In the United States, water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA sets standards based on the type of water source.
The Safe Drinking Water Act defines “drinking water” as any water that comes from a public or private supply that meets certain criteria, such as having less than 10 parts per million of total dissolved solids (TDS), fluoride and other contaminants.
The EPA also regulates bottled water companies, which must follow the same laws as municipal utilities.
If they fail to meet the minimum TDS requirements, they must pay fines.
But what about the rest of us who don’t live near a water utility?
What are the health risks of consuming expired water?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are no known health risks associated with consuming expired water.
However, drinking water should be treated according to its expiration date.
When water starts to expire, it loses essential chemicals that protect against bacteria and viruses.
These chemicals include calcium, magnesium, sulfate and iron.
As these minerals leave your body, they may become unavailable to keep harmful organisms at bay.
But, even though water doesn’t pose a health risk when it’s expired, people should still avoid drinking it altogether.
While expired water might not harm you, it could make you sick if you consume it without proper filtering.
How can you tell if water has expired?
Water that’s been sitting in a bottle for more than six months will have an expiration date stamped on the label.
This is because the FDA requires all food products to have a minimum shelf life of two years after the manufacturer receives them.
It’s important to note that there are several exceptions to this rule.
For example, water in aluminum cans has up to 12 months of shelf life.
And, water in plastic bottles can be stored for up to one year if it’s unopened, but only four weeks if it’s opened.
Is it safe to drink expired water?
No matter how old water is, it’s always best to treat it like it’s new.
Never let water sit around for too long — especially if it’s a reusable container.
This includes water coolers, water dispensers and fountains.
If you’re unsure whether you need to replace something, check the owner’s manual first.
If it says anything about replacing filters or components, then get rid of it immediately.
What happens to water when it expires?
When water gets past its expiration date, it loses some of its protection against germs.
It becomes more susceptible to contamination, which means it can carry dangerous bacteria, viruses and fungi.
These substances can cause sickness and disease.
They can also spread through our air, soil and bodies.
How long does water last before it expires?
Most common household water sources, such as tap water, well water, river water, springs, lakes and reservoirs, have a shelf life of between two and five years depending on where you live.
Tap water is typically the safest option since it’s tested regularly by local authorities and government agencies.
Can expired water make you sick?
Yes, expired water can make you sick.
This is why it’s so important to check the expiration dates on everything we consume.
But while water can make you sick, it can’t actually harm you directly.
Your gut contains trillions of microbes that help you digest food and absorb nutrients.
These microbes break down toxins, pathogens and other harmful compounds into harmless waste.
Without these helpful microorganisms, we wouldn’t be able to process all the food we eat and would probably develop digestive issues.
So, yes, expired water can make you sick, but it won’t kill you.
What do you do with expired water?
To minimize the chances of illness from contaminated water, it’s best to toss out anything past its expiration date.
However, there are times when you’ll just have to accept that the water has reached its end days.
For example, you might need to use water that’s past its expiration date to flush a toilet.
Or, you might need to use water that’s past its expiration date for things such as washing dishes, cleaning clothes or taking a shower.
While it’s possible to use expired water without getting sick, you should definitely filter it through a device called a water filtration system.
Filtration systems remove most contaminants, including heavy metals, pesticides, chlorine, lead and mercury.
They can also remove bacteria and viruses that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
How do you store water to prevent it from expiring?
You shouldn’t store water in your refrigerator or freezer, unless it’s in an ice cube tray.
Most freezers and refrigerators contain humidity controls.
These devices can condense moisture inside the refrigerator and freeze it outside of it.
If you do decide to put water in your fridge, it’s best to place it in a glass jar or other container with a lid.
You should never use a plastic container, because exposure to light can damage it over time.
In addition, plastic containers tend to leach chemicals into their contents.
If you live in a hot climate, you should store water in a cooler instead of in your refrigerator or freezer.
Keeping it cold ensures that it stays fresh longer.
Is it okay to use expired water for cooking?
Cooking with expired water isn’t necessarily a bad idea.
But, it depends on where you live.
Some areas require that water used for cooking be disinfected before it touches foods.
If you live in an area that requires this, you can still cook with expired water.
Just make sure that you treat it with bleach or another disinfectant before storing it in a pot or pan.
Once you’ve cooked with it, you can let it cool and discard it.
What are some tips for using expired water safely?
Here are some tips to ensure that you use expired water safely:
Check the expiration date every time you buy or refill a bottle, jug or pitcher of water.
Always wash hands with soap and warm water after handling water.
Never reuse a reusable water bottle or jug.
Keep water in a clean glass vessel or jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Use water within 24 hours of opening the package or letting it run dry.
Filter all types of water before drinking them.
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Don’t use contaminated water to wash raw meat.
Make sure that water is properly filtered before drinking it during exercise.
Do not drink water that’s passed its expiration date.
Avoid drinking water that’s left open for too long.
Never drink water that’s been exposed to sunlight.
Keep water in a cool location and away from heat sources.
Never use water for cooking purposes if it’s expired.
Be careful about reusing water bottles, jugs and pitchers.
Is it okay to use expired water for bathing?
Baths containing expired water aren’t likely to hurt you, but they’re certainly not beneficial either.
When water begins to turn stale, it loses its ability to keep bacteria and viruses at bay.
So you shouldn’t bathe in it, even if it hasn’t turned brown or smells funny.