Friday, October 9, 2020

The Many Uses of the Humble Aluminum Bottle

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Much has been said about Nalgene bottles, and rightly so: they are lightweight, nearly industructible, come in many different styles and colors and have tons of options for how to carry or use them. In fact, I have several in my preps. However, there's also something to be said for aluminum bottles, and I have found that they are better at multipurpose uses than the Nalgene.

To be clear, I am talking about the single-walled aluminum water bottles you can get at Walmart or Target for $10.

This is mine. I bought it over 10 years ago at a local Walmart for about $7.99 if I recall correctly. The loop on the lid makes it extra-useful, in my opinion. 

Water Purification
Sure, you can carry water in just about any bottle, but I certainly wouldn't want to boil water in a Nalgene. Given aluminum's high thermal conductivity, it heats up quickly and cools down just as fast, which is great for when you need to boil water for drinking. 

If you have the space, I would recommend having both a Nalgene and an aluminum bottle for your Get Home Bag. (For a Bug Out Bag I would rather have dedicated cooking equipment, such as a pot which can heated over the fire) 
  1. Boil the water in the aluminum bottle.
  2. When you can touch the bottle, pour the water into your Nalgene.
  3. Repeat until Nalgene is full. 
  4. Boil another aluminum bottle's worth of water and seal it when it has cooled.
  5. Refill your Nalgene from the aluminum when you are running low. When the aluminum is low, start looking for another water source. 

If you fill the bottle with water, rocks, or sand, you'll note that it's a lot heavier. That makes it a good tool for all sorts of applications: a rolling pin, an improvised club, perhaps even a counterweight of some kind. 

Even empty, it has uses: you can turn it into a jug line for fishing, or use it as an improvised monkey fist for throwing a line. 

All right, I'll admit that you can do all these with a Nalgene as well. But if you're using your Nalgene to drink from, you wouldn't want to risk damaging it using it for other tasks, and so having a second bottle you're more willing to risk could be handy. 

This is one you likely can't do, or at least can't do as well, with a Nalgene: make an alarm with it. In lieu of empty aluminum cans, put some rocks in an aluminum bottle and tie it to a tripwire as shown in this video.     


Hot Water Bottle
It's been a cold day and it looks like it's going to be an even colder night. You aren't looking forward to taking off your clothes, slipping into a cold sleeping bag, and shivering until your body heat warms your bag until it's comfortable, so you pour some hot (not boiling!) water into your aluminum bottle and put it into your bag to warm it up. If you suffer from cold feet, kick the bottle to end of your bag to help warm your toes. 

Alternately, use it like a traditional hot water bottle and apply it to a sore, aching body part for relief. You can also use cold water to roughly approximate an ice pack, but the high thermal conductivity will mean that it will lose its coldness quickly in most temperatures. 

Emergency Urinal
This is primarily of use to men, although adventurous women with funnels can also make use of this. If you need to relieve your bladder but cannot find a bathroom (such as struck in rush-hour traffic) or simply don't want to leave your warm sleeping bag, an aluminum bottle makes a great emergency urine receptacle. Plus, if you've been using your Nalgene bottle to drink from, you aren't likely to make a disgusting mistake in the morning!

What other uses for an empty aluminum water bottle can you think of?

1 comment:

  1. I keep a nalgene bottle in a neoprene insulating sleeve which doubles as a carrying case and has belt loops. I put a steel nesting cup available from Walmart and Amazon on the bottom of the bottle and inside the sleeve. It does almost the same things for the water heating and transfer but having a second metal sealable container is a good idea.


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