The number 7 is unlucky if you find it stamped in the bottom of your water bottle — it means the bottle
contains may contain Bisphenol A, a component in lots of plastic bottles.
Nalgene insists there’s no evidence that it’s dangerous, but it’s pulling all BSP bottles because of customer requests (such as, “I request you stop selling bottles that cause my 6-year-old daughter to grow pubic hair”). The furor over BSP is mainly over evidence that it causes strange things to happen in lab rats … the chemicals industry insists humans are in the clear (despite our many ratlike qualities), but the industry kinda/sorta has a vested interest in believing that.
I rounded up some links to help y’all make up your minds:
- This New York Times article explains the basics.
- Actual scientists may appreciate this Wikipedia entry on BSP.
- The Bisphenol Free Portal includes an ABC News report from last year that offers a quickie intro.
- This Salon.com post mentions the chemicals industry fact-blurring tactics and an intriguing parallel between the rise of BSP and the “obesity epidemic.”
- Justin of My Outdoor Adventures mentions possible metal-bottle alternatives.
- The Green Guide offers an informative overview of how BSP bottles degrade over time.
- Richard Lyon at Backpackgeartest.org likes SIGG aluminum bottles, mainly because they don’t change the flavor of his favorite drinks.
- Many users at rei.com think Klean Kanteens are better than SIGGs, though some complain of a metallic taste.
One thing I noticed about some plastic bottles I use regularly: I filled them with a Gatorade-clone sports drink, and I still taste vague hints of that drink in my water months later. Other bottles have imparted a taste that has made me wonder how much of the plastics are getting into my water.
I’ll definitely be looking into the metal alternatives. Your thoughts are welcome.
UPDATE: This thread has lots of good info on SIGG and Klean Kanteen bottles.
UPDATE II: Gear Junkie Stephen Regenold notes metal bottles are very slippery compared to plastics.
I kept my Nalgene (and Nalgene-like) bottles in the same cabinet as my cooking spices. No matter how often I rinsed them, or ran them through the dishwasher (!) the bottles always smelled and tasted slightly like curry powder.
I dumped all of my Nalgene bottles in the recycling bin last week, picked up SIGG bottles for my the wife and myself. My biggest complaint so far is that I can’t easily fit ice cubes through the narrow neck. It also dents like crazy – I’ve only been using for a few days and it’s already picked up two dents. I figure I’ll pick up Klean Kanteen with my next paycheck and alternate between the two types before I rebuild my massive reusable bottle connection.
Number 7 does not mean the plastic contains Bisphenol A. It only means that it is some other plastic that does not fall into categories 1-6. The first six categories are specific types of plastic. Category 7 is “other”.
Even editors need fact checkers, eh?
Thanks for this info. I’ll be ditching my Naglenes for Siggs (assuming I can find any in stock around town). Our son’s sippy cups will likely get an upgrade as well.
It’s true, not all number 7 bottles are bad. Camelbak’s Better Bottle has a number 7 on the bottom and it does not contain any BPA.
I agree with you though, I’ve pretty much stopped using the Lexan Bottles from Nalgene except for longer backpacking trips.
Walter: I was aware that No. 7 meant “other” — it’s mentioned in several of the links I posted; I did actually read them all.
While it’s true that “other” includes chemicals besides BPA, the only way to know if your bottle has BPA is to look for the 7 in the triangle.
By the way this blog may be produced by an editor but that does not mean it’s getting any editing, except to the extent that my readers correct my mistakes.
And it just keeps getting better – Treehugger is now reporting that Siggs may ALSO contain BPA in their lining, but according to Sigg’s own testing (that’s trustworthy, right?) the BPA doesn’t leach out in “noticable quantities.” Certainly a caution against buying cheap knockoff metal containers if nothing else…
This must be why the cowboys always get their water by sticking their faces right down into the creek.
Alleycat — A woman who works at REI mentioned the same thing about the SIGG lining to me, which is why we went with Kleen Kanteens. For those who live in the Bay Area, the Ecology Center in Berkeley has all of the Kleen Kanteen sizes along with the different tops. They also have the sippy cup adapters. Here is the link: http://www.ecologycenter.org/
We’ve really enjoyed having ours although the sports lid leaves a bit to be desired. They also dent (really only when dropped from tall places), but it add character!
and straining the bugs through their teeth, eh Tom! dig the image of that. thanks, man. I wonder if I can fit a Kerr’s bottle into my Nalgene holster…though my bride is sure to miss it come canning season…
and we know that even unlined metal bottles couldn’t possibly contain any dangerous impurities just like unspoiled spring water can’t contain arsenic, right?. stainless. made in china.
myself I like Gatorade bottles. on a percentage basis of the water that I drink very little of it flows out the spout of a plastic bottle and I’ll likely continue to use them while hiking. the way I see it, breathing brake lining dust, atomized rubber tires and outgassing automobile upholstery while I driving my car is doubtless more dangerous.
still…now that you mention it those new metal bottles sure do stimulate my gear lust, no doubt about that. and I do need an excuse to buy more gear since I pretty much have nearly everything I’ll never use. hmmmm. see, now you’ve done it. and I wasn’t even thinking seriousy about buying a bottle before.
nice job, Tom.
jt: I’m always glad to help out.
Most of the time I do not even use bottles, but all this talk about polycarbonate, BSP, and such got me wondering about my much preferred CamelBak hydration bladder. Near as I can tell it’s ok, but I did find some interesting items. CamelBak is now making a new type of safer bottle. But, I think maybe most backpackers will not like this type of bite valve top.
And for hydration bladder users, this might be something worth looking into. Kind of para-military, but interesting to know that there are replacement products designed to be better and more durable than the standard type of bladder. Not expensive either.