Hot water bottles

A hot water bottle is a sealed container filled with hot water used for easing pain, or for warming a bed or parts of the body. It is made either from rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

About hot water bottles

Hot water bottles are widely used for warmth or to help ease pain. They're manufactured from rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). All hot water bottles are marked with a 'daisy wheel' date, which indicates when the bottle was made.

Using the daisy wheel

Each of the 12 segments in the daisy wheel represents a month of the year, starting with January at the top, progressing clockwise until the 12th segment, which represents December.

The last segment in a clockwise direction with dots indicates the month the bottle was made.

Each dot in the last segment with dots in it represents the week of the month the bottle was made. For example, three dots equals the third week.

This daisy wheel shows that the manufacturer produced this bottle in the third week of February in 2008.

Image showing daisy whell on hot water bottle. Reads: The first segment = January. the second segment = February and three dots in the segment = made in the third week of February. An '08' in the centre = 2008.

Risks and injuries

Hot water bottles can cause burns if placed directly on the skin. These burns are serious and happen gradually, often the user cannot feel these burns until it is too late. Hot water bottle burns often lead to third degree burns and may require skin grafts. The skin of younger and older people is often thinner and more delicate and vulnerable to more serious burns. Diabetics are prone to burns to their hands and feet while using a hot water bottle.

Hot water bottles can burst or leak if used improperly or poorly manufactured.

Buying tips

  • Buy a new hot water bottle every year. Hot water bottles that are in good condition on the outside may be damaged on the inside.
  • Check the daisy wheel date when buying a new bottle and note the year of manufacture. If it is more than 3 years old and/or appears aged or faded, don’t buy it.

Safe use

  • Do not overfill a hot water bottle and never use boiling water or scalding hot tap water.
  • Examine the hot water bottle before using and throw it away if it leaks, looks cracked, damaged, brittle, worn or faded.
  • Always use a hot water bottle cover or wrap the bottle in a towel or fabric to prevent the bottle being in direct contact with the skin.
  • Remove hot water bottle from bed before going to bed to avoid rolling onto it and bursting it. Do not lie, rest or put pressure or weight on a hot water bottle.
  • Store the hot water bottle by hanging it upside down with the stopper removed in a dark, dry place and make sure it is completely dry inside and out before putting away.
  • Note on your bottle the year and month it is due to be replaced.
Every year, around 200 people in Australia are admitted to hospital with serious burns related to hot water bottles. Check out the steps you can take to stay warm and safe this winter.