How to Select and Safely Use a Thermos

 Best Overall

Thermos 10 Ounce Funtainer Food Jar, Purple

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Our Rating

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Keeps food cold for up to 7 hours and hot for up to 5

 Best Value

Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue

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Our Rating

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Stay-cool exterior

 Best Size for Price

Thermos Stainless King 24-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue

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Our Rating

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Insulated stainless steel serving bowl built-in

5 Best Thermoses

  • Thermos 10 Ounce Funtainer Food Jar, Purple

    Best Overall

  • Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue

    Best Value

  • Thermos Stainless King 24-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue

    Best Size for Price

  • Thermos Stainless King 40-Ounce Beverage Bottle, Midnight Blue

    Safety.com’s Top Pick

  • Thermos 12 Ounce Funtainer Bottle, Minions

    Safety.com’s Top Pick

Thermos Safety

Whether your lunch is hot or cold, a thermal food storage container can help to keep it at a safe temperature until you’re ready to dig in.

The CDC estimates that about 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases each and every year, which makes ensuring packed lunches are kept at a safe temperature of the utmost importance. Young children, pregnant women and the elderly are all at increased risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

The most popular brand of thermal food storage containers is Thermos and like Kleenex and facial tissue, the brand name is frequently used in conversation to refer to thermal food storage containers. Please note that in this post we will use the word thermos to refer not only to the brand but to thermal food storage containers in general.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Thermos

Read the instructions that came with your container. The directions will let you know how long your container will keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. This will vary depending on the size of the container and materials used as well as whether or not it is double (or triple) insulated.

Pack hot foods steaming hot and cold foods ice cold. Foods will need to be packed at at least 165F (for hot items) and 40F or below for cold items to be safe to eat. If you open your thermal food storage container and find the food is not appropriately hot or cold, throw it out as the risk of foodborne illness has increased. Once opened, discard any uneaten food.

Your food will need some liquid. A thermos can only keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold if it has some liquid in it, such as soups and stews. Without any liquid, the container will not be able to maintain a food-safe temperature and so food won’t be safe to eat after two hours.

Pre-heat or pre-chill. Your hot foods will stay warmer longer if you pre-heat the container with hot water (either from the tap or kettle works just fine) and your cold foods will stay colder longer if you put the container in the fridge or freezer to chill first. You can also fill the container with ice water and let sit for a few minutes to chill quickly. Discard water before packing your food.

Pack just before leaving. Your food will remain at a safe temperature longer the closer you can pack them before heading out the door.

Be careful opening. Hot foods can and do burn and young children are especially vulnerable. Offer assistance or take your time when opening a hot thermos.

Hand wash. While some thermal food storage containers are dishwasher-safe, you’ll extend the life of your thermos by hand washing it.

The 10 Best Thermoses

Best Overall

1. Thermos 10 Ounce Funtainer Food Jar, Purple

Our Rating

Our take

This small-sized thermal food storage container is perfect for packed lunches and is available in a multitude of colors and motifs to suit nearly any personal style. The stay-cool exterior means you won’t have to worry about burns when picking up the container.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Keeps food cold for up to 7 hours and hot for up to 5
Best Value

2. Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue

Our Rating

Our take

Ideal for the hungriest of eaters, this large thermal food storage container will keep food cold for up to 12 hours or hot for up to 9 hours. It features a wide-mouthed design that’s easy to fill and eat out of and has a stay-cool exterior.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Stay-cool exterior
Best Size for Price

3. Thermos Stainless King 24-Ounce Food Jar, Midnight Blue

Our Rating

Our take

Ideal for the hungriest of eaters, this large thermal food storage container will keep food cold for up to 12 hours or hot for up to 9 hours. It features a wide-mouthed design that’s easy to fill and eat out of and has a stay-cool exterior.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Insulated stainless steel serving bowl built-in

4. Thermos Stainless King 40-Ounce Beverage Bottle, Midnight Blue

Our Rating

Our take

This classically-styled Thermos features the brand’s patented vacuum insulation to provide maximum temperature retention, whether you’re packing hot or cold items. It will keep items hot or cold for up to 24 hours!

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Twist and pour function

5. Thermos 12 Ounce Funtainer Bottle, Minions

Our Rating

Our take

A fun little water bottle for the little ones, this Minions-inspired container will keep beverages cold for up to 12 hours and is also available in a number of other designs and colors to suit nearly every style.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Hygienic push button lid

6. Thermos Vacuum Insulated 18-Ounce Stainless-Steel Hydration Bottle

Our Rating

Our take

Available in a choice of colors, this Thermos water bottle features a flip-top lid for easy hydration and an additional clasp for security when traveling.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Condensation-free design

7. THERMOS FOOGO Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel 10-Ounce Straw Bottle, Charcoal/Teal

Our Rating

Our take

Perfect for the kiddos, this drinking bottle is made of stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about any nasty chemicals leaching into your child’s drinking water. It also helps prevent the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Dishwasher-safe

8. Thermos 12 Ounce Funtainer Bottle, Frozen Pink

Our Rating

Our take

This water bottle is the perfect size to hydrate little ones and comes in a multitude of colors and designs to suit nearly any personal style. It boasts a hygienic push button lid with pop-up straw and can keep beverages cold for up to 12 hours.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Built-in carry handle

9. THERMOS FOOGO Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel 10-Ounce Food Jar, Tripoli Pattern

Our Rating

Our take

These stylish food storage containers are available in a number of colors and prints, and are designed to keep food cold for up to 7 hours or hot for up to 5 hours. Featuring a kid-proof design, its stainless steel interior helps to prevent the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Lid is ergonomically designed

10. Thermos 10 Ounce Funtainer Food Jar, Batman

Our Rating

Our take

These food storage containers are easy to fill, eat from, and clean thanks to their wide-mouthed design. They can keep food cold for up to 7 hours or hot for up to 5 hours, and feature a stay-cool exterior to prevent burns.

Stand-out features include

  • Free of phthalates and lead or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Stainless steel interior and exterior prevent bacteria growth

Showing 5 of 10 products

Showing 10 of 10 products

Thermos Safety Standards

When shopping for thermal food storage containers it’s important to look for a quality product that meets all safety standards. Depending on where it was manufactured, a product may or may not meet US safety standards. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) provide guidelines for common materials used in the making of thermoses including plastics and metals. It’s worth noting that all Thermos brand products are:

  • Free of phthalates or meet the limits required by law
  • Made without BPA
  • Made without lead or meet the limits required by law