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Travel-Friendly Liquid Water Enhancers

There’s a new product on the market that lets you flavor a glass (or bottle) of water. Called Mio (“mee-yo”), what makes them different from products like Kool-Aid or Crystal Light mix is that Mio already comes in liquid form. The bottles contain a little over 1.5 fluid ounces, and yield roughly two dozen “servings” (each serving can flavor a 16-ounce bottle), which makes them highly concentrated.

Mio flavored water enhancers come in various flavors, in small bottles with flip-top lids. Photo by Lani Teshima.

Made by Kraft Foods, Mio comes in Berry Pomegranate, Sweet Tea, Peach Tea, Mango Peach, Orange Tangerine, Fruit Punch, and Strawberry Watermelon. In addition, you can get Mio in two “energy” flavors in black bottles (with caffeine and vitamin B) in Black Cherry and Green Thunder flavors. Having tried all of the flavors, my favorite are Orange Tangerine and Fruit Punch. The most disappointing is the Green Thunder; I’d hoped it would taste like Mountain Dew, but instead, tasted just nasty (at least to me; your mileage may vary).

It’s been years since I’ve had regular sugar sodas; I’d switched over to zero-calorie alternatives for many years (with my favorite flavors being Coke Zero and Diet Mountain Dew), but earlier this year, I decided to cut out carbonated drinks from my diet. Between wanting to avoid sugared drinks and carbonation, I discovered that my options became pretty limited when I dined out. So these days, I usually carry a bottle of Mio with me. Trips to places like Disneyland no longer mean spending $3 each time I want to buy a bottle of water or soda; I refill my water bottle, then add my own flavoring if I want more than plain water.

If you’ve traveled overseas, you might have noticed that soda is very expensive in many countries. It’s rare to be able to find a 64-ounce Giganto-Gulp for the equivalent of 50 cents, for example. Instead of paying a lot for soda (or having trouble finding diet soda), consider packing a bottle of one of these “liquid water enhancers” on your next trip. The best part is that these bottles are small enough to fit in your 3-1-1 toiletry kit. Which brings me to my main tip: Repurposing the bottles to store your liquid toiletries.

The flip-top lid reveals a rubberized opening on the bottle. Photo by Lani Teshima.

Besides the appropriate size, Mio bottles have a unique opening. Instead of the traditional screw-top lid, Mio bottles have a flip-top lid that you can easily open with one hand. When you pop the lid open, you can see how the liquid comes out: the opening is a small piece of flexible silicone with a tiny opening that lets you control how much to squeeze out. When you flip the top back on, the top has a stopper that prevents any liquid from squeezing out of this rubberized opening. This means that the flip-top cap is enough to keep the contents from spilling—which is a good thing, because you don’t want to accidentally spill concentrated fruit punch over your nice clothes.

Generic or in-store brands of liquid water enhancers offer the same level of concentration as Mio, but come in flat-top bottles. Photo by Lani Teshima.

So these Mio bottles themselves make pretty good repurposed toiletry bottles, but I actually have an even better tip: Go buy yourself a generic version of these flavored water enhancers. At least where I live in Northern California, I’ve found store-branded versions at Target, Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Raley’s; I suspect you should have no trouble finding these in your local supermarket or box store.

The same bottle technology is used for other concentrated liquids, like this bottle of Stevia To Go (a natural plant-based zero-calorie sweetener), sold at WalMart. Photo by Lani Teshima.

If you look around, you’ll even discover that this flip-cap bottle is being used for things other than just water enhancers. WalMart sells concentrated liquid stevia (a plant-based no-calorie sweetener) in green bottles. Some WalMart stores also sell liquid sucralose (a generic version of Splenda) in yellow bottles, and something called liquid “monk fruit” (in tan bottles)—a popular no-calorie sweetener from Asia—by the same manufacturer, giving you three more color options than the more common white (and black) bottles.

All of these bottles use label wrappers rather than printed graphics or adhesive labels, making the removal of labels a cinch. Photo by Lani Teshima.

The great thing about these bottles, for reuse purposes, is that they all use wrapper labels instead of adhesive labels, or printed graphics. What this means is that it’s extremely easy to remove the label (no label-soaking required).

The trickiest part of the operation is removing the dispenser cap from the bottle. Photo by Lani Teshima.

Once you’ve removed the label, you get to the trickiest part of the operation: Removing the actual dispenser cap from the bottle. It helps to remember that this bottle doesn’t leak—so the dispenser cap is connected to the body of the bottle as a very tight snap-on, and is not designed to be easily removed.

Take a careful look at the bottle. You should see a hairline seam about an inch below the top of the bottle. More than likely, you will not be able to twist or snap the dispenser cap off the bottle. Instead, you might need to take a pair of scissors or a butter knife into the seam to get some leverage to pop the cap off.

Be extremely careful when you pop the cap off. Some flavors, like strawberry watermelon and fruit punch, are very bright, and could easily stain your clothes.

Removing the dispensing cap is such a pain that once you’ve cleaned out the bottle, it’s easier to (re)fill the bottles using a syringe. Photo by Lani Teshima.

Once you’ve popped off the dispenser cap, rinse the inside of the bottle clean from any flavor syrup (including the underside of the dispenser cap). If you don’t want to deal with popping the cap off each time you refill the bottle, an alternative method for refilling is to use a syringe to pump your contents in through the dispenser hole itself. I use one of those oral medication syringes for children. Because the dispenser hole is flexible, I could easily pop the end of the syringe into the bottle and refill it with ease.

You can then add your own label or use a permanent marker to note what the contents are, and you’re set to go. And because the bottles are opaque, you can even fill them with light-sensitive products like serums and some creams.

The single, most compelling reason to go with a store brand over Mio: The ability to stand the bottle upside down. Photo by Lani Teshima.

And the whole reason I recommend using store brands over Mio comes down to this: generic store brand bottles use a flat flip-top design that lets you rest the bottle upside down (whereas the tops of Mio bottles are rounded and cannot stand on its own upside down). This is the best feature when you’ve filled these bottles with thick liquid like shampoo, because it lets you rest the bottle upside down, ensuring that the liquid will always be resting on the bottom and thus avoiding that tilt-and-wait problem you get with a half-empty bottle of thick liquid.

A portable way to keep your favorite flavor with you, a way to save money over buying bottles of soda, and a great way to carry toiletries. How could you lose?

Product at a glance

  • Mio Liquid Water Enhancer
  • Available from Amazon, as well as grocery stores an supermarkets, typically for around $3 to $4. Store brands are slightly cheaper.
  • Volume: 1.62 ounces