A few months ago, I told you about my experience with both the classic and wide mouth versions of Klean Kanteen (read about it here). Shortly afterward, the busy bees at Klean Kanteen also released an insulated wide mouth bottle, eliminating the need for me to complain about the stinky chemical-laden neoprene insulated sleeves that are supposed to keep my water cold.
Tangent: I know that it’s not anyone’s job to save the world on every possible front, but it seems to me if Klean Kanteen is telling me to use their product because it’s more environmentally friendly than plastic water bottles and safer than BPA lined aluminum bottles, shouldn’t they care about the toxic chemicals used to create the neoprene sleeves that they sell as an accessory? Heh, sometimes I surprise even myself when I start talking like a total hippie.
One of the drawbacks of the old Klean Kanteen bottles was that cold beverages didn’t stay cold for long and pouring hot beverages in meant the entire bottle was burning hot to touch. My half-assed solution was filling my water bottles at night, putting them in the refrigerator until I left for work the next day, and then keeping them in an insulated lunch bag. Usually by the time I finished a 40 ounce bottle, the water was still cooler than room temperature. On the other hand, maybe it was a good motivation for me to drink more quickly, the mindset being that I was trying to beat the clock before my water turned lukewarm.
When the insulated bottles came out, I didn’t rush to buy one because at that point I already had four, count ’em FOUR Klean Kanteen bottles (two classic bottles which I initially bought, and then two wide mouth bottles that I bought when they came out last year). I use the two wide mouth bottles every day, Mr. Awesome uses one of the classic bottles at work, and I recently gave the other classic bottle to my sister because I felt so guilty that it was just gathering dust. Needless to say, another bottle seemed an unnecessary purchase. Plus I swear, every time I order something from Klean Kanteen, they come out with something new right afterward which makes me feel like I should have waited a little longer.
I was also a little reluctant to buy an insulated bottle because the largest size available is 20 ounce, which is half the size of the bottles I use now. I finally gave in and bought an insulated 20 ounce bottle at the grocery store last month. Somehow, not paying for shipping made it seem like a bargain. I was excited about trying it out…and then promptly forgot about it. I left it on the counter, unwashed and neglected, until last week when I decided to bring some tea to work.
Klean Kanteen says that their insulated bottle will keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours, and it will keep food warm up to 6 hours. I’m always a little skeptical of such exact claims, but they are not kidding. The bottles themselves are not microwavable, so I heated my water in a mug for 3 minutes and then poured it into the bottle. I added some Manuka honey and squeezed in the juice of two lemons. I deliberately didn’t drink it right away because I wanted to see how long it would stay hot.
I have been secretly trying to justify my need for an infrared thermometer (I originally wanted one because I ordered some french fries which were cold and stale, and when I asked for fresh hot fries, the manager had the nerve to tell me I had to specifically ask for them that way – apparently the expectation is that they always serve cold stale fries. I thought having an infrared thermometer would be a much more accurate and fun way to tell them that their fries were too cold to be served), and now I really wish I had one so that I could report on the temperature of my tea. You will have to take my word for it when I say that four hours after I made it, my tea was still hot enough to almost scald my tongue. When I took the top off, I saw steam coming out of the bottle. At the six hour mark, it was still very warm, bordering on hot (hot enough that I had to blow on it a little before sipping).
The insulated bottle comes with a standard loop top. The outside is made of plastic (BPA free polypropylene #5) but the inside is stainless steel so that there is no plastic touching your food or water. The loop makes carrying this bottle very easy (although even the largest size is slim enough to wrap your hand around comfortably without any strain). The main con to the loop cap is constantly screwing and unscrewing it to drink. Normally when I drink water out of my regular (non-insulated) bottle, I take the top off once I get to work and I leave it off until I’m finished drinking the entire bottle. Because I wanted my tea to stay hot, however, I kept putting the top back on which got tiresome.
Klean Kanteen’s solution is the cafe top, which is similar to the top of a travel mug. You can sip hot drinks out of it while driving without fear of spilling coffee into your lap or sloshing coffee all over the car (even after we bought my dad a travel mug with a top, he still insisted on driving to work and drinking his coffee out of a regular mug, which resulted in a lot of spilled coffee over the years). It has a raised rim and the top rotates to expose the opening. There is no steel inside this top, which means your beverage is coming into contact with plastic, but again, it’s BPA free polypropylene #5 which is supposed to be safe. I know, I know – it’s only a matter of time before another report comes out and tells us this one will kill us too, right?
I was worried that perhaps the cafe top would not keep my drink as hot for as long as the loop top, but it did surprisingly well. After four hours with the cafe top, my tea was still hot. After six hours total, it was still very warm. I think the temperature was slightly lower with the cafe top, but just barely. Overall, I was impressed with how hot my drink stayed with both tops.
One important detail about my heat tests is that aside from checking the temperature every once in a while, I did not take the tops off during the first four hours. The results may be different if you start drinking right away, meaning you let cold air in from the beginning and very frequently.
Although this seems like an obvious point, it bears stating that the cafe top is NOT leakproof. To me it seems like a huge DUH, but there have been several online complaints from users saying that the cafe top “leaked,” meaning when it wasn’t upright, some liquid came out. No shit, Chet, no shit. If you put liquid in a vessel, screw on a top THAT HAS A HOLE IN IT, and then turn said vessel on its side or upside down, shockingly, the inside of your bag will not stay dry. Gravity is crazy that way.
The outside of the insulated bottle stays completely cool. You would never know from picking it up that it contains boiling hot water. If I put my finger inside the loop, I can feel a slight warmth radiating, but that’s the only hint that the contents are hot.
I’ve only used the insulated bottle for cold drinks once. I put cool water with three ice cubes inside and took it to a performance. Five hours later, my water was still nice and cold but there was no condensation on the outside of the bottle. After I drank all my water, the ice cubes were still intact, so I refilled my bottle with room temperature water which quickly became icy cold. Once the weather warms up, I may start using this to bring cold water to work!
The only issue I had with my 20 ounce insulated bottle is that I couldn’t get my hand inside to clean it very well. With the classic and regular wide mouth bottles, I only carry water, so cleaning is pretty simple. I either wash with soapy water, baking soda, or white vinegar. The honey and lemon I use for my tea leave traces inside the bottle and my fingers can’t reach far enough to scrub all the way down the bottle. To solve this problem, I bought a Munchkin deluxe bottle brush. It’s the perfect size (almost the exact diameter as the bottle) and scrubs away any lemon crud inside. Bonus: it has a hidden nipple brush inside the handle (I swear, I can’t make this stuff up). I suppose you could use it to really get into the grooves in the cap, but the regular brush seems to do a good job at that. The end of the handle is a twofer: it’s flat so you can stand the brush up (rather than letting it lie on the counter) and it’s also a suction cup so that you can suction it to the counter and keep it from getting knocked over while it’s drying.
Although I like the 20 ounce Klean Kanteen insulated bottle for tea, it’s a bit too tall (8.75″) for a regular spoon, which would be completely submerged inside this bottle. My first solution to this problem was to fill the bottle a little more than halfway with hot water, add the honey and lemon, stir with the longest spoon I have, add the rest of the water, screw the loop top on, and then turn it upside down to mix gently.
My next solution was to use a bar spoon. Many of them have a twisty handle, which allows you to make layered drinks, but can make the handle seem thinner and weaker than a regular spoon. You can buy one on its own for a few dollars (the one I found at Bed Bath and Beyond was $2), but they also come with a lot of bar accessory kits if you plan to practice your Tom Cruise in Cocktail skills! If you want something a little sturdier, you can also purchase iced tea spoons (also known as sweet tea spoons) which are more like regular spoons with longer handles.
If you need an insulated bottle for soup or other hot food, I recommend one of the smaller bottles (unless you want to use a long handled spoon to eat your lunch). The 12 ounce bottle is only 6.5″ tall, so you can fit plenty of food inside and still get a spoon to the very bottom. Besides, it’s so little and cute!