Disclaimer: I received the iHeals water bottle for free to test and review. I am not a scientist or expert on UVC water sterilization and the home use technology is fairly new which means results may vary. That being said I’ve researched the technology as best I can and have been using the iHeals UVC water bottle for camping and RV life applications. Even though it was sent to me for free I am still giving my honest opinion on the product and the technology it uses to sanitize and kill microbes.
How Does UVC Light Work For Sanitizing?
The world of UVC light sanitizing has blown up over the past couple of months as people search to find more ways to sanitize and stay healthy. The use of UV light to kill germs and bacteria has been around for years, especially in hospital settings. UVC light is shown to be able to kill certain germs and viruses by penetrating the walls of the microbes and killing them. But there are a few things you should know about UVC light and how it works, especially in applications like water bottles and water.
There are 3 kinds of ultraviolet light, UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC sits in the 100-280 nm wavelengths and is the most powerful of the three. The optimal wavelength of UVC for killing bacteria is shown to be around 260 nm. Check out this article for more info. For sterilizing water I’ve read multiple studies that show a combination of 280 and 260 nm UVC light can be very effective for killing a wide range of bacteria and viruses.
But the technology is still very new for at home use, which means you need to be a little careful when trusting products for sterilizing water and know what they are going to do and what they aren’t going to do.
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So, let’s talk about what the Maxoak iHeals UVC light sterilizing water bottle is and what it’s supposed to do.
The UVC Light
The Maxoak iHeals water bottle (click to view on amazon) is advertised to put out a 280 nm wavelength which is the far edge of UVC lightwaves. It’s not the most powerful but it is still shown to be effective against certain bacteria and fungi.
The UVC LED light is located in the lid. You activate it by pressing the button on the outside. The top of the cap will now light up with 1-4 LED lights. Each light indicates the battery percentage left. The sterilization time is 3 minutes.
The lid has a 500mAh battery in it that does seem to last for quite a few light cycles (around 60). It is charged with an included USB cable.
The power station used in the photo is the Jackery 500 (click here to read more about it)
The light is a small LED with mirrors surrounding it for added effectiveness. One sign of a fake UVC light product is the glass in front of the light. A fake UVC light will have regular glass or plastic but in order or the UVC light waves to pass through and be effective quartz glass is found to be one of the only things that works. Maxoak does say they use a quartz glass which means the UVC light should be able to sterilize the inside of the water bottle.
The Water Bottle
The water bottle is double-layered stainless steel with a 1 1/2 inch mouth that’s wide enough for ice and easy to drink from. The outside has a durable black coating. There is also a thick strap around the neck that makes it easy to carry or clip to a bag. The lid is also leak-proof which means the iHeals can be carried around in a bag with no worries.
The bottle holds 520 ml (17.5 oz) of liquid. The UVC light works best with cold water that is below 40°C (104°F) as the steam can mess with the light and cause it to not sterilize as well.
The bottle+lid is 9 1/4 inches tall and 2 3/4 inches wide.
Although it’s a water bottle the lid is not waterproof which means you should never get the outside of it wet. You can get the metal bottle part wet, like when you want to fill it from a spring, but you should never let the lid get wet, even in rain. Make sure you remember that if you have the iHeals on a bicycle and it starts to rain or you are about to ride through some water.
UVC light is known to be very harmful to eyes and skin. Never look directly at the light when it’s on and never use it on your skin. To make sure the light is on and working you can point it down and turn it on for a few seconds but never look at the bulb.
How To Use The Maxoak iHeals Sterilizing UVC Light Water Bottle
To sterilize water simply fill the bottle with clean, filtered, cold water. Twist on the lid securely and press the power button located on the side of the lid. The green LED lights on top should illuminate to show that’s it’s on. To turn off the UVC light simply hold the power button down for a few seconds and it should turn off.
The iHeals is advertised to take 3 minutes to sterilize and to have an automatic turn off. This feature hasn’t been quite what Maxoak has advertised it to be but I’ll talk more about that in my review section below.
Once the light has turned off or it’s been 3 minutes the water is now sterilized and you can now enjoy some freshly sanitized water.
My Review & Testing Of The Maxoak iHeals UVC Water Bottle
The first thing I want to say about this water bottle is you have to take it for what it is. If you are someone who likes the technology behind UVC light sanitation for giving tap water an extra cleaning this will be an excellent product for you. If you are looking for a hardcore water filter/sanitizer for drinking water from a muddy river while backpacking this is not the product for that.
The bottle itself is impressive. It’s sturdy, a good size for everyday use, it fits in a water bottle holder on a bike, and the strap is a really nice addition for carrying it around. It also keeps water cold for longer than a regular plastic water bottle which I really like for hiking and regular use.
The lid is bulkier than what you would find on a regular water bottle but it isn’t so large that it gets in the way or makes it look weird. It’s easy to grip and twist and after some shaking and having it in my backpack when hiking I’ve found that it does not leak.
Is The Light Actually UVC?
Now for the UVC function. Like most people, I do not own expensive UV light measuring equipment which means I have no way of knowing 100% if the light is putting out the wavelength it’s advertised to. What I can do is a few at-home tests that have become more popular since UVC lights have become more common on the market.
I started with a basic vision test. The light does look right (bluish) and the glass is clear and made of quartz. It also puts out a slight heat which is common for all lights but it’s a good sign.
The second thing I tried was the green banana test. As people began using UVC light wands for sterilizing groceries some started to find that green bananas would turn brown after being exposed to the UV rays. This has become a good way to test if the UVC light is putting out some sort of UV rays and not just a regular LED light bulb.
I tried the green banana test and while the part of the banana that was exposed to the light did not immediately turn brown it did start to become a much darker brown color a few hours after exposure. That’s a good sign that the iHeals is putting out some sort of UV light.
Everything does seem to check out for the UVC light to be working as it should be.
Does It Work As Advertised?
The number one complaint about the Maxoak iHeals is the fact that the automatic shut off doesn’t work 100% as advertised. It’s supposed to turn off after 3 minutes but it actually takes a little more than 6 minutes before it will automatically shut off.
For me, this is not a deal breaker. When it comes to UVC light sanitation the longer the thing you are sanitizing is exposed the better. Even though it’s advertised to be able to fully sanitize in just 3 minutes having the light on for a few more minutes is only going to help that much more. You can always turn it off by hand after 3 minutes by holding the button down until the green LED lights on the lid to turn off if you are in a hurry to get some water.
I decided to try and test how many cycles the battery could handle even at 6 minute intervals. I stopped counting after 30 cycles. Even at 6 minutes the battery life does seem to be reasonably close to the advertised 60 cycles. The battery was still going strong and the battery indicator lights on top of the lid had only gone down one light. That being said I’m not sure if the light starts to lose strength as the battery drains. In my opinion, you should recharge the battery the second the first LED light goes out so it never goes below 3 LED lights.
How You Should & Shouldn’t Use The iHeals Water Bottle
After much research, my opinion on the best way to use UVC water bottles is that they should only be used with clean, filtered water. UVC light can’t get past large particles in water like sand, which means bacteria and viruses will be able to hide from the light. If you are going to take this on a backpacking trip you will still need the hardcore water filters you would normally take. This does pair well with those kinds of filters as an extra step in the water filtering system.
I’m the kind of person who loves to drink from clear mountain springs and I’ve used the iHeals on that kind of water. I would never use this to clean water from just any river or lake no matter how clean it looks as studies have found that the really dangerous parasites that cause diseases like Giardia may not be killed by the 280 nm UVC lights. For more info on safe drinking water when hiking and traveling you can check out this article by the CDC here.
For regular everyday use, this is a good water bottle for when you fill water from public sources like drinking fountains. They are great for RV campers if you drink water directly from the fresh water tank or want sanitized water from a campground hydrant.
Using the UVC light to stop mold growth in the water bottle is the best use for this kind of product, in my opinion. I rarely wash my metal water bottles because it’s so hard to get a brush in them. If mold starts to grow in one it’s can be such a pain to clean. Using the UVC function of the iHeals I just turn on the light a few times a day and I know that mold won’t start to grow, which is pretty amazing and a good reason to get something like this.
What I Like
I really like the water bottle itself. It’s a good size, built well, and the strap is a nice touch. I actually wish Maxoak would include a second lid that is just regular so you can keep using the bottle even if something happens to the UVC lid because the light will eventually go out as any LED light does after a number of uses.
The second thing I like is how easy the UVC function is to use. Just put the lid on and press the button on top, it’s as simple as that.
What I Don’t Like
I don’t love that the outside of the lid isn’t waterproof, especially when I’m carrying it on my bike. It makes it a little harder for sports use.
Also, as I said before, I wish they would have included a normal lid as well for when the LED light eventually goes out so you can continue to use the water bottle without the bulky lid. Lights don’t last forever and adding a regular lid would increase the value of this water bottle to me greatly.
Final Thoughts On The Maxoak iHeals Sanitizing Water Bottle
I think using UVC light to keep an otherwise difficult to clean water bottle fresh and mold-free is a great idea and that Maxoak is making a good product with an actual UVC LED light in it.
Will this water bottle make dirty, bacteria-filled water safe to drink? No. But there isn’t any standard UVC water bottle out there that will without a built-in particle filter.
Is this a good way to clean water from public drinking water sources like water fountains and taps? Yes.
As I said before, I’m not an expert on water safety or UVC light technology but I have done quite a lot of research on UVC light for sanitizing since receiving this water bottle. As a full-time RVer I think it’s nice to use the iHeals to sanitize water that I’m going to drink since most of our water comes from public sources.
Even the filtered water we put in our drinking water jugs comes from public dispensers and we touch the caps with our hands a lot. The Maxoak iHeals UVC water bottle helps clean that water and kill any bacteria that might have been on the water dispenser or our hands when opening and closing the lid. Which makes the water safer for drinking.
Have any questions about the Maxoak iHeals UVC Water Bottle? Leave a comment below.