The REAL Reason Bottled Water Has An Expiration Date

by | Sep 12, 2018 | Headline News | 53 comments

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    This article was originally published by Sara Tipton at Tess Pennington’s Ready Nutrition

    Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: How To Survive ANY Disaster.

    Bottled water is a popular item to store in case of an emergency, and for good reason. It is normally readily available and water should be able to be stored forever, right? So then why is there an expiration date on bottled water?

    Of course, water doesn’t expire, but you should still check the expiration date on the bottle before you drink it. According to Live Science, there are two reasons why water bottles come with expiration dates, and the first one, you shouldn’t worry too much about, but the second one should make you think twice.

    Since water is a consumable product, regulations and laws require bottles to be stamped with an expiration date even though water doesn’t ever “expire.” Rational people understand this, but the government feels the need to step in and protect us from ourselves anyway. The only reason they were put there in the first place was that a 1987 New Jersey state law required all food products to display an expiration date, including water, according to Mental Floss. Since it wasn’t very cost effective for companies to label and ship batches of expiration-dated water to one state alone, most bottled water producers simply started giving every bottle a two-year sell-by date—no matter where it was going. Because the law is rather arbitrary, don’t worry too much about drinking expired water just because a law demands a company stamp the bottle. However, the expiration date serves more of a warning about the bottle itself than the water contained inside.

    Unlike the water itself, which has existed on Earth for 4.5 billion years, that manufactured plastic bottle only has so much time before it “goes bad.” The plastic bottles that water comes packaged in (usually polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for retail bottles and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) for water cooler jugs). The bottle will eventually fail (expire) and begin to leach plastic chemicals into the water with an effect on the overall taste. So if you happen to find a water bottle well past its printed expiration date in your home, it’s probably safe to drink, if you don’t mind the chemical bits of bottle which have broken down and are now swirling around in it, but you should also be aware of the fact that it might not be super fresh tasting anymore either. But in a life and death situation, you could drink well-expired bottled water and probably be alright. But there are many options for storing water that could help you avoid drinking the plastic.


    That said, storing water for a disaster or emergency should be done in only food grade containers. You can avoid plastics such as HDPE and PET to prevent the leaching of chemicals, but those are, technically “food grade” plastics (according to the FDA – so take that with a grain of salt) and you may not have a way around it. Also, choosing BPA-free containers will be safer as well. If water is not stored correctly, it can (and will) become toxic. You can minimize the chances of plastic chemicals leaching into your water if you store it in a cool dry place. Direct sunlight will break down the plastic more quickly. But if there is any doubt in your mind at all about the integrity of your container, trust your gut over the labels and do not store water in that container even if the FDA says its safe to do so.  There are plenty of other options.

    5 Short Term Methods to Store Water

    One water storage suggestion is a 55-Gallon Rainwater Collection System. Some are made from FDA approved polyethylene resin (and are also BPA free). This particular one has a  plastic barrel and the capacity to hold enough water to supply a family of 4 with over 13 days worth of water, or 2 people nearly a 30 day supply of water. The dark blue color of this 55-gallon barrel restricts light and helps control the growth of harmful algae and bacteria.


    You can also use glass containers to store water. There is no chance that the container will leach and if you’ve got some extra mason jars laying around after canning, it may be a good way to put those to some good use. Of course, the major disadvantage of glass is that it’s not only heavy, it is pretty easy to break. However, steps can be taken to minimize the chances of the glass breaking, such as wrapping the glass containers with newspaper or cardboard. Check out these highly-rated 18 oz leak-proof glass bottles for your water storage needs if you decide glass is right for you.

    A WELL

    The best way to ensure you have enough water on hand and a replenishable supply of the water is to get a mechanized well. This is my family’s method of “storing” water. We don’t actually have to store any at all, though, and can focus on building our supply of ammunition and non-perishable foods because of it. Of course, we have the well on a pump that works with electricity, however, we also have devised a way to retrieve water from the well in the event of a crisis or disaster in which we have no power. It is important to keep in mind that this is more of a water generation system than “storage” system, but its the most effective for long-term disasters and therefore worth mentioning. Since wells both store and produce water, if you can build one on your property, you should have a good source of drinking water during an emergency. As the website Skilled Survival put it: this is highly dependent on how much of your well is mechanized. But the fact remains: someone with a working water well is going to survive a disaster far easier than the rest.


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    The Prepper's Blueprint

    Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

    Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

    Visit her website at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.


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      1. When you are canning and you don’t have enough to make a full load, grab some jars, fill with filtered water and use them to make a full load.

        It’s makes the best use of time and energy.

        I have a shelf full of “canned” water.

        • grandee, thanks for reminding me to pickup mason jars. I saw that when you open a No. 10 can it’s best to put whatever you don’t use into mason jars. This will protect the contents from moisture.

      2. This should also be considered when using a microwave to nuke your food. If you nuke food (bad for many reasons) in non-BPA free plastic containers, the plastic breaks down very quickly and leaches into the food being nuked. This can cause gyno and several other very bad side effects in all people. And don’t cook your baked beans, in the can, on a fire for the same reasons and include heavy metal to mix to boot.

        • Am I seeing things?
          The stamp on the bottle say it was produced on 06/30/19, best by 06/30/11.

          • Yep – That’s how I see it also… strange.

            • Cool–so water is safe for 92 years.

              As an aside: “BEST BY” date is not an “Expiration Date”, two completely different issues. Best By, simply refers to when it may lose it’s optimal taste, nothing more.

              Water does not contain an Expiration Date. ( Sell By dates are also not expiration dates but are the last day of allotted time a store may stock a product on the shelf)

      3. If you check with beginning preppers, money was tight and they bought jugs of distilled water. They have a short lifespan as the plastic will break. A bad spill could ruin food in your pantry.

        A bottle of partially consumed water in a hot vehicle will foster a huge bacterial count that could make you very sick.

        • To mention the obvious, that is the minerals available in drinking water have been removed from distilled water. In the long term you’ll miss out on important minerals drinking distilled water.

      4. Here, in Florida, besides the bleach and other bottles kept always filled, when a storm like Florence approaches – I fill 4 50 gallon drum barrels like in the image on this page. Add a capful of bleach and rest easy as to that particular need.

        • Liquid bleach degenerates in months to a year and takes up a lot of space. Store some calcium hypo-chlorite in powder form – very compact. It lasts a few years on the shelf and you can disinfect literally tons of water…

          Shock Chlorine for pools is a commercial form of Ca(ClO)2.

          Instructions on disinfecting water and other uses are all over the net.


        • better yet, those 275 gallon cubes people use for mobile car-washing take up about the same space as 4 barrels, but hold a LOT more water….can be had in my area for 50 each.

      5. Here is a little bit of lost prepper wisdom.

        When the SHTF, the city water quality will diminish based upon the length of time. What you can do is pour a glass of water back and forth seven times. It will off gas chlorine. You can smell it. If chlorination is failing, you will NOT smell it and your water must be boiled.

      6. When I moved out of my old house several years ago I found a 1 gallon water jug in the corner of my garage. It was behind some boxes and I didn’t know it was there.

        The expiration date was 5 years old, so for all I know I may have bought it 7 years before I found it.

        I tasted the water and it seemed fine. Was there chemical contamination in the water? I don’t know.

        I guess my criteria for using out of date food and water is does it smell or look bad. Not the best criteria but in a survival situation why not. Generally, if there is anything “funny” about it I won’t use it.

      7. If they run past the expiration date, just pour the water in your Alexapure Filter System for added protection. The plastic wont get through the filter.

        My water here goes though Reverse Osmosis, UV treatment, multiple carbon and micro-filtering then into a Alexapure. Then into my mouth for consumption.

        If you schmucks are still drinking right out of the tap… bwhahahahahahahaha

        • Blow It: You mean we are actually supposed to Drink water? I thought you just used it for like laundry and washing the car once in a while??

          • CC, It was W. C. Fields that said: “Water? I never touch the stuff. Fish have SEX in it!”

      8. I buy mineral water in glass. Sometimes I drink and then refill them with filtered water.


      9. I only drink from fresh mudpuddles. Learned that as a kid in Georgia.

        • Keep your teeth clenched to filter out the mosquito larva.

          • Oh, you said fresh.

      10. Security: I Set up 2 more trail cams today. One stealthy at my access gate with Spanish moss and I spray painted the shell woodlands camo colors, so if anything approaches it gets captured color photo in the day or IR black and white at night. The other cam for now, is just to try and catch some close ups of the 2 spotted fawns a few months old..

        You have to get your security sent up now folks, no delays, including Motion detector sensors on the road leading up to your property, at the entrance to your property and any other potential access points of possible unlawful entry. Get the jump on trespassers before they ambush you. I even set one up on the canal next to my property, so any water craft up or down sets off the signal.

        Also load up on plenty of batteries to run them, nd the cams. Extra 32 bit SD Cards, and get the cams set up with time date stamped. I only paid like $30 per trail cam this go around. No Briner

        Also put up plenty of No Trespass signs around your entire parameter for plenty of warning not to trespass, this way, if you have to shoot someone, they got plenty of warning. No excuses, and you remain a free man. Also buy a lot of extra No trespass signs now today, for you to deploy later on when SHTF, because if you wait till later, when you really need them, there may be none left on the shelves. These signs also start to deteriorate after a few years, so plenty of spares, really helps. For a couple buck a piece, its a No Brainer. Also pick a few up that say Beware of Bad Dog, even if you don’t own a dog. The thief may not know that, and not want to take a chance and just move on to a softer target.

        • If there still is RoL and you shoot someone just because they violated your NO TRESPASSING signs, in most jurisdictions, your a$$ is in a heap of trouble (unless you double down and do worse things after the fact.)

          You will not be a free man (in many places)unless you can convince the DA (and then maybe a jury) that you were in fear of your life.

          Even in my State that has a healthy “Stand Your Ground” Law, you just can’t go shooting people without a valid reason.


        • TharSheBlows, I have 2 Beware of Dog signs posted and I keep two large/huge dog bowls visible through the sliding glass door. Trying to sell the illusion.

          • An attorney “friend” said never to post “beware of dog” signs as that is admitting you know your dogs are dangerous. Without such signs if your dog is aggressive and bites someone you can claim ignorance and say “why Fluffy has NEVER shown signs of aggression. Maybe he was provoked”.

          • Very good idea!!

        • just so ya know:

          self-defense is evaluated on five criteria:

          1) innocence
          2) imminence
          3) proportionality
          4) reasonableness
          5) avoidance

          you must meet ALL five to be able to put forth “self” defense

          • G:

            In States like GA and FL, I think #5 is not required. “Stand you Ground” means, in a broad sense, you don’t have a duty to retreat or avoid, especially in your own home.


      11. All the time you spend getting “preps” together..
        only to find it won’t last long enough to do any
        good….is discouraging at best.

        Years ago, I had a swimming pool….always felt
        it would supply the family with water in a
        “worse case scenario” but, with kids gone…we
        no longer enjoyed the time and expense it took to
        keep it clean. Just covering it and leaving it… is
        not an option. That makes home resale impossible.
        Sooo…I rotate my bottles of water….
        I guess if it kills me … so be it.
        This hateful, deceitful, world is not worth the struggle any more.

        • kay123, recently I often feel the same way, that “this hateful, deceitful, world is not worth the struggle any more”. I decided to not read the news as much and it really helps. Plus, I try to remember that as a Christian I look forward to my real home. This world is mans world.

          It’s clear to me that without God there is no hope. All this just proves to me that God is my Salvation. Not anything this world has to offer!

      12. How could water have existed on Earth for 4.5 billion years when Earth was supposedly created only 5000 years ago?

        • God put the fossils there so we would be believe it was older. Therefore, out of respect for God, shouldn’t we believe the earth is older?

          • Or “science” is purposely skewed to try to cause people to not believe in our Creator

          • God cannot create a universe with the appearance of age. That would make God a deceiver, and we all know who the deceiver is. Which one do you worship?


            • “God can do this,…God cannot do that. God is this, God is that…” It has always amazed me that only self-proclaimed religious authorities can confidently know what their assumed creator’s limitations are.

      13. All of this plastic being dumped into the biosphere is ruining the planet. Recycle if you can, or just stop buying plastic water bottles.

        • No it’s not. It may be unsightly, but it is not RUINING

          • watch some educational channels about sea-life and you will see chicks whose stomachs were FILLED with little plastic particles…..turtles too….and others….it might take a while, but plastics may eventually turn the tide, destroying some key species. i think it was blues planet 2 that i saw that on.

      14. I don’t know how common it is on the mainland, but lots of people here live off catchment as their only source of water. I have 34,000 gallons of capacity in two covered tanks with FDA food rated vinyl liners. I filter to 5 microns and use a UV sterilizer.
        Metal roofs on two buildings keep the tanks nearly full most the time. I average of 70 inches of rain per year.

      15. I don’t drink from plastic water bottles. My water comes from a mountain spring with around 100 feet of head. That supplies enough water pressure for the whole house here and a couple more.

        Never went dry in the 150 years or so since it was first used to supply a pond for water for the steam engines that used to roll past here.

        Heard ya can use spring water as antifreeze since it doan freeze in winter. {snort}

        • Back in the seventies we had jugs of distilled water in plastic and it tasted awful. People used it for other things like in their irons…not for drinking.

      16. Try to find the truth of what a artesian spring is.

      17. Then a Hurcules fountain.

      18. I have a pallet of water from Y2k, it will flush the toilets. Yup I’m up stream, sucks to be downstream.

        I was a newbee to prepping during Y2K. For months I took high quality empty 2 liter soda bottles sterilized and filled them with my hottest tap water. Six months later I held some up to the light and saw squiggly critters in the water. These suckers were huge. Ok I kept it for toilet flushing, I’d have boiled it for the protein if needed. Ich.

        Clean water is an issue.

        I scored 4 cases of water on sale yesterday, as I topped off generator fuel and the cars. I already topped off propane supplies. The East Coast storm is not aimed at me, but they always turn North eventually. Yup I’m ready.

        I was at the Grocery store buying water on sale and the Hindu lady behind me saw what I was doing and said are we in danger, I said no, but I take no chances with my family. I held her spot in line and she got two more cases of water. I said I know you will use it anyway. Now you can be at peace, your family is provided for. She blessed me.

        Another prepper born. Oh yeah.

      19. In the mid to late eighties, there were limited ways to buy water. Bottled water meant a glass container, often very large (5 gallons) that fit into a crock made of ceramic with a dispensor. It was situated on a wooden stand. The market was folks who supported health food stores. Mountain Valley Spring Water was the most frequent distributor. They delivered or you picked it up and took your empties.

        Otherwise there was sparkling water like Perrier.

        It was a bit of a hassle. Not many had Berkey’s. Brita was just starting and quite limited.

        Most thought it weird to have bottled water. Country folks often had wells. I remember the first lemonade I had made from very good well water in 1980 and it was great. Back in the sixties, I had a friend who lived in the country and there were so many of them using their well that showers had to brief due their tank size. This is way before heat exchangers or tankless was even around..
        .unless you were flat out rich.

        People often had water softeners to reduce corrosion in their hot water tank. That sure getting used to when taking a shower. It feels so slippery.

        Backpackers in the seventies routinely carried iodine. If you were rich, you bought a Katadyn with a prefilter to purify just about any water. It seems like they were over $200 and that was a princely sum back then. $200 in August of 1974 is equivalent to $1,008 today!!! Yeah, they were considered the cadillacs of water purifiers. Heck they might have cost $299 now that I think about it. There was no way I was going to buy one. Heck my first car cost $1500.

        Lots of people used military surplus even wearing a utility belt with a metal canteen from the Vietnam War. I sure did. That and a KA-Bar knife.

        Other than that, there were wealthy backpackers who used the latest gear copying mountaineers. Freeze dried food was aimed at that crowd. Those tiny stoves were terribly expensive.

        People really didn’t have any way of knowing what all was available as this early there were limited magazines that even sold specialty items like water purification.

        Times have changed so much. Heck running shoes didn’t exist here locally until 1976. People would actually make running shoes using waffle irons to make the soles. I saw my first hiking boots in 1974 with vibram soles. People wore combat boots or workboots or handmade moccassins.

        If you went camping you mostly bought Army Surplus, some from Sears like Coleman stoves or tents, or made gear. Tents most often leaked no matter what you did with tarps. They were heavy too. I can rembber strapping lots of camping gear on the top and in the back the vehicle.There were Vietnam hammock tents that some used.

        The first time that camping gear got light and it seemed less expensive with nylon, it seemed wonderful. The tent practically erected itself versus an unbelievable amount of metal poles.

        Unless you knew a lot of had a mentor, you no idea Berkey even existed…much less knew you could buy one. This really changed with Mother Earth News and with The Whole Earth Catalogue by Stewart Brand. Suddenly people became aware of lots of specialty items that say the Amish and Mennonites used. Then everybody was using them like members of communes out in Boulder CO and early Back to the Lander homesteaders and farmers.

      20. Say in 1975, you had very straight folks like boyscouts who went camping, very rich mountaineers, and you had hippies. Frankly, people considered anyone who went to a healthfood store to buy herbs or heck even take Vitamin C was “counterculture”! Now we’re mostly conservative but back then to insist on drinking clean water was considered weird and maybe subversive. And man, if your hair was long, there was no question regardless ofyour actual beliefs.

        Any young person who gardened and had long hair was automatically a hippy even if their parents and grandparents were farmers. It was very strange. You didn’t dare talk about companion plants and succession planting if you had long hair. I mean these are old establish gardening ideas, but a new generation wanted to get back to the land.

        Like this song.

        To suggest moving to the country and digging a well, was considered so weird that you were like some kind of Luddite, a Hippie, maybe a cultist. And even benign Christian songs like Jesus is Just Alright by the Doobie Brothers meant you were a Jesus Freak.

      21. Can’t you just distill the water and make it good again? The plastic will stay behind and the newly distilled water will be safe. Or no?

      22. The other reason water is dated is for rotation purposes. First in first out,last in last out….good business practice.

        • I played so much volleyball in school, after school, and at summer camp, heck even visiting relatives, that to this day, the second anyone says “rotate” I instantly am 14 years old and moving like everyone else to take the next position.

          It’s a great sport as it exposes weaklings and the clueless and graceless clutzes. In volleyball, some idiot will stand there blythely ignoring everything happening around them. Just like life.

      23. This is why you should always pour the bottled water into a berkey water filter (or similar) regardless of how old the bottled water is.

        I always pour any bottled water into my water filter bottle that I carry as I have developed this habit. This way I know that all water is filtered.

        Also don’t forget a few months ago, I believe this site also posted it, that all bottled water regardless of how “old” it is has small particles of plastic in it. So this is one more reason why one should always carry with them a water filter bottle and then when you buy a bottle of water you simply pour that bottle into the water filter bottle and then drink it from there. This way you KNOW that you are drinking clean water!

      24. colloidal silver from the health food store will kill any bacteria or viruses if you put a few drops in each 3 or 5 gallon water jug. Won’t remove hardness or metals like iron tho-

      25. If you have a well you need to have it tested. Just because you have a well does not guarantee the water will be clean. And if the water is clean that doesn’t mean it will stay clean.

        Beware of the three stages of water: drinking water, potable water, yellow water. Those are the biggies. All other water comes from these three.

        Vermont is experiencing this firsthand. All the Vermont textile mills may have moved offshore, but the ones that use to be omnipresent produced a lot on toxins. These toxins have leeched into the underground water table. Kiss of death.

        You also need to have a hydrologist check the well’s replenishment rate, measured in Gallons Per Minute, or GPM. Believe it or not, we are running out of water not just above ground, but underground, too.

        A GPM of 30 use to be the standard. Less than that and another well was drilled. If your first well had a GPM of 15 and the second well also came in with a GPM of 15, that’s how you got your 30 GPM. However, at $15,000 per well, that’s either a lot of money or (you better hope), a lot of water.

        Today, overall, on the average a well with a GPM of 30 is considered a miracle.

        One last thing, just because you drill, doesn’t mean you are going to hit water. In the Southern Tier of Upstate New York you use to strike oil sometimes. Of course, now, the oil is all gone. The frackers are still banned from the state. For now.

        You can also hit nothing. there are plenty of dry holes being drilled.

        And, coming from Upstate New York, you run a pretty good chance of hitting Sulphur water. One of our neighbors hit Sulphur water. Within a 100-feet of his place, the stink of rotten eggs is every where. Sulphur does wonders for property values.

        And then there are all these “lake dwellers” living on the shores of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. The residents here, the lake dwellers, use to think they had it made. They ran their water pipe out into the lake and “shazam!”

        That all changed when the Zebra Mussels moved-in back in the 1980s, and clogged everybody’s water intakes. That was about the time 100-years of industrial agriculture let all that fertilizer leech into the lake water; all those nitrates and phosphates. And then boom: algae blooms, and blue/green algae. And then all those ancient septic systems started leeching out into the lake. Not to mention all those unburned hydrocarbons from decades of motorboat usage.

        The alternative? Come on shore and drill a well.

      26. String can be made from plastic bottles — new ones, only.

        In less than a year’s time, it is possible tear them, by hand, in my climate.

        The texture and flavor of the water changes.

      27. I noticed a “customer service” phone number on the bottled water label so I called it to ask about the expiration date. The company rep explained that the date doesn’t relate to the out-gassing of the plastic so much as the problem of their water being shelved next to noxious products in the grocery store. She said that a bottle of water shelved next to a bottle of Chlorox or laundry soap will take up the taste of that product in rather short order. The smell of those products migrates through the plastic of both bottles, if they are touching, and taints the drinking water in a matter of weeks.

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