In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How long is bottled water good for?” and will discuss how to store water safely?
How long is bottled water good for?
The FDA, which oversees the bottled water sector, does not prescribe a shelf life for bottled water. Bottled water may be kept for a long time if stored correctly, however, sparkling water should be consumed within a year after opening. And despite the common belief that bottled water is safer to drink and has better taste than tap water, scientific studies have shown that the belief is not necessarily true (1).
Bottled Water’s Problem
Many people prefer bottled water over tap because it is convenient, easy to store, and tastes great. With so many great bottled water alternatives available, it’s simple to ensure that you and your family always have access to safe drinking water.
When it comes to bottled water, one of the most common queries is “how long does it last?” To answer this query, we’ve written an essay. After all, the purity of the water is one of the key selling points for many customers. As a result, you want to ensure that the water you use for drinking is free of contaminants.
How long bottled water is safe to consume?
In general, the water in bottled water has no expiration date. For bottled water, the FDA doesn’t even need an expiration date. Indefinitely pure water will be available.
Bottled water is considered to have an indefinite safe shelf life, if it is produced in accordance with current good manufacturing processes and quality standard regulations and is stored in an unopened, properly sealed container. Therefore, the FDA does not require an expiration date for bottled water (1). However, they are not free from contaminants. In particular, bisphenol A has been found to migrate from polycarbonate bottles at a much faster rate after exposure to boiling water than at room temperature, although there was no difference in old versus new water bottles. This compound has received attention because of its ubiquity in the production of food or beverage containers that use epoxy resins or polycarbonate plastics, and because of its long recognition as having possible estrogen-like effects (3).
You may not want to drink water that has been sitting in a bottle for a long time because of these and other reasons. While the water itself may stay clean eternally, the bottle has a few possible concerns to keep an eye on. So, many bottled water makers suggest that you store the water for no more than two years.
We’ll look at some of the dangers of drinking water that has been stored in a refrigerator for many years.
Old Bottled Water Has Possible Problems
There are a few reasons why reusing old bottled water may not be the best choice. We’ll begin with the bottle’s possibly more dangerous consequences:
The bottle’s chemicals are the first and maybe the most commonly recognized problem. Because, as the FDA has indicated, the water itself does not expire. As a result, the bottle itself will be responsible for any safety concerns.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bottles are often used to package plastic water bottles (PET). The plastic in these bottles has the potential to melt at high temperatures, contaminating the water you’re trying to drink.
Non-intentionally added substances (NIAS) are monomers and catalysts, used for the initial polymerization step or from additives and plasticizers added during manufacturing to achieve special material properties. These substances can undergo degradation and decomposition reactions during polymer manufacture and use originating products non-intentionally present in the plastic material that can leach to packaged food over time. Research detected many organic compounds, short-chain carbonyl compounds, namely formaldehydes and acetaldehyde, and phthalates that possess carcinogenic and estrogenic effects in bottled water stored for 12 and 18 months. Many aliphatic aldehydes and volatiles were also identified and their concentration in the water increased with increasing storage time (2).
Consumption of these compounds may cause a wide range of health problems, depending on how much is ingested.
It’s important to remember that bottled water should never be left out in the sun or a hot car. For example, near windows on hot summer days, in your trunk (or anyplace else in your vehicle), and so on. To extend its life expectancy, keep the water away from high temperatures and in a well-sealed container.
The third and most obvious reason to avoid drinking old bottled water is its flavor. Water’s flavor varies throughout time, in a nutshell. Even vacuum-sealed bottled water may pick up trace amounts of contaminants from the environment. The flavor of the water in the bottle changes drastically after being exposed to the air.
You may want to steer clear of air-water mixtures even if they aren’t a health threat. Think of the stale, metallic, oxidized flavor you get when you leave a glass of water out overnight. Stored for lengthy periods, bottled water may become bad like this.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically indicates that bad taste does not necessarily mean unhealthy water, and that lack of odor is not a reliable indicator of healthy water. For example, sulfur compounds can impart a distinct odor and salty taste but do not pose a health risk when within EPA standards. Conversely, contamination with potentially hazardous microorganisms, such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia, does not alter water’s flavor (3).
Bottled water purists generally suggest that you keep your water for no more than two years.
Carbonated water is defined as naturally carbonated, originating from a spring, if the water loses carbonation in processing. CO2 can be replaced to equal the same amount as found at the source. This type of water, as you would guess, has a shorter shelf life than conventional bottled water. Carbonated water should be stored for no more than six months at a time, according to most manufacturers.
The water will turn “flat” as a result. After some time, it will lose its carbonation and no longer have the effervescent charm that comes with sparkling water.
What About Bottled Water That Is Opened?
So far, we’ve just looked at vacuum-sealed bottles of water. Once the seal is broken, what happens next?
For the most part, unsealed bottles of water are only usable for a few days. After this stage, the water will begin to taste “wrong” due to the air mixing with it. It may still be safe to drink, but you may not want to!
In a study, bottled once opened and tap water were tested using standard microbiology culture techniques. The bacterial count in bottled water (after drinking from the water once) increased dramatically, from less than 1 colony per milliliter (col/mL) to 38 000 col/mL over 48 hours of storage at 37°C. Bacterial growth was markedly reduced at cold temperatures (refrigeration) compared with room temperature. On the contrary, tap water resulted in only minimal growth, especially at cold temperatures (100 col/mL at 48 hours) (1).
Imagine that you left a glass of water out on the counter overnight, as an analogy. When you open a bottle of water, it will have a strange flavor. Refrigeration may extend this procedure by a few days. For the most part, unsealed bottles of water will go bad quickly.
Safely Keeping Bottled Water
As you’ve seen throughout this book, the circumstances in which bottled water was stored have a significant impact on its longevity. You should store your bottled water carefully to minimize any potential risks and to extend its shelf life.
Bottled water should be stored in a cold, dry location. There are no risks connected with heat exposure and the water itself does not fluctuate too much as a result of this. As a precautionary measure, keep bottled water away from any harmful substances in your home.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How long is bottled water good for?” and discussed how to store water safely?
- Raj, Sean D. Bottled water: how safe is it?. Water Environ Res, 2005, 77, 3013-3018.
- Cincotta, F., Verzera, A., Tripodi, G. et al. Non-intentionally added substances in PET bottled mineral water during the shelf-life. Eur Food Res Technol, 2018, 244, 433–439.
- Napier, Gena L., and Charles M. Kodner. Health risks and benefits of bottled water. Prim Care Clin Office Prac, 2008, 35, 789-802.