We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
For a long time, people have applied heat to the body as an effective way to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. One of the most effective ways to apply heat locally is with a hot water bottle. Increasing the temperature on a specific area of the body improves circulation and blood flow, working to relax and soothe damaged tissue.
If you’re going to use a hot water bottle, it’s important to know when to use hot or cold therapy for pain. Generally, use cold for acute injuries and to reduce inflammation, and use heat for longer-term muscle pain, such as arthritis.
Knowing your best options for hot water bottles puts you one step closer to giving your sore muscles and cold feet what they need. (They’re also a great way to heat up your bed during cold winter months.) Here’s our review of six of the best hot water bottles available online.
We chose the hot water bottles reviewed here based on customer reviews, the quality of the materials, and the reputation of the manufacturers. Any water bottles that got less than 3-star ratings, had leaky designs, or were from unknown sources did not make it on the list.
We included hot water bottles with a range of prices using the following guide:
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–20
- $$$ = over $20
Best hot water bottle overall
- Price: $$
- Material: rubber
With 4.5 stars and nearly 12,000 ratings on Amazon, this water bottle is a popular choice. It has everything you need, including a knitted bag in your choice of seven different colors, because why not?
- The wide mouth with anti-spurt lip makes pouring easier.
- Grid texture makes it safer and more comfortable to hold.
- Bottle can also double as an ice pack.
- Rubber thermoplastic is recyclable.
- It’s transparent, so you know how much is there.
- You can only fill this hot water bottle about 2/3 full.
- The thickness of the rubber and the knitted cover mean that it may not be warm enough for some.
Best value for the price
- Price: $
- Material: rubber
Though slightly cheaper hot water bottles are on the market, many lack the convenience and safety features of this one. For example, the Samply 2 Liter Hot Water Bottle comes with a knitted cover in multiple colors for comfortable handling.
- The wide mouth makes filling easy.
- It’s transparent, so you can easily see how much water is inside.
- The hot water bottle stays hot for long periods — most reviewers say an hour or more.
- You can not fill this hot water bottle over 2/3 full.
- It may give off an odor, according to some reviewers.
Best big hot water bottle
- Price: $$$
- Material: rubber
If surface area is what you’re going for, this hot water bottle will fit the bill. However, it’s the most expensive hot water bottle on the list. Those looking to comfort larger areas, such as the back and stomach, may find it’s worth the money.
- This hot water bottle will heat large areas at once.
- It’s thicker, so the heat will last longer.
- It’s also free of bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.
- The ribbed texture and handle make filling easier and safer.
- It’s relatively expensive.
- The considerable amount of rubber may have an unpleasant smell, especially at first use.
- It’s not transparent, so it may be difficult to know how much is inside.
Best latex-free hot water bottle
- Price: $$
- Material: PVC
Most hot water bottles on the market are made of rubber, which might be a problem for those with latex allergies. This hot water bottle is made of PVC, which is odorless and recyclable.
- It’s latex-free.
- You can use it for heat or ice.
- The material and ribbed outer surface helps the bag stay hotter for longer.
- The cover has a waist strap for wrapping around the torso.
- The manufacturer advises that you only fill to 2/3 full with 80 degree water.
- Some customers find it too small.
Most eco-friendly hot water bottle
- Price: $$$
- Material: sustainable thermoplastic
Most hot water bottles are made of either PVC, which is not known for its environmentally friendly properties, or rubber. Synthetic rubber is made of crude oil, while natural rubber comes from trees. Either way you slice it, rubber as a sustainable material has mixed reviews. That’s why we’ve included this hot water bottle from German company Hugo Frosch, which is made of sustainable thermoplastic. It comes from 90-percent renewable sources.
- The hot water bottle is made of phthalate-free, odorless, and recyclable materials.
- It can hold heat for 6 to 8 hours.
- It comes with a snazzy fleece zip-up cover.
- The material may be slightly stiffer than traditional rubber hot water bottles.
- It’s a more expensive option.
Best DIY hot water bottle
- Price: $$
- Material: tritan
Campers and backpackers have long known the life hack of filling their water bottles with hot water and sticking them in sleeping bags on cold nights. You can use the same trick at home. The nice aspect of this is that it also doubles as a water bottle you can drink out of. Also, Nalgene bottles come in lots of colors and different sizes.
- A Nalgene bottle is portable.
- It’s multipurpose.
- You can use it as a water bottle when you’re done heating your muscles.
- The round shape of the bottle may not work well on all areas of the body. Knees are tough, for example, while softer areas such as the forearms are quite comfortable.
- While heating your muscles, you’re out of a water bottle for drinking.
To prepare a hot water bottle:
- Boil water.
- Let it cool to a safe temperature.
- Pour water into the spout.
It’s important not to use boiling water, as this can be dangerous and could also degrade the seams of your hot water bottle. You also don’t want to use tap water, as it may not be hot enough and contains impurities that can affect the material of your hot water bottle.
Filling your bottle takes a level of precision and care due to the safety issues of handling hot water. It’s best to pour from a container with a spout, such as a kettle. If you don’t have a kettle and are using a pan on the stove, it might be best to pour the water into another container with a spout first.
The best course of action is to proceed very slowly through all the steps. If you do get burned, here are some important first aid tips:
- Run cool water over the burn for at least 20 minutes.
- If there is jewelry or clothing near the burn area, remove it.
- Do not remove items stuck to the burn.
- Cover the burn with a moist bandage or clean cloth.
When it comes to temperature, everyone has a slightly different tolerance for heat on their skin. But a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether the temperature feels comfortable. If you’re tempted to remove the hot water bottle, then the water is too hot.
Healthcare professionals suggest that you apply heat for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, as frequently as is comfortable. You might also find alternating heat and cold therapy helpful.
In addition to hot water bottles, another way to apply heat to the body is with an electric heating pad. These plug into the wall to provide constant warmth. The advantage of electric heating pads is that they stay warmer for longer periods and do not require boiling water. You can also try a weighted heating pad for additional comfort.
Capsaicin cream is an over-the-counter product that you can use as a pain reliever by applying it on affected parts of the body. It creates a warm or tingly feeling, but some people find it uncomfortable.
Our list of hot water bottles provides a good starting place in your hunt for the right product. Heat therapy can be a great home remedy for treating aches and pains.
If you find yourself using your hot water bottle for a chronic issue that you haven’t brought up with your doctor yet, consider making an appointment to discuss it with them.