Trying to find an alternative to plastic, a lot of people buy stainless steel water bottles thinking this is a safer choice for for both them and their children. Shockingly some of my readers found high levels, up to 100% lead, in parts of their insulated stainless steel water bottles. Recently I, along with some readers, decided to test items we owned for lead. We hired Tamara Rubin, lead-poisoning prevention advocate, to test some household items with an XRF. She is certified and approved to use these machines.
Lead is a neurotoxin that causes permanent brain damage. Children are even more susceptible to lead exposure and it has lifelong negative effects. Lead in children’s products can not be more than 90ppm.
The findings shocking findings are below (please make sure you read the FAQ at the bottom of this post as well!):
PlanetBox Insulated Water Bottle:
The dot (which is a lead solder point) on the bottom of the PlanetBox insulated water bottle tested for 660,000ppm lead! This was used by a child whose hand were touching and holding the bottom of that water bottle. Children put their hands in their mouth all the time. Lead exposure from the bottom of this water bottle straight into the mouth of a child is a huge risk that needs to be taken seriously.
From the PlanetBox website: “Our products are independently certified to be safe from lead, phthalates, BPA and other toxic chemicals.”
This water bottle has a plastic base that when on covers this dot. However, it is not fully contained and exposure still could happen with he plastic bottom on. Also, many parents have reported that they use this water bottle without the plastic base.
PlantBox has been notified of this issue as well as the CPSC.
Update: Final update on Planetbox 4/7/17. They tested their water bottle and it passed CPSC but they acknowledged in a statement that the CPSC certified lab didn’t test the lead solder point. They took it a step further and independently tested their water bottle again and asked for that point to be tested and the third party testing agency confirmed that it is lead solder. Planetbox listened to my suggestion of making a non-removable base. All new Planetbox water bottles should not have a removable base. If you do own the removable base I personally wouldn’t be comfortable using anymore. Each time the base is coming off you are in direct contact with lead solder.
I appreciate Planetbox willingness to make a change to keep the lead solder point secure. I had high hopes that they would have done a recall. You can contact them directly if you own one of the removable base insulated water bottles to see what your options are.
2/8/17 – I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with the owner of Planetbox. They are taking this very seriously and are very concerned. They have released a statement that they are in compliance with CPSC standards – which to me didn’t address the issue at hand. Thus the reason for my phone call since being lead safe is not a standard I choose for my family. Lead free is what I look for. I found out during my call that compliance wasn’t their standard. They are addressing this issue and are working non-stop with their engineering team to make better products. I am waiting to see if their actions follow up with their words. I don’t have an update on current products with exposed lead on the market but hope to have one soon.
PlanetBox has issued this statement: https://www.planetbox.com/blogs/blog/a-statement-to-our-wonderful-customers-regarding-concerns-about-our-water-bottles. I responded on my Facebook page (where they posted this) saying:
Hi Planetbox, you are aware that children & adults are using your water bottles without the removable plastic bottom. You have advised a customer who had called in to get advice on how to get a grease like substance off of the bottom of the water bottle (which was right on top of the lead solder dot) to scrub with a sponge then to make a baking soda paste to try and remove. So you recommended that a customer scrub on / around the lead solder! While she was doing this her finger nail actually removed some of the lead solder (she had no idea this was lead). You can also see from other companies that I posted a picture of that the lead solder can come off. You state that the risk of lead is from particulate entering your body through ingestion. That is correct. What do you think might be happening when I child is holding your water bottle without the easily removable base off while they are eating? Lead solder particulate has the potential to enter their mouth directly from their hands. From your water bottle. There are alternatives to lead solder. You can make a base that isn’t removable. You also state that you did no testing of the lead solder even though you are aware of it. Why didn’t you ask the lab to test that point knowing it was a concern? Finding a safer solution and offering a recall of these bottles is what your customers want and deserve to have happen.
Pura Kiki Insulated Water Bottle:
The dot on the bottom of Pura Kiki insulated water bottle tested and was 397,000ppm lead +/- 3,000. This was used by a child that was lead poisoned living in an old home that had lead paint. Notice how the dot is scratched off the bottom. This dot was scratched off by the lead poisoned child. Her mother will be testing her lead levels again after her constant exposure to this water bottle.
The great thing about Pura Kiki is that they have a silicone sippy top which makes their water bottles completely plastic free. The lead dot is only on an older insulated bottle so buying Pura Kiki non-insulated stainless steel water bottle plus the silicone sippy top is still an option. Pura Kiki has third party testing showing that their current product line is lead free (which I link below).
From Pura Kiki’s website “The only NONTOXIC CERTIFIED™ bottles in the world. Pura products have been certified by an independent third party (MadeSafe.org) as NONTOXIC, and are the only such bottles on the global market to achieve this status.”
Pura Kiki has been amazingly responsive to this mom who contact them about the lead dot at the bottom of the water bottle. I’ve been impressed and will continue to buy products from them. Pura Kiki maintains that this water bottle should have had a metal seal covering the dot. This mom states she did not remove the metal seal which was covering the dot. This water bottle was an older style than what they sell now (this mom purchased in 2015). They have testing showing that their new insulated water bottle is lead safe (see below for info on their new bottle). Pure Kiki asks if you have any questions or concerns to feel free to reach out to them directly at email@example.com.
Healthy Human Insulated Water Bottle:
The dot (the small circle) on the bottom of this water bottle is covered by paint. The XRF can go through materials to find what might be on the inside of items. This dot, small circle on the exterior bottom, tested positive for lead. Where this doesn’t have exposed risk, there is still lead being used from a company that claims to be lead free. Paint can chip off and then lead would be exposed. If you have a water bottle like this with chipping paint you should no longer be using it.
From Healthy Human’s website: “All Healthy Human products are BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and lead-free.”
Update: 4/7/17 The owner of Healthy Human reached out to me. First, he is a very nice person who is dedicated to healthy living. He let me know that the paint is powder coated on and he has not seen a bottle chip. He sent me a picture of bottles that had been returned for various reasons and none of them had chips in the paint. The orange bottle below was made in 2015 (he could tell by some of the print on the bottom). This shows that after several years of wear the paint is still in tact.
After learning that this is powder coated paint, the risk of coming into contact with the lead solder is almost non existent. If I owned a Healthy Human water bottle, I would be 100% comfortable continuing to use it. If for any reason you do have chipping paint, please contact them. They will stand behind their product.
Why am I keeping this bottle in the post? So people that have seen this can come back for an update and incase someone happens to have one with chipped paint.
Eco Vessel Insulated Water Bottle:
This was sent in by a reader. After she read this post she tested her Eco Vessel since it had an exposed lead solder dot on the bottom. She used an at home lead testing kit and it is positive for lead. There was a seal that covered the lead dot but it broke off several months ago. Her son was using this water bottle with the exposed lead.
From the Eco Vessel web site ” DO YOUR PRODUCTS CONTAIN LEAD, PHTHALATES, BPA, OR OTHER HARMFUL MATERIAL? No. All of our products are made without the use of harmful or leaching materials and chemicals….”
From Eco Vessel – this is an older model that they do not sell. Even with that information the bottom cap should not come off very easily unless unusual wear and tear. When assembled it looks like the Klean Kanteen & Yeti posted above. They have third party tested their bottles to be safe from lead. They adhere to European standards which are much more strict than US standards.
If you have an Eco Vessel that is intact there should be no concerned of exposure.
Again, this is related to an older, no longer sold water bottle. I included it incase anyone happens to have one with the bottom missing. If you have a newer Eco Vessel you have no risk of exposure from the lead solder as it is completely encapsulated with a base that isn’t removable. The newer water bottles look like this (if I owned this I would have zero concern about using it as the solder is completely enclosed):
What does all of this mean?
This is an issue specifically with certain insulated stainless water bottles (not necessarily limited to only these brands). Then to take that a step further, the insulated water bottles that don’t have a seam on the bottom. For example, take this Klean Kanteen insulated water bottle pictured below. It has a seam on the bottom. I tested this exact Klean Kanteen and there was no lead. I also tested our Yeti insulated water bottle, which has a seam on the bottom similar to the Klean Kanteen, and it was lead free as well. Both water bottles were tested multiple places, including on the bottom where a lead dot would be if it was there. Both were non detect for lead. The XRF can read through some metals but I’m not 100% how far in. There is a chance these could have the lead dot inside but from what I understand it is sealed differently. Either way, it is totally not exposed if it happens to be there.
What is a safer option?
Any of the stainless steel water bottles below would be an excellent replacement.
What should you do?
If you are using an insulated stainless steel water bottle with exposed lead, I would immediately stop. Do not let children touch the exposed lead.
If you have an exposed dot on the bottom of your water bottle you can test it at home with a 3M lead test swab kit. You can buy on amazon here or they are readily available at Home Depot. If you have a positive (or negative) result I would love to hear about at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why I’m posting this & what I hope comes of it:
First, I’m posting to bring awareness especially if children are using these bottles as it is a huge risk. If my child was using this I would want someone to make me aware.
Second, I want these companies to take action. Each company claims their products are lead free, which they are not. At a minimum each of these companies should do a recall, and offer replacements, to people who have water bottles with exposed lead. Going forward finding manufacturing processes that would allow them to cap or seal this hole without the use of lead. Exposed lead is not safe for any child or adult! I am confident a lead free option exists. We have to demand safer products for both us and the workers who are making these product.
PlanetBox, Pura Kiki, Healthy Human – FOR THE SAKE OF OUR HEALTH, PLEASE MAKE A LEAD FREE PRODUCT AND OFFER A RECALL. STANDBY YOUR NON-TOXIC, LEAD FREE CLAIMS.
Please share this far and wide. Caregivers of children using these types of water bottles need to be made aware. Adults shouldn’t have this exposure either but children can be affected more by lead.
If you would like to reach out to the companies above to share your concerns, below is their contact information:
PlanetBox – email@example.com or (844) 752-6388 (Planet8)
Pura Kiki – firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 884-0313
Healthy Human – You can contact them at this link.
Eco Vessel – email@example.com or 800-969-2962
If you have a water bottle like this and want to share a picture in the comments please do! If you can’t post a picture please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The more awareness around this the better.
Each of these tests were done on one water bottle from each of the companies above. These tests were done by someone certified to test items for lead with an XRF. This was not done in a lab. If these companies want to test the water bottles we tested at a third party lab, the owner’s of these bottles would happily send to a third party lab for testing.
What is this lead dot used for?
To seal the insulated water bottle they are using lead solder. Non-insulated water bottles have no need for solder of any kind and there is no concern about using a non-insulated water bottle.
It the lead solder touching my water?
No, this lead solder point is on the exterior bottom of the water bottle. It is not inside the water bottle. The risk of touching exposed lead on the exterior is that you, or your children, might be touching lead then eating or putting your hands in your mouth.
Does the stainless steel have lead in it?
No, it is purely the lead solder used to seal and vacuum in the insulated feature of the water bottle.
The bottom of my water bottle came off, should I be concerned?
Please contact the company and discuss a replacement option. The bottles were not made to have pieces missing. I would not use if a protective cap on the bottom was missing.
What about Hydroflask?
They had the exact same issue happen a few years back. They change their manufacturing and now state it is lead free; however, since I did not test it I am not including it in my recommended bottles above. You will want to find out if you are using an older bottle or not especially if the solder is exposed.
What about Thermos Funtainer?
There have been so many questions about this particular brand I’ll do some research into it. However, reading through the comments someone posted a response from Thermos that did not say they were lead free. They said that there is no risk of lead exposure. Several other people commented that under several layers on the bottom there seems to be a black dot. So without testing there is no way to know. It seems fairly contained in if everything is in place; however, I have a no lead in my children’s toys, cups, or plates policy (well really anywhere but these are the big ones). Update: Thermos stated in response to a twitter comment that their solder is lead free. I still have not testing and don’t plan on taking apart a sealed bottle to do so (and you shouldn’t either).
Have you tested X, Y or Z brand? So many different brands that I’m using X, Y and Z to be generic.
I’m getting lot of questions about other water bottle brands. What I have posted above is what I have tested (or readers have sent in). I have no information on other brands without testing them.
Am I going to test any more brands?
I might at some point, but right now I don’t have any plans to. My plan is to hopefully get enough exposure that industry wide change made. Clearly this isn’t an isolated incident with a few companies. It is a manufacturing process to seal the insulation. Companies claiming third party testing that it is lead free when it is not lead free.
Company X, Y, Z is telling me they have third party testing saying it is safe. Why is this happening?
You can ask how often companies test their products. You can ask if it is 100% lead free. You can ask to see the results. From what I have found, not just with these water bottles but other products as well, is that testing is not done consistently enough. Let’s say they test a batch then they don’t test again for another year or two or more. You, and they, have no way of knowing that the current batch is the same as the batch they tested. This is consistently a problem with items made overseas (especially in China). I have found some companies that test each batch of raw material because, while they trust their supplies, they don’t feel like they can rely on trust. On the other hand a lot of companies test in the beginning of a relationship with a supplier and then do rely on trust. Shortcuts may happen that the company is not aware of. This is why I have a strict policy about products I buy for my family.
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This post will be updated as new information becomes available!
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