The LARQ is a drinking bottle that purifies water and is also supposed to clean itself. No filter or other equipment is needed. It creates this magic trick only with a small UV-C LED in the lid. This UV-C light in the 280 nanometer range breaks down biological DNA structures such as bacteria or viruses.
That really sounds innovative and unique. Reason enough to try out the whole story and drink some water from the Isar river.
After my order in the British LARQ Shop, the only place to buy the bottle in Europe, and the settlement of my very proud invoice of £95 (~110€), the self-cleaning bottle arrives at my place in Munich about five days later.
The simple but very attractively designed packaging comes with an additional protective cover made of fabric. Although this looks very nice of course, it unfortunately does not fit at all to a company that is dedicated to the fight against plastic (bottles). The cover made of spunbonded PP (polypropylene), i.e. plastic, serves no purpose, since the bottle is already well protected by the actual packaging. It simply goes directly into the garbage.
Apart from the unnecessary cover, the packaging and especially the bottle makes a very high-quality impression. The LARQ has with 380 grams a pleasant weight, lies very well in the hand and looks simply unbelievably good in “Seaside Mint”.
The rest of the processing is also impressive. Everything feels stable and solid, I can’t see any irregularities. The lid closes very tight, which is especially important to create the promised vacuum.
An absolute highlight is also the first switching on by long pressure on the top of the lid when the illuminated ring lights up for the first time.
But before it can really start, it has to be loaded with the included Micro-USB cable. One battery charge should last about one to two months. To do so, simply remove the lid that holds the LED and connect it to a typical charger or laptop.
Without having filled in even a drop of water I am already insanely excited about the bottle. It has definitely earned its red dot design award 2019.
Fully charged, I fill it with the best Munich tap water and switch it on again. She now purifies the water for one minute. Afterwards it will switch on the UV-C light for ten seconds every two hours to kill new bacteria and viruses. Even if it is of course largely pointless to purify tap water from a German city, it is still great fun to see the pulsating ring and imagine that UV-C light is radiated into the bottle.
A first taste reveals nothing unexpected. It tastes like…water.
It only becomes interesting in the real practical test. On the one hand, this means using it over a longer period of time without additional rinsing. On the other hand, and this is the much more fun part, it means using water from critical sources such as rivers. According to LARQ, it only becomes problematic when the water has visible particles or a strong turbidity. By a duck pond one should not pull its wrong despite patented UV-C LED technology thus probably rather not.
In order to try this out, I am on my way to the Isar. Once there, after filling the bottle, I switch to the so called Adventure Mode – means the bottle cleans the water three instead of one minute and should remove 99,9999% instead of 99,9775% of all bacteria. Even though the Isar is a relatively clean river I want to be on the safe side. The water tastes wonderful and I don’t worry about getting sick (I’m not).
In the course of my excursion to the Isar river and my previous research I learned that the city of Munich itself uses UV light, i.e. a similar technique to LARQ, in its sewage treatment plants from May to September to make the water safe for bathing. Since I do my test in November, I am quite happy to have my own UV lamp in my backpack.
The self-cleaning bottle also performs wonderfully in the endurance test. After several weeks of almost daily use I am completely satisfied with it. In constant use I never had to rinse it as long as there was only water in it. It always smelled fresh and like the first day.
Only in the case of beverages containing sugar does the bottle, understandably, reach its limits. But here a quick rinse is always enough to get the LARQ clean again.
Otherwise the bottle keeps what it promises. Cold drinks stay cold forever and warm drinks stay warm for a long time. Only very hot drinks cause problems for the cleaning function. Here the bottle refuses its service and lets the otherwise blue pulsating ring flash a few times in orange. Why this is not clear to me and the manual is not very helpful either – it only says “content too hot”.
I did not have to load them once during my endurance test.
The LARQ self-cleaning bottle is an exciting piece of technology from a truly innovative start-up. As far as I can judge, it fulfills exactly what it promises. Water is cleaned from almost all bacteria within one minute, you always have absolutely clean drinking water, no matter where you are.
The bottle is perfectly processed and with its attractive design it is a wonderful daily companion.
Critically the price can be seen naturally, because with approximately 110 euro it is really everything but favorable.
Also the fact that the start-up LARQ, a company that is committed to environmental protection and the avoidance of plastic, has decided to wrap its packaging in plastic and to ship all bottles ordered in Europe from the UK, sometimes with very long shipping distances, leaves a bad feeling. I hope that the company will address these two issues in a timely manner and make a sincere commitment to environmental protection.
I personally have used much less plastic bottles in the time since I have the LARQ. This was mainly because it is fun to have the nice bottle with me and less because I had problems to find a safe source of drinking water – a problem that probably no one in Europe has.
In the end the bottle is a perfect showcase of what is technically possible and how perhaps in the near future regions with often critical water qualities can get safe drinking water without filter systems. Provided models are developed and offered at a fraction of the price.