Are Water Bottles Safe?

water drinking bottle


Water bottles are an essential part of every cyclist’s equipment. Staying hydrated is essential, but how safe are plastic water bottles?

I’ve noticed that many cyclists use the same bottle on every ride. We get attached to them for different reasons. Whether its the shape, colour or for some sentimental reason they get used on each ride.
Some people buy a bottle of water from the store and refill it continuously until the plastic deteriorates

Whats the problem?

Plastics are made from man made chemicals. These have been found to leach from the bottle into the water. By ingesting micro amounts of these chemicals over periods of time they can have a profound effect on your health. These chemicals have been found to have  estrogen like effects on the body. Known adverse effects to the brain, thyroid, prostrate have been documented.

You might think the amount you receive is minuscule. Its true but these are dangerous chemicals that can build up overtime in your body. Our environment is bombarded with all sorts of these chemicals and which end up in the food chain and into you body.

Repeated use of bottles results in a breakdown of the plastics. Exposure to the elements, dish washing and general use can hasten this process. Also minute cracks can develop in the plastic providing a site for bacteria .

BPA (bisphenol A) is the starting chemical used in the manufacture of poly carbonates. Some of these BPAs not used up in the manufacturing can leach from the bottle into the contents. The replacement often used instead of BPA – ( BPS) was thought to be less likely to leach from the plastic into the contents.

BPA free plastic may be just as dangerous.

This Scientific American article reveals the replacement BPS may be just as harmful.

Unfortunately some manufacturers use replacements for BPA that may not have been tested to the the same extent. Although they may be labeled BPA free the replacement may pose similar risks.

My advice:

Buy a good quality bottle, check the label for safety ratings.
Don’t reuse commercial bottles of water. Buy the water if you have to but throw out the bottle afterwards. The plastics used are more likely to leach chemicals and break down with reuse.

Don’t wash your drink bottle in the dishwasher or microwave it. This will cause the plastic to breakdown more quickly.

Wash your bottle in gentle detergent.

Replace your bottle at regular intervals- how often will depend on the amount of use it gets. Don’t hold onto a bottle for years.


Ideally glass is the best material for a bottle but for obvious reasons that’s not suitable for cycling. Just be aware there are issues around the use of plastics and try to minimize the effects these may have on you. Are water bottles safe? Many aren’t so be sure to get a good quality brand and replace it when its had its share of use.


  1. Cathy

    Hi! I hear you. I am guilty of buying a bottle of mineral water and then use it again and again. This comes from the notion of being environmental friend. They advocate ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’! Now I’d understand why we should throw it away instead.

    Its a great article. Very informative indeed. Please keep on writing. I like to read more about the topics topic.

    Have a nice day!


    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Cathy, I’m glad you found the article interesting. Good food for thought. Regards Bruce

  2. Mark

    Hi Bruce, wow you have opened my eyes as to how i reuse my plastic commercial water bottles, i have to admit that i have kept bottles for long periods and have never been made aware of the dangers. Thanks for this great post, the first thing i am going to do is bin my plastic bottle.

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      H Mark,
      Glad you found it interesting. Its easy to get complacent and think the amount of these chemicals is minute so it doesn’t really matter. But they are stored in fat tissue and build up in the body with all the other toxic chemicals in the food chain.

  3. Matt

    Thanks, Bruce! I didn’t realize it was such a concern. We’ve reused plastic bottles for years for different reasons. I wonder if they’d still be good to use to grow plants out of?

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      Hi Matt, Its one of those topics where its easy to be complacent and think the amount of chemicals absorbed is so small it doesn’t matter.The fact that all these toxins accumulate in the body is of real concern.You have no way of really knowing the long term effect. I would imagine leached chemicals would be absorbed by plants but to what degree i don’t know.Just something to be aware of.

  4. Angel

    This was a great article. I am not a big fan of plastic containers. I try to use glass whenever I can. Just found milk in a glass jar and was absolutely overjoyed (others around me were not as enthusiastic). So what are you thoughts on the plastic sports bottles, meant to be used time and time again. Would you put a life spam on them? Thanks!

    1. Bruce (Post author)

      I was brought up in the time when milk only came in bottles so I know what you mean.Its hard to say how long a quality plastic bottle is good for, it depends how much wear and tear it gets.
      uv exposure etc causes deterioration. I havent seen any studies done on that but it would be interesting. I only use good quality bottles and chuck them out when the plastic looks like its worn.Usually about 6 months


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