What Is a Bottle?

A bottle is a narrow-necked, rigid or semirigid container used to hold liquids and some semiliquids. It typically has a cap that fits tightly to prevent spills or evaporation of the contents, and is often used with a cork (and sometimes a glass stopper) to allow long-term storage. Bottles are most commonly made of glass, but they may also be made of metal or other hard materials such as earthenware, and can have a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Bottles are usually transparent, but they can be colored to protect their contents from ultraviolet light.

The bottle is one of the oldest and most widespread containers, and has become a symbol of luxury and prestige. It was first used for wine in the eighth century bc, and later replaced pottery bottles for the holding of water. The development of the glass bottle revolutionized wine-making, making it possible to sell wine in a container that could protect its quality for a long period of time. It eventually led to the practice of “chateau bottling”, in which a wine is bottled at the source of production rather than by the merchant, thus allowing it to be sold with a guarantee of authenticity. The bottle’s most important property, however, is its sealing capacity: a sealable bottle prevents air from contacting the contents and spoiling them.

Glass Bottles

Glass is a noncrystalline, more or less transparent solid, derived from silica or a combination of silicates with soda and lime. It is a remarkable material, not only for its durability, but also for the ability to be fashioned into a large number of different shapes. Glass is brittle when cooled, but its internal structures do not form crystal lattices, which would make it a crystalline substance, but rather a ductile amorphous solid. Because of this, it is a very versatile material: it is used to manufacture windows, tableware, containers, ovenware, drinking glasses and the optical fibres that underlie modern telecommunications. It can be colored by the addition of various metallic oxides.

Chemically, the most durable types of glass are those low in alkali. Glass with a high alkaline content can be weakened over time by the leaching out of these substances into the atmosphere, where they react with carbon dioxide and humidity to form salts that etch the surface of the glass. This is known as weathering.

In the past, glass was blown by hand, but this laborious process has now been largely replaced by automated methods. Glass batches are melted in furnaces, and gobs of glass are fed to a continuous melting chamber called a forehearth. These gobs are cut into chunks, and mechanical arms grip them and blow them by compressed air into a parison shape; they are then formed into finished bottles in an annealing lehr. Some glass products, such as pharmaceutical and food products, are packaged in specialized bottle designs to prevent contamination; others, such as carbonated beverages, are sealed into Codd bottles with a marble that is forced against the neck by the pressure of the gas inside.