Can Canned Water Go Bad?

I was cleaning up my pantry recently, and I had a few long-forgotten canned goods. If you are anything like me, you have some questionable canned goods hiding in the back of your pantry, not having seen the light of day in years.

It led me to the one can of water I got from a friend quite a while ago, and I wondered can canned water go bad?

According to FEMA, under normal circumstances, water that has been canned, sterilized, filtered, and properly stored has a shelf life of between 30 to 50 years. These cans usually consist of aluminum with an airtight seal and are impervious to light that could cause oxidation. 

In the hard times, we are currently living in, more and more people are starting to stock up on essentials. According to leading experts in water safety, canned water is a great, more environmentally friendly option than bottled water that lasts a lot longer than bottled water.

It surprised me, as I know, there are expiration or best before dates on all food cans and bottled water. So why was canned water any different?

Can Water Go Bad?

Water in itself can last quite a while if stored correctly. Tap water that you have correctly stored is safe to drink and use in cooking for up to 6 months. Sparkling water can lose its fizziness after a while as the gasses escape from the liquid and can develop a flat, dusty taste.

Sparkling water that you have correctly stored is safe to use for up to 6 months. Generally speaking, water can’t expire but can become unsafe under certain conditions.

Can You Get Sick From Drinking Water Left Open For An Extended Time?

When you leave water in an open container overnight or for long periods, the chances are that some form of bacteria or micro-organism could have crept in, and the water is no longer safe to drink.

If you have ever bought a pack of bottled water, you might have left some of the water untouched for a while and noticed that it had an old dusty taste when you drank some of it.

There are many reasons why it could taste off or old. The best way to tell if the water you want to drink is contaminated is to use your senses. If it looks discolored, smells strange, or tastes bad, it is better to throw it out. Storage is also a factor in water safety and shelf life expectancy.

Not Correctly Storing Water Can Lead To Water Contamination.

It is essential to store your water properly as particular conditions such as sterilization, storage, the type of storage container, and other contaminants can lead to water not being safe to consume.

Always store your water away from any chemicals such as cleaning products and odorous materials. Make sure you keep your water in a cool, dry place and that no direct sunlight or heat gets near the water. Also, make sure to practice food safety and sanitize the area around the water to limit contaminates.

Can Canned Water Be Used Past the Best Before Date?

Canned water has a shelf-life of between 30 and 50 years, and you can use it for drinking and cooking. As I mentioned before, the proper storage of the water can extend the shelf-life.

The shelf-life of canned water also depends on what brand you use and can be different in each one. Places like Pepsi and other drink manufacturers are starting to create versions of canned water because of the long shelf-life, sustainability, and eco-friendly packaging.

Is Canned Water a Better Alternative to Bottled Water?

Bottled water does not have an expiration date but rather a best before date, usually between 18 and 24 months. After some time, the plastic bottles in which the water is stored releases chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A).

These chemicals can start to leach into the water before the best before date is reached when being exposed to heat and can begin to seep into the plastic, making the water inside the bottle unsafe to drink. Regular ingestion of BPA has been shown to cause problems with gut health and could lead to respiratory problems.

That is why you shouldn’t drink bottled water after the best before date has passed. With the chemicals that seep into the water over time and plastic pollution at an all-time high, companies have started looking into alternative packaging ideas.

It can take up to 450 years for a plastic bottle to completely disintegrate, and the awful thing is, we are not recycling almost 90% of all plastic containers. The unrecycled plastic containers end up either in landfills or in our streams, dams, and oceans, creating a big problem for the environment.

On the other hand, Canned water is much safer as the water is sterilized and filtered then placed inside easily recyclable aluminum cans and keeps out UV light, bacteria, molds, and other contaminants such as gasses and keeps the can airtight for years.

The aluminum cans used to store canned water are recycled 67% of the time compared to 10% of plastic. Cans are also much sturdier, thus making them easier to store correctly.

Is water in a can more expensive than bottled water?

The average person might like the idea of canned water, but they won’t like the price tag attached to canned water. While most retailers charge bottled water at $5 a case, canned water can be as much as $30 per case.

When asked about the reason water in a can cost so much more than bottled water, the main points were:

  • Sustainability: Using aluminum cans means canned water is a much more sustainable alternative to bottled water and they are more expensive to produce.
  • Fewer health risks: Using aluminum cans lessen the risk of contaminates and does not have any harmful chemicals that seep into the water over time. This costs more to prepare
  • The shelf-life: The very long shelf-life of canned water make it a prepper’s dream long term water solution. However the longer life means less sales, less sales means a higher price to make it work producing canned water.

Is Putting It In Jars The Same?

Yes, canning your water is something a lot of preppers do to help build their stockpile. All you need is your canner, sterilized glass mason jars, and clean lids. Do not use jars such as peanut butter or mayonnaise jars.

Fill your canner about halfway with water. Make sure your jars, lids, and rings are washed and rinsed with hot water right before you use them. Turn the heat in the canner up to 140F. Fill your jars with water, leaving an inch of headspace from the top. Clean the rims of the jars by wiping them with a clean cloth, and put the lids and rings on.

Put your jars in the canner on the rack until you have them fully covered with jars. Bring water to a vigorous boil and process the water for 20 min, adding water if needed as it may evaporate. After 20 min, remove the jars safely and leave to cool overnight. Do not tighten the rings.


With a shelf-life of between 30 and 50 years, canned water is well worth the additional cost. Canned water is safer to use long-term than most other alternatives. The chances of contamination are much lower, and it is a great way to prepare for days when there might be a water shortage or crisis.

The shelf-stable cans are much easier to store as they are in sturdier containers and stacked without problems. I am defiantly investing in more canned water from now on.


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