Does Water Expire in Plastic Bottles?

by Charlie

Bottled water is extremely popular and comes in a selection of spring, mineral, or filtered; sparkling or still; plain or flavored options. As very few bottled waters are packed in glass bottles, plastic is the most commonly available option. From gas stations to vending machines, almost everything is plastic!  

Does water expire in plastic bottles? Yes, water most certainly does expire in plastic bottles. The water itself will not go bad if it stays sealed and chilled, but the plastic from the bottle may introduce toxins into the water over a period of time.

Does Bottled Water Have an Expiration Date?

You will find that all bottled water has an expiry date printed somewhere on the bottle, label, or cap – even the glass-bottled ones. 

You may have to search quite hard to find it as it’s usually in very small print and not always particularly obvious.

Why Does Bottled Water Have an Expiration Date?

The main reason is usually to comply with food safety regulations, which dictate that expiration dates should be present on food and drink products for human consumption in most countries around the globe. 

But really, on water? Is it absolutely necessary?  

Well, there is a bit of a divide on this one, and it’s generally down to the container that the water is in. It is believed the plastic bottles that water is sold in will start to leach toxins into the water after a certain amount of time and therefore the expiry date is there for safety reasons.

But how come glass bottles have a date on them too?  Well, this also is debatable as technically speaking, a glass bottle will last forever, without introducing any toxins as long as it isn’t damaged. Water stored in a glass container should stay fresh for a very long time if kept with its original seal intact. So there is a school of thought that the expiry date is just one big scam to make you drink up quicker and buy a fresh one, thereby boosting the profits of the producer!

Truls Krogh, Director of the Department of Water Hygiene at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health stated that if you stored water in a clean glass bottle that it would last your whole life, or longer – maybe even a thousand years!

So What’s Different About Water in Plastic Bottles?

Let’s take a good look at the most common container – the plastic bottle – and maybe it will give us a clearer idea as to why water stored in this manner may not be so good for us and hence need an expiry date.

It is reported that plastic bottles contain nasty chemical compounds such as phthalates, BPA, BPS, and PVC.  These are said to cause serious hormone disruption in the body and result in fertility issues and even cancers. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t particularly make me eager to reach for a bottle!

But before you go into a complete meltdown, the type of plastic bottles used for drinking water are apparently made from a slightly different and supposedly safer material known as PET plastic.

What Are PET Plastic Water Bottles?

No, they’re not bottles specially made for your dog to chew on, PET actually stands for polyethylene terephthalate. It’s a clear, lightweight plastic that is used for most food and drink packaging as well as household and personal hygiene products.

This is a plastic that is lightweight, flexible, recyclable, and supposedly safe according to the British Plastics Federation. But the cynics amongst us would say “sure, but this is a plastics promoting body, and of course, they would be right. It’s a contentious issue indeed!

Well, if it is to be believed, PET drinking water bottles do not contain phthalates, which is a bit strange considering PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate!!! Also, PET bottles apparently do not containBPA (Bisphenol A) either. But that’s enough about plastics, although I would suggest you further research this if it is of great concern to you.

Final Thought – Does Water Expire in Plastic Bottles?

In a word, “yes”! Unlike glass bottles, plastic bottles will degrade over time and not only leach their “possible” toxicity into the water, but they will also allow odors and certain bacteria to penetrate the plastic, thereby tainting the water inside.  

Storage is also very important with regard to water in plastic bottles. Ideally, they should be stored in a dark place away from natural light, and most definitely away from direct sunlight. Once opened they should be stored in the refrigerator to avoid the contents from warming up and allowing bacteria to grow.

There is a usual expiry date of 2 years from the date of manufacture, but this is sketchy as it really does depend upon storage. If you have had the plastic bottle of water sitting in your car for 6 months, it will have gone through several temperature changes, will probably taste a bit “plasticky” (even though the plastic is “safe”) and it probably wouldn’t be in the best shape for safe consumption. 

Of course, if you were stuck in the desert and it was the only thing you had to drink, then sure, lap it up, but it is advisable to ditch it and get a fresh one. There have been many claims that plastic bottles of water left sitting in hot cars in direct sunlight have become carcinogenic, but there are counter-arguments saying this isn’t the case.

For me personally, if I have to buy a plastic bottle of water, I look at the expiry date, check how it is stored in the store and if it isn’t in direct sunlight, I will either drink it and finish the lot or store the rest in my refrigerator for no more than one week.

Of course, there is the super-safe option of buying glass bottles of water, but these are generally more expensive, artisan types that don’t fit with everyone’s budget. So try to drink your water as fresh as possible, stay well hydrated with this wonderful resource of nature, and be sure to take care of the environment and each other!

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