Plastic vs Glass vs Paper – How Does Material Influence the Taste of Water?
Although the paper plate and plastic cup may be less aesthetically appealing to a consumer, rationally speaking, the product containers should not affect actual quality or taste of the products within those containers,” said Aradhna Krishna, professor of marketing.
Nevertheless, she says, physical characteristics of product containers, such as texture, hardness, temperature and weight, do, indeed, affect the taste of food and drinks—but not for people who have a strong need to touch products to determine whether or not to consume or buy something.
Why Does Water Taste Better in Glass?
Why choose a glass water bottle over plastic? It allows you to sip colder and more pure-tasting water, looks sleek and elegant, and is thicker and sturdier than plastic.
Water tastes better in a glass because glass is a non-porous material, and the vessel is usually shaped so that you can smell the water. Much of what we perceive as taste, is actually smell. The sense of smell (i.e. olfactory system) is stimulated thousands of times more strongly than the sense of taste (i.e. gustatory system), given a specific concentration of a substance.
Odors and tastes give a strong emotional response. Among all sensations, only smell and taste project to both the higher cortical areas and the limbic system.
A snifter is an example of drinkware that is made specifically for containing and appreciating the odor of aged brown spirits. In Chinese culture, there is one cup for sniffing the tea, and a different cup for drinking the tea.
When sitting at a desk, I tend to drink more water from a table-glass tumbler than from any other vessel. I carry a bottle of water when I go out, and prefer glass because it is an excellent material (e.g. non-porous, transparent, and hard). Glass does not change the flavour of food.
Why Does Water Taste Different In Paper or Plastic Cups?
Your standard paper cup’s interior is treated with wax or plastic to ensure it can hold liquids without turning to mush, but the outside of most cups are not. As an aside, the waterproofing process originally used clay, but this gave the water an unpleasant taste, so the method was abandoned.
Using paper to house hot tea or coffee isn’t going to be a problem, as there will be no condensation collecting, but if you’ve got water or any other cold-drink, the condensation build-up will slowly erode the paper cup’s structural integrity from the outside (as tends to happen when water comes into contact with paper).
For dedicated cold beverage containers – such as milk cartons – both the inside and outside are sprayed in plastic or wax to battle the condensation issue, however when it comes to your standard, cheap paper cup, it’s obviously more cost effective to just do the inside and sell it as to the hot drink market.
In summary, glass is a non-porous and non-leaching material; plastic and paper both have coating, which may affect the taste as well as the smell of the water you’re drinking.
Cover Image Credit: nupik-flo.co.uk