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How long does water last? Can it go bad?

Water is our basic thirst-quencher, and it is the most abundant compound on the planet. As one of the essential elements on Earth, water is necessary for every living creature and being to survive. Evidently, health experts urge us to drink up to eight glasses of water per day to help our bodies function up to its optimum level. 


At home, you would always ensure that you have stocked lots of bottled water all the time. It is actually highly important to have water around and accessible anytime, especially for emergency situations such as natural disasters. 


Usually, what do you do in a situation when you are very thirsty, and you don’t have a new bottle of water with you, nor you can’t buy it immediately since the next convenience store will take hours to get there? Then, you suddenly remembered that you have a half-full bottle of water left in the car from months ago. Would you consider drinking it? 


In this article, let’s go over the storage, shelf life, and spoilage of water and its other bottled varieties. If you have these concerns in mind about water, just take your time with us and read on.


How to store water?


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  1. Bottled Water
  • To extend the shelf life of your bottled water, whether you have flavored, vitamin, or carbonated, you should keep it at a place where it is cool and dark. You can store your bottled water either in your pantry or inside the kitchen cabinet. Properly storing bottled water can help prevent microbial growth and reduce foodborne illness risks that cause stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. 
  • Make sure to store it away from chemicals like cleaning products, gas, and other potentially poisonous or toxic materials. You would want to see that your water is kept away from any contamination as most modern plastic water bottles are thin and slightly permeable. 


Water bottles are now thinner and lighter to make it more environmental-friendly. Consequently, this also makes bottled water more susceptible to contaminants. 


  • It is actually safer to store your bottled water in the fridge, especially when it is not used yet. Plus, you’ll have cold bottled water whenever you want to drink it. 
  • Never leave your bottled water under direct sunlight exposure. A typical example of this if you have left a bottle of water in your car. Such heat exposure subjects the water to high temperatures, increasing the plastic bottles’ risk to react and degrade faster. Chemicals such as antimony and bisphenol A in the plastic bottles may leach to the water and affect the quality. Ingestion of these plastic compounds accumulates in your body over time, and it could harm your gut, immunity, and respiratory health. Thus, it is best to avoid drinking bottled water that has been exposed to heat for your health and safety. And, warm temperatures can create an environment where bacterial growth can multiply rapidly. 
  • Once the water bottle is opened, always see it to seal it tightly if you are not going to use it. You can store the water at room temperature, but it is best to put it inside the fridge. 


  • As for distilled water, they are best stored in a glass container, especially when you plan to keep it for a longer time. Plastic bottles mostly contain chemicals that may contaminate the water over time. 


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Bottles that are made from High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) are excellent alternatives to the typical thin plastic containers. If you don’t have the glass container, look for a container with this type of material. 

  • Store distilled water in a dark place where it cannot encourage growth. Make sure to keep the container tightly sealed after opening.


  1. Tap water
  • If you wish to store tap water in case of emergency, store them in large bottles. Then change the water monthly because tap water tends to taste bad as time passes, although not necessarily spoiled. 
  • Ensure that the containers for storing tap water are certified food grade, and it has to be cleaned and sanitized. 
  • Label the container with a date when you filled it and make sure that it indicates that this container is drinking water. 
  • Keep the containers filled with water in a cool, dry, and dark place.


Can I freeze water?


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We all know we can freeze water, of course. A hot sunny day won’t be more satisfying if ice cubes are missing in action. 


And yes, you can freeze bottled water as long as you open it and reduce the amount of water in it. You should do this because water tends to expand when it is placed under freezing conditions. If you place an unopened water bottle inside the freezer, the next time you see it frozen, the bottle also looks bloated.


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Can it go bad?

Water can last indefinitely. The only way bottled water would go bad if its container starts to degrade. If bottled water is sealed in a packaging that won’t last for an extended time, then that will be the end for your water as well. And, as long as you keep your water away from contaminants, then it won’t go bad that quickly too. 


How long does it last?

Although putting a shelf life on bottled water is not a requirement, some but not all manufacturers just prefer to label their products with an expiry date. They would put an expiration date on the bottle’s label to give the consumers the impression that they are reliable producers. Again, with proper handling and storage, water can actually last indefinitely. 


How long can an unopened bottle of water last? For a week? No. A few months? No. A year? No. 


Apparently, unopened bottled water can last up to five years or more! Yes, this is a serious answer. You can still drink that bottle of water even if it has consistently stayed unopened in the pantry for more than five years, depending on what type of plastic container it is stored. However, as time goes by, expect that its taste might be altered. 


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If you want to enjoy bottled water’s peak quality, you have to consume them within the next few months. As for your carbonated, flavored, or vitamin water, always check the “Best by” date or expiration date. Or, it’s up to three months after the date.  


Once the bottle is opened, it is best to consume it within three days as it absorbs carbon dioxide as time passes. As a result, it affects the taste of the water. If refrigerated, you can store it for a week in the fridge. 


As for stored tap water, it can last up to 6 months as long as it has been stored properly. 


How to tell if it has gone bad? 

Inspect the water if it has been sitting in the storage for quite a while since you bought it. You would not want to drink bottled water that tastes like strange chemicals. If your water has developed an odd taste or smell, you can either boil it before drinking or just discard it for safety. If you have tasted bad water, remember to spit it out. 


For visual inspection, the water starts to look cloudy, then that’s a sign of contamination and that you better not drink it and just discard it right away. 


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As for other bottled water products, even if it doesn’t go bad for a few years, carbonated water, for example, may not be as sparkly as it used to. The flavored water may have already lost some of its taste, while the vitamin water might not have the exact nutritional value as the fresh bottle. 


Whatever kind of water you have, be it bottled or tap, when it is mixed with carbon dioxide from the air, it can become flat and the flavor changes, making it slightly acidic or more.

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