How Long Does Bottled Water Last?


close up of bottle pouring water on glass

Water is essential to human survival. Every prepper needs to understand the life expectancy of their stocks of water and food. Some may have a water filtration unit fitted in their emergency shelter, but most of use cannot afford the expense.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), still bottled water lasts a maximum of 2 years. Sparkling water lasts 1 year. The water itself does not go bad, but can be spoiled by chemicals from the storage bottle dissolving into it.

As we wrote about in our post How Long Does Tinned Food Last, there are some things you can do to ensure that your water supplies are at their freshest, with longest shelf life, the day you have to enter your shelter.

Keep A Water Stock Diary

Just like a food stock diary, knowing the use-by dates of your water stocks is essential. Remove any bottles that are nearing their expiry date with new fresh stock and update the diary.

If you do find yourself in an emergency situation, you could boil the expired water to remove any bacteria and filter it. This water could be used for washing or for plants. If there is simply no water left but the expired bottles, boil it, allow it to cool and drink it. Use this water within a few days as bacteria will start to grow in it.

In most countries, chlorine is added to our tap water to keep it free of bacteria on its journey from the source to the home. Once you pour water into a glass, the chlorine starts to drift away leaving behind fresh tasting water – but without the chlorine is will soon start to allow bacteria to grow. Seal up any unused water quickly and store in a refrigerator or cold dark storage area. But keep in mind it will have a much short shelf life.

Tip: Print out a copy of your water stock diary every time you update it. In the event of a loss of power, you need to be able to access it.

Storing Your Water Bottles

Water should be stored in a cool dark place, away from any direct heat sources. Just as with tins, bottles need to stacked carefully to avoid putting too much pressure on the lower ones. A simple set of shelves will do this.

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