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 integrated 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 guide, I would define that the water bottle as a vessel for handheld water, as we investigate the development of this vessel to reach the plastic container with the narrow neck.
Perhaps one of the very first water tanks were gourds. Gourds are part of the cucurbitaceous family, which comprises of melons, pumpkins and cucumbers. Evidence of gourds being grown dates back to around 8000-9000 BC in Africa. These gourds are referred to as calabash or”bottle gourd” and when dried were capable of water storage or being used as a utensil or pipe.
Sometime around 5000 BC, the Chinese were among the first to find out how to successfully transport large quantities of water through the use of jars. While these are typically not the”handheld vessel for water” these large jars were typically taken by hand for long distances as the early china chariot did not appear until 1200 BC. Drinking of the water has been done via pouring into a pottery cup or bowl.
Moving ahead to 3000 BC, a more practical way 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 after that water was held with this technique. The method of doing this was to make use of the bladder of an animal, commonly from a sheep or cow.
By 1500 BC, the first hollow glass container was created by the Romans by covering a core of sand using molten glass. However, it was not until the first century BC, that glass blowing became more common use in creating vessels for water. Even so, at this time, the glass was discoloured due to the sheer number of impurities when producing the glass that it wasn’t until the first century AD that the glass blowers discovered ways to remove the impurities and create glass that was clear and not discoloured. Today glass is still very widely used commercially, and additives are added to provide color in many glass products.
From there on, glass has become the main 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 easily escape when dented which was rather common in the military. These bottles were one of the first commercially used with screw caps rather or stoppers or corks.
This eventually leads us to the plastic bottle, being first manufactured for commercial use in 1947 and continues to dominate the preferred vessel for water, whether it be large or small.