I recently traveled to Phoenix for a healthcare journalism conference. The Hilton-owned location was a bit out of the way, though quite hospitable…
…except for the part where I discovered there was no drugstore within walking distance. As a result, no way for me to pick up my usual jug of distilled water to use for my CPAP.
I ended up taking an Uber to get this product, which cost me $11 roundtrip.
Yep. Eleven bucks + the cost of the jug of distilled water, which was only about $1.29. At the end of my trip, I would have to leave at least half of it behind, where it would likely be poured down the drain.
Yes. In Arizona, where water is a precious commodity.
Since I became an AutoPAP user, I’ve traveled quite frequently, either by air or for camping excursions or road trips. The inconvenience of using PAP itself has not been an issue. The machine is light and easy to pack. The TSA doesn’t give me grief through security. I can always find an electrical outlet at my destination.
But the water thing is a different issue, and one I hadn’t anticipated.
The CPAP travel problem is not about the machine… it’s about the water
PAP machine manufacturers build these machines to use distilled water… for a reason. Distilled water doesn’t have added chemicals or minerals in it that would either be disruptive to sleep or damaging (over time) to the machines themselves. This is the reason you should never use tap water in your machine. It can contain all kinds of contaminants and may not be nearly as clean as you think (Flint, anyone?).
Back at the resort in Arizona, I did check the gift shop there. While they didn’t have distilled water for sale, they did offer a popular vapor distilled water that they assured me would be fine.
Except that they didn’t know I was a sleep health professional. (Poor things.) It was my duty as such to educate them on the fact that SmartWater (a product I endorse as a portable electrolyte water, wholeheartedly) is not meant to run a PAP machine because it is packed with minerals that can damage a PAP machine if used frequently over time.
Hence the Uber trip. After all, $11 for appropriate water for my PAP is still a better option than replacing my very expensive machine earlier than necessary.
Water shopping while on the road
In other locales, it’s not so hard to find distilled water. I have purchased it at all the national grocery, drugstore, and box store chains. It does mean that, once I arrive, my first order of business after checking in is hunting down distilled water. And it might mean a several-block hike and then lugging the jug awkwardly back to my hotel room.
But wouldn’t it be great if hotels stocked smaller bottles of distilled water for their guests to buy in their gift shops? (Better yet, provide it for free like they do coffee and tea in the room?) And what about airports? Wouldn’t they be smart to sell similar items in the terminal for those who are arriving late and may be unable to find a store open after their red-eye flight?
It’s hard to believe I didn’t know these products existed until now. But they do, and I recently had a chance to talk to Chuck Bailey at H2Doze (Farmington, MO) about theirs.
What is H2Doze?
This is distilled water packed into a 16.9-ounce bottle. Because of its packaging, you can actually
- Buy this CPAP bottled water product ahead of time
- Pack it in your carry-on with your PAP machine
- TAKE IT THROUGH SECURITY, and
- Arrive at your destination with PAP water ready to go.
The amount of time saved and convenience makes this a valuable item for PAP users, Bailey points out, and it meets a need for thousands of PAP users.
What’s more, it actually sells for a reasonable price per bottle on site at certain hotel chains, where it’s stocked in the gift shop, at $2.99 a bottle. One unit of this CPAP bottled water supplies two nights of PAP use.
Wait… isn’t a whole jug of distilled water at the store only $1.29 (or less)?
- you can’t pack a whole jug of distilled water with you on the plane
- at $2.99 a bottle for H2Doze or other prepackaged CPAP bottled water product, I would have still only paid around $6 for my PAP bottled water supply on that Arizona trip, rather than over $11 just to find it
- I used ALL of the water and didn’t have to pour the rest down the drain in a location where water is precious (though I did leave the half-empty jug intact in case housekeeping might want to use it in the laundry room)
- I saved myself from losing time at a business conference where I have better things to do than shop for distilled water, and
- peace of mind is no small thing when you’re traveling, need to pack your medical equipment and supplies, and are arriving late to a strange place.
What’s this about TSA and water bottles?
This was the wonderful surprise Bailey shared with me during our discussion about H2Doze:
Their bottles include an “approved by TSA” label that means, because it is used for medical equipment, it can be packed with your PAP machine and carried on without worrying about agents pouring it out or forcing you to drink it before going through the security line.
That’s a revelation. For those frequent flyers who only use a carry-on, this is a huge benefit.
Going to Amazon, I discovered that H2Doze (and its competitors, AquaPAP and CPAP H2O Premium) all offer small packable bottles of distilled water to use in PAP therapy.
From the looks of it, however, only the CPAP bottled water products under the H2Doze brand have the “approved by TSA” label that actually allows you to carry it on.
The other CPAP bottled water products could, of course, be packed inside checked luggage, but that doesn’t mean they will survive the trip (think about the reckless baggage tossing, turbulence, and the changes in air pressure) without risk of leaking all over the contents of your suitcase.
You can buy 6-packs and even cases of H2Doze on Amazon (with Prime, shipping is free). A 6-pack runs $14.95 (about $2.50 a bottle); a case of 12 costs $25.95 (about $2.16 a bottle). They come in heavier-weight plastic (5mil). This is a chief reason why the H2Doze product is approved by TSA for passing through security.
Bailey shared that they recently started selling H2Doze in the 7-Eleven concession at LAX as a test run to see if travelers with CPAP might discover it and buy it on demand before their trips. I know I would.
They also launched in national retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond in May 2018 and are doggedly working with other vendors, such as sleep clinics, durable medical equipment providers, truck stops, drugstores, grocers, airport retailers, hotel chains, even coffeemaker provisioners for the hospitality industry, to get their products into the hands of sleep apnea patients everywhere.
It this product really necessary?
For many people, it does. It makes sense, considering that 400,000 PAP users board a plane with their machine and more than 2 million PAP users stay in hotels every single week.
Bailey also points out that truck drivers who use CPAP can benefit from H2Doze. The bottles are easier to stash in the limited space of their cabs.
But it’s not only PAP users who can benefit from this product: it can also be applied in nasal rinses, baby bottles, essential oil diffusers, and menthol vaporizers.
Bailey also points out a health safety feature that may be of special interest to some. According to research collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, distilled water is only sterile prior to opening. Once opened, the container can become contaminated with mold spores, bacteria, or viruses.
Common sense suggests that the distilled water contents in a 16.9-ounce bottle of water are less likely to become contaminated due to the fact the bottle is only opened twice. However, an entire gallon jug of distilled water may take up to 2 weeks to empty. Every time you open it, you increase your odds of contaminating it.
If you’re an otherwise healthy individual, this may not seem like a big problem. Lucky you! But if you are elderly, very young, or immunocompromised, this is a legitimate concern.
To learn more about this sleep product, visit the H2Doze website.
Check out the H2Doze Facebook page.