hot water bottle rehab
October 4, 2009 10:25 PM   Subscribe

I need a hot water bottle to sleep but mine broke! What can I substitute?

Or can I fix it? It's leaking out the screw top. Thanks!
posted by kathrineg to Grab Bag (19 answers total)
A two-litre pop bottle and a towel works in an emergency.
posted by Sallyfur at 10:30 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

People have used warming stones for a long time, because they give up their heat slowly, and never leak. You put them near a hearth (or in these modern days, in an oven) for a couple hours before bed, then wrap them in a towel, or in their own cover bags, and they keep your feet toasty for hours. Most heavy masonry objects (like bricks, ceramics, even dinner plates and serving platters) will work, too; just don't overheat them, to avoid burning risk. You want a lot of weight (mass) and low temperature, for best results.
posted by paulsc at 10:40 PM on October 4, 2009

Plumber's teflon tape, maybe, if it's leaking through the threads?

Otherwise, any bottle with a reasonable amount of heat resistance will do. I use my Nalgene bottles on camping trips (ahhhhhhh- a very, very kind guide taught me this trick- you can also stick them in your wet boots to help the drying process), and haven't had any problems with leakage even with fairly hot water.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:42 PM on October 4, 2009

Most water bottles that I've ever seen (and it's only a few) don't seem to actually seal using their threads, like NPT-type water pipes do. The threads are just there to compress a rubber gasket that actually provides the seal. So if the leaking is from the plug (as opposed to from somewhere else in the bottle, indicating a hole you need to patch) I'd check the gasket first. Maybe you can put a little vaseline or white lithium grease on it and fix the issue. Putting plumbers tape or putty on the threads themselves may not help much, if the design is like what I'm thinking of, but I guess it can't hurt.

Long term, you may just be able to replace the gasket if it's old or brittle, and keep using the bottle.

If the leak actually isn't coming out of the stopper/plug, then you need to fill it full of air, hold it underwater, and find the precise source of the leak. When you find it, you might be able to fix it with rubber cement and a bicycle-tube patch, if the bottle is rubber. Of course, you might just decide to get a new bottle, too. Up to you at that point, I guess.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:51 PM on October 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've had good luck with filling a sock with rice. Microwave it for a couple of minutes and wrap in a towel if it's too hot.
posted by sapere aude at 10:55 PM on October 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

microwave/ a couple cups of dry rice or beans. don't put water on it. just put some in a small bowl of water next to your rice. put the hot rice in a pillowcase (or something similar). roll up the end of the pillowcase around the rice and tie a ribbon or put a rubber band on it. If you don't have a microwave, try the oven for 10-15 minutes.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 10:55 PM on October 4, 2009

ah, a sock. even better.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 10:56 PM on October 4, 2009

And you ought to be able to buy a replacement hot water bottle at the drug store tomorrow.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:25 PM on October 4, 2009

Empty wine box bag.
posted by hortense at 11:52 PM on October 4, 2009

How about a large potato? I heated one to warm me on my way to work once, and then ate it when I got to work.
posted by Solomon at 1:16 AM on October 5, 2009

I've been dealing with dental issues for a month now. I go the 2-liter pop bottle route.
posted by mittenbex at 4:16 AM on October 5, 2009

Seconding the sock with rice.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:34 AM on October 5, 2009

In The World According to Garp, Jenny discovers that "hot water bottles" her mother had given her by the dozens are in fact douchebags -- and having nothing else at hand, uses the douchebags as hot water bottles.
posted by orthogonality at 5:55 AM on October 5, 2009

another vote for sock with rice. (also works great for headaches.)
posted by somanyamys at 6:49 AM on October 5, 2009

Nthing sock with rice. If you can sew, it's easy to make a nice rice therapy bag in your desired shape/size which you can microwave. I made one that's a longish tube to wrap around my achy wrist.
posted by tastybrains at 8:55 AM on October 5, 2009

The best one I ever found came with a soft, furry cover. I don't recommend putting it in the microwave though.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:57 AM on October 5, 2009

Rice sock. Watch out, that booger gets HOT!
posted by ColdChef at 4:42 PM on October 5, 2009

Lots of good ideas here ... I work in animal medicine and use an old (expired and never tapped) bag of fluids that I heat up in the microwave. Also exam gloves with some tap water inside and a knot at the top will work for awhile till the materials break down. Have never used rice bag but will try it myself ...
posted by bebrave! at 6:43 PM on October 5, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, bebrave! you must be extraordinarily brave to use a bag of fluids...wait, those aren't animal fluids, it's just saline, right?

Anyway, first I tried an old vitamin water bottle. The lids are leaky so I put it in a plastic bag. Then I wrapped a towel in it. The commotion woke up my partner and he was crabby, plus the plastic bag was uncomfortable.

Then I tried beans in socks. I loved the smell of the beans (black beans are a childhood favorite) but it didn't stay hot for long enough. It wasn't really big enough, either. I think it would work well if I needed to put heat directly on an injury or sore back.

Next, I did an old Sprite 2 liter. It worked okay, definitely not leaky. It was harder to fill up than my old water bottle because the top is so small. It holds lots of hot liquid, which is a plus. It got too hot to be comfortable directly on my skin and it cooled off too quickly. It needed insulation.

So I cut up an old cashmere/poly blend sweater and made it a little jacket. You can see the picture here. You can also see the sad broken water bottle in the background. I still can't let it go so I will try to fix it with the tips above.

Thanks, friends! I am sleeping well at night now. :)
posted by kathrineg at 9:55 AM on October 21, 2009

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