Does Bottled Water Go Bad?

Have you noticed “old water” tastes a little off. Can “expired” water really make you sick?

3 min read

Your bottled water comes with an expiry date.

It’s rough enough that we have to pay for things which used to or should be free; harder to stomach that like milk and cheese, water too comes with a shelf life!

But what does that mean, exactly? Does water go bad over time?

Have you noticed “old water” tastes a little off. Can “expired” water really make you sick?
Zoom in to see the expiry date mentioned on all kinds of bottled water (Photo :The Quint)

Is it Safe to Drink “Expired” Water?

Depends on how you store it.

A glass of water left outside for a couple of days tastes different. Reason: when water is exposed to the elements, its pH level changes and it becomes more acidic. Does this mean its unsafe? NO.

The slight increased acidity in water is harmful only to shellfish. But you’re human (yay!).

Have you noticed “old water” tastes a little off. Can “expired” water really make you sick?
A glass of water kept outside for a couple of days tastes funny because carbon dioxide from the air changes the chemistry of water, making it more acidic (Photo: AlteredThe Quint

Generally tap water is chlorinated and it keeps the bacteria from multiplying for a day or two but after that it can go crazy and become a breeding ground for algae and mosquito larvae. That coupled with the dust in your home (which can have lead and all sorts of toxins) makes water really unsafe (and gross).

Bottomline: Water from Tuesday is okay till Thursday. Water from last week should go to the plants.

Bottled water on the other hand is a different story. Most commercially produced water is stamped with expiration dates ranging from 6 - 9months. Though there is no real rationale; it is to comply with the labelling laws which mandate all packed food and beverages to disclose their nutritional value, list of ingredients and the “best before” date.

And despite the loud and clear label, there is no evidence that drinking water beyond the expiration date has any health impact. The US Food and Drug Administration considers bottled water to have an “indefinite shelf life.

The problem, arises again because of storage.

Have you noticed “old water” tastes a little off. Can “expired” water really make you sick?
Plastic in bottles is also permeable, so water shouldn’t be stored near pesticides and gasoline. (Photo: iStock)

As a rule of thumb, bottled water should be kept away from sunlight. Under direct heat, some plastics leach a hormone disruptor called bisphenol-A, or BPA, into the water. Even a-trillionth per gram BPA can alter the way your cells function, increase your chances of breast cancer, damage your brain lining, cause infertility in men and heart diseases.

So when you reach out for that year old mineral water bottle, you’re probably going to drink an equal amount of plastic. If you’re dying of thirst you could suck it up and take a sip of expired drinking water and pray it was stored safely. Or figure out how to take the plastics out of your system later. Or switch to rum.

Also Read: BPA is not just in bottled water; that stuff is everywhere

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