The water bottle. All of us use it, whether it’s in the house or on a long car trip to see friends or family, the water bottle has incorporated itself in the lives of so many. Now we would define the water bottle as a plastic container with a narrow neck to provide ease of drinking, however this was not always the case. For the purpose of this article, I would define that the water bottle as a vessel for handheld water, as we explore the evolution of this vessel to reach the plastic container with all the narrow neck.
Perhaps one of the first water vessels were gourds. Gourds are part of the cucurbitaceous family, which includes melons, pumpkins and cucumbers. These gourds are known as calabash or”bottle gourd” and when dried were effective at water storage or being used as a utensil or pipe.
Sometime around 5000 BC, the Chinese were among the first to discover how to successfully transport large amounts of water through the use of potted jars. As these are typically not the”handheld vessel for water” these large jars were typically carried by hand for long distances since the early china chariot did not appear until 1200 BC. Drinking of the water was performed via pouring into a pottery cup or bowl.
Moving forward to 3000 BC, a more practical method of transporting handheld water in a container was derived by the Ancient Assyrians. While this method was initially utilized to make floatation devices, it wasn’t long then water was held with this method. The way of doing so was to make use of the bladder of an animal, commonly from a cow or sheep. Today this vessel is referred to as the water skin, despite no”skin” being evident from the vessel itself.
By 1500 BC, the first hollow glass container was produced by the Romans by covering a core of sand using molten glass. However, it wasn’t until the first century BC, that glass blowing became more prevalent use in creating vessels for water. Even so, at the moment, the glass was discoloured due to the sheer number of impurities when producing the glass that it was not until the first century AD the glass blowers found ways to remove the impurities and make glass that was apparent and not discoloured. Today glass is still very popular commercially, and additives are added to provide color in many glass products.
From there on, glass has been the principal material used for drinking vessels, until early to mid-1900s if canteens were utilized for the military, primarily constructed with steel or aluminium. These canteens were found to be poor in design and could readily leak when dented which was rather common in the army. These bottles were among the first commercially used with screw caps rather or stoppers or corks.
This eventually leads us into the plastic bottle, being manufactured for commercial use in 1947 and continues to dominate the preferred vessel for water, whether it be large or small.