This re-usable water bottle has a special trick to help you quit sugary drinks

It flavours the air, not the water, for a calorie-free drink

The bottle that uses smell to trick your brain
(Image credit: Air Up)

At this point everyone knows that you should be drinking plenty of water. I’ve always struggled with that much drinking, so when a doctor recently told me that I was to drink three litres of water per day I looked at him like he was hitting the best stuff in the pharmacy and said “three litres of water?”  "Yes", he said, as if that was a reasonable request. 

Three litres is a lot of water, the average human bladder holds about 400ml so you can forget about working, you’ll either be drinking water, getting more water or going for a slash because you’ve drunk so much water.

Anyway, when Air Up offered to send its 650ml water bottle over I thought “great, I’ll only have to fill that up five times a day to hit the quota. And because the doctor said, like some sort of water dictator, “no squash” the Air Up’s other party trick was relevant. It uses little plastic rings, with flavouring, that scent the air as you drink to fool you into thinking your water is fruity, a truly clever idea that I was keen to try. 

The first thing I liked was the packaging and the quality of the bottle. Bearing in mind these are £30 each, you’re not looking at the cheapest container for fluid. The matte finish is nice though, the drinking spout is connected to a sturdy internal straw and the rubber nipple you suckle on has a pleasant feel. The nifty lid comes with a coloured, silicon carry handle which feels like it’ll last ages and you can replace it too, giving you colour customisation options. I find I don’t use the lid much at home because I’d constantly need to keep unscrewing for my full time job of drinking water. 

Air Up bottle

(Image credit: Air Up)

While £30 is a lot, you get a starter pack of two pods. You can pay extra for “premium pods” but I’ll touch on them later. Each of these flavour pods will provide enough whiff to transform 5 litres of water into slightly different tasting water. But the goal here is really to help people with a bottle-a-day squash habit move on to a calorie-free alternative. So how effective is it at doing that? 

Mildly, would be my overall assessment. It works, that’s for sure. The fact that water isn’t being flavouried here, only the air, is genius. Each of the pods has a couple of small holes in it and one of them lines up with a hole on the drinking nipple. To engage the flavour one pulls the pod upwards so the holes align. Then as you suck water through the straw the air is odorised and your brain thinks you’re hitting the squash. But you aren’t, this is just water, baby. 

In terms of punch, I have to say it’s a tiny bit on the weak side. None of the pods I’ve tested have really been a taste sensation. But they’re not bad either, there’s certainly enough to cheer up boring water without enraging my doctor/water pimp. As a water bottle, in general, I can’t fault it. Though at this price it could have been an insulated bottle, giving you the option to pop some ice in and keep it cool for hours. That would also solve its wicked condensation problem, when you do put ice in on warm days. Still, the bottle weeing water all over my desk at least made me think that the bottle and I are in this together.

I also didn't find the premium pods to be that different in flavour. Perhaps they're harder to produce, leading to their higher price, or perhaps we're supposed to find them a bit more potent. Either way, they didn't strike me as especially different and at £7.95 for three, they're certainly not cheap. 

So the Air Up is an interesting concept. I’d be thrilled if they could make the flavour a bit more potent but I can’t really fault the concept. If you’re hooked on adding concentrates to your water then this might help you ween yourself off. On the other hand, ignoring my doctor for a moment, the implications of using a sugar-free additive to a drink are reasonably small anyway. Now, if you'll excuse me, my bladder is, once again, full to bursting point. 

Ian Morris

Ian has been involved in technology journalism since 2007, originally writing about AV hardware back when LCDs and plasma TVs were just gaining popularity. Nearly 15 years on, he remains as excited about how tech can make your life better. Ian is the editor of T3.com.