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Does bottled water expire? Here's what to know

Expiration date on bottled water

Does bottled water really expire? You’ve probably asked yourself this question after noticing a wording on the package, generally the classic “best before” and a date. But can two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen actually go bad? Let's find out together.

The expiration date of bottled water: let’s shed some light

So, does bottled water expire? The truth is that water, especially if stored in a dark and cool place, never expires, although it does lose some of its organoleptic properties. Then why is there an expiration date on the bottle?

Essentially, there are two reasons:

  • First of all, it’s important to know that European law1 requires all producers of foodstuffs sold within the EU to indicate on the packaging a time limit within which to consume the product. And this, of course, also applies to those who produce bottled water.
  • Even more important, though, is the fact that it’s not the water that expires… it’s actually the bottle!

Water’s expiration date: glass vs. plastic bottle

Most plastic bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate, which you probably know as PET. A material that, thanks to its main characteristics, namely resistance and transparency, is suitable for storing food. However, after some time, unfortunately the plastic begins to release substances that are dangerous for our body, especially Antimony, Polyethyleneteraphthalate and liberated Acetaldehyde.

This has been confirmed by several researches, including a particularly worrying one by the non-profit journalistic organization Orb Media2. The study was conducted in 2017 in 11 countries and found contamination in 93% of the mineral waters analyzed. It is also important to note that even glass bottles are not free from these processes, but the release times of elements that are bad for our health are much longer.

So, when does bottled water expire? Generally speaking:

  • 1-2 years for plastic bottles;
  • 3 years for glass bottles.

Bottled water: Italy’s “almost” record

According to the white paper «Value of water 2021» published in March 2021 by The European House3, Italy occupies second place in Europe (after Greece) for bottled water consumption.

Yet we live in a country where the water network is very efficient, the water is of excellent quality and 84.4% of it comes from protected underground sources. Therefore, it would be a good idea to consume larger quantities of water from our home taps and from public drinking fountains which, thanks to the Waidy WOW map, are always easy to locate! This way, we can avoid substances that are harmful to both our health and the Earth.


1 Source: Directive 2000/13/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of March 20, 2000
2 Source: Study by Orb Media
3 Source: Study by The European House