Drink Up, Part Two – “Break The Mold”

The second part of the bottle review featuring the CamelBak Podium, the Clean Bottle, and the Specialized Purist is going to concentrate on each bottle‘s resistance to growing mold.  There are two main reasons why I jumped at the opportunity to test this.  1)  One of my favorite brands of powdered drink supplement and recovery drink could, in my opinion, grow mold on Teflon.  2)  I‘m horrible about tossing an empty bottle in my gear bag and forgetting about it for extended periods.  Mold loves dark, warm places.  Mold loves my gear bag.

The CamelBak is the only one of the three bottles without a specific claim addressing its resistance to mold. The Clean Bottle product label claims “No More Moldy Bottles!” and Specialized says that the “Purist shields your bottle from odors, stains, and mold.” In order to test these claims, I mixed Accelerade and water into each bottle. All bottles had been hand washed and allowed to dry before the Accelerade/water mixture was added. I then emptied the bottles using the valves rather than opening the lid, and placed them on a shelf in a closet. The bottles were kept in the dark with the exception of the removal each day for inspection and photographs.

After they were emptied, the bottles had foam clinging to the edges with a few spots of powder blobs, for lack of a better term. The Clean Bottle seemed to have the least amount of these blobs, though the Specialized and CamelBak only had 2 or 3 spots themselves. After one full day, the foam that was clinging to the bottles had collected in pools at the bottom of the bottles and left some particle residue on the sides and lid. The Clean Bottle had the least amount of residue on the sides, while the Specialized seemed to have the most.

In general, there were no real changes in either mold growth or odor until Day 3. Surprisingly, the first mold growth was seen on the walls of the Specialized bottle. The Podium and Clean Bottle did not have any visible mold growth at this time. The CamelBak Podium still smelled like Accelerade at Day 3. I knew it wasn‘t good, but my hop-bomb-loving-beer-snob-self liked the aroma in the Clean Bottle.  It honestly smelled like a big ol‘ West Coast IPA with definite citrus aroma. The aroma in the Specialized was beautiful and reminded me of an IPA fermented with Belgian ale yeast giving mango, passionfruit, apple and banana notes.

By Day 4 the pleasant aromas were gone. The CamelBak was the least offensive with just a slight twinge. The Clean Bottle smelled like soured milk, and the Specialized had a very strong, pungent aroma with an underlying cotton candy sweetness. All bottles had at least some mold growth by Day 4. The CamelBak had one decent size spot of mold growing inside the bottle and a few very small spots on the outer threads of the bottle where the lid screws onto. The Clean Bottle had a spot on the lid and a very small spot on its threads as well. There was also a quite small spot of mold growing inside the bottle. The Purist was looking quite disgusting by this point, with the spots seen the previous day expanding and new spots appearing, all inside the bottle.

When Day 5 rolled around, the Specialized and CamelBak were just plain gross. There was extensive mold inside and on the outside threads of both. Another disappointing discovery of the Specialized was that mold was growing in one of the most overlooked and hardest to clean places of the bottle, inside the rubber valve tip. No other bottle had “hidden” mold on the inside of the valves. The Clean Bottle was, in fact, the cleanest on Day 5. The small spot inside the bottle had only grown slightly. The aromas of the three had not changed much since Day 4.

The experiment was ended at Day 5. The clean-up of the Clean Bottle was significantly easier than the other two. This was not only due to the fact that the bottom of the bottle can be removed for easier access, but also because the little mold that had grown came off with just soap, water, and a little shaking. Both the CamelBak and Specialized required a brush and scrubbing to get all the mold traces off.  The Specialized required the most work, especially to assure that the valve was clean and mold-free.

After washing, all bottles seemed to be free of lingering aromas and there were no off-flavors in the taste.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and since the 267,000 word-equivalent photos I took as part of this review would be way too much to post here, I made a “video” from the pictures showing the mold growth for each bottle. It’s embedded below, or you can click here to see the larger version.

The Clean Bottle was the clear winner here.  The CamelBak took second.  The Specialized placed last in the mold resistance test both because it grew mold the quickest of the three and because of the mold growing on the valve. Check back next week for a summary of the review.

– Alex

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