Shelf Life of Water for Long Term Storage

Extending the Shelf Life of Water for Long-Term Storage

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Staying hydrated is crucial for your health. Lack of proper hydration is associated with health issues, so it is vital that you have a reliable source of drinking water. This is why we think it’s important to store water for an emergency, as finding fresh drinkable water will not always be accessible. Fortunately, the shelf life of water can be indefinite. However, to ensure the best quality and taste, it should be replaced every six months. So proper water storage practices will ensure you and your family will remain hydrated in any scenario.

This article will tell you about how to store water, water’s expiration date, and its shelf life. If you would like to learn more, read on.

How to Store Water Long-Term

Having an abundant water storage r supply can come in handy in an emergency situation. For example, when clean drinking water isn’t accessible to a community or in the case of a natural disaster, you can rely on your emergency water supply. Here are the proper steps to follow to store water.

  1. Decide on the amount you want to store: The average person needs at least four liters of water daily for drinking, hygiene, and food preparation. This is about one gallon of water per day per person.
  2. Choose a suitable container to store your water: You can use BPA-free, food-grade plastic buckets, glass containers, or stainless steel bottles if you’re not planning to add chlorine to your water.
  3. Clean your storage container properly: Avoid storing water in a container that was previously used to store food because the odor will stick to your water.
  4. Disinfect the water: If your water is unsafe, disinfect it by boiling it before storage.
  5. Store the water: After adding your water, seal the container and label it.

If you would like to get water from your emergency storage, make sure to:

  • Scope the water with a clean glass to avoid contaminating it.
  • Avoid touching the water or the container’s insides with your hands.
  • Keep the water in a cool place, with a temperature between 50 and 70°F away from direct sunlight.
  • Store water away from toxic substances like pesticides or gasoline, as the gas and fumes can affect the water’s taste.

Shelf Life of Water by Type

There are several types of drinkable water. In general, clean drinking water doesn’t have an expiration date if it’s stored properly. As long as you’re keeping it clean and away from direct sunlight, clean water can last for months. Below is a table of the shelf life of drinkable water:

Type of WaterShelf Life of Water
Distilled WaterIndefinite
Purified WaterIndefinite
Alkaline Water2 Years
Mineral Water2 Years
Sparkling Water12-18 Months
Bottled Water2 Years
Tap Water6 Months
Rainwater1 Week

Note: Although purified water and distilled water have an indefinite shelf life, they should be consumed within two years; otherwise, the chemicals from the plastic will enter the water.

Although water does have a long shelf life, we don’t recommend consuming water that has been stored for more than six months for several reasons.

First, it’s quite challenging to maintain the cleanliness of the water for that long. One way or another, your water supply will get contaminated while you’re handling the container or using the water inside. If you’re planning to leave it untouched, it can last a little longer. Moreover, the continuous opening of the lid or seal increases the risk of contamination. The carbon dioxide in the air will also mix with the water and change its taste over time.

Shelf Life of Tap Water

Tap water can be stored for up to six months and won’t go bad if you store it properly. However, it can still taste a little stale, and the change in taste can make it less desirable. This happens because of the carbon dioxide in the air, which slowly mixes with the water and makes it taste more acidic.

If the tap water has been carbonated, the gas naturally escapes from the water, changing its flavor. After some time, the water will become flat, but it’s still drinkable.

Bottled Water

Shelf Life of Bottled Water

Bottled water can expire, and the shelf life is determined by the expiration date printed on the bottle. According to a law imposed in 1987, printing an expiration date on water bottles was an industry standard, but later, the law changed, and manufacturers were no longer required to print expiration dates. 

Although the chemical composition of water doesn’t change over time, the plastic in which the water is stored does. The plastic particles begin to leach into the water, and the dangerous chemicals dissolve, making drinking unsafe. Leaving bottled water in the sun accelerates this process.

This is why it’s recommended not to drink bottled water beyond its expiration date if it’s printed. If it’s not, then you shouldn’t drink it if it’s more than six months old.

Shelf Life of Distilled Water

Distilled water is safe to drink but might taste bland or flat. This water is stripped of all the essential minerals, so it won’t be flavorful. Yet, it might be the only option available if you have no access to bottled or tap water.

YoBottled Wateru can prepare distilled water at home by boiling it until it turns into vapor. Then, you can take the vapor and condense it. This is clean distilled water that can be used for various purposes.

Just like regular water, store-bought distilled water doesn’t have an expiry date and can last indefinitely. However, it shouldn’t be kept for too long if you’re planning to use distilled water for drinking or cooking.

You can store distilled water for several years if it remains unopened. Once opened, you can use this purified water for a couple of years, as long as it’s meant for appliance use.

If you’re distilling water at home, it will last a lot shorter. After a week or so, the water will start to taste stale, although it would still be safe to drink. The same applies to store-bought distilled water.

Mineral Water Spring

Shelf Life of Mineral Water

Mineral water comes from mineral springs which give the water properties from minerals such as salt, calcium, and magnesium. This provides numerous health benefits, such as lowering bad cholesterol and high blood pressureSince mineral water arrives in water bottles, they typically have a shelf life of two years but should be consumed within the first year. Bottles are porous, which allows for odors, bacteria, and other contaminants to enter the water.

Shelf Life of Sparkling water

Carbonated Water

Similar to mineral water, naturally occurring carbonated water comes from mineral springs. However, sparking water has a shorter shelf life of 12-18 months and only three days if opened. Afterward, the water will go stale and flat.

Shelf Life of Alkaline Water

Alkaline water has a higher pH level at 8-9 than regular water from 6.5-7.5. This means that alkaline water counteracts acidity in the bloodstream, which is believed to fight heart disease and other diseases as well. When kept in an unopened water bottle, alkaline water has a shelf life of 2 years. And throughout the 2 years, the pH level would remain the same.

Shelf Life of Rainwater

Shelf Life of Rainwater

Once you have harvested rainwater, the unfiltered rainwater has a shelf life of 7 to 10 days. Anything more than that becomes at risk of breeding mosquitos and having algae and bacteria growth. You can take measures to extend the shelf life by adding chlorine to remove pathogens, and mosquito dunks for the larvae. But unfiltered rainwater should primarily  be used for gardening, cleaning, and chores. 

If you intend to use filtered rainwater for drinking, filtered rainwater can be kept in a fridge for up to 6 months when stored properly.  

Related Article: Water Security: How to filter Rainwater at Home

Related Article: Rainwater Harvesting: How to Collect Rainwater at Home

catching rainwater

Wrapping Up

Water kept in a BPA-free food-grade container can literally last indefinitely, as long as you store the water in a clean container away from direct sunlight. However, the chemicals from the plastic bottle will leach into the water over time. This is why we recommend that you only use it within six months or before the printed expiration date.

Distilled water can last for a week if it’s meant for drinking. If you’re using it for appliances, it can last for years. Depending on where you are located, rainwater may not be the safest option and should only be used for watering plants or cleaning.

If you found this article helpful, consider reading our related articles.

Related Articles: 6 Best Grains for Long-Term Storage

Related Article: 11 Supplies You Need for DIY Long-Term Food Storage

Sign Up to our Newsletter for access to our catalog of FREE eBooks
Rainwater Harvesting: Secure Water Supply

Get our latest Articles
Subscribe to our Newsletter today!

Get our latest Article and eBook
Subscribe to our Newsletter today!

Find us on

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

stay in touch

Receive survival tips in your inbox daily & access our free survival e-Books