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First-Ever Bottled Water?

First-Ever Bottled Water?

When you grab a bottle of water, have you ever stopped to think about how the massive bottled water industry was born? 

Bottled Water’s Roots

The practice of bottling water for sale goes all the way back to 1622 in the Malvern Hills north of London in the U.K. In a valley of granite substrate, the Holy Well bottling plant was born. Water coming up through cracks in the stone was thought to have healing properties, so it was captured in glass bottles and sold across the country.

Poet Robert Bloomfield wrote of the restorative Holy Well: “Boast, Malvern, that thy springs revive, the drooping patient, scarce alive, where as he gathers strength to toil, not e’en they heights his spirits foil.”

Holy Well water was sold for centuries, and the popularity of bottled water soared after German- Swiss Johann Jacob Schweppe began successfully selling carbonated spring water in Geneva, Switzerland, in the late 1700s. Bottled water lost popularity after an English doctor named Alexander Houston used chlorine to kill bacteria in 1905, ending the typhoid epidemic.

Hello, Plastics

But bottled water was revived thanks to the invention of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic by Nathaniel C. Wyeth, a DuPont engineer. This plastic could be fashioned into lightweight and sturdy bottles, the perfect size for the cold drink of water you grab at the store.

Holy Well Today

Americans today consume billions of gallons of bottled water. Interestingly, you can travel back in time and enjoy water like that first bottled at Holy Well. The plant was purchased and restored in 2009 and is back in production. 

Check out the first-ever diet!

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  • Lynn Davis says:

    Does plastic bottles also contain a chemical that makes plastic flexible and could be harmful and lead you cancer?

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Lynn, the chemical in plastic you want to look out for is BPA. BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.

      BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. They may also be used in other consumer goods.

      Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.

      Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It can also affect children’s behavior. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.

      However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods. This assessment is based on review of hundreds of studies. The FDA continues to monitor the research.

      If you’re concerned about BPA, you can take steps to reduce your exposure:

      Use BPA-free products. Manufacturers are creating more and more BPA-free products. Look for products labeled as BPA-free. If a product isn’t labeled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
      Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods.
      Avoid heat. Don’t put polycarbonate plastics in the microwave or dishwasher, because the heat may break them down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.
      Use alternatives. Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers. – Mayo Clinic

  • CarolAnn MacNutt says:

    To save on the use of plastics for bottled water, I have a metal water bottle and I use the water out of the tap. Fortunately, we have a well, the water is hard but tastes good and it’s very cold. I can understand why people in towns and cities use bottled water because chloride and other additives are introduced to the water supply.

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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