Air Up Steel edition – cool water with a taste

The packaging of air up Steel Edition

If you have children, you know it: Air Up. Very popular among the youth as can be seen in the Youth Journal. The AIr Up is also popular with my youngest son in the class (2VWO), most of them have one.

But just in case you think Air Up, that’s a short explanation. Nothing is added to the water, you just drink water from the tap. Dutch tap water is fine, you don’t have to filter it. If you look closely you will see that there is a hole in the pod and also in the straw through which you drink. That is the mechanism of air up.

air up management team and founders

Air up originally comes from Germany and was designed by Lena Jüngst and Tim Jäger, two German university students. As part of their thesis, they were working on the prototype of what later became air up. The aim was to tackle insufficient hydration by linking neuroscience with design. They soon thought (and rightly so as it turned out) to have found something revolutionary and decided to take the plunge to bring the concept to the market. Investors came on board and now the company is 300 worldwide.

The special thing about air up is how it works.


You just drink water, but the pod adds odor. Odor molecules are broken down in the mouth when someone eats or drinks. They then travel up to the olfactory center of the brain, where it is perceived as taste. This is called retronasal perception. You are being fooled by your brain.

So what you drink is just water with, and the packaging proudly states, zero calories, zero added substances.

Smart of air up because drinking just water is not hip. An Air Up does. Would people drink more because of air up? I haven’t been able to find any real scientific research, but reviewers (surprisingly often with the mention ‘My honest review of air up’) say to drink more of it.

The side note is, of course, is this a permanent phenomenon? All the things you just got new are exciting and you use them more. The pods make it surprising because you really get fooled. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it.

The loose parts

What do you need?

Of course: water from the tap. A cubic meter of water (1000 litres) costs about EUR 1.30 in Haarlem, other drinking water companies are cheaper or more expensive depending on the method of water extraction. I will ignore taxes and standing charges for a moment.

Water is dirt cheap because for that money you can get a 1.5 liter bottle of water from a well-known Belgian brand at the supermarket, which is actually the same (they say not). Bottled water is nonsense and is only there to make a lot of money and also bad for the environment.

Fortunately, there are more and more tap points at universities, stations and other places, including in the city center.

You also need a bottle. You need a bottle of air up for air up because the pods fit on that. The Steel version keeps the water cool for 16 hours, says air up. It also cannot go in the microwave, the freezer and is preferably washed by hand.

How does air up work then?

How it’s put together

As you can see the pod goes on the Silicone Mouthpiece. Pushed all the way down, the pod is closed.

Close pod

In this position you can drink with the taste.

Open pod

And that’s because of the holes, just look in the pod and in the silicone ring.

Holes to mix the scent with the water

Types of bottles

The bottles of air up start at EUR 29.99 for the starter bottle (650 ml), where you can choose a color (additional cost) and then add pods that are packed per three. The cheapest solution is the starter bottle with apple pods for just under EUR 35. The steel bottle is available in 480 or 850 ml and costs EUR 49.95 or 59.95 respectively. Then there are the pods. If I choose the most expensive combination there, I come to just under EUR 69 for the 850 ml steel drinking bottle and 1 × Lavender lemonade pods. The favorite 5 pods is even more expensive.

Sleek design

That’s quite a lot of money. You can buy a normal Dopper for just under EUR 14, although the insulated Doppers are approaching EUR 36. A water bottle like you use for sports will cost you approximately between 7 and 10 EUR. So you also have choices, but what makes air up special are the scent pods.

How long does a pod last?

According to air up, one pod will flavor at least 5 liters of water. So you can fill the 480 ml bottle 10 times. Pods are sold in packs of 3 and cost between EUR 5.99 and EUR 12.99 (5 units). They come in such a kind of packaging (this was 1 x cherry) and the pods are also individually packaged.

Pod in packaging

There is a whole choice of flavours, I just took them off the website and this is the list where some of them may be sold out:

  • Lavender Lemonade Pods
  • Cherry Pods
  • Lime Pods
  • Lychee Rose Pods
  • Elderflower Pods
  • Cola Pods
  • Forest Fruit Pods
  • Favorite Five sample pack
  • Strawberry Balsamic Pods
  • Iced Tea Peach Pods
  • Mango Passion Fruit Pods
  • Watermelon Pods
  • Peach Pods
  • Watermelon Pods
  • Peach Pods
  • Cassis Pods
  • Pear Pods
  • Cherry Pods
  • Honeydew Melon Pods
  • Lime Pods
  • Cherry Kola Pods
  • Orange Vanilla Pods
  • Raspberry-Lemon Pods
  • Apple Pods
  • Strawberry-Lemongrass Pods
  • Blueberry Pods
  • Iced Coffee Pods
  • Orange-Passion Fruit Pods
  • Lychee Rose Pods
  • Elderflower Pods
  • Cucumber Pods
  • Basil-Lemon Pods
  • Yuzu Rosemary Pods
  • Guava Pods
  • Lemon Pods
  • Orange Lemonade Pods
  • Pineapple Pods
  • Sweet Coconut Pods

Quite a list and something for everyone. But let’s calculate how much you pay per bottle. I’ll leave the purchase aside for a moment, maybe you’ll get a bottle as a gift. Water as I said is so cheap (less than a tenth of a cent) that we can disregard that too so basically the pods are the cost.

Pod airtight

I have a steel bottle that can hold 480ml, I put cherry pods in it at a EU 5.99 per 3. I can drink at least (according to air up) 15 liters. Quickly calculated, that is 30 half liters / bottles. That costs me 20 cents per bottle. Many times cheaper than flavored water from the supermarket. If you drink three bottles a day, you will lose 60 cents.

Sounds like little, but I do think that air up will see you as a very pleasant customer, because you also need pods. If you keep counting, such small things cost a lot of money. But on the other hand, if you start drinking more, it also benefits your body. It is recommended to drink between 1.5 and 2 liters per day. But, be honest, do you get that every day?


The air up is an amazing drinking bottle that gives water a taste without additives, just through the pods. It is not a cheap bottle to buy but certainly has an appeal, not only for teenagers and children. The Steel edition in black looks sleek and is easy to use. The good thing is that you just drink water and that can be found almost everywhere. The pods allow you to drink more, which is only good for you (don’t drink too much).

Pods cost money, of course, but a pod (5 liters of flavored water) is about the same in cost as a bottle of water at a gas pump or beach bar. You are cheaper, but the costs can still add up because the air up model consists of purchasing the bottle and then purchasing the pods.

As always, there are also companies that counterfeit them (particularly from China) and people who want to fill them themselves. You see that with all companies that have such a model, just look at Nespresso, HP and so on.

That’s fine, there is a group that appeals to that, but for many people it is also a hassle, injecting scent or flavorings into an empty pod with a hypodermic needle. Besides, what are you injecting into it? How many? What ingredients and substances are in that bottle from China? Won’t it leak? Lots of questions you don’t have if you just buy pods.

Online you even see a subscription to pods, but unfortunately there is nothing on the site. That’s a shame as that leaves you with a cash flow of pods, if you can adjust the frequency and maybe try a new flavor from time to time.

I have to say, I like the air up thing. And the youngest, he already stole it!

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