You may find yourself looking at an old can of sparkling water from the back of your fridge or pantry and wondering, “is this still okay to drink?”
Though the taste of sparkling water may change over time after the beverage has passed its expiration date, it is still usually considered safe to consume. So why does the label indicate an expiration date, anyway? For the most part, it’s about ensuring the best flavor.
If your old sparkling water shows signs of an odd smell, flavor, or color, you should not drink it. However, if your sparkling water is a few months out of date, there is no need for concern.
Does Sparkling Water Expire?
Manufacturers often add expiration labels to sparkling water and other carbonated beverages, and they can be confusing to the average person. Commonly, manufacturers use terms like Best By,” “Best if Used By,” “Best Before”, or “Best When Used By” dates. These labels do not indicate whether or not it is safe to drink. They are actually intended to suggest the period in which it will taste best.
If you drink carbonated water that has surpassed its expiration date, the flavor may be less than optimal. Sparkling water brands like La Croix and Bubly suggest you drink their beverages within the “best by” date because it may taste better.
Is it Okay to Drink Expired Sparkling Water
Drinking a can of carbonated water that is a few years old is not likely to harm you. Simply inspect the water by pouring it into a glass and look for signs of abnormality. If you notice anything unusual — including color, smell, or anything else — discard the water.
Will Expired Sparkling Water Taste Different?
Unless it is very old or has been stored improperly, unopened sparkling water is unlikely to taste noticeably different. A good indicator of flavor is smell. According to researchers, somewhere around 90% of what we perceive as flavor is actually smell.
So if you’re unsure how sparkling water, another beverage, or food will taste — try giving it a sniff!
Storing Sparkling Water for a Longer Shelf Life
There are several storage factors that can play an important part in the shelf life of canned carbonated water. These tips apply just as well to other canned foods and beverages. For the greatest shelf life, consider the following storage practices:
- Avoid storing in direct sunlight
- Store in a cool, dry, and clean location with a temperature between 50-70 F
- Rotate your sparkling water and use the oldest cans or bottles first
- Avoid storing near any sources of heat
- Store in a manner that avoids damage or puncturing of bottles or cans
Be sure to get rid of any cans that are rusty, dented, leaking or bulging. These are strong indicators that you are improperly storing your beverages. Temperature is especially important, as cans or bottles of sparkling water can explode when frozen.
Does Canned Sparkling Water Last Longer Than Bottled Sparkling Water?
Cans are significantly better for the longevity of their contents than bottles tend to be. This is mainly because aluminum cans are able to block all light from reaching the beverage inside. Light can cause chemical reactions to occur with flavors added to the water, meaning the beverage may taste different after extended UV exposure.
Additionally, cans have a more airtight seal than bottles. When sparkling water is canned, it is completely sealed, and that means no oxygen is getting in. Bottles aren’t quite as well-sealed, and they can allow small amount of air in over time.
How Long Does Sparkling Water Last After Opened?
Sparkling water that has been opened and refrigerated is best consumed within 3 days. Over time, it may lose its carbonation, causing it to lose its intended bubbly mouthfeel.
You may notice that sparkling water that has gone flat can taste different as well. This is because water is carbonated by adding carbon dioxide, and during that process, a small amount of carbonic acid is formed. Without the bubbles to distract you, you may notice a slightly sour or bitter flavor left over from this acid.
The presence of carbonic acid in sparkling water may sound alarming, but there’s no reason to fret. Carbonic acid in the quantities found in carbonated water is not harmful.
How Long Does Sparkling Water Stay Carbonated Unopened?
Unopened cans of sparkling water that has been stored properly should retain their carbonation for many years. If you are unsure of whether a can is still carbonated, crack it open and listen for a fizz. Pouring it into a glass will also make it easier to see just how carbonated it is. Watch how high the bubbles jump from the water and make note the density of bubbles.
It may even be helpful to compare your old sparkling water to a new one that is within the manufacturer’s “best by” date.
It Comes Down to Common Sense[s]
Sparkling water cans may have confusing labels when it comes to expiration dates, but you shouldn’t worry much, so long as you have adhered to proper storage techniques and the beverage is not extremely old or damaged.
By using common sense and evaluating the beverage with your own senses, you likely can determine if it is a good idea to drink it or not. If there is anything abnormal about the beverage, it is best to avoid drinking it.