How the Cooler Started

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Today, you can find water coolers in the office, homes, on television shows, and more. It is just a norm to our everyday lives, especially here at Century Springs. But where did they originate?

Since the beginning of time, humans have been in search of good, clean water to sustain themselves.  The very first documented water treatments were found in writings known as Sus’ruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit text about medicine and surgery.  The methods included heating the water with the sun and then eventually boiling the water, filtering through sand and gravel, and the use of Strychnos potatorum seed (also known as the “clearing-nut tree”), which cleans the water. 

Fast forward 500 years to 1500 B.C., when the Egyptians used a water filtration apparatus allowing multiple people to drink clean water simultaneously.  Sound familiar to a cooler?

Around the 7th century B.C., large scale communal drinking devices were introduced to Athens, Greece. Large, long-distant aqueducts supplied the water for the drinking fountains. The gravity-fed aqueducts were lined with copper or marble to ensure a clean source of transportation for the mountain spring water.

Then stuff happened and they called it the Dark Ages.  Water was bad. Plagues happened. Gross.

In 1671, Sir Francis Bacon and Lucas Antonius Portius developed a multi-vessel sand filtration system where the water flowed upward and downward. In 1804 John Gibb installed a trial filtration system in his bleachery (a factory where textiles were bleached and dyed). Gibb sold the excess clean water to the town of Paisley, Scotland, making it the first town to have filtered water (and interesting design for neckties and bandanas). Most found that the filtered water tasted better and was safer for drinking.

At that time, the rest of the United Kingdom did not have clean water. But that didn’t stop the wealthy Victorians from chilling their water. Around 1840, they placed the very first coolers near ice houses, where huge blocks of ice and snow cooled the water.

In 1877 the Red Wing Stoneware Company in Red Wing, MN started providing crocks and jugs for beverage storage.  Some children might have been lucky enough to have them in their school rooms, where they likely drank from a single cup.  California sanitation inspector and master plumber Luther Haws noticed this unsanitary arrangement, which inspired him to invent the drinking fountain and the self-contained electric water cooler (like what we use today).

The first electric coolers used glass bottles, which were heavy and difficult to move. The increasing popularity of plastics in the early 1980s meant bottles and coolers became lighter and easier to move around. Updated with new technology, coolers now contain a built-in filtration system with reverse osmosis to supply clean, cold water to offices, schools, and homes.

From clearing-nut trees to high-tech filtration systems, the history of chilled water has never been ‘cooler!’ Check out the options Century Springs offers here.