NA/ Images

Insulated cups come in several different forms, though many people only think of Styrofoam when you say a cup is insulated. Different types of material are used for making insulated cups, and each one produces different results. Each type of insulating material keeps drinks hot or cold. Some work better than others.

Styrofoam-Insulated Cups

Styrofoam-insulated cups are low cost and come in a variety of different sizes. The lids for these cups are thin plastic. Many fast-food restaurants use this type of cup. It works well for keeping beverages hot or cold for a long period. Styrofoam cups keep drinks hot or cold without sweating on the outside of the cup. One of the drawbacks of the cups is that some may contain BPA -- bisphenol A -- that is hazardous to your health.

Paper-Insulated Cups

Insulated cups made from thick paper and coated with wax come in various sizes. They keep beverages hot and cold, but not as long as Styrofoam cups. After a while, the liquid in the cup starts seeping through the walls of the cup. Insulated cups are made using wood pulp, which is a natural material, so there aren’t any health issues associated with it. This cup is better for the environment than Styrofoam, but a lot of fuel and raw materials go into making the cups. Paper cups cost more than Styrofoam cups, so fewer restaurants use them.

Acrylic-Insulated Cups

Acrylic-insulated cups come in various shapes and sizes with fitted lids, and they keep hot and cold beverages at the correct temperatures. The design of the cup determines how well it keeps beverages hot or cold. If the cup has a thick wall and a well-fitting lid, it insulates the beverage better. Some of the more expensive acrylic cups have a Styrofoam lining between the inner and outer layers of the cup. This layer improves the insulating qualities of the cup.

Glass/Ceramic Insulated Cups

Insulated glass or ceramic cups come in many different shapes and sizes. If the cup has a thick glass or ceramic wall, it insulates the drinks better. That’s why people drink cold drinks in beverages from thick glass mugs. The thick glass holds the cold in the drink longer. Thick-walled ceramic cups or mugs are popular for hot beverages such as coffee because they hold the heat well.