Two Nalgene bottles featuring the NFPA 704 color code for hazardous materials identification

Thermo Scientific Nalgene is a brand of polyethylene plastic developed and manufactured by Nalge Nunc International originally developed for laboratory storage containers. It is now used in the manufacture of water containers, vials, bottles, bags and carboys for packaging, shipping, and storage. The name Nalgene is a registered trademark.

That original Nalgene line included such items as jars, bottles, test tubes, graduated cylinders, and Petri dishes helpful to laboratory workers, chemists, and biologists because they were shatterproof and lighter than glass. The properties of the respective plastics make them suitable for work with many materials in various temperature ranges.


Nalgene Outdoor

In the 1970s, conservationists began discouraging the former reckless approach of disposing of cans and glass containers by burning and burying in wilderness and recreation areas, and some places began forbidding such materials by regulation. Thermo Scientific Nalgene products became popular replacements among backpackers for storing consumables; the light, wide-mouthed, HDPE and Lexan bottles were more secure than plastic bags, and found use for both liquids and solid foods.

Narrow-mouth Nalgene bottle

Originally, wilderness travelers purchased Nalgene products through laboratory-equipment suppliers (or perhaps gained access to them in their workplaces). Company lore has it that the company president Marsh Hyman discovered that his son's Boy Scout troop was using Nalgene lab containers when camping. Since then, the company has re-packaged and marketed items that most appeal to them for consumer sales through their line of Nalgene Outdoor Products.[1] By the late 1990s, the "Nalgene" trademark was recognized by many hikers and sales of the 1-litre wide-mouth bottle of translucent polycarbonate (originally typically grey, but now commonly in bright colors, often with custom labels made for the bottle retailer) with a screw-on plastic top that stays attached when the bottle is open, began to increase. Now, most hikers and others recognize the distinctive appearance of Nalgene-branded bottles. Its laboratory pedigree is suggested by the markings, in hundreds of millilitres, of the volumes contained when filled to the corresponding levels. The materials resist stains or absorbing odors, and permit filling the bottle with boiling water.[2] The wide-mouth bottle is more widely used and sold over the narrow-mouth bottles in sub-freezing conditions since it is easier to break through frozen ice in the wider mouth. Currently, Nalgene markets seven different kinds of bottles: Stainless, Grip n' Gulp, Multidrink, 32 oz. Wide Mouth, On-the-Fly, 32 oz. Glow, and Oasis.

Products originated by other manufacturers, that are designed for compatibility with this item's overall dimensions or its 2.5 inch neck include:

  • Screw-on water-purifying filters
  • Stainless-steel collapsible-handle cups, for drinking and/or stove-top cooking, that store compactly with a Nalgene litre-bottle nested inside them
  • Insulated Nylon-fabric cases for Nalgene 1 litre bottles; features include stable attachment points and, in most cases, nesting for a cup
  • Snap-in plastic "splash guards" that narrow the neck opening to a size where drinking while in motion is less likely to cause spilling
  • Screw-in filters, which allow the user to add coffee grounds or tea, pour boiling water over the contents, seal the lid, and brew the beverage.
  • Screw on LED lights, creating a usable lantern with low power consumption.

Another widely available Nalgene Outdoor product is a 650-ml (22-fl oz) "All-Terrain" or "bike" bottle. The bottle itself is LDPE, and its screw top has two moving parts: a drinking nozzle that seals until snapped open by pulling on it, and a hinged Lexan dome, that when closed both snaps the nozzle closed and protects the nozzle against contamination. Unlike traditional Nalgene containers, this item can be damaged and potentially ruined by filling it with very hot water.

Recently, Nalgene has added hydration systems to its cycling and wilderness product line. The line features 1- to 3-litre bladders with hose-and-bite-valve assemblies in small back-carried packs (mostly under 1000 cubic inches (16 L) of additional storage). Nalgene offers the option of two different bladder materials for a choice of superior taste and bacteria resistance versus improved durability. In addition, the bladder on these products can be quickly detached from the hose and pack by a self-sealing connector on the bladder. These features seemed aimed at dissatisfaction in traditional hydration systems with problems of awkward filling and/or spilling water into gear that shares the pack.

Increased awareness of the importance of hydration - and perhaps a fad of wilderness chic - has led to the appearance of some Nalgene containers in urban and suburban settings like gyms, offices, and campuses. Many colleges give or sell Nalgene water bottles to their students, and Nalgene bottles are also customized and sold as retail promotions.


In 1997 Nalgene was targeted in a nationwide boycott by campus-based animal rights activists for products used in animal experimentation. The majority of company criticism was directed towards a Nalgene device that prevents rabbits from breaking their own backs during pyrogen testing. The company has responded with an official statement[3] that it supported research "conducted only within the guidelines of the federal Animal Welfare Act and only when necessary."

BPA concerns and resolution

In recent years, studies have suggested that polycarbonate plastics such as the ones Nalgene used may leach endocrine disruptors.[4] Nalgene denies that the quantity leached from their products posed a significant threat to health.[4] Among the secreted chemicals, Bisphenol A (BPA) is a concern as it binds to estrogen receptors, thus altering gene expression.[5][6][7] Other research has found that fixatives in polycarbonate plastics can cause chromosomal error in cell division called aneuploidy. Nalgene claims these chemicals are only potentially released from Nalgene products when used at temperatures outside of the designed range.

In November 2007, national Canadian co-operative retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op removed all hard, clear polycarbonate plastic water bottles (including Nalgene-branded product) from their shelves and replaced them with BPA-free Nalgene bottles. In December 2007, Lululemon made a similar move. In May 2008, REI removed Nalgene-branded polycarbonate water bottles and replaced them with BPA-free Nalgene bottles.

On April 18, 2008, Health Canada announced that Bisphenol A is "'toxic' to human health".[8] On the same date, Nalgene announced it would phase out production of its Outdoor line of polycarbonate containers containing the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA).[9] Nalgene subsequently adopted a BPA-free product made by Eastman, TritanTM copolyester, as a substitute.[10]

See also

  • Phthalates


  1. ^ "Nalgene Outdoor Products History". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Nalgene Outdoor Specifications and Care". Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  3. ^ "About Us". Nalgene Outdoor website. Retrieved September 30, 2005. 
  4. ^ a b "Nalgene's Statement on Toxins". 
  5. ^ "Our Stolen Future: Scientists call for New Risk Assessment of Bisphenol-A and Reveal Industry Biases in Research". 
  6. ^ "Endocrine Disruptor Group Bisphenol A Studies". Retrieved 2007-02-20. 
  7. ^ Patricia A. Hunt et al. (2003). "Bisphenol A Exposure Causes Meiotic Aneuploidy in the Female Mouse". Current Biology 13 (7): 546–553. doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(03)00189-1. PMID 12676084.!&_cdi=6243&view=c&_acct=C000022002&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=458507&md5=16bf9c2fee5bf51e436f49fa221f76fe#toc3. , doi:10.1016/S0960-9822(03)00189-1
  8. ^ "Questions and Answers for Action on Bisphenol A Under the Chemicals Management Plan". Archived from the original on 2008-06-22. 
  9. ^ "Nalgene to Phase Out Production of Consumer Bottles Containing BPA" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  10. ^ "Nalgene Choice". Retrieved 2008-09-29. 

External links

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