England is hot water bottle heaven

Hot water bottle

I filled my car up recently with fuel. While waiting in the queue to pay, the man ahead of me had a quick dialogue with the woman behind the till, who then rummaged in a drawer and produced a furry hot water bottle to add to his bill.

I looked around the garage shop and couldn’t see any hot water bottles on display. Clearly this was such a stock item that all the locals knew about it and only had to ask. That’s England for you.

It’s a very different story in the US

Even though there are bitterly cold winters in some parts of the US, I still have never found a decent hot water bottle there. The only ones I’ve seen are half the size of English ones, made of flimsy rubber that doesn’t last very long, not safe to use with anything other than lukewarm water, and – worst of all – they are usually NAKED!

Here in the UK, any self-respecting hot water bottle comes in a deliciously huggable cuddly cover and you can buy one in any high street, most department stores and — as I’ve just discovered — some service stations too. The latest trend is cute animal varieties.

Expat forums in the US are littered with comments at this time of year from mystified Brits wondering why on earth such a basic commodity should be so hard to find. My American friends have explained to me that they are simply not part of their culture.

Why would you use a hot water bottle, they ask, when you can flick a switch and keep your whole bed warm all night long with an electric blanket? Or better still, sleep in an electric under-and over-blanket sandwich? I’m not saying these are unheard of here in the UK. Just that hot water bottles are so much more available this side of the pond that most homes have them, and many people still prefer this much healthier option.

Some facts about electric blankets you may not know

  • Pregnant women should never use an electric blanket
  • Studies have shown that children who use electric blankets are five time more likely to get leukemia
  • Electric blankets can cause cramps
  • The magnetic field of many types of electric blankets penetrates 15-18 cm (6-7 inches) into the body
  • The wires of electric blankets are usually coated in PTFE, which emits toxic fumes when heated
  • Electric blankets can cause restless sleep because they make you too hot (the optimum sleep temperature is 15-20 degrees Celsius or 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit)

More information about electric blankets

Happily, I have some good news for all my American friends. Amazon.com now has a good selection of British standard hot water bottles and some even have fairly decent looking covers. So if you’re looking for a healthier experience this winter, why not give one a try?

Copyright © Karen Kingston 2013

About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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29 Responses to England is hot water bottle heaven

  1. That is not true about it not being part of American culture. We use them all the time and always did. I would love a British verison. Where can I order one?

  2. Hi Karen, Just found your webpage. Perhaps I can contribute to the previous entries about hot water bottles.

    They are an invention of pure genius, and have been a comfort to untold millions of people aroud the world for the last century. India is making the type of excellent classic design hot water bottles that were available in Britain in the past (Dunlop and Maws, for example), but they seem to be less accesible these days. Coronation hot water bottles are of a very high standard. Their classic bottle (with hanging tabs top and bottom) appears, sadly, to be unavailable for sale in Britain. I owned one previously that a friend brought me back from India.

    I think that there is one hot water bottle producing nation that has been completely overlooked; it is the Ukraine. There is a video on YouTube, showing how they are made in Kiev. This prompted my curiosity, and I managed to buy one via Amazon; it completely surpassed my expectations. It is everything that might be expected from a rubber bottle, it is soft, pliable, and there is a model available with a cover.

    The writer, Frances Edmonds, summed up hot water bottles perfectly, when she said that she belived that they were one of the great benefits of mankind. That has my vote.

  3. I live in New Zealand and my cousin has a hot water bottle cover that she brought in England which I can not find anywhere. It has fluffy faux fur on the outside but it is insulated with something because it is still warm in the morning. Does anyone know where these can be brought?

  4. Hi everybody! I’ve happened by any chance in your blog, and I’ve read with interest this post because I like hot water bottles very much, and I use them since many years, practically in a continuous way. The help me to reduce anxiety and they relieves a lot of my little pains. Even now I’ve a hot water bottle on my belly.

    I’m Italian, but I live in France. I’ve noted that here in France, we had a “rediscovery” of hotties since few here. They are popular, even if there utilization is shared with cherry’s kernels pillows. However, you can find hotties everywhere, and there is a French enterprise too, specialized in class hot water bottles. In addition to this I can say that normally girls doesn’t have any problems to talk about the fact they utilize hot water bottles, on the contrary boy if they use them, they don’t talk about that.

    In every way, they are not considered an oddity, and about this I’ve remarked that when you ask in hotel few hot water to fill up your hottie, you’re not considered strange. For what concerns Italy, I’ve seen two thing, the first, they are used, but people don’t like two talk about this. Girl believes that is an obsolete thing, a “granny style” things and boys, because of their sexism, more marked that in France, refused the benefits of hottie seen as a “female’s thing”. The second aspect that I’ve remarked is that since two or three years, in Italy classical hot water bottles tends to be replaced to electrical hot water bottles, a clearly demonstration of Italian laziness.

    Greetings, and sorry for my terrible English!

  5. Comment from Finland, to me using hot water bottle while sleeping goes to the same category as seperate faucets for hot and cold water. Or electricity meters that work with coins. I learned that little gem only recently.

    Come on brits, there is a thing called 21st century?

  6. My brother used electric blankets some years ago until one day he went to work and forgot to turn it off. He had just bought a new bed, a new mattress, has repainted his room and then the blanket caught fire, everything burned and the whole room was ruined.
    We are very lucky the fire did not spread to the rest of our house!
    So much about our lesson on electric blankets.
    Long live water bottles!

  7. I am in the market to buy a new hot water bottle. I bought one by SUBA made in England many years ago and it has been awesome. It is made of rubber with the ridges. Unfortunately it is starting to leak around the opening. The company has gone out of business and the bottles in the stores in the US are small and flimsy looking. Does anyone have the name of a good hot water bottle? I have gone on Amazon and Fashy has good reviews, but they are not rubber and are apparently rather small.
    Thanks! 🙂

  8. I’m not sure if I’m too late to comment but I’m an American!

    I recently purchased not one but two hot water bottles – one with a faux fur jacket, and one with a cashmere sweater cover – and am lying here in bed with both!
    They’re phenomenal. I can bring one to work and fill it before heading to my cold car at the end of a night shift. I can leave them on my seat if I run into a store and have an instantly warm butt. I can leave them in my bed before I get in to warm my spot (especially nice if I’ve just taken a night time shower and am subsequently left freezing cold!)

    Of course they also relieve cramps and aches, which was the reason I bought them.

    Oh, they were purchased from a company called Restoration Hardware… Which is now entirely sold out of the fur ones. So I can’t be the only American on this train! Hahaha

  9. With regards to all these interesting comments on hot water bottles it surprises me that up until the 1950’s America must have had the largest manufacturers of rubber hot water bottles in the world. To name a few: B.F.Goodrich, Faultless Rubber Company, and Davol. There were individual boxes and some came with various douche and enema attachments, known as combination sets. Today many are from deceased estates and unused and as good as the day they left the factory! They certainly do not manufacture such quality rubber hot water bottles as they used to! China manufacture most of the hot water bottles nowadays and some are very cheap quality and India manufactures a far better quality than China!

    I guess anyone wanting to buy a new hot water bottle in the U.S.A. or any country where these are hard to find this can easily be found on eBay and Amazon plus other suppliers who sell online!

    Germany now manufacture the thermoplastic ones under the brand name of Fashy and there are some people who suffer from a rubber and latex allergy who would buy these instead of the traditional rubber ones.

    For me there is nothing better than a traditional rubber hot water bottle for keeping warm in bed and they have so many other uses and I cannot understand why the Americans no longer use them and chosen instead to buy potentially dangerous electrical warming aids!

  10. It’s occurred to me before that one reason hot water bottles are virtually unknown in the USA may be that they look very similar to a douche bag – something (thankfully!) virtually unkown in the UK. I don’t think the US version comes with a furry cover either 😉

  11. I love my Lakeland hot water bottle and it’s cover, which after a good 5 years of regular service is looking slightly worse for wear. The cover is thermally lined but rather glamorously outered with a pink silky fabric decorated by Chinese embroidery. Very elegant. I have recently worked out how to crochet (or indeed knit) an extra woolly version that looks a little like a polo neck jumper for hotlebots (short for hot water bottle in our house!)

    Friends have a collection of ceramic ‘hot water bottles’ dating from last century, very hot on the toes but good for bed pre-warming.

  12. How timely Karen. I’ve been travelling the last few months and yes, my hot water bottle came with. A “rubber” one encased in a sheep. Haven’t used it on the trip until now. I saw an Ayurvedic doctor. I need to stay moist and warm. Prescription was a hot water bottle all day and all night!! A good giggle for you- and your readers. A sixty three year old woman, travelling on a 7 lane expressway with a hot water bottle on her lap (what would the policeman say!), There I am hiking the mountain trail hoodie on and in the pouch–hot water bottle. Too funny.

  13. The ultimate in bed warmth from Japan! 🙂 In general people in Japan hang their futons out once a week or so in the sun so the moisture evaporates and they get a good whacking to let the dust fly.
    In the rainy season this is impossible so we have electric futon dryers. Essentially they consist of a large bag the size of a single futon and an electric unit that blows hot air into it. You put it between the top and bottom futon , turn it on and watch the top part gently rise. For drying I usually do my one hour on each side BUT the wonderful thing in winter is that my husband and I both use it to warm up our beds. I do it for about half an hour, slide the bag out and then get into a wonderfully warm and cozy bed. The heat amazingly stays in there till morning and you don’t have any of the negative EMF effects of an electric blanket.

    Here is a page of them but none of them show them in action.


    1. Thank you for this information. There are so many clever inventions in Japan. Futons made of chemical-free cotton or wool are the healthiest type of mattress because they have no metal parts and do not outgas toxic fumes. The only downside is that they can get damp, so the futon dryer is a great solution. I found a website showing a futon dryer in action and the how they are hung out to dry. I haven’t been able to find anywhere outside of Japan to purchase a futon dryer, though.

  14. hotwaterbottles can be one thing, there is also a diffrence what kind of warmth you’ll applicate on your body. a quite physiologicall way of warming up and lasts long is a sheepfur or cherrystone heat bag……

    emily-patrice from zurich

  15. I bought two hot water bottles and covers from a craft fair many years ago. The covers are made from a double knit wool so are extra tough, cosy and warm. They are heaven for a back and stomach pain sufferer like me. I can’t recommend them enough as they hit the spot. The designer maker has gone on to great things since and I attach her website here. They’re quite pricey but the covers will last a lifetime & through generations to come. By the way, as you may have suspected, I’m an English woman living in the UK!!

  16. Thank you for your prompt reply.
    About 13 years ago, I had been suffering badly with clinical depression for 5 years when ‘by chance’ I found your wonderful book ‘Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui’. Your book saved me Karen and it turned my life around. I am truely grateful to you. I love and re-read it to this day. You wrote a total and marvellous gem. My most loved book of all. I am glad to have this chance to tell you and to say Thank you x

    1. Hi Kate, Very glad to hear you found that book so useful. However I feel it only right to tell you that I wrote ‘Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui’ 18 years ago and my work has moved on so much since then that I am now writing a completely new book about space clearing that will make the old book obsolete. The new one will be published later this year, and I hope you’ll like it even more than the first one.

      1. Can’t wait! No really I can’t wait!!! I will be buying copies for me, my girls and my friends.
        Love you,
        Love your work! Thank you x

      2. good things don’t have a date of exipiry. your first book was and is one.
        i think the coming one can be better but its amazing how sales strategy overcomes people. why minimize something good only for the sake of a better one and to sell the next. the essence of clearing whatever you want, once you got it, you got it. maybe you don’t turn into action yet it doesn’t matter. maybe it will take you aeons to get wherever you are. it doesn’t matter eather. its more a scent, a sound deep inside you’ve just to follow…..

        1. Perhaps I haven’t made myself clear. My Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book has stood the test of time very well, but parts of my Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui book are so out-of-date that I have persuaded my publishers let the old one go out of print as soon as the new one is published. The order of the space clearing ceremony described in my first book remains the same, but 18 years on I now know so much more about how it works and how to explain it to people so they can do it effectively that a complete rewrite is needed. Put it this way, if I were to die tomorrow without having finished this book to leave it for posterity, I would feel I had seriously let myself and all my students and readers down.

      3. Hi Karen. Is the new book published yet? I would love to get a copy of it. My old one is practically falling to pieces anyway.

        I have just finished reading ‘Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui’ for probably the 20th time and saw your web address, not thinking it would still be current but thought I’d give it a go anyway. So happy it is. Thank you for everything.

        1. Hi Nikki

          The most up-to-date edition of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui is currently the CD audio book that was published in 2012. It will be available in paperback in the UK later in May 2013.

          I’m still writing the new space clearing book, so that will be a while longer. And after that, I have another clutter clearing book brewing. I’ll make announcements on this blog as new books are published.

  17. In Finland hot water bottles are available, not perhaps widely but I have seen them in several places. It’s possibly more common here to use the pillows filled with grain, also for cooling (after they’ve been to a freezer). And who says you can’t heat them up close to a fireplace or something hot enough instead of microwave oven 🙂

  18. Hi there, just thought I’d add the German side:) We always had at least one hot water bottle in our household, but it wasn’t really used because we also had central heating. When we would go to our cottage in the country though, a hot water bottle would definitely end up in the bed every now and then. I would guess that you shouldn’t have trouble finding a hot water bottle in Germany – I’m pretty sure most pharmacies and drug stores sell them. I actually don’t use them so much for heating the bed up as to apply warmth to various areas of my body, in case of stomach cramps or a back ache – helps me a lot!

  19. I don’t think it is about “this side of the pond”. I live in Denmark and hot water bottles are definitely an oddity here. I wouldn’t know where to buy one.

    I use a cloth pillow filled with (i think) buckwheat. This is heated up. Advantage is it never leaks :-).

    1. Maybe it really is an English thing then. I’m very interested to hear from other parts of the world about this. I suspect hot water bottles are one of those love them/hate them items that split people into two very distinct camps. Someone clearly from the “love them” camp posted to my Facebook page to say: ‘Oh my goodness, yes, a hot water bottle is not only a necessity but also a comfort favorite. My current one has a koala bear cover, and I also have a cat cover.’ Others are mystified as to how to even use one.

      I guess the type of pillow you have is the kind that has to be microwaved to heat it up. I’ve heard they can stay warm all night long the same as hot water bottles, but I wonder if the type of heat they emit is as energetically soothing? Microwave radiation by its very nature is harsh. Since I don’t own a microwave oven and never will (microwaving food mutates the molecules into radiolytic compounds, which are known to cause a whole host of health problems), I’ll have to wait until the opportunity to experiment with this presents itself.

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