Tired of drinking plain water and looking for a tastier way to hydrate? Read my honest Cirkul water bottle review to see if it’s right for you.
I’m in a lifelong struggle to stay hydrated.
Apart from its key role in keeping us alive, drinking water has a ton of benefits, like clear skin and a functional digestive system. Sounds nice!
But drinking water isn’t always easy. I’m an all-or-nothing person; I’m either downing a gallon a day, or it’s 5 pm and I have a headache because all I’ve had to drink is three (decaf) cappuccinos.
In my younger days, I loved sugary drinks like sweetened iced teas, vitamin waters, and juices. However, I’ve tried to leave that habit behind (and many other fun habits) as I’ve gotten older.
Still, it can be hard to remember to drink plain water. There’s no pizazz! That’s what drew me to the Cirkul bottle, which is a special water bottle that comes with flavor cartridges.
I decided to buy Cirkul and write an honest review about my experience with this TikTok famous water bottle.
Would it get me to drink more water? Would the Cirkul solution be the key to solving my hydration problems? Or would it end up in a closet with my other abandoned purchases?
Let’s dive into my detailed Cirkul water bottle review to find out!
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
What is Cirkul and How Does it Work?
At first glance, a Cirkul bottle looks like a standard water bottle. You have a choice between stainless steel or plastic bottles, with various color and size options.
The stainless steel bottle has double walls for insulation, while the plastic one does not. Plastic Cirkul bottles are dishwasher-safe, but stainless steel bottles aren’t dishwasher-safe.
What sets Cirkul apart is the comfort grip lid.
This lid has a wide hole where you can switch out different flavor cartridges that contain zero-calorie flavorings, ranging from unsweetened fruit essence to a vanilla iced coffee flavor.
The cartridges also have a flavor dial that allows you to control the flavor intensity, which is pretty cool.
The mouthpiece is in the cartridge, so the plain water travels through it before it hits your lips.
It automatically transforms your water into your favorite flavor, like tropical blast, fruit punch, mixed berry juice, or even a caramel iced coffee.
Every flavor is sugar-free, and some come with enhancements like B vitamins, caffeine, or electrolytes.
A Quick Look at Cirkul as a Company
Many people don’t drink water because they find it boring. The idea behind Cirkul is to get people to drink more water in the most convenient way possible.
Founders Garrett Waggoner and Andy Gay first got the idea for a water bottle with a flavor cartridge when they were college football players at Dartmouth.
The main goal of the Cirkul water bottle is to give people a way to increase their water intake while providing an alternative to sports drinks and flavored drinks.
Cirkul aims to compete with carbonated drinks’ wide range of flavors but with zero calories.
The Cirkul system is somewhat eco-friendly because the Cirkul cartridges are reusable, cutting down on plastic waste.
However, they aren’t infinitely reusable and, therefore, not as eco-friendly as drinking plain water from a reusable bottle.
The pair founded their company in 2018, but things didn’t take off until early 2021 when the Cirkul bottle went viral on TikTok.
The company’s sudden popularity boom led to a deal with Walmart, where they’re now one of the top-performing products in the home appliances department.
Cirkul has since been growing fast and performing exceptionally well in the water bottle market.
Cirkul Review: My Experience With the Cirkul Water Bottle
For my honest review, I got a Cirkul water bottle starter kit bundle.
The starter kit bundle gives you a higher percentage discount the more you spend. Because of this, it makes sense to buy a Cirkul bottle with a bunch of flavors at once because you can get up to 35% off that way.
For my starter kit, I chose the 22-ounce stainless steel bottle in grey with an orange comfort grip lid, plus a whole assortment of flavors.
The flavor cartridges, which Cirkul calls “Sips,” come in several categories.
I purchased flavors from four of them: “GoSips” with caffeine, “LifeSips” with B vitamins, “FitSips” with electrolytes, and “PureSips’” (now rebranded as “Puressence”), which are unsweetened.
In the two to three months since I made the purchase and have been testing out the Cirkul Sips, the brand has been busy expanding and rebranding.
I even noticed different packaging designs for some of my LifeSips and FitSips, as if they were transitioning between designs when they packed the order.
There are other Sips categories that I didn’t try, too.
These include “Verda,” which uses stevia instead of sucralose, and “Frosted,” which promises to turn your water into a vanilla iced coffee or a pumpkin spice latte (I am very dubious about this, based on my experiences with the flavors I did try.)
I’m here to give you an honest review of the Cirkul water bottle, so I’ll tell you straight up that I’m on the fence about this product.
There are some things that I quite like about this water bottle, but there are other aspects that I strongly dislike.
Let’s run through the pros and cons together.
You can control how much flavor you’re getting
With its flavor dial, Cirkul offers excellent alternatives to a plain water bottle.
It’s great to control the flavor intensity or opt for drinking unflavored water without switching to a different water bottle.
And in terms of functionality, the flavor dial works as it’s supposed to without difficulty, so I can easily set it to my desired flavor level.
The flavor stays in the cartridge, so the water bottle doesn’t get sticky
I have another water bottle that holds 75 ounces, and in many ways, I prefer it to the Cirkul bottle. But one thing I hate about it is having to wash it out every day.
When I add packets of electrolyte powder to the big bottle, a simple rinse won’t cut it–the bottle tastes funky unless I scrub it with soap each morning.
By contrast, my Cirkul water bottle only needs an occasional wash and tastes just fine after a quick rinse when I refill it with more water.
That’s because no flavor touches the inside of the bottle, which saves me the headache of constantly scrubbing or worrying about it gathering mildew if it sits on my desk for a few days.
Some flavors come with boosts
The flavor cartridge gives your water flavor and makes drinking water fun, but it has more advantages beyond that, which makes Cirkul worth checking out.
The cartridges that Cirkul calls “GoSips,” for example, come with caffeine. I personally can’t handle much caffeine, but in general, it’s a nice option.
LifeSips have B vitamins that help improve your energy and focus while sipping.
And FitSips include electrolytes, which are important to replenish as you increase your water consumption.
Flavor cartridges aside, the stainless steel Cirkul bottle is a quality water bottle. It has double-wall insulation, keeping water cold for a long time.
I’ve added ice to it at night and sipped super chilly water in the morning.
By comparison, my big water bottle (which is plastic) warms up within hours, even when I’ve dumped an entire ice tray into it.
Other stainless steel water bottles I’ve tried are also inferior to the Cirkul bottle in terms of keeping things cold.
Strong fake sugar taste for many flavors
My biggest problem with these flavored water bottles is the flavors themselves.
I tried almost 30 different flavors and found many of them to be straight-up horrible at full strength.
Some became tolerable when I turned the flavor setting way down, but the biggest issue was the taste of fake sugar.
Some people don’t mind fake sugar–many people adore Diet Coke, after all! But personally, I find fake sugar to be a bitter, pale impersonation of sweet, sweet glucose.
That said, I’ve tried lots of sugar-free things in my day. I’ve gone through phases of cutting out sugar and sugary beverages. So, I know that sugar-free beverages can be better than this.
I’ve found stevia to be passable at times, and some of the flavor cartridges I tried had that instead of sucralose (Splenda), but even then, I didn’t notice much improvement.
I enjoy a refreshing sugar-free beverage when it’s done right, but this ain’t it.
Unsweetened flavors seem to run out quickly
Because of my distaste for fake sugar, my favorite flavors were the Puressence unsweetened flavors. They reminded me of flavored seltzers, which I’m an absolute fiend for.
The problem, however, is that these flavors seem much fainter than the sweetened varieties, and they run out quicker.
Okay, admittedly, I might be drinking them more often, but even taking that into account–they don’t give as much as their sweetened equivalents.
A new flavor pack gives off a strong taste for the first few sips, but then it grows fainter.
I’d also love it if they’d offer unsweetened flavors with boosts like B vitamins and electrolytes, but unfortunately, Puressence’s only purpose is to create a flavored beverage.
Although in some ways the stainless steel bottle performs quite well thanks to its double wall insulation and comfort grip lid, there are still some design issues.
Most of the problems revolve around the cartridges. They tend to be a bit leaky, especially when they’re full.
Sometimes I fill my Cirkul water bottle with seltzer, and the pressure causes it to spit the seltzer out of the tip until I’ve drunk it down. This seems to be an issue with the cartridge and not the comfort grip lid.
Another issue is that the cartridges don’t have their flavors indicated anywhere. So once you take one out of the package, it’s hard to tell what flavor it is.
I took to saving the packages and slipping the cartridges back inside when I wanted to try something else. But this system doesn’t feel very organized.
It’s also difficult to tell when a cartridge is empty or how close it is to being empty.
When you slip the plastic cover off the bottom, there’s a foil bag containing the flavored liquid, so you can see how full it is.
However, I wonder why that plastic cover couldn’t have been clear so it’s easier to see how much is left.
Cirkul Flavors Ranked: My Picks for the Best Cirkul Flavors
In the interest of keeping this a fully honest review, I’ll be upfront that I’m not in love with any of the flavors.
My favorites are the unsweetened ones, and my least favorites are the sweetened citrus varieties.
I’ve tried a LOT of flavors (although there are still more that I haven’t sampled!).
To help sort out what I think of each flavor and create the most honest review possible, I’ve made this handy breakdown of my experience with them.
|Puressence Unsweetened Apple||9/10||Apple flavor tastes good, seems to run out quickly, or isn’t very strong to begin with|
|Puressence Unsweetened Lemon||7/10||Not bad, slightly bitter/astringent. Pretty faint unless you put it on level 9|
|Puressence Unsweetened Pear||8/10||I like the pear flavor, a little artificial (all Puressences are a little faint)|
|Puressence Unsweetened Tangerine||6/10||Doesn’t taste a ton like tangerine|
|Puressence Unsweetened Raspberry||8/10||Pretty good, could be more reminiscent of raspberry|
|Puressence Unsweetened Peach||7/10||Tasty. However, the flavor is weak.|
|GoSip Citrus Twist||3/10||Fake sugar flavor is cloying, doesn’t improve with less intensity. Not very citrusy|
|GoSip Green Apple||5/10||A bit too sweet, but I like green apple as a flavor|
|GoSip Strawberry Watermelon||8/10||Strawberry flavor works betters with the sweetening, not as cloying|
|GoSip Black Cherry||6/10||Tastes bad and medicinal at full strength, but tolerable when it’s around level 4|
|GoSip Orange||7/10||Flavor isn’t too bad|
|GoSip Grape||8/10||Grape works surprisingly well. Best at about a level 6|
|GoSip Blackberry||6/10||Doesn’t taste that much like blackberry, but not terrible, bad aftertaste though|
|FitSip Lemon Lime||1/10||Very unpleasant, salty + fake sugar, not very citrusy|
|FitSip Orange Tangerine||6/10||Not terrible, but not very orange-y. Better at a level 5|
|FitSip Tropical Blast||2/10||Coconut and banana don’t go well with fake sugar and saltiness. Better at a lower strength|
|FitSip Mixed Berry||6/10||Gross at full strength, but not bad when it’s at a level 4|
|LifeSip Watermelon||8/10||Quite good at half strength, not terrible at full strength|
|LifeSip Lemonade||5/10||Not bad at a 2 or 3, pretty unpleasant at full strength. Weird, salty, fake lemon powder flavor|
|LifeSip Sweet Tea and Lemon||6/10||Tea flavor is pretty good. Still, the sweetness is very cloying|
|LifeSip Coconut Pineapple||7/10||Flavor works surprisingly well with the fake sugar. Best at a lower level|
|LifeSip Peach Mango||9/10||Peach works really well with the flavor of the sucralose! Good at a level 6|
|LifeSip Fruit Punch||9/10||Fruit punch is also a good flavor for the fake sugar. Doesn’t taste so cloying. Tastes like real fruit punch.|
|LifeSip Mango Grapefruit||9/10||Unusual combo, but it works. Has a good sourness that balances sweetener (stevia)|
|LifeSip Raspberry Lemonade||5/10||Not great, they don’t do lemon well|
|LifeSip Strawberry Kiwi||7/10||Not too bad but doesn’t taste much like kiwi or strawberry, just sweet|
|LifeSip Blueberry Cranberry||8/10||Pretty good, nice tartness from the cranberry|
|LifeSip Strawberry Lemonade||7/10||Not very lemony, but decent flavor|
Cirkul Return & Exchange Policy
Cirkul’s official return policy is that they don’t have one. They explain that because it’s a consumable product, they don’t accept returns or offer refunds.
That policy also seems to extend to the non-consumable bottle and comfort grip lid, although they invite you to reach out to customer service if you have a problem with your order.
I was surprised that Cirkul simply doesn’t have a return policy, especially since the bottle itself isn’t consumable and costs up $35, depending on the size. That seems like bad customer service to me.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Cirkul has a high number of customer complaints, indicating poor customer service.
This company grew super rapidly when it went viral, so, unfortunately, customer service is often where there’s a lag when a company balloons overnight.
Cirkul Discounts & Coupons
With the bundle builder, you can get increasingly big discounts the more you spend. The discount starts at 10% and increases incrementally up to 25% if you spend at least $100.
For a limited time, that discount increases to 35% if you opt for auto-ship, although they don’t specify how long that offer will be available.
By recommending it to your friends and family, you can also get discounts through the Cirkul Water Bottle referral program.
Other Cirkul Products
Apart from water bottles and cartridge flavors, Cirkul offers a few other products as well.
The SipSafe is a carrying case that fits two sips cartridges, so you can switch them out while you’re on the go.
Cirkul Flow Filter
The Flow Filter is a carbon-based water filter that fits around the flavor cartridge to filter the chlorine and other contaminants from your water before it becomes a flavorful beverage.
If your Cirkul water bottle is plastic, you can add a neoprenechill sleeve to add insulation. Or, you can add a silicone shock sleeve if you have the stainless steel bottle.
The sleeves come in various colors so that you can customize your bottle to your mood.
Where to Buy Cirkul Water Bottles
Cirkul has distribution with several prominent retailers.
Of course, you can buy your Cirkul water bottle directly from their website. But you can also purchase Cirkul products at Walmart and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
FAQs About Cirkul Water Bottles
Where are Cirkul water bottles made?
Cirkul isn’t forthcoming about where their factories are; there’s no information on the website.
However, it appears that their products, like many of the mass-produced plastic products we have in the US, come from China. Their headquarters are in Florida.
Are Cirkul water bottles healthy? Is Cirkul good for you?
Cirkul water bottles are somewhat healthy.
On the one hand, they don’t contain artificial colors. Since the flavor hides inside the cartridge, there’s no need to color it red or blue like a typical sports drink.
They also contain zero calories or sugar. And furthermore, if adding flavor gets you to drink more water, that’s undeniably healthy.
However, it’s a stretch to say that Cirkul doesn’t contain artificial ingredients or that they are all-natural ingredients.
Sucralose, the main sweetener they use, is an artificial zero-calorie sweetener.
The FDA deems sucralose “generally safe to consume,” but there’s some debate about its health effects. Stevia, however, is naturally-derived.
And Cirkul Sips, regardless of whether they have sucralose, stevia, or no sweetener, all contain artificial preservatives, such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate.
Again, these are FDA-approved for consumption, and most of us consume them frequently across a wide range of foods. But it’s probably slightly less healthy than plain water.
So, Cirkul Sips are probably less healthy than drinking water on its own, but it’s better to drink water with preservatives than sugary drinks or no water at all.
How long does the Cirkul cartridge last? Can they be reused?
One cartridge can flavor about 132 ounces of water, although this can vary depending on where you have your flavor setting.
Depending on your bottle size, this can range from 11 refills for a 12-ounce bottle to four for a 32-ounce one.
You can also reuse a cartridge if you’ve switched it out for different flavors before using it up.
However, Cirkul recommends you consume cartridges within 10 days. (Something I did NOT realize until I’d already been using several of them intermittently for months…but I’m still alive.)
Is Cirkul good for weight loss?
Drinking water is good for weight loss. Not consuming sugar is good for weight loss.
So, if the Cirkul water bottle helps you do those things, then in that way, it can be supportive of weight loss.
There is some research, however, linking sucralose to fat accumulation.
These studies are inconclusive, and there is also some evidence to the contrary. However, it’s something to keep in mind when using sugar replacements.
If you frequently drink sugary beverages and switch to the Cirkul water bottle, you may lose weight due to calorie reduction.
Is Cirkul actually hydrating?
None of the Cirkul Sips contain anything that detracts from the water’s hydration powers, so a peach tea or a cherry limeade from a Cirkul water bottle is just as hydrating as plain water.
Some flavors contain electrolytes, so those will actually be more hydrating than regular water.
What is so special about Cirkul?
There are lots of water bottles with compartments where you can add fruit or use innovative technologies to help you increase your water consumption.
But Cirkul is singular for its flavor cartridges that allow you to make your water taste like raspberry tea, strawberry kiwi, mixed berry, or even coffee flavors without adding a powder or making your water bottle sticky.
Can I put ice in my Cirkul water bottle?
Yes, you can put ice into your Cirkul water bottle. I do it all the time!
Does Cirkul have aspartame?
Cirkul is sugar-free, which usually raises red flags for me since the most common fake sugar, aspartame, is really bad for you.
However, Cirkul uses sucralose, otherwise known as Splenda, and sometimes stevia. There are also unsweetened flavors that don’t use either.
Sucralose may come with health risks, but unlike aspartame, the research is inconclusive.
Does Cirkul have caffeine?
How do I stop my Cirkul from leaking?
I’ve only had minor leakage issues, but there’s more than one Cirkul water bottle review that describes much more extensive leaking problems.
Cirkul may have improved its cartridge design since the initial release, so the problem isn’t as bad now.
I’ve found that my bottle leaks and sometimes spits water out of the tip when it’s really full, so slowly sipping it will get it down to a lower level where it won’t leak.
Other customers describe the bottle leaking whenever it’s on its side, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a great solution for that.
In my experience, the leak comes more from where the cartridge attaches than from the comfort grip lid itself.
As I’ve mentioned before in this honest review, the Cirkul water bottle has some design issues.
Who is Cirkul for?
The prime Cirkul customer is someone who struggles to stay hydrated because they find plain water boring or is a person who’s trying to cut back on their sugar intake.
Conclusion: Is the Cirkul Water Bottle Worth it?
The ultimate question: is Cirkul worth the money?
Since this is an honest review, I won’t sugarcoat it. I probably won’t continue using my Cirkul bottle, nor will I order it again.
That’s not to say this is an entirely negative Cirkul water bottle review.
I think it has some positive aspects and is an innovative idea. I wish it worked better for me, but a few issues make it a deal breaker.
First and foremost, I don’t like most of the flavors. I like the unsweetened ones the best, but I wish they had some electrolytes or vitamins to make them more worth it.
Switching out and keeping track of the flavors is a hassle. And I can’t see myself going through the process of ordering more cartridges when I’m not even very fond of the flavors.
I would have continued working through my 30 flavors, keeping the flavor dial on a low or medium setting, but I’m a bit grossed out after reading that you should discard them 10 days after opening. And a little concerned that I’ve been sipping on mildew.
Many of my cartridges have been in rotation for eight weeks or more. Yikes!
So, I’ll probably stop using the cartridges that I have. Also–maybe they should print that on the packaging??
I ran across that information buried in an answer to a different question in the FAQs section. I probably wouldn’t have read through that if I wasn’t working on an honest review.
I like the stainless steel bottle, and I’ll look into switching out a lid so I can use it as a regular water bottle.
But for now, my quest to stay hydrated continues.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elina Ansary is a writer, visual artist, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, she visits artist residencies around the world and has lived in Amsterdam, Australia, and now Brooklyn, NY.
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