What Is a Bottle?

A bottle is a narrow-necked container used to hold liquids or semiliquids, and often with a cap to protect the contents from spills, evaporation, and contamination. Bottles can be made from glass or plastic, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Bottles are commonly used to store soft drinks, water, motor oil, cooking oil, medicine, shampoo, milk and even paint or ink. They can be very small, as in a sample bottle, or very large, as in a carboy. They can be clear or colored, depending on the product and the desired effect. They can also have a label, for marketing purposes.

The word is derived from Middle English botle, buttle, bould, from Old English budla, bold, bothla (“house, dwelling-place, mansion, hall, castle, temple”), from Proto-Germanic *budla, *buthla, bothla (“mansion, house, abode”), and from Middle Dutch bol, boel (“home, family estate, inheritance”). The term was originally used to refer to the large, elaborately decorated, and very expensive bottles of wine and other alcoholic beverages produced by skilled glassblowers. It later came to refer to all such containers, both large and small.

Making glass requires heating a mixture of dry ingredients to a liquid state, then cooling it fast enough to prevent the atoms from forming the ordered crystalline structure of most solids. This atomically disordered state is what defines glass as a distinct state of matter.

Glass is formed from a combination of minerals, usually soda ash (or sodium carbonate) and quartz sand. This process is called batching, and the resulting molten mixture is then poured into a mold and allowed to cool. To reduce the melting point of the glass, calcium oxide, or CaO, is added to the batch (this is the “soda” in soda-lime glass). The mixture is then blown into shape with air pressure.

There are many different types of glass bottles, based on their shape, material, and intended use. Some bottles are clear, others are coloured using natural dyes such as cobalt or iron oxide, and still others have a metallic coating to reflect light, such as gold, silver or bronze. Other substances can be used to colour the glass, such as manganese dioxide for black glass or tin oxide for green.

The concept of the bottle episode is a convenient way to describe an episode that has been filmed in a confined space, either for time or money-saving reasons. But it’s easy to take this idea too far, as some fans of certain shows have done by conflating all unusual, standalone, departure or otherwise distinctive episodes into this category. Some examples, such as Succession’s “America Decides”, are perfectly acceptable to most reasonable people; it’s a large episode that takes place in a single apartment, with only one main cast member and a handful of guest speaking roles, but it does have some outdoor shots and a few additional sets. Other examples, such as the X-Files’s season-one episode “Ice”, are not so much.