The earliest recorded type of hot water bottle was the bed warmer. Going back to the 16th century these where filled with embers from the fire and placed into a metal pan with a lid over the top to protect against sparks leaping out and setting the bedding on fire. Many still survive today and can be seen in copper form with long wooden handles that helped move the hot pan across the bed to warm all corners. These early bed warmers made it easy to take hot charcoal or embers direct from the fire to heat up the metal pan. Some had perforated air vents to let out more heat and most where decorated with motifs, family crest or motto's. Very popular at the time and mass manufactured so many still survive today, if in good condition can still be used today. Often found in antique shops and fairs and when cleaned up these old bed warmers make great decorator pieces.
Earthenware potteries produced large stoneware bed warmers also called a foot warmers as an new alternative way to keep warm. The stoneware example below was made by Langley Ware of England. Often the stone cap would be replaced with a cork alternative to seal the water, this example below has it's original stone cap and in excellent condition. Because they were mass produced around the country by local potters and being very robust many survived so the antique value is not great. Many of the stoneware examples are still in use today and will be for years to come!
Hot water was also regularly used in glass or ceramic pots using cork seals to keep watertight. To avoid knocking and intense heat these would be wrapped in a towel or blanket and placed carefully in position. Few glass types survive today but ceramic containers continued in production for many years well into the 20th century. Other examples are boots hot water bottle made in copper, brass or tin provided a novelty value to a household utility item of the day.When did it change?
The modern day one we all use and love has the motor industry to thank! Charles Goodyear started the ball rolling with the invention of vulcanised rubber. This led to many new uses for rubber, one of which was the hot water bottle , rubber is an ideal medium to contain hot water and transfer heat directly to source.Who was first with a rubber hot water bottle?
In 1903 Slavoljub Eduard Penkala (April 20, 1871 – February 5, 1922) a naturalised Croatian engineer first patented the "Termofor" a rubber hot water bottle. Born to a Polish father and Dutch mother he was a serial inventor with many great inventions to his name. From that first 1903 patent they quickly spread around the globe and became a common household item. Now over a 100 years later improved production techniques means they have evolved to meet the demands of a younger generation across the world.What's the latest news?
Over the years the original rubber hot water bottle continued to be in use around the world. Newer types entered the market with grain filled containers that can be any shape to suit the purpose, electric blankets and heat pads . Whilst these have given many new uses and greater choice the traditional bottle is making a strong comeback. Allergy free PVC products, TPU and the latest Eco bio degradable hot water bottles have been developed for those with latex allergies and phthalate free for young children. Novelty shapes and sizes with the latest long hot water bottle has given greater choice of styles and colour along with fashion and designer covers to match the latest in fashion and decor.
UK safety standards has been used within the EU in the form of British Safety Standard. This was also applied in Australia and now their new Trade Practices (Consumer Product Safety) is based on the earlier BS1790:2006. The latest British Standard for hot water bottles has been updated to BS 1970:2012.
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