How to Choose Healthy Water Bottle – 34 Resources

phthalates, polyethylene, polycorbonate, bisphenol A

What are these and what do they have to do with my water bottle? I’ll admit, though I’m green, I’m not the greenest of travelers. And sometimes when people start talking to me about toxins, and thates and thyles, I cringe and tune out. I mean, isn’t some of this just hype? Yes, some of it is just hype, but when it comes to my personal health, I’m more likely to listen. And I think you will too. And because I’m afraid you might stop reading, I’m going to give you the bottom line right away:

How to Choose Healthy Water Bottle – 34 Resources

The Safest Healthy Water Bottle: Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Healthy Water Bottle, Here is an overview of different water bottles detailing which are safe and which aren’t:

Water Bottles Graphic, Bottom Line

Healthy Water Bottle

Now if you’re like many hikers, backpackers, and cool kids, you might be saying “What! I can’t use my Nalgene anymore?! I’ve been carrying my Nalgene since high school!!” (I have.) Don’t worry – there are alternatives.

So here’s the rundown on water bottles – I’ll lay out the common materials used in water bottles, the key things you should know about each, and additional sources of information. You are left to your own best judgment as to what action you take. My choice was easy since I based it completely on my (and my family’s) health, but you might value durability or design more.

Basic Throw-Away Bottle

What it’s made of: PET (Polyethylene terephthalate)
Key Things to Know: With reuse, PET can degrade and because the plastic is thin and wrinkled it can build up germs. It can also leach DEHP, a probable carcinogen.
Use or Don’t Use: Don’t reuse. (Though I will reuse one on a 1-3 day business trip).
Other Resources:
New Zealand Government
Northwest Hearld
Signorile Scientific Study

Nalgene or Similar Water Bottle

What it’s made of: Polycarbonate (a thermoplastic polymer)
Key Things to Know: Polycarbonates leach a hormone disrupting chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), even at room temperature. See the resources section below for more about BPA.
Use or Don’t Use: Don’t use. (If you want another reason to not use Nalgene check out this picture.)
Other Resources:
All About BPA from River Wired
From NIH Environmental Health Perpsectives
North Carolina Conservation Network

Opaque Nalgene or Similar Water Bottle

What it’s made of: HDPE High-density polyethylene (softer and opaque and made from petroleum)
Key Things to Know: No known problems.
Use or Don’t Use: The jury’s still out. No known problems to date.
Other Resources:
Sierra Club

Klean Kanteen or Stainless Steel

What it’s made of: Stainless Steel (both inside and out). See note on Sigg water bottles below.
Key Things to Know: Klean Kanteens don’t leach (or contain) BPA.
Use or Don’t Use: Use.
Other Resources:
Mom Appeal

Other Water Bottles:

Sigg:There is a HUGE debate over Sigg stainless steel water bottles. They are lined, and the lining most likely contains a trace amount of BPA. Sigg won’t come out and say the bottles contain no BPA, which is what makes them suspicious. (Read the debate here in comments or here.)

new CamelBak (Tritan) or new Nalgene Choice (Tritan): Because of the concerns with BPA and phthalates, water bottle companies are now starting to use a different compound called Tritan. As I mentioned in my review of a BPA free Better Bottle by CamelBak, thus far tests have revealed no problems with Tritan. Tritan is a copolyester and while I’m not a chemical expert, this makes me a little wary. (Though it’s definitely better than BPA-leaching bottles.)

Water bottles with soft “nipples”/valves: The soft plastic “nipple” or valve (see an example of a water bottle with what I’m talking about HERE) that you drink from likely contains phthalates. Phthalates are hormone disruptors that have been linked to reproductive problems and birth defects. More here and here.

Glass: Glass is safe. If you don’t mind the weight, glass is an extremely safe bet. Thanks to Aaron’s suggestion, you can find glass bottles at Aquasana.

In Summary:

“To be certain that you are choosing a bottle that does not leach, check the recycling symbol on your bottle. If it is a #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), or a #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene), or a #5 PP (polypropylene), your bottle is fine. The type of plastic bottle in which water is usually sold is usually a #1, and is only recommended for one time use. Do not refill it. Better to use a reusable water bottle, and fill it with your own filtered water from home and keep these single-use bottles out of the landfill. Unfortunately, those fabulous colourful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics and identified by the #7 recycling symbol, may leach BPA.”


My Recommendation:

For me, the choice is easy; I use a Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle (Klean Kanteen also sells Sippy Cups for kids.)

Other Resources:

Green Guide Plastics Cheat Sheet
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Plastics Cheat Sheet:
Slate Review of Water Bottles
PBS Interview on Plastics and Safety
MSNBC Video on Leeching Water Bottles and a follow up piece
CamelBak BPA Free Better Bottle Water Bottle Review
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle Review

You might also enjoy reading our post about best stainless steel cookware set and why you don’t want bird-killing toxins in your kitchen.

Note: We only recommend products we’ve tried out and liked. We do link through affiliate links when they are available. We are not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites, or other topics. We will only recommend products or services that we believe, based on our experience, are worthy of endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Read our full policies page.


  1. By on

    @Iain Thanks for the link! I think the research reveals that this is still up in the air a bit. However, based on the possibility for germ build-up etc., it’s still not a good idea to use single-use water bottles on a long-term, ongoing basis.

  2. By Jake on

    All nice, but doesn’t the making of a stainless steel bottle cost so much energy that it may be more eco-friendly to buy throw away waterbottles. These can be burned pretty efficiently with modern techniques, which will produce electricity so they may actually be more eco-friendly than an energy slurping (and thusgreenhouse gas emitting) Klean Kanteen.

  3. By jake on

    The Klean Kanteen may sound nice, but is it really green? The making of a stainless steel bottle cost so much energy that it may be more eco-friendly to buy throw away waterbottles (or a non bpa plastic one). These can be burned pretty efficiently with modern techniques, which will produce electricity so they may actually be more eco-friendly than an energy slurping (and thusgreenhouse gas emitting) Klean Kanteen. (sorry for doubleposting)

  4. By Elizabeth on

    Jake- while that’s an interesting thought, over the course of a person’s lifetime, or even just a few years, the reality is that the energy required to produce plastic is that much greater. I use my Klean Kanteen daily and think about the difference if I was using a new throwaway bottle every day. Stainless steal is a onetime investment; requiring a onetime energy consumption; whereas plastic bottles require a lot more energy.

  5. By Steel Water Bottles on

    I agree completely about the stainless steel water bottles. They are the safest bet for your health, and it isnt worth risking for a bottle that “might” be safe but we don’t really know.


  6. By Elizabeth on

    @Jenna- Yes I agree that it’s good to see a growing world and interest in stainless steel water bottles. Just be sure that they’re unlined!

  7. By on

    From all the research I did, it seems that stainless steel bottles are preferable to aluminum ones.

    Aluminum requires a coating on the inside, it dents easier, and most of the aluminum bottles have a narrow opening making it harder to clean and awkward to use with ice.

    Klean Kanteen is our preferred choice and we got ours at

  8. By on

    Elizabeth/Kimberly: Like you, my three parnters and I (called Four Women, LLC) wanted to do something to eliminate the plastic bottles in our landfills and the leaching of toxins into our bodies. In conjuction with Tetra Pak we have developed a BPA free paper water bottle called Balamar Springs. It has pure natural spring water in a 16.9/500 mil size with a ph of 7.8. It is recyclable and collapsible so that even if it gets dumped it will take up less space in the landfill and not take 700 years to decompose. Balamar Springs keeps the water cooler 20% longer than PET water and you don’t have to worry if you leave it in your car.

    I am a partner and therefore love this product but I am also a greenie from way back and thought you might find this interesting. Best of luck,



  9. By Joshua on

    As much as I love these reusable bottles. I have to say that polycarbonate is not that bad. First of all, EVERY material leaches something into the water. Steel leaches heavy metals and even GLASS leaches lead. BPA is dangerous in large doses. But the amount is minute in a PC Nalgene. Great and informative though!

  10. By Jon LeValley on

    What about the PLASTIC TOP that comes with Kleen Kanteen water bottles????????? It’s nice that they are stainless steel – but what about the tops???????????????

  11. By on

    GREAT article! Thanks for posting :). I am a HUGE fan of Klean Kanteen products. I’ve been using mine for a while now, and, let me tell you, I’m not going back! Reusable bottles are so much better for me, my family, and the environment. I especially love how I don’t have to worry about the liner having BPA, because there is no liner! Love it! Thanks again :).

  12. By Doug on

    Actually Sigg stainless steel line of water bottles is “Steel Works” and they are not lined like the Sigg Aluminum bottles are. Steel Works are all 18/8 stainless. Just to be fair… I have a variety of stainless bottles and Sigg is probably my favorite. Just my two cents…

  13. By Rebecca on

    Thank you so much for the link to Aquasana! I hate drinking out of plastic bottles, and my husband uses them and uses them and uses them. Now I Have a Replacement!!!

  14. By Sara Rathborneq on

    Hey guys , I have one better!
    Its eco and completely only filtered water bottle to be fully endorsed by NATO and London Medical school for tropical diseases (and most other international government bodies)

    I went trekking in Kokoda last year and got word of and Eco Travel water filtered bottle, I could fill up the bottle in any freshwater stream no matter how polluted and then just screw the lid on and the carbon filter at the top does the rest.
    It seriously was amazing, the water tasted great, and it fights against all the nasty water breeding bacterias including Cyrpotsporidium and Giardia and last for up to 350L.
    And what got me most is its soo environmentally friendly too.
    check out the website to see more of the econess, I just thought id share my happiness with product!


  1. […] the end – Elizabeth presents How to Choose a (Healthy) Water Bottle: 34 Resources posted at Go Green Travel Green. Did you enjoy this article? Please share it: These icons link to […]

  2. […] Invest in a stainless steal or other reusable water bottle. Our personal favorite is Klean Kanteen because unlike polycarbonate plastic bottles, they’re free of bisphenol A. And they’re pretty lightweight. If you’re in a city where you have to drink bottled water, pour some of the water from your jug into your Klean Kanteen before heading out for the day. For more info on finding a water bottle that’s right for you, check out our post on How to Choose a Healthy Water Bottle: 34 Resources. […]

  3. […] It was just over a year ago when the BPA in water bottles information flooded mainstream media (though environmentalists had been warning about it for a long time) and we wrote one of our most popular posts: How to Choose a Healthy Green Water Bottle. […]

  4. […] I am also on the lookout for a water bottle/thermos which is light, compact, but also green. I stumbled upon this great site for travelling green – Go Green Travel Green. […]

  5. […] written a lot about BPA (including in our healthy water bottles post and our Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle review), so I thought this article in the […]

  6. […] written so much about stainless steel water bottles — including about a Healthy Water Bottle, Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle, and CamelBak Stainless Steel Better Bottle — […]

  7. […] reusable water bottles one is aluminum and the other is stainless steel. When you look at the facts plastic water bottles MUST GO. In the US, 1500 plastic water bottles are consumed every second, that’s 50 billion bottles […]

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