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Reusing plastic water bottles

I know lots of sources say don't reuse/refill plastic water bottles because something in them leaches out into the water and is carcinogenic. My question is, if that's the case, why doesn't it leach out into the water that originally came in them in the first place? Is it because tap water has chemicals in it like chlorine and flouride that causes this to happen? And if it is, then why doesn't it happen to Dasani which says on the label that it's municipal water enhanced with minerals for taste. My water is from our private well, is untreated, and was just tested and passed with flying colors last October and tastes great. Can anybody enlighten me?

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  1. The short answer is, it's an urban legend: http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/...

    The longer answer is that it's better not to keep reusing those bottles because they are difficult to clean. (and that according to the Snopes article, there are SOME kinds of plastic that may be of concern) Better to buy a bottle that is meant to be reused and fill it up with your own very good water!

    1 Reply
    1. re: theredmenace

      Thanks for the link. Should have known it was addressed on Snopes. I have only one bottle that I've been reusing because it fits so nicely in the fancy brocade insulated carrier I made. It gets scrubbed with a bottle brush and allowed to dry completely in between uses but I have been on the lookout for a sturdier permanent version.

    2. As we near into the summer......I reuse old plastic bottles by freezing water in them and using the frozen bottles as the coolant for my cooler which I keep in the car for when I shop for perishables or to keep other beverages cold.

      1. The argument about not reusing the bottles is probably spread by the bottlers. (Just as the superstition about not opening umbrellas in the house was probably spread by manufacturers who wanted them to get all moldy and disintegrate…) Anyway crackpot conspiracy theories aside, I reuse bottles constantly. I actually justify the cost of buying a bottle of water by viewing it as buying a temporary canteen. Of course as theredmenace points out, they’re a pain to wash, so after a couple of weeks they get tossed but that’s due to the threat of scum (the green menace!), not plastic contamination.

        4 Replies
        1. re: extrasalty

          A dilute bleach solution swished around, then a few rinsings, will take care of the algae!

          1. re: greygarious

            The cheapskate in me likes this, but doesn't the bleach degrade the plastic?

            1. re: extrasalty

              Not any of the ones I've used - and it's sold in plastic jugs, after all. I hope when you "toss" the bottles it's into the recycling bin!

        2. We re-use the same bottles, filled with common tap water, until they start looking ratty, and then we throw them out. No one in our house has gotten sick, or fallen over with cancer or brain worms.
          I drink out of the garden hose in the summertime (even though the state of California warns me not to, even though I'm living in Kansas). And sometimes I eat hamburgers cooked medium or less, JUST for the thrill.
          I never get sick, I have to fake illnesses just to get a day off from work...but I'm sure it'll all catch up with me one day.

          1 Reply
          1. re: podunkboy

            I refill them with tap water, refrigerate it, and pretend I'm drinking mineral water.

          2. I get them every now and then, and suffer the tasteless bottled water in order to have the container for travelling. My SO always takes on on tour with him, and always comes back without it, so we have random brand and sizes of bottles hanging around. He saved the last to large Club Soda bottles for our next road trip. Very easy to rinse, and pretty sturdy plastic.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tracylee

              Before retiring I was a mail carrier. I once spent a ridiculous amount of money for a 6-pack of Fiji Water because the rectangular shape and height were perfect for use in my small-size lunch cooler. They gave me a maximum volume of ice with out creating unusable space around the bottle's perimeter. I refilled and froze a bottle daily, so it served as an ice pack which I would then drink. I had a larger water jug in the truck, from which I'd refill the melting Fiji ice water so I'd have cold water to drink throughout the day. Interestingly, the original Fiji water, which WAS good-tasting in a way I can't quite describe, did not fully freeze. No matter how long I kept the bottle in the freezer, the center was still liquid. .

            2. Ditto what everyone else has said. When this first came out, a healthy friend of mine felt it her responsibility to warn everyone of the dangers. Chemicals leaching out of plastic; containers degrading etc. If the containers were degrading because of repeated use, why are there bazillions of plastic bottles sitting in landfills? They should have broken down by now....

              I reuse mine all the time and keep a small supply (a case or two) handy in case of emergencies or guests, which ever comes first.

              I still stick by my drummed up theory that the "toxins" issue was released by the plastic bottle regime and bottled water manufactures to drum up more business. "Don't re-use; buy more!" Hooey!

              1. Presumably you're not foraging your water bottles out of the trash, you've actually purchased some bottles of water to drink the water and kept the bottles to reuse. Over time the original bottles get discarded and you buy new bottles of water, and reuse those bottles. Why not just make that one-time expenditure of a few bucks for water bottles that are empty but can be refilled over and over again with your great private well water. Over time you'll save money, no more bottles to dispose of/recycle, and as long as you wash them regularly you'll have no health concerns.

                5 Replies
                1. re: janniecooks

                  Actually the more rigid polycarbonate plastic bottle may be more risky due to bisphenol A.
                  http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/...

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    so buy stainless steel or bpa-free bottles - which is what most plastic water bottles are now.

                    1. re: janniecooks

                      I rarely ever buy bottled water so not an issue for me personally.

                      1. re: janniecooks

                        Are the metal bottles lined? The aluminum ones, Sigg brand, have some proprietary plastic lining.

                        I've bought my share of Nalgene plastic bottles, both the hpde and lexan ones. While I still use them some, for drink in the car or on hikes I prefer to use re-usused one-time bottles. The size (25 oz), push-pull top, and flexibility make them more convenient than anything I've used in the past.

                        Rectangular half gallon juice bottles also make handy ice containers for the cooler.

                    2. re: janniecooks

                      I currently have one formerly prefilled 20 oz water bottle that I bought for a buck, gee, it must be a year ago. I started reusing that bottle after it was empty. Then I came across an insulated water carrier in the dollar store for $1.50 that it fit. It, unfortunately, was hot pink. So I took a brocade fabric remnant that I had on hand (more recycling-I might have thrown that remnant out), sewed a sheath to fit around the carrier, moved the strap to the outside and reran the draw string. For a total of $2.50 and about a half hour of my time I have a very nice insulated water bottle that I can sling over my shoulder. In fact, I have had people asking where I got it and then when they find out I made it, they want me to make one for them. I don't think I can buy a fancy thermal water bottle for less than $2.50. What I have works great, looks nice, I haven't bought commercial water in a year, don't need to recycle drink bottles, (I don't drink soda either) and I don't need to spend money on a thermal water bottle. Yep, someday I might have to get a new water bottle and recycle my old one but the one I'm using currently on an almost daily basis is still in fine shape and I don't foresee replacing it soon. I'm already saving money and not contributing bottles to the landfill.

                    3. We used to take the empty plastic water bottles, put a few pennies inside, then use them as noisemakers/shakers at my son's college swim meets. You should hear those suckers reveberate in a natatorium! The noise also scares the crap out of my dog when we catch her doing something she's not supposed to be doing.

                      Frankly, I think this whole buying water in plastic bottle thing is way out of hand. If you had told my mother 50 years ago that people would be buying water in the supermarket, she would have taken you to the nearest psychiatric facility.