When did it all begin?
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. 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. You can still find old hot water bottles and bed pan warmers in antique fairs. These bed warmers took hot charcoal or embers from the fire to heat up the metal pan. Some had perforated vents to let out more heat and most where decorated with motifs, family crest or motto's. Mass manufactured so many still survive today and if in good condition can still be used!
Large stoneware hot water bottle also called a foot warmer. The stoneware hot water bottle below was made by Langley Ware of England. Often the stone cap would be replaced with a cork alternative to seal the hot water, the stoneware hot water bottle below has it's original stone cap and in excellent condition. Because they were mass produced and very robust many survived so the antique value is not great. Many stoneware hot water bottles are still in use today and will be for years to come.
Hot water was also used in glass or ceramic pots that sealed in the hot water with a cork. Not many glass hot water bottles survived but the ceramic containers continued in production for many years well into the 20th century. Other examples are boots hot water bottle.
The modern day hot water bottle 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.
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 the birth of rubber hot water bottle quickly spread around the globe and became a common household item.
Over the years the rubber hot water bottle continued to be in use around the world. Newer types entered the market with microwave hottie's (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 hot water bottle is making a strong comeback. Allergy free PVC hot water bottles have been developed for those with latex allergies and phthalate free bottles for young children. Novelty shaped hot water bottles has given greater choice of styles and colour along with fashion and designer covers to match the latest in fashion and decor.
The latest British Standard has recently been updated to BS 1970:2012