What Is The Best Material For A Travel Mug?
by Mark Morphew on Dec 12, 2021
Choosing a good quality travel tumbler is the easy part. Deciding on which material will be the best might be a little more challenging.
Travel mugs and tumblers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and are manufactured from a whole host of materials. Choosing the best material for your travel mug can make a noticeable difference with implications for the environment, your health, how long your drink will stay hot, and certain materials can even impact the flavor of your favorite beverage.
Stainless steel, plastic, ceramic coated, and even glass are some of the more popular materials used in manufacturing travel mugs and tumblers, but each has certain pros and cons.
For anyone shopping for a new travel mug, trying to choose one material over the other can be confusing, to say the least.
But don't fret.
In this article, we will navigate through all of the different types. By the end, you will have a better understanding of each type of material and the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Different Travel Mug And Tumbler Materials
Many manufacturers are not very forthcoming with the material used to produce their insulated travel tumblers. As a consumer, this often means you have to do some detective work to determine if the tumbler is safe to use or if it can hold hot and cold temperatures adequately.
The good news is that we've done some of that detective work for you and have listed four of the more popular materials used in the manufacturer of insulated tumblers and mugs.
Let's take a closer look.
One of the more common materials used in manufacturing reusable travel mugs is stainless steel. With the right design, stainless steel can be an excellent option for temperature-sensitive liquids.
Stainless steel doesn't absorb flavors; however, it often imparts flavors into the beverage. - ceramic coated stainless steel eliminates this problem completely.
Stainless is also highly durable and is one of the most recyclable materials available for drinkware. Overall, stainless steel is one of the most sustainable and healthy choices for travel mugs or tumblers.
Durability: Out of all the materials used in the manufacture of travel mugs steel has the longest life cycle, especially stainless steel produced with chromium.
Chromium has extraordinary properties; when it's scratched, it actually rebuilds itself. You can think of chromium as a protective healing layer.
Temperature: Stainless steel can keep the temperature of liquids maintained for hours, especially if vacuum layers are incorporated into the tumbler design.
For example, a 30oz Taste The Earth insulated tumbler can keep your drinks hot for up to 6 hours and cold drinks chilled for around 12 hours. Impressive!
Also, it's worth noting that a good quality stainless steel insulated tumbler won't sweat or have any condensation forming on the outside.
Recyclable: Stainless steel is one of the most environmentally friendly materials from which travel tumblers and mugs are manufactured. Each steel component can be separated, recycled, and then reused - ultimately extending the lifespan of each tumbler indefinitely.
Safe: Steel is praised as a safe material to use in drinkware and kitchens; that's why you will always find countertops, pots, and pans made from steel in commercial kitchens.
You don't have to worry about it breaking, chipping, or becoming damaged due to hot or cold temperatures, making it the perfect material for travel tumblers and mugs.
Easy To Clean: Stainless steel is easy to keep clean, unlike plastic that often becomes scratched or chipped over time, leaving susceptible places for bacteria to grow.
Taste: Stainless steel often causes a metallic taste that impairs the liquids stored inside the tumbler. Another downside is that steel can also absorb the smells and flavors of drinks, altering the taste of other beverages kept inside your tumbler.
There is a remedy to this issue, a ceramic coated travel mug. Simply put, a ceramic layer separates your beverage from the stainless steel body of the tumbler.
Toxins: Research has shown that travel tumblers manufactured from cheap steel can pose health risks by leaching toxic chemicals such as BPA, Iron, and Nickel.
The good news is that higher quality stainless steel eliminates any toxins from leaching into your beverage. Take Taste the Earth tumblers as an example, which are constructed from 18/8 stainless steel and have the added advantage of the inner wall being coated with ceramic.
Ceramic coated travel mugs are the next best thing to plain stainless steel, and from the outside, they look very similar. Typically, the base material will be stainless steel, which is then coated with a ceramic substance.
The hardened ceramic inner coating separates your beverage from the outer metal. So you get all of the benefits associated with stainless steel minus the funky metallic taste that plagues stainless mugs and tumblers.
As for the flavor, ceramic is the best choice because it doesn't absorb or impart flavors, leaving coffee and other beverages tasting as they should.
Inexpensive: Ceramic coated travel mugs are not expensive, and they are often priced about the same as regular stainless steel tumblers.
Non-Porous: Ceramic is known for its non-porous properties, making it the perfect material to line insulated travel tumblers and mugs.
Heat Retention: Compared to glass and plastic, ceramic can retain heat for much more extended periods. When you combine stainless steel with a ceramic coating, you can extend the amount of time that your drinks stay hot or cold considerably.
Chips And Cracks: Regular ceramic coffee mugs and kitchenware aren't the most durable material, and it's not uncommon for chips and cracks to appear over time. Even a tumbler or mug with a ceramic coating will start to wear down after many years of repeated use.
Don't get confused with regular plastic bottles, such as those that contain bottled drinking water. Standard plastic bottles cannot be reused because they simply aren't durable enough to be cleaned and rewashed; they should only be used once and then discarded in the trash.
We're talking about those hard, durable plastic bottles that are a common sight with gym-goers.
However, as good as they are, they can't keep your drinks cool for extended periods. And keeping hot coffee or other hot beverages inside of plastic is not the best idea, even if the manufacturer claims the bottles to be safe from chemicals and other nasties.
Inexpensive: Plastic travel tumblers are one of the most affordable options, and they're far cheaper than stainless steel. But as the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for," and cheaper doesn't always mean better.
Durability: Good quality food-grade plastic is incredibly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of a daily commute or the knocks and bangs of the gym.
Variety: they say that variety is the spice of life, and with plastic tumblers or bottles, you'll have a never ending supply of colors, shapes, and sizes.
Taste: Just like stainless steel, plastic is also known to impair beverages' flavor, and with hot liquids, the problem is exacerbated.
Keeping a hot beverage inside a plastic tumbler or bottle comes with significant risks. Certain studies have shown that dangerous toxins are released from plastics when they come in contact with hot liquids.
Leaching: Cheap plastic tumblers and mugs are known to leach BPA. This toxic chemical has been linked to cancer and other diseases.
The good news is that the best travel mugs and tumblers are produced without BPA. However, the jury is still out on whether keeping hot liquids inside BPA free tumblers or bottles is entirely safe.
Glass reusable bottles are available, but they're not the best option due to their fragility. If you want to keep your favorite beverage in the fridge, glass is perfect, and they're also an environmental and healthy choice.
But if you want to take your drink with you when you leave the house, glass isn't going to be the best option. The last thing you want is the glass bottle to break in your bag when you're out and about.
Taste: Out of all the materials used to manufacture various travel mugs, glass can maintain the purest flavor of the beverage kept inside; this is the reason why almost all liquor and spirits come in glass bottles.
Usability: When it comes to cleaning, glass is the easiest to keep clean. It's 100% dishwasher safe, and it won't degrade over time like some other materials are susceptible to doing. Also, glass doesn't absorb odors or tastes, and it can be used to safely store hot and cold beverages.
Fragile: The biggest drawback to glass is that it breaks easily, making it an impractical material to use at sporting events, on a hike, or even on your daily commute to work.
Recycling: You would think that recycling would fall under a positive? - Here's why it falls under the con heading.
Even though glass is 80% recyclable, most Americans don't, and almost all glass bottles end up in landfills where it can take up to 4000 years to completely decompose.
Glass is manufactured from naturally abundant materials such as sand and limestone. The problems start to arise with the manufacturing process, which emits carbon emissions similar to the production of plastic bottles.
Also, even though glass is recyclable, the actual process still uses roughly 50% of the energy that would be used to create a new glass bottle.
Is There A Clear Winner?
Two materials come out on top - stainless steel and ceramic coated stainless steel.
But as for a clear winner, the ceramic coated stainless steel is hard to beat.
It offers all of the durability found in a regular steel tumbler or mug but with the added advantage of not leaching any nasty flavors or metallic tastes into your drink.
Durable plastic bottles are okay for throwing in your bag when you head out to the gym but offer no insulation properties.
Why Is Ceramic The Best Material?
One of the main reasons ceramic is often touted as being one of the best materials for travel mugs and tumblers is that it's a neutral material.
By that, we mean that the ceramic properties do not release or absorb flavors; this makes it a perfect material for mugs, cups, and tumblers.
In ceramic drinkware, coffee and other beverages taste as they should, pure and delicious.
Travel tumblers manufactured by Taste The Earth tick all of the right boxes. They're made from durable double-walled stainless steel, which keeps the hot drinks piping hot and cold drinks freezing cold.
As an added bonus, the ceramic Taste Lock coating on the inside of the tumbler keeps nasty metallic and plastic tastes from leaching into your favorite beverage.