Rivers, lakes, oceans & other water bodies do not expire. 71% of the Earth’s surface is water & it has been here for billions of years. The answer is obvious, water does not expire. Water is necessary for living beings and it is consumed on a daily basis from multiple sources.
Packaged water does expire. It is a consumable product that is best used within the use-by date. This is an important reason for you must check the expiration date before stocking up on bottled water, especially if you foresee another lockdown.
The expiration date is estimated from the possible risks from old or stale water. This expiration is not merely based on the seller’s desire to sell more water. In fact, it has many potent reasons.
Water that has been standing still in pipes of your plumbing system can also lead to risks as microorganisms can grow in it and lead to dangerous situations. For this reason, faucets should be used regularly. Check in your house to make sure that every faucet and device has been used at least once a week.
Why Does Packaged Water Have an Expiration Date?
Packaged water has an expiration date for three main reasons:
- The packaging of the water has an expiration date. Usually, water is packaged and sold in plastic bottles or packaging that is made of synthetic materials. While this packaging is convenient for storage & logistics, it has an expiry date of its own. Usually, the expiration date is not that of water, but the water bottle. You may have read on many labels that the plastic used for consumables is food grade plastic. Over time, such plastic can lose its food grade nature & become harmful for humans.
- Bottled water has no biodiversity that can curb the growth of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Once the seal of a bottle gets opened, it is highly likely that untouched water bottles may become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. This is the reason why companies advice against the consumption of water that has remained still for a very long time.
- High temperatures along with sitting time can result in the formation of dangerous chemicals in bottled water. They can also aggravate the leaching of plastic & bacteria formation in the water.
It is safe to say that consumers must not hold on to unused water bottles for long. You should avoid the use of water bottles beyond the expiration date. Additionally, if any water bottle gets unsealed, it must get consumed within a day or two. Generally, companies print a two-year expiration date from the day of packaging. There is no precise method to predict its expiration, but two years of circulation or storage can make the water harmful.
What are the Risks of Expired Water?
The majority of water bottles are made with Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) & water cooler jugs are made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). Both these materials have a high tendency to leach into the water upon expiry or exposure to high temperatures.
Chemists believe that these leachates can harm people.
Bottled water can also host microbial organisms belonging to microbiota or pathogenic species that are harmful to humans.
What is the best way to Store & Carry Water?
You should be aware of the expiry date of water & consume the older bottles before the new bottles. Whenever you purchase water or take it from someone else, check the expiry before consumption. Do not consume expired water. If the bottle or water jug at the gym does not show an expiry date, do not drink the water from it.
Transfer your bottled water to a metal or glass container that has minimum exposure to heat or air. Plastics need protection from extreme temperatures, not the water itself. You could boil the water before storage or keep it refrigerated & minimize the growth of bacteria.
Carry water in a glass or metal bottle. Make sure that the cap or thermos top is not of low-grade plastic. You may have to change the bottle caps every 2 years. If you remember corks, maybe you should try storage in glass bottles with Corks or metal caps. Do not use damaged bottles.
If you store water in vats or containers, it can also expire. Adding some liquids to it can slow this process down. You can also turn the vats around from time to time to make sure that remain clean.
This requires a lot of management and attention. You can also get sensors and test kits to make sure that the water is drinkable. There are a lot of elements that have to be checked before you can use water that has been stored for a while.
In a lot of countries such as Belgium you can just drink water from the tap so it is not really needed to buy bottled water in the local store. You don’t have to carry all the water around and deal with an expiry date if you can just drink it from the tap.
A lot of people still prefer bottled water. If you can store it in a dark and cold place, it shouldn’t be a problem to hold it until the expiry date.
It is still possible that things go wrong before this date though as you have to store the bottled water in a cold room. The water can start to discolor if it is not properly stored.
How to Dispose of Expired Water?
Grow a house garden with a few potted plants. You can use this water to irrigate inedible plants. The water could also be used for house & car cleaning purposes. The bottles of this water can be sold off to recyclers or returned to the manufacturers through the retailer. If such systems do not exist in your country, you may have to conduct a bottle collection drive to aggregate all plastic bottles from your society or place of residence.
You can also flush it throught he drain. Recycle the bottles afterward if possible.
Avoid the prolonged storage of water, and purchase or consumption of expired water. Apply the same measures of caution to juices, sodas & other fluid consumables. They too are packaged in similar plastic bottles & containers. A little awareness can go a long way.
Last but not the least, educated your friends & family about the risks of expired water & the precautions to avoid risks.
It might sound weird that water can go bad after a while but it is something that you have to keep in mind. Some people want to store water to be prepared for when a hurricane or other weather related event restricts the access to fresh water. While this is possible, it requires quite a lot of planning.
If you buy bottled water in bulk, you should check the expiry date from time to time. This will make sure that you don’t have to deal with water that has a weird odor or flavor. Don’t drink water once it has been expired!