Why Are Glass Bottles Shaped the Way They Are?

Strong alcohol drink in bottle with shot glass in traditional rustic retro toned atmosphere

Glass bottles can come in many shapes and sizes, but you’ve no doubt noticed that the vast majority of them are the same shape: yeah, that Coca-Cola bottle shape that’s so familiar to everyone. But why are so many glass bottles shaped this way, regardless of their brand or their contents? There has to be a reason, right?

Well, of course, there is. And like with most things related to corporations and making money, it mostly comes down to efficiency and cutting costs. The reason for the shape of glass bottles is actually quite simple.

Long-Necked Bottles: Why Are Their Necks Small?

So, why do glass bottles get slimmer near the top? Why isn’t the opening you drink from the same size as the rest of the bottle? Well, there are two main reasons why glass bottles are intentionally shaped like this. First of all, and probably the most prominent reason, is that a smaller opening requires a smaller seal. In most cases, a smaller bottlecap.

Why does that matter? Because, a smaller bottlecap requires less material to make than a bigger bottlecap, and material costs money. You might be asking, “does the tiny difference in size of a bottlecap really make a monetary difference?” Well, it does when you are producing a huge number of bottlecaps.

Let’s do some easy math to hammer the point home. Imagine that you need to manufacture one million bottlecaps. The small one costs $0.01 to make. The twice as large bottlecap only costs $0.0125 to make. Making one million of the small bottlecap will cost you $10,000, but making one million of the twice as large bottlecap will cost you $12,500.

Now put yourself in the shoes of a big company that produces millions upon millions of bottlecaps. When you start producing items in those massive quantities, even small increases in the price of making each one ends up making a very big difference in the overall cost of production.

The Second Reason for the Shape of Glass Bottles

Earlier, we said there were two reasons for the traditional shape of glass bottles. So, what’s the second one? Well, this one is less about money and more about efficiency. Put simply, a smaller seal is stronger than a larger seal that has to cover more surface area. There’s a lot of physics involved there, but just think of it this way.

You have probably used a vacuum cleaner before. You may have even used one that has various attachments. Hopefully, you’ve noticed that the smaller the surface area that air is sucked through, the stronger the suction is. The reverse is also true: the larger the surface area air is sucked through, the weaker the suction.

So, by having glass bottles with a small neck, manufacturers can secure them with a small seal, which is more secure than a larger seal and reduces the chances of any accidents during transportation. 

And that right there, is the only other reason glass bottles are shaped the way they are. 

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