What are the Differences Between Insulated, Vacuum and Thermal Cups?

While we’ve all heard of Thermos brand containers and cups, new brands and types of containers are being created and offered for sale every single day. When it comes to keeping your drinks hot or cold, there are three main forms of construction & materials that are used, and depending on what you’re wanting out of the container you purchase, you’ll have to choose between them. If you’ve even attempted to shop for a decent bottle, cup, or tumbler to put your drinks in, you’ve seen first hand the amount of brands, functions, and designs there are out there. We’re going to cover the major 3, and give you different options as far as what you’re wanting out of your purchase.



Insulated Bottles, Cups, and Containers

Insulated, or Double Wall containers are essentially just that; a container with two layers that is keeping drinks cold only by added material in the form of an additional wall. While containers like this are relatively effective, they start to lose their effectiveness in hot environments or after prolonged use. They also only work for cold liquids, and not hot ones. Insulated bottles, Tumblers, & cups are starting to fall out of popularity, as newer technology and advancements in vacuum sealing have made insulated bottles nearly obsolete, due to the fact that they are less effective than their counterparts and cannot insulate hot liquids such as coffee or tea.

With an insulated or double walled container, the primary (first) layer is usually stainless steel. The exterior (second) layer can be a variety of materials, usually plastic, glass, or some sort of composite material.

The two main reasons why these containers don’t work well are:

  1. Lack of quality materials in construction of the bottle or cup.

While most insulated cups have a stainless steel layer, their exterior layer and interior layer are usually made up of another material. This causes heat transfer both from heat seeping through the materials, as well as radiating from the outer materials.

  1. The air between the walls of the container.

No matter how many layers your container has, if there’s air trapped between them it will never insulate effectively. Heat uses other materials or molecules to transfer through, therefore it can use the air trapped between the walls of the container as well as the walls themselves to lose or gain heat.

Vacuum Sealed Bottles, Cups and Containers

Vacuum sealed and vacuum sealing has been around for some time. The basic idea of vacuum sealing is that the removal of any air present in a container will limit deterioration as well as heat transfer. At first this was done with food containers and bags. Food lasts much longer when it is void of air, and tastes fresher when you decide to cook it. For this reason food companies and retailers started utilizing vacuum sealed containers and bags for preserving their products.

When it comes to the Vacuum technology in water bottles, tumblers, and other containers, insulation not preservation is the primary goal. Vacuum containers rely on the void of air between the two layers in order to insulate. When there is a vacuum in the space, there are no molecules which the heat can transfer through. Therefore, the contents inside stay at their original temperature for a relatively long time.

Usually, higher quality brands and products are vacuum sealed. The materials and methods needed are generally more expensive, and depending on how the manufacturer wants the bottle to perform, it might take special design and production methods.

Thermal Cups

Thermal cups or thermal containers are just a general term for any cup or container that provides some sort of insulation. Technically, it is not a category by itself but needs to be mentioned because it is a commonly used phrase.

Understanding the differences between insulation vessels and their strengths and weaknesses will help you make a more educated buying decision when it comes to choosing a container, cup, or bottle that is right for your specific needs.