I, like many others, was given a hot bottle as a kid to ease a stomach ache. It was a remedy both my mother and grandmother seemed to be fond of. As a teenager, I had my own, a pink and white polka dot one, and now as an adult, I still have one.
Hot water bottles provide warmth, comfort and can soothe aches and pains. Today, modern versions are made from rubber with a small stopper. Sometimes they have soft fabric covers or come in different shapes, but early versions weren’t as cozy.
Used as early as the 16th century, the original hot water bottles were stoneware containers that contained dying embers of a fire. They were referred to as bed warmer pans and had a large wooden handle to transfer them safely from the fire to the bed. Before heating systems and insulation, beds would be very cold at night, so they were used to warm them before getting in.
Eventually, the embers were switched to boiling water, but stoneware and metal versions were still used. These were called foot warmers and had a stone cap to keep the water in. Brass, glass, and even wood were sometimes used and then placed in a soft cloth. By 1903, Britain had revolutionized their hot water bottle use and started using natural rubber. This design, however, has roots in Croatia.
The rubber water bottle was designed by a Croatian engineer named Slavoljub Eduard Penkala and was called the “termofor.” Once a common practice for every household, people stopped using them because they didn’t require them to heat their bedroom. By the late 20th century, there were plenty of other alternatives to heat up your bed as well, like a microwavable heating pad or electric sheets.
Though not as popular for nightly use, in some cultures, they are still widely used, and many countries are witnessing a resurgence in their popularity. For example, in Japan and Chile, they are commonly used as a more eco-friendly and affordable way to warm up. Many also use them camping in the US and Canada because they are so portable and easy to pack; they are used to heat a sleeping bag. Pair with a camping pillow, and you’ll have one of the best sleeping experiences outdoors ever!
New materials are also being used including biodegradable alternatives and allergy-free PCV. You can also find a greater selection of shapes, colors, covers, and sizes to suit both children and adults. Rubber is still the most common material for hot water bottles as it has excellent insulating properties that prevent heat from escaping. The screw cap also keeps air out and water in for lasting heat. With time, the bottle will cool until it reaches the same temperature as the room.
There are safety regulations in place when it comes to hot water bottles. Each country will have its own specifications but they generally require testing, instructions, and regulatory materials. These regulations help prevent any accidents with the hot water. Boiling water should not be used as it can damage the seams and put you at risk for burns. Instead, fill with hot tap water or boiling water that has had time to cool.
The Many Uses of Hot Water Bottles
Hot water bottles serve many purposes and do a lot more than warm up your bed. It is one of those items you should always have on hand, just like an ice pack, multivitamin, and bandages, as you never know when you will need it. Here are several great uses of hot water bottles and why you need one in your house.
Soothes back and neck pain
Chronic back and neck pain can reduce your quality of life. Lingering pain will make it difficult to enjoy your favorite activities, exercise, or get a good night’s rest. By using a hot water bottle, you can soothe pain and start to feel better.
Many doctors and physical therapists recommend hot and cold to treat the pain. For example, Lauri Grossman, the founder of the Department of Homeopathic Medicine at New York University, says “cold therapy (applied via an ice pack) works better for inflammation and helps to reduce swelling, while heat (via a hot water bottle or heating pad) is ideal for reducing cramping and muscle spasms.”
Provides relief for headaches and migraines
If you suffer from the occasional headache or migraine, relief can come in different ways. Similar to treating back and neck pain, applying cold and heat to the head or base of the skull can help make your headache feel better. Laying down with a hot water bottle under your neck and head can provide a great deal of relief and make you feel more relaxed.
Alleviates menstrual pain and cramps
A friend of mine keeps a microwavable heating pad in her desk drawer for when her menstrual cramps get bad. This is because the heat can ease pain significantly. A hot water bottle works in the same way. By applying it to your lower abdomen, you can relax the constriction of blood flow which in turn eases cramps and the associated pain.
It can be used as an ice pack to cool you
Filling your hot water bottle with ice or cold water can provide you with a cooling effect. This is great for cold treatment. You can then use this to soothe injuries, bumps, and bruises or even cool down your bed if feeling too hot. For example, camping in the middle of summer can be great, but high temperatures can make it uncomfortable. While laying on your camping pillow, place a hot water bottle filled with cold water under your neck or on your stomach to help bring your temperature down.
Improves colon and liver function
In addition to a healthy diet and a multivitamin, you can help cleanse your colon with a hot water bottle. Many practitioners state that you can help activate the colon and rid your body of toxins by placing a hot water bottle on your abdomen. To do so, apply the heat to your mid-section while laying down (just make sure a bathroom is close by!)
Eases stomach pain
Just as it helps with menstrual pain, it can also soothe stomach cramps caused by other issues. For example, diarrhea can cause painful stomach cramps that are difficult to alleviate. If diarrhea and pain are caused by bad food, medications are not recommended. In this case, the best way to get some relief is with a hot water bottle. Lay down and apply it directly to your abdomen, and it will help calm things down.
Keeps you warm outdoors
Nights can get cool, and even if you aren’t cozying up on your camping pillow for the night, sitting outside in the evening can make you chilly. A hot water bottle can make you feel much more comfortable at any outdoor event where the temperatures are dropping.
Eases a cough and congestion
A cold and cough can become worse a night. You may feel more congestion, difficulty breathing, or heaviness in your chest. When you cannot sleep because of these symptoms, it can make you feel even worse. A hot compress like a hot water bottle or microwavable heating pad is said to ease congestion and help you breathe more freely so you can get the sleep you need.
Dissolves muscle pain after an intense workout
Self-proclaimed gym rats and fitness enthusiasts love a good workout but necessarily love the feeling of fatigued muscle and pain. It can make it difficult to do everyday activities and make future workouts more challenging. After a training session, applying a hot water bottle can help dissolve muscle pain and prevent it from worsening.
Removes ice from your car windows
This may be an unconventional use - but it’s brilliant! In colder temperatures, ice can build on your car window overnight. Running late and then having to scrape your car windows is not the best way to start your day. To make it much easier on you, simply fill your hot water bottle and place it on the dashboard. By the time you are ready to leave the house (20 minutes), the ice will have melted, and your windows would have cleared up.
Eases pregnancy pains
There are a lot of new and uncomfortable pains associated with pregnancy, and a hot water bottle may be the only thing that provides relief. For example, lower back pain or sore feet can be soothed with the warmth of a hot water bottle.
It is clear to see why a hot water bottle should be in every household with so many uses.
You can include it with your other first-aid materials, multivitamin, and microwavable heating pad so the next time someone in your house isn’t feeling great, you can ease pain or warm them up.