, including with sewerage and industrial waste being dumped into rivers from which the drinking water for cites was being sourced.

By the 1970’s an environmental movement had grown in USA and along with it more serious concerns about drinking water from taps. Doubts about the health aspect of consuming chlorine and other chemical additives and water pipe residue from tap drinking water became more widely verbalized. People in USA started to seek out bottled drinking water as a healthier alternative.

So by the 1970’s chlorinated tap water began to go OUT OF STYLE, and by year 2000 more and more USA consumers considered drinking chlorinated tap water to be untenable. They would still use the poison of chlorine to purify swimming pools, but by now not drink the swimming pool water.

Around 1977 EU bottled water company Perrier launched a usd 5 million advertising campaign in USA, and the timing was right on, given the underlying discontent with chlorinated tap water, and this re-ignited the bottled water business in USA.

The pollution and poor quality of tap water became a more open topic of conversation, and the distinctive green coloured Perrier water bottle became ‘cool’. It became sophisticated to drink this bottled water.

Since 1980, with these lifestyle changesand the Perrier advertising push, the bottled water business in USA for many water bottlers once again blossomed.  By now, more and more consumers began to prefer the predictable and natural chemical analysis stated on bottles of spring water.

By example, in 1960 sales of bottled water in USA were annually less than usd 50 million.

By 2000 sales of bottled water in USA were annually more than usd 5 billion.  But also by now some large water bottlers and sale groups (like Coca Cola in USA) were bottling filtered or purified tap water, and consumers seemed to begin to lose (or be confused) some of their prior differentiation about spring-mineral waters and filtered or purified tap waters. By now, plastic had become the main material for making bottles and pipes for carrying water, and the plastic became another stimulant for the growing bottle water revolution and growth. 

Why is Bottled Water on the Rise as a Source of Drinking Water?

Bottled water is far dearer that tap water, of that there is no dispute.

In New York, USA, the city tap water is sourced from the Caskills Mountains, and is regarded as good quality drinking water, but in New York bottled water sales are as high as in other USA States, where tap water is of a far lower quality. Why?

Here is a summary of reasons why some writers suggest people prefer today to buy bottled water for drinking:

1.        A better health perception with bottled water, whether it is true or not.

2.       Style. Perrier, via massive advertising in USA, made bottled water elegant and trendy and stylish. Today huge corporates like Nestle, Coke, Pepsi and Danone in USA and Europe and elsewhere spend much on marketing their bottled waters. Recently they have purchased many of the leading worldwide bottled water brands. People also in some cases prefer water in stylish bottles or containers.

3.       Culture.  We have inherited a genetic and social cultural reverence for water, and this means the search for naturally pure water is ingrained deeply into the human psyche.

4.       Clean. People usually like to see the clarity and cleanliness of water they drink, either in clear bottles or clear glasses. People do not like to think the pipes in which their water has traveled in to their homes might have in them heavy metal contaminants, especially if they are old metal pipes. The fall of the Roman Empire was in part due to the lead in water carrying vessels used in that time.

5.       Taste and smell. Chlorine and some other municipal systems and additives to tap water can cause some water to have an unpleasant taste. Also some water sources used by some municipal authorities take water from river or underground sources which have unpleasant tastes. An example is the water used in taps in Florida, which is a water aquifer source inclusive of natural hydrogen sulfate, and that tap water can have a sight taste of rotten eggs. Another USA city used a major ozone plant to purify its city-tap water supply, but that system was forced to be stopped and withdrawn after many complaints of the unpleasantozone taste in that city’s water.

6.       Treated sewerage recycled. Several cities (e.g. Auckland, NZ) now have as tap water sources, water from rivers or reservoirs which include treated sewerage. Many people for obvious reasons object to this being the source of their drinking water.

7.       Water is an important part of human society, and it makes up over 70% of us humans, and is a food/nutrition source and a hydrator of our very cells. For this reason cost of water seems not quite as relevant as perceived quality, at least for those consumers who can afford to pay for bottled water.

GLOBAL BOTTLED WATER SALES CONTINUE TO INCREASE

The global bottled water sales have also increased dramatically over the past several decades, reaching a valuation of around usd60 billion and a volume of more than 115,000,000 cubic metres (3.0×1010 US gal) in 2006.

USA volume sales reached around 34 billion liters in 2008. By one estimate, this approximated about 50 billion bottles of water being consumed in 2008 in the U.S. Around 200 billion bottles of water as said to be now consumed globally. The global rate of bottled water consumption has more than quadrupled between 1990 and 2005.

Spring water and purified tap water are currently the leading global sellers.

65% of the worlds natural (non sea water) water resources are located in just 10 countries (refer Peters Projection Water Map on page 339 of text ‘Life’s Matrix’ by Philip Ball). Actions during the Industrial Revolution polluted much of earth’s surface waters.  As a consequence, water rich countries can now view quality drinking water as an internationally marketable commodity (p 360 Life’s Matrix).

About 98% of rain water falling on earth eventually runs into streams and rivers and returns to the sea. On the way it usually collects sediment, organic matter, microorganisms, pollutants, human and industrial and farm waste and run offs AND it becomes dirty. A very small % of rain water moves underground to,  become groundwater. Most of this joins underground rivers and other subterranean systems and eventually makes its way (like surface water) to the sea.

Only a minute minority of rain water is applied by nature to re-charge underground water aquifers. Water in aquifers usually moves very slowly, sometimes only a foot a year. This slow movement of such water allows for natural filtration and cleaning of water. When such water moves back to the earth surface it is usually collecting colloidal traces of minerals (e.g. silica) from the rocks it encounters, thus providing the mineral food/nutrition element of good spring waters.

Spring waters are usually free of objectionable particulate and organic matters. Most parasites cannot live in the spring water which has a reasonable speed of movement to the surface of the earth (e.g. water from an artesian source, which is pressurised to the earth's surface).

Between 1950 and 1990 global water use tripled. By 1996 it was estimated we were, as humans, using half of all available water run-off from land. If water use worldwide doubles over the next 35 years, as some predict, then all tap water might well have run dry. 

PLASTIC BOTTLES

In the United States, plastic used to create bottles, by around 2008, used an estimated 15 million barrels of oil annually.

The use of plastic for making bottles for water, nonetheless, has added to the 1990 to 2010 resurgence of sales of bottled water. The main reasons are the cheaper cost of making plastic bottles, the lighter weight of plastic to glass and the fact plastic when broken does not fragment into many shattered pieces of glass.

The first plastic, a precursor to PVC, was called ‘vinyl chloride’, and it later became known to be a carcinogen.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) was first identified around 1838. PVC, when used for bottled water containers, tended to give a slight plastic taste to water.

Around 1868 the ivory billiard balls were progressively replaced by plastic billiard balls.

Around 1920’s a Russian researcher investigated the substitution of rubber with PVC.

Around 1929 Polystyrene was created.

Around 1939 Polyethylene was created.

Later a higher density polyethelyene was created known as HDPE, and this was used as containers for bottled water. HDPE tends to be opaque, and many buyers prefer to see their water, so it has not become a major material used in water bottling. Some say containers and pipes made of polyethelyene can also convey a plastic taste to water.

Around 1952 Polycarbonate was created by a scientist at General Electric, USA. It became a heavier plastic, more expensive and generally not suitable for smaller water bottles. It became a standard material for the 20 litre plastic water containers. It generally contained the alleged pollutant BPA.

Up to and around 1960 most large water bottles (5 US gal=about 19litres) were made of glass with cork caps. An empty glass 5 US gal container  weighed about 20 lbs.

During the 1960’s plastic caps were replacing cork caps on glass bottles.

Around 1968 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) was created by a scientist at DuPont, USA. PET became very light and clear and flexible, but perhaps still a risk of leaching synthetic chemicals into water.

By the 1970’s many larger water bottle containers (e.g. 5 gals) were converted from the traditional glass to polycarbonate. This in effect led a revolution, by increasing sales of bottled water in larger containers.

In the 1970’s-80’s further developments to plastics led to some of them becoming sturdier, yet more flexible and of lighter weight and cheaper to make.

Some of the additives used or applied to these new plastics, later were identified to be able to leach into water or other liquids contained in the plastic containers. Phthalates made plastics more flexible, but some of these were later identified to leach into the liquid contained in such plastic containers. It was not until the book titled ‘Our Stole Future’ by Theo Colburn (published in 1996), that the real dangers and risk of drinking leached phthalates become available to a wider consumers base. Some older plastics were also suspect to leaching chemical or compounds into water contained in them.

By end 1980’s Polycarbonate and HDPE became the containers of choice for larger 10L and 20L water containers. PVC was one of main plastics then used in smaller water bottles. Polypropolene, another popular plastic was used, but not so much for water bottles.

Investigations into leaching pollutants to the liquid in these ‘wonderful’ plastic containers were not really seriously listened to until the late 1990’s. A bit like chlorination of water before, plastics had a period of their hay day, when nothing said would detract for their positive status and magic.

By 2000 PET had replaced those popular 1980’s plastics for water bottles, but polycarbonate still maintained its edge for the larger 10L+ plastic water containers.

The advantages/disadvantages of various plastics can be summarised as follows:

PVC:  can transfer plastic taste to water. When talking with a water pump exert in Pukekohe in Ocotber 2011, he stated that he recommended PVC plastic pipes for water carriage, saying this is what many municipal water companies now use, due to Polyethelene pipes passing a plastic taste to water more readily that PVC plastic pipes?

HDPE: opaque, not clear plastic. Many bottled water buyer seeks to see clarity of the water. Conversely the water prefers to be kept out of sunlight.

Polycarbonate: heavier and more expensive that other plastics, but strong for 20 litre containers, and lighter than glass and does not shatter on impact. Can split. BPA, generally used in the manufacture of polycarbonate, may leach from these containers. An overseas Consumer Report in 2000 revealed tests on 10 different large polycarbonate plastic water containers. 8 of the 10 were confirmed to have low levels of BPA in the water contained in those polycarbonate bottles. That Consumer Report then issued a warning cautioning pregnant women from drinking water contained in bottles made of polycarbonate, due to the potential for BPA to be leached into the water and due to the reported studies showing BPA could be an endocrine block or disrupter and/or an estrogen mimic in humans, including then potentially seriously interfering with the foetus in pregnant women. In some different studies on males, it was shown very small quantities of BPA could enlarge the male prostate gland.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): no plastic taste to water and extremely thin and light weight and very clear plastic. Based on the name of these bottles, we need to check if phthalates leach from these bottles.

Pollutant phthalates are sometimes added to PVC and some other plastics to make the finished product more flexible. Leaching of phthalates can happen when such containers or pipes are subjected to cold or hot temperature variations. Phthalates can also be dangerous as estrogen mimics in humans.

By 1997 the world market shares of various bottle types were approximately:

50% PET

25% Glass

15% Polycarbonate and HDPE

10% PVC

By 2005 the world market shares of various bottle types were approximately:

70% PET

20% Glass

10%  Other plastics, primarily Polycarbonate for 10-20 litre containers

          and HDPE. PVC, by this time, virtually unused for bottled water.

A major challenge is that MOST CONSUMERS SEEK TO KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE PLASTIC BOTTLES OR EVEN THE BOTTLED WATER THEY BUY.

Replacing petro-chemical-based plastics with plant-based alternatives is a growing area of research.

One popular form of plant-derived plastic is Poly (lactic) acid, or PLA, a type of biodegradable plastic that is currently used to make bottles, bags and is woven into fibers to make clothes in place of polyester. Although PLA has similar mechanical properties to PETE polymer, it has significantly lower heat-resistance, which limits its uses. Researchers are now developing a new chemical catalyst to improve the properties of PLA, making it stronger and more heat-resistant so it can be used for a wider range of applications.

PLA is made from renewable plant sources such as corn starch, wheat or sugarcane, and although its been known of for more than a century, it has only gained commercial interest recently due to its biodegradability. In an effort to extends the range of uses for PLA to include applications such as engineering plastics for the automotive industry, microwavable trays and hot drink cups, scientists from the University of Bath and Tel Aviv University are developing a new chemical catalyst to improve the process of making these plastics

As Professor Matthew Davidson, Whorrod Professor of Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath and Director of the University’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, explains:

“PLA can be made up of two types of building blocks that are mirror-images of each other. Using the current technology, when the plastic is made with both types present they are jumbled together within the structure of the plastic.”

The joint British-Israeli project new project is looking to improve the properties of PLA by developing a selective catalyst that will build up a polymer of ‘left-handed’ and ‘right-handed’ building blocks in a structured order, making the resultant plastic stronger and more heat-resistant. The team says such catalysts are the key to providing renewable and biodegradable plastics that will help reduce society’s reliance on oil.

Wikipedia has much about the differing biodegradable plant derived plastics. Refer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioplastic

It seems plant derived plastic lookalikes are not suitable at this time for the heavier 10 to 20 litre water containers.


““ There is no such thing as security.

It is a man-made illusion.

Life is either enormous risk, or it is nothing at all.”

— Helen Keller (she became deaf and blind at age of 19 months)