What Is a Bottle?


A bottle is a container for holding liquids. The word is also used as a synonym for a can, a jar or any other vessel used for holding food or drink. It may also refer to a bottle of milk or other liquid for infants or to a bottle of beer, wine or spirits. In the USA, most bottles are made of plastic derived from petroleum. A plastic bottle can be recycled if discarded properly but, in areas with poor waste management and/or lack of recycling facilities, some bottles may not be recycled or may end up in landfills, where they are likely to break down into smaller particles which can seep into the soil and enter waterways and eventually the ocean, where it becomes toxic.

A plastic bottle requires nearly five times its volume in water to be manufactured. As the plastic degrades, it releases dangerous chemicals including ethylene oxide and benzene into the environment. These chemicals then enter the local waterways and the ocean where they cause harm to wildlife and humans.

The glassmaking process heats a mixture of minerals – typically soda ash, limestone and quartz sand – until it melts into a liquid at about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,480 Celsius). When the mixture cools, it solidifies but, rather than forming an ordered crystalline structure like most other materials, it retains a disordered structure. This property is what defines glass.

Glassmakers can add elements such as selenium, manganese dioxide and arsenic to the batch of raw materials (glass “melt”) to decolorize it and thus produce colorless (clear) glass. This was done to reduce the iron and carbonaceous impurities naturally present in the sand used for glassmaking. Decolorizing was a common practice among early glassmakers but today most modern glassmakers do not decolorize their batch mixtures.

An ejection mark is a circular mark on the base of a bottle or jar that is produced when a more or less centered metal rod pushed (“ejected”) a pre-bottle out of the first parison mold into the second blow mold for further processing. Click ejection mark to see a picture.

Bottles that are filled and sealed with carbon tetrachloride or another fire retardant were used as early “fire extinguishers.” The term can also be applied to any bottle with a filler closure such as a cork.

If a person has the nerve or balls to do something, they are said to have the bottle to go through with it. This term is more often used in the US than in the UK. Synonyms include courage, guts, willpower, determination, spirit, grit and pluck. It is similar to the slang phrase, got the guts to do it, though that is more a reference to fearlessness than courage. The General Bottle Morphology page provides pictures and explanations for the terminology cited throughout this article. Most of the terms are more easily illustrated or described than defined. The reader is encouraged to click on pictures to enlarge them and on the links within the text to visit a related page or other site on this website.