How to Refill a 5 Gallon Water Dispenser

In Mexico and some other countries, 5-gallon water bottles are the norm, and hefting 18kg (40 pounds) of an open water bottle onto the narrow neck of a dispenser without spilling it can be a challenge. Here is a way to make it much more manageable.


  1. Image titled Remove_foam_seal
    Remove the foam seal from the cap if there is one. Note that Ciel bottle caps have a left-hand thread, so turn right (clockwise) to loosen.
  2. Image titled Cutting_the_hole
    Cut a hole in the cap about half the diameter. You can use a drill or a knife.
  3. Image titled Replace_foam
    Replace the foam, and screw on the modified lid.
  4. Image titled Replace_bottle
    Invert the bottle onto the dispenser. The water pressure against the foam cap will keep all but maybe a slight dribble from leaking..
  5. Image titled Center_piece
    The center protrusion will force the seal out, releasing the water. The foam seal will then float to the top.


  • If your cap lid did not come with a seal, you can make one out of gasket material. Here is shown a two-piece seal, one with a crosscut, and one with a flap, for a Santorini bottle. The flap goes on the water side.
    Image titled Homemade_seal


  • Some gasket materials may leach toxic substances into your drinking water.
  • This will only work if your dispenser has a piece protruding into the neck as shown.
  • Ciel bottles have reusable caps, so your water distributor may charge you a few pesos for the cap you have rendered unusable (by them). Keep your modified cap and it will be a one-time expense.

Sources and Citations

  • This research was made possible, in part, by a land grant from the City of the Sun Foundation, though the specifics of the research were not coordinated nor endorsed by COSF.

Article Info

Categories: Water Ice and Sports Drinks