February 1, 2024

What Is a Bottle?

A bottle is a container for liquids, especially milk or other beverages. It typically has a narrow neck and mouth that can be plugged or corked, and is usually made of glass or plastic. A person who carries around a bottle of something to drink, or keeps intoxicating liquor with them, is often referred to as a “bottler.”

In addition to a wide variety of different sizes, shapes, and materials, bottles can be made through several different manufacturing processes. Bottles can also be molded using injection and extrusion blow molding, or even constructed from thermoformed sheets of material. The bottle is an important part of any product’s packaging, and understanding how it is shaped and constructed can help you make informed decisions when purchasing or producing bottles for your own use or distribution.

Generally speaking, there is a lot of variation in the terminology used to describe bottle morphology and structure. This is particularly true with respect to the lip, which is sometimes referred to by some authors as a “top,” or by some as the entire finish (White 1978), and by others as just the collar (Ketchum 1975). On this website, we will generally use the term rim for the extreme upper surface of the finish, though we may occasionally refer to the complete top portion of the finish as the “lip.”

The body, on the other hand, is the main content containing portion of the bottle, and in most cases, is considered to be the part of the bottle lying between the shoulder and heel. In making bottle glass, it is customary to put in 6 percent lime and 4 percent magnesia (magnesium oxide or MgO) along with about 2 percent alumina (aluminum oxide or Al2O3) to produce the desired properties of the finished glass.

It is possible to construct a bottle from a variety of materials, though for production purposes, the majority of bottles are formed from glass, primarily PET, PP, and PE (Polyethylene Terephthalate). The specific formulation of each can vary, but in general these plastics are made by polymerizing ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. These plastics can be either opaque or transparent, depending on the exact composition. Bottles can also be manufactured from other types of plastic, including HDPE, which is the most common in many countries. These plastics are generally sourced from oil and gas reserves, and in some cases, their manufacture is quite energy intensive. In other cases, these plastics are recycled, and this can reduce both the amount of waste and the energy required to make a new bottle from an old one. The use of this material is becoming increasingly prevalent as a result. The environmental benefits of this approach are being recognized by governments and corporations worldwide, and we will see a rise in the number of products packaged in HDPE bottles as time goes on. This will be a good thing, but we need to find ways to reduce the number of bottles in landfills and oceans.