Saturday, May 21, 2011

Review: Brita Bottle

The new Brita Bottle, available since mid-February, is an on-demand, aesthetic-filtering, environmentally-friendly, reusable water bottle made of durable, easy-to-squeeze, BPA-free, recycle code #4 LDPE plastic.

It is available in translucent blue or green for MSRP US$9.99 each, including one replaceable filter, or in a Twin Pack from $18.99. Replacement filters are MSRP $7.99 per pair.

The Bottle is 9.75" tall. The circumference varies from 7-5/8" at the waist to 9" at the largest point.

The literature inside says the filtering system was tested and certified in accordance with NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for aesthetics to reduce chlorine taste and odor by at least 50%. The Brita Bottle averaged 79% with the minimum at 58%.

The NSF requirement for the reduction of particulates is 85% to be a Class VI filter which is 50 to <80 microns. The Brita Bottle averaged more than 99.9% that was also the minimum.

Not finding the Brita Bottle at Wal-Mart and not wanting to drive out-of-town to Target or shop online, I located my blue Bottle at Walgreens. The enclosed directions say to first hand-wash it with mild soap, but knowing soap can leave a residue even when well-rinsed, I used regular liquid dishwashing detergent, instead. The directions also say that everything except the filter is top-rack dishwasher-safe.

After flushing out the loose carbon dust as directed by squeezing a full bottle of water through the filter, I was ready to begin my evaluation. Since I work at home, my interest in the Bottle is for when I'm out-and-about longer than water in another convenient-to-carry bottle filled from my Brita pitcher would last like for festivals, day trips, and travel to areas with safe water.

For road trips, the Bottle will save my having to pack my Brita Space Saver pitcher which is much too large for air travel. Although I haven't flown anywhere since I bought the Bottle, I expect it to be acceptable by the TSA just as my Brita Fill & Go filtering bottle was as long as it's empty when I go through inspection.

The capacity according to Brita is 20 oz. Filling the Bottle to the ledge below the screw thread for the cap, I measured the capacity as 21 oz.

The cap consists of several pieces. First, there is a base cap that screws onto the 49 mm opening large enough to add ice cubes and for easy washing. The filter slides into a hole in the center of the base cap and is held in place by a screw-on, push-pull sport cap. The sport cap is covered by a snap-on hygiene cap.

According to the label and enclosed literature, the filter, Model No. BB02 which also fits Brita's older Fill & Go bottle, needs to be replaced every 128 (20 oz.) servings/20 gallons/75 liters or every two months for proper performance.

Knowing that 128 (20 oz.) servings equals 20 gallons, I was curious how it correlated to two months and did some calculating. By using the Bottle for all of the standard hydration recommendation of 64 oz. per day, it would take only 40 days to consume 20 gallons.

However, after keeping track for a week and learning I average two fillings (42 oz.) per day, I calculated the filter would last 61 days (128 servings x 20 oz. per serving / 42 oz. per day = 60.95 days).

Of course, YMMV, but if you drink an average of two Bottles per day, getting the rest of your hydration needs from other beverages and food, marking your calendar to replace the filter in two months will be both close enough and a whole lot easier than counting refills or calculating the number of gallons consumed.

The Bottle is very comfortable to hold, but once leaked a drop or two because the push-pull sport cap wasn't closed all the way although it looked like it was.

It leaks a lot more if I don't put the large base cap on carefully. I discovered I have to press the carrying loop down while screwing on the cap or it won't go on level. With the loop removed, it still leaks a little unless I unscrew the cap until the threads click before screwing the cap on. It's best to set the Bottle on the counter or other support to avoid squeezing it as the cap is screwed on.

After figuring out these little tricks, the Bottle is dripless no matter how vigorously shaken.

The leaking isn't due to the cap because I can put it on my Fill & Go without having to be careful about it and it doesn't leak, so it must be something about the Bottle.

I suspect it's because the thread goes around only once plus about a third where the ends overlap while the thread on the Fill & Go goes around twice. Wrapping the Bottle's thread with plumber's tape might resolve this minor issue; I plan to buy some, try it, and report back, but it really would be better for Brita to fix this issue for us rather than our having to be so much more careful than with the Fill & Go or trying to fix it ourselves.

[Update 6/2/11 - Too lazy to buy plumber's tape, I tried different tape only to get a small flood when I squeezed to drink. Since I figured out the little tricks required to make my Bottle dripless (other people haven't had these issues, so it just depends on the Bottle or maybe I'm squeezing more vigorously than they are), and I'm very happy with it preferring the new Bottle over Brita's older Fill & Go bottle, I decided against trying the plumber's tape.]

Disliking the plastic taste of my first Bottle of water as sometimes happens with LDPE water bottles I've tried, I put in a couple of tablespoons of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), filled it with hot tap water, capped it without the filter, shook it, and let it sit overnight.

Since my second Bottle of water still tasted of plastic, I dumped in enough baking soda to cover the bottom over 1/4 inch, filled it with hot tap water, capped it without the filter, and let it sit over 24 hours, shaking it occasionally. That fixed it. Subsequent servings of water have all tasted absolutely great.

If I couldn't have gotten rid of the plastic flavor or should I ever want a bottle with a different capacity, I could substitute a recycle code #1 PET/PETE bottle with a 28 mm opening such as is found on standard .5 L, 1 L, and 2 L water and soft drink bottles, Coke products excluded, since the filter and push-pull sport cap fit without leakage on the bottles I tried. A 1-liter bottle would be especially good for foreign travel and preparedness because it's the capacity recommended for most chemical treatments for unsafe water. I'm thinking the Brita Bottle filter will remove any lingering chlorine odor and taste, but don't care to speculate about iodine treatments.

By aligning the filter's arrow-shaped openings with the Bottle's seams for easy tactile detection and keeping a seam underneath the Bottle as it gets empty, I can squeeze out all of the water but a tablespoon enabling me to get a maximum quantity before needing to refill it.

[Edited 6/2/11 - If the seam that is aligned with the top end of the screw thread is downward, the Bottle leaks a drop when I upend and squeeze to drink if I set it on the counter while screwing on the cap although it still doesn't leak when shaken while the sport top is closed. It leaks a lot if I grip it around its middle while screwing on the cap, but less if it's supported on my palm. As a result, I marked the opposite seam with a Sharpie to ensure I have it downwards when I drink so there is no leakage as I squeeze.]

Aligning the filter with the Brita logo on the cap is another option for a visual indicator. Aligning my collapsible koozie seams with the Bottle's seams provides both easy visual and tactile indicators.

The koozie also serves its original purpose as an insulator helping keep the water cool and as a sweat band to collect condensation when ice is added.

[Update 7/30/11 - The Outdoor Products insulated water bottle sleeve, reviewed here, is better than a collapsible can koozie.]

Not only does the Bottle fit into my collapsible koozie and car cup holder, it also fits into the water bottle pockets of my travel purse and other carriers such as my water bottle parka with shoulder strap.

Like other sport caps with snap-on dust covers, the Brita Bottle's hygiene cap is likely to be easily lost. Since this is an on-going problem of mine that isn't likely to change, I attached a 4" cable tie to the carrying loop and Krazy-glued the loose end to the hygiene cap to leash it to the Bottle. Unfortunately, the Krazy Glue did not hold, perhaps because the cable tie was too short and/or too stiff to withstand the stress of movement as I removed and replaced the hygiene cap.

Losing the hygiene cap is no big deal since I don't put the cap in my mouth and figure I can easily use the water's outward flow to rinse it off. Besides, I don't wash my hands every time before pulling the top open and only God knows what germs I pick up from the surfaces I touch between drinks.

However, since I do like having a cover to prevent a fly from landing on the center of the sport cap behind my back, I'm trying another way to make a leash and will post a report on it, later.

Overall, I'm very happy with the Brita Bottle and prefer it to the older Fill & Go except for needing to be careful about closing the cap to prevent leakage. It's easy to use, comfortable to hold, conveniently-sized, and produces great-tasting water.

[Update 9/19/2012 - In March, I bought a two-pack and have had no problems whatsoever. The new bottles are lavender and a pretty blue. The older bottle is a wussy-looking light blue. I don't know if the leakage was peculiar to the light blue bottles or if Brita changed something in the new bottles since they look the same to me. Either way, I'm totally thrilled with my newer bottles!]

I recommend it to everyone wanting an on-demand, aesthetic-filtering, environmentally-friendly, reusable water bottle that can be refilled from any source of potable water.


Stephanie Faris said...

Has anyone else noticed the first swig after it sets for a couple of minutes tastes a little funny? Then the next swig tastes good? I'm using Crystal Light To Go packs to flavor it so maybe that's why?

Gail Rhea said...

Stephanie, I haven't noticed but I'm using only water and my taste buds may not be as discerning as yours.

An easy way for you to check is to thoroughly clean the Bottle, install a new filter after preconditioning as directed by Brita, and perform a comparison test.

Anonymous said...

my bottle is leaking everywhere and it's hard to suck the water out :-(

Gail Rhea said...

It leaks that badly even after trying the tips I posted?

Also, you don't have to suck at all, just squeeze the Bottle.

Peggy said...

I threw my bottle in the garbage yesterday. I have had two meeting in as many weeks and both times I went wet and people sort od looked at me. They need to make the bottle more user friendly and understand busy people do their showering at home. It is embarassing when you take a drink and it spills all over you.

It is a great concept but needs to be perfect

Gail Rhea said...

Peggy, I agree. For that reason, I won't buy the Bottle as a gift for others because they might not be as careful as one needs to be to ensure the Bottle doesn't leak.

Frankly, I don't understand why Brita didn't make the thread as long as it did for the Fill & Go which was great. Shortening the length of the screw-on thread was fixing something that didn't need to be fixed and caused it to leak.

Anonymous said...

I just got mine. My roommate accidentally threw out the cap. Before I noticed. After the garbage was picked up. Any words of advice for keeping it from leaking all over my backpack?

Anonymous said...

I've had my bottle for months and it never leaks. I've read about this issue on other blogs and Brita seems to be really good about replacing the bottle if it continues to be an issue. Try to contact them and see what they say.

Gail Rhea said...

Thanks for the info. Other people with leakage issues should try to get a replacement because it's a great Bottle. I considered contacting Brita but it was easier for me to buy the new ones than go through the return process. As noted in my 9/19/2012 update paragraph in my review, the Bottles I bought in March 2012 don't leak whatsoever. No tricks needed. As a result, I threw away the wussy light blue Bottle I purchased in May 2011 only a couple of weeks before you posted your comment.