What is the shelf life of bottled water? That’s a great question and one that everyone who stores more than a case of bottled water has probably asked at some point.
From what I’ve read online and from the emails that I’ve gotten from my readers it seems that many think that drinking bottled water that’s over a few weeks old will result in sickness or instant death and this simply isn’t the case.
So what is the shelf life of bottled water… well, the simple and most accurate answer is that bottled water has an indefinite shelf life if it’s stored properly. However, the plastic bottles can breakdown or leach chemicals such as BPA causing problems… this is especially true if bottled water isn’t stored properly.
How to Store Bottled Water
Since the shelf life of bottled water depends mostly on storage conditions it’s important to know what those conditions are so that you can store your bottled water under optimal conditions which provide the longest possible shelf life and water quality for consumption.
Store in a cool, dark place away from products with strong odors such as cleaning supplies.
Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and if forced to store water outside then keep it covered up and protected from the elements and temperature extremes as much a possible, however, outside storage isn’t recommended and water stored this way should be brought inside and stored under proper conditions or consumed as soon as possible.
Don’t store bottled water near a heat source or directly on the floor or on the ground (this also applies to any other consumable beverages or food items). To minimize the possible growth of bacteria and algae store bottled water in the dark.
I store bottled water in my basement on free wooden pallets that I get from a local hardware store and cover with a tarp to keep out any light.
To avoid crushing or damaging the cases of water on the bottom I stack the cases no more than six cases high. If you have a lot of cases than you could build or buy shelving to make better use of storage space in your allotted storage area.
As with food storage, bottled water should be dated using a permanent marker to note the storage date on each case and then use on a first-in-first-out rotation this will minimize the chance of the plastic bottles breaking down or any degradation of water quality.
What Happens When Plastic Water Bottles Get Hot?
According to The University of Florida water stored in plastic bottles can be unsafe to drink after being left in a hot car because some water bottles (maybe all?) are made from polyethylene terephthalate and can release the chemicals antimony and bisphenol A, or BPA, when exposed to heat and can raise the BPA levels above what is considered safe..
What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s.
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles. They may also be used in other consumer goods.
Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.
Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that BPA is safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods.
So the takeaway is that while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that small amounts of BPA are “safe” larger amounts can pose a health risk when consumed especially when consumed over an extended amount of time like that would be the case if you had stored several months worth of bottled water inside your car trunk or inside an outbuilding in the summer.
The same goes for soda (or pop in the south) don’t leave or store it inside a hot car or in other areas where heat could become a problem…
To recap – don’t store bottled water (or soda pop) inside a hot car, outbuilding or other location where heat could be an issue and you won’t have to worry about BPA or other nasty and potentially health-harming substances leaching into your bottled water.
Or, will you?
Another problem when it comes to bottled water is that we have no way of knowing how long or how it was stored before we came along and put it in our shopping carts.
For all, that we know the cases of bottled water that we picked up yesterday at the local grocery could have been sitting for days or even weeks in a semi-truck trailer in Arizona during the peak summer heat or in a hot warehouse under the same conditions.
The Bottom Line
In my opinion, it is best to avoid drinking or eating from plastic as much as possible. Although the FDA has stated that BPA is safe at low levels, that could change after further research into BPA safety, and then who knows if the FDA reports and recommendations were influenced by outside sources such as in the case of the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies as detailed in this report.
Store only a few cases of bottled water or soda at a time, date and use as soon as possible on a first-in-first-out rotation. Also, use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers as much as possible.
How long does bottled water last after opened? Opened bottled water will last indefinitely as long as it’s clean and stored under the proper conditions as stated above, however, over time it may lose its peak quality and or taste.
How can you tell if bottled water is bad or spoiled? If the bottled water develops an off odor, flavor or appearance it should be discarded – in an emergency, it can be purified before drinking (click here to read my article on water storage and water purification).
How long do 5-gallon water jugs last? Milk jugs are biodegradable, meaning that they will break down over time and should not be used for long-term water storage. The best storage containers for drinking water are the AquaBrick Emergency Water & Food Storage Containers that are sold on Amazon or by the prepper supply dealers (click here to see current price and availability on amazon.com).
Is it safe to drink old bottled water? Yes, it’s safe to drink old bottled water as long as it hasn’t developed an off odor, bad flavor or appearance then it’s probably safe to drink. However, if in doubt then purify the water before drinking. You do have a water filter, right (click here read the full review of the Katadyn Vario Water Filter)?
If this article was helpful or interesting then please leave a “heck yeah” in the comments section below…
Hello, I’m M.D. Creekmore. I’ve been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find at Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.