The 6 Best Hot Water Bottles
A Brief History Of Hot Water Bottles
Still, the idea was sound, and it was only a matter of time until someone improved on it.
If you've ever had to slide underneath ice-cold sheets on a frigid winter night, then you already know the value of keeping a warm bed. You may have even considered getting a pet or even a spouse just to increase the temperature under your covers. While I can't condone marrying someone just for their body heat, you should still keep your bed toasty — and a hot water bottle is a great way to do it.
While humans have been trying to keep their beds warm since the first caveman moved his pile of leaves closer to the fire, the first documented bed warmers were invented in the 16th century. These were long, metal pans with hot coals inside, and while they did an admirable job, they also caused a lot of severe burns and bedding fires.
Of course, if you didn't want to have to deal with a metal pan of death every night, you could get a bed wagon, which was a large wooden frame built over a pot that burned fuel. This is a little too close to a spit-roast for my tastes, but I guess some people will do anything to beat the cold.
A few centuries later, the stoneware hot water bottle came along. These were heavy, oblong plaster bottles with a stopper at one end that were excellent at radiating heat. The downside, however, is that they could leak if the stopper came out, and they broke easily when dropped. Still, the idea was sound, and it was only a matter of time until someone improved on it.
That time came in 1903, and that someone was Slavojub Eduard Penkala. The Croatian inventor patented a rubber bottle that could disperse heat without the danger of severe burns. His basic design is still in use today, but we have many other options to choose from, as well, including gel packs, latex bottles, and stuffed cushions that you can warm up in a microwave.
Health Benefits Of Hot Water Bottles
Hot water bottles aren't just for comfort. They also double as therapy devices, and if you don't have one, your body could be paying the price.
Your muscles are especially receptive to heat therapy, particularly when they're cramping or aching from over-exertion. Heat can increase blood flow to the affected area, whisking away lactic acid and bringing your muscles needed nutrients. The warmth is also reassuring, which can have an analgesic effect, essentially acting as a non-chemical painkiller.
A good rule of thumb is that ice is for trauma, and heat is for aches, pains, and stress.
If you're stressed, but you don't have the ability to schedule a massage, grabbing a hot water bottle may be the next best thing. They're fantastic for relaxing trigger points, which releases any stored tension in your muscles and works out painful knots. Of course, it will be even more effective when paired with a massage, but then we'd be running the risk of spoiling you.
A hot water bottle should be part of your go-to therapy for menstrual pain as well. Applying heat for up to four hours has been shown to reduce cramping, making it a great way to fight discomfort without medication.
These bottles aren't an absolute cure-all, however. If you have an injury, or if you're dealing with inflammation, you should ice the area instead of applying heat. A good rule of thumb is that ice is for trauma, and heat is for aches, pains, and stress.
Of course, the best therapy often involves adding ice to a glass and finding a good numbing solution, but that's a discussion for another time.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Hot Water Bottle
Having a hot water bottle around the house is a good idea, but many people buy one and then just stash it underneath the bathroom sink or in a closet somewhere. If this sounds familiar, then you're not getting full value from your bottle, and as we've seen, you're missing out on some pretty fantastic benefits. However, while using it is important, using it properly is also critical.
Once your time is up, take a moment to stretch and massage the sore spot, which should now be loosened up from the heat.
First off, you should boil the water before you put it in the bottle. I know, this sounds unnecessary, since you won't physically be touching the liquid, but boiling removes impurities that can damage and degrade the material. If you have a water purifier, bringing the water to a boil is less important, and you can just heat it to your desired temperature.
After you're done cooking the water, let it sit for a few minutes before pouring it in. You can even cool it further with a splash of cold water or a couple ice cubes.
Don't overfill your bottle, either. About two-thirds full is plenty, as any more would stress the elasticity of the bottle. This can lead to cracking, and trust me, you do not want to find a hot water leak the hard way. You should also wrap it in a towel before applying it to your skin, just in case.
If you're primarily using it for warmth, spring for a larger model that can really heat up your bed. Slip it under the covers a few minutes before you're ready to turn in, so that you can climb into a toasty little cocoon rather than having to wait for the heat to slowly spread across the frozen expanse of your mattress.
If, however, you're using it for aching muscles, apply it directly to the affected area for 20-30 minutes. Once your time is up, take a moment to stretch and massage the sore spot, which should now be loosened up from the heat. Repeat this a couple of times a day until you've fully recovered.