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I have a bottle of Powerade and after probably around 20+ refills of water, the new water I put in still tastes/smells a little like Powerade.

How does that happen?

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    $\begingroup$ You could experiment a bit. Put in fresh water. Leave it for bit. Pour the water into a glass. Remove the bottle from the room. Leave the water there for a bit. Drink the water. Also do this double blindly and at least 42 times. Record your findings. Hypothesis to be tested: water tastes normal. Venture theory: bottle stinks or something is going on in your brain that associates the sight of the bottle with the taste of Powerade. To test that, round up 27 people, half of whom never drank or saw Powerade. Apply for funding. $\endgroup$ – Keep these mind May 2 '14 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ Hey, you've discovered homeopathic medicine! Ok, seriously, I agree w/ GlenTU that you may be associating the bottle taste with the taste of the fluid. Or possibly you never rinsed the bottlecap (?) and it's got smelly res $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft May 2 '14 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ Probably residue from the Powerade has dried around the nozzle, and you are tasting that when you drink water from the nozzle. Decant it to a clean glass/clean the nozzle the see what happens. $\endgroup$ – innisfree May 2 '14 at 13:23
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Typically water bottles used in sports or biking are manufactured from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is essentially like a longer-chain version of paraffin wax. In short, it's basically a solid nonpolar hydrocarbon (with the exception of the Zeigler-Natta catalysts, which are only present in trace amounts).

Meanwhile, a quick stroll through Fenaroli's Handbook of Flavor Ingredients shows that many of the flavor compounds typically found in foods are either somewhat nonpolar, have nonpolar sections, or have (mostly unsubstituted) aromatic rings present. For example, ethyl valerate, one of the primary constituents of apple aroma, has a butyl chain, is fairly nonpolar, and is nearly insoluble in water.

However, it may be soluble in HDPE, and so it may infuse the bottle with the flavor agents so that the taste can remain for a long time.

Of course, doing a double-blind test may be your best bet for checking to see if this is a real phenomenon, or your imagination. But I've personally noticed this as well, so it could very well be real.

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