Common hot water bottle questions
Since 2003 we have answered and helped on every question and topic to do with the humble hot water bottle. To help find the answer to your question we thought it would be a good idea to share the common questions. If your question is missing just send a message and we'll get right back to you, everyone remains anonymous so feel free to ask us what you need to know about a hot water bottle. Some questions received have been sensible and many will find useful but there are questions that may seem obvious to a veteran user but to a novice it's better to ask than make an assumption when using hot water, we're here to help.
These are in no particular order and this list will keep growing as more questions are asked from us.
Where should a hot water bottle be placed in bed?
For a single bed the best place is right in the centre to warm the middle area. Best to place it about 15 minutes before retiring to bed. Once in the bed either take the bottle out if not needed or one option is to move the bottle to the bottom of the bed to keep your toes cosy and warm. Some like the warmth and feel it next to them, place it close but do not lie on top or roll onto the bottle. It can be rested or cuddle up to if you have a decent cover, many hot water bottle covers these day are padded for extra protection. For a double, king or queen size bed you may need a bigger bottle, we suggest a jumbo 3.0 litre bottle
, there are also long hot water bottle.
Sharing a bed does not mean you have to share a bottle, definitely have one each. Some of us have cold feet, others cold hands and there are those with heat loss that need body warmth. So, get a bottle each and put it in the bed on your side and make sure it's not too far over the other side as your sleeping partner may not appreciate the extra warmth.
How long will my hot water bottle last?
A common misconception is to wait until it leaks then buy a new hot water bottle. Not the most sensible plan and best not to wait for that precise moment, everything eventually wears out and timing of that depends on how often it's used and how well it's been looked after. Before it leaks there are tell-tale signs, look for thinning around the belly of the bottle, check for cracks and creases and take a minute to recall how long the bottle has been with you. A good quality hot water bottle with normal usage will last 2 to 3 years. If it's been used for more than 3 years then it's time to replace it. There have been and always will be different grades and price points for all budgets on all sort of household goods. Higher quality items are better designed, finished and manufactured using higher grade components to last longer and will cost more than budget items. A budget hot water bottle is often manufactured to hit a price point, they are not necessarily made to last but appeal to the budget market. A budget bottle may need replacing every 6 months up to maximum 2 years.
Does a hot water bottle expire?
Unlike food products that have a shelf life a hot water bottle does not have a sell by date nor do they have a use by date. Production is made in batches over several years, stored correctly they are safe, most reputable sellers would not hold very old stock, generally new lines, designs and styles arrive each autumn season to replace last season lines. With modern stock rotation it would be rare for a very old bottle to be found in stores. Worth knowing that a bottle purchased years ago that has not been used but stored badly, i.e. in damp, humid, wet, hot or exposed to intense sunlight would perish, but stored correctly it could be safe to use, just check before filling. A bottle in poor condition could have weak spots that may prove dangerous if filled with hot water. Rubber is a natural substance, once used it will perish over time.
Does a hot water bottle help period pains?
We have heard that a hot water bottle has been used to help alleviate pain as Dr. Brian King presented to the Physiological Society. Reporting that the pain of colic, cystitis and menstrual period pain is caused by a temporary reduction in blood flow to organs, causing local tissue damage and activating pain receptors. The heat doesn't just provide comfort and have a placebo effect it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work. We have discovered how this molecular process works menstrual pain is one of the most common gynaecological complaints in women of reproductive age.
What are the alternatives to a hot water bottle?
There are a few alternatives to a hot water bottle. One option is an electric blanket, another is heat packs either wheat filled or gel filled and of course just turn the heating on and crank it up. Throw an extra blanket on is OK but it's not instant heat. Wear extra layers in bed, lots of options, the trick is knowing what you want and what to expect from all the options out there. Unlike a hot water bottle turning on the heating is not economical or very ecological for warming a small area. An electric blanket needs to be plugged in to work fully and should never be used with a bottle, either use one or the other.
Am I safe to fall asleep with a hot water bottle?
Many users will regularly sleep with a hot water bottle and many swear that to get a good night's sleep they need their favourite bottle in bed with them. They have long been used as an aid to sleep, the warmth and comfort help getting to sleep. For those worried they might accidentally roll onto the bottle try moving it to the very edge of the bed so if you roll it will slip down harmlessly away or move it to the bottom to keep your feet warm.
What is the normal or standard size of hot water bottle?
Although the standard size is universally called a 2.0 litre bottle it is a category size and would not hold 2.0 litre of water. Always read and follow the instructions and never fill to the top, three quarters will do and expel any air before replacing the stopper. The exact size of a standard hot water bottle is 32cm from top to bottom and 20cm wide.
Which is the best hot water bottle?
This is easy, choose the one that suits your needs, simple as that. If you have a latex allergy or not keen on the smell of rubber buy a PVC thermoplastic hot water bottle.
If you want to knit a cover or keep your old favourite cover buy the right size and chose a colour that matches. If you want a bottle for camping buy a mini bottle
, want one to cover a large area buy a giant one, or want to wrap yourself inside one buy a long hot water bottle. As for the make avoid the generic bottle and cheap budget ones, go for a good branded one and buy from a reputable seller that will still be around next year and the year after.
Can I put my hot water bottle in the microwave to heat it up?
No. It could explode, burn and scold when taking it out. Burns are a very serious risk when handling hot water, follow the instructions to the letter. They are printed to help avoid any dangers and allow safe use of a hot water bottle. We have seen the result after it's been in a microwave and the outer layer peels away leaving a very thin layer between your skin and hot water.
Can I take my hot water bottle on a plane?
Unlikely, liquids are very carefully monitored on aeroplanes, we've never heard of anyone using a hot water bottle on a plane. Taking it pre-filled on a plane would be spotted and isolated. Asking it to be filled with hot water would not currently be permitted. Check with the airliner if they have a microwave available and try taking a hot wheat pack. These can be heated safely in a microwave and if on a long journey topped up as needed.
My husband uses a pair of pliers to do up the stopper nice and tight, is this OK?
He is not alone in thinking you need heavy force on the stopper but sadly he is doing more harm than good. These days a hot water bottle is designed with safety in mind, stoppers are now an integral part of the bottle, they only need to be finger tight. If overtighten or forced the neck of the bottle will stretch and with time and continued pressure will break and the stopper will fail. Often the stopper will get stuck in the neck, hence the use of a pair of pliers to release but if used correctly there is no need for pliers and the hot water bottle will last much longer.
Can I put a hot water bottle in the freezer?
The short answer is no. A rubber or thermoplastic hot water bottle would become brittle from the freezing process changing the structure of the bottle with a certainty to leak or tear. They can be used to keep cool, the best way is to fill the bottle with cold water and keeping it chill by putting into a fridge but not the freezer part. It is a great way to keep cool, we have heard of a customer using his hot water bottle filled with cold water on his lap as the computer used for playing memory hungry games omitted so much heat he needed something to keep him cool.
The bike patches which I use on the rubber inner, would they work on my hot water bottle?
This might seem a good way to keep it going and reduce waste but it's the way a hot water bottle will wear that will scupper this method. On an old rubber bottle the rubber will start to perish and come away in layers from inside the bottle. Patching outside may not cover all the wear, there could still be weak areas. We'd also not recommend the use of repair kits, fine on a bike but with hot water there is a significant risk of burns and scolding should it burst. To be green and reduce waste just send your old bottle away for recycling, they make great floor mats, cables and electrical insulators as a second life. A new hot water bottle will give you peace of mind and for a few pounds worth the investment.
How do I choose which hot water bottle to buy?
First start with the type, do you want rubber or PVC. If allergic to latex choose PVC or if you don't like the smell of rubber. For a traditional hot water bottle choose rubber. Next what size, small medium or large. There are very large jumbo 3.0 litre, giant 2.5 litre, standard 2.0 litre, slightly smaller 1.5 litre, even smaller at either 1.0 litre, 800ml or 750ml and then a mini at 500ml right down to pocket size at 0.3 litre. With a cover or without? Have you got your own, are you knitting one or not bothered with a cover. This should point you in the right direction, there is a large choice from the specialist hot water bottle
stockist but very little choice in the high street. Choose a good quality one that is right for you and up to the job, it will be with you for a few good years and is very personal to you as you share your bed with it.
How hot should a hot water bottle be?
Probably the most asked question is just how hot should a hot water bottle be. Not everybody wants to read instructions and how complicated can a traditional hot water bottle be. The issue is one of safety so reading up before using is very important. For a start never use boiling water as this can cause damage to the bottle and if the bottle is old or is one of the budget ones sold in discount stores the risk is not worth taking. Always use a kettle, boil the water and allow to cool. With regular use it becomes easier to judge the right temperature for you. Leaving the kettle a long time to cool may not give enough heat, not leaving long enough and the bottle will be too hot. A bottle will be as hot or as cold as the water put in. Your old hot water bottle may also feel hotter as they wear out from the inside out, the belly of an old rubber hot water bottle can get very thin, near breaking point so inevitably this will feel very hot to the touch. A new hot water bottle that carries a genuine British Standard mark (as with most thing there are fake ones out there) will be manufactured to conform to prescribed thickness and tolerance. This is for safety to prevent spillage from weakness in the manufacture. So make your bottle hot to your liking but never pour boiling water in and you will find the right temperature to suit your hot water bottle.
Can I recycle the water inside my hot water bottle?
Absolutely, but be sensible about it. Never put back into the kettle or use for any human or animal consumption. Tip the water (when cooled) into a pot plant or garden plants. Avoid any ericaceous plants just in case, these need rainwater rather than tap water. You can even try pouring down the toilet for a quick flush, great way to save on water.