Is it ever safe to drink from plastic bottles exposed to excess heat?
June 28, 2020 9:24 PM   Subscribe

Forgot I had a bunch of "emergency" Kirkland water bottles in my apartment storage space (where they've been for at least a year) where the 90+ degree temperatures have caused the thin plastic to become even more, say we shall, malleable. Read conflicting data about whether it'd be safe to drink from them (due to chemicals from the plastic being released into the water), but would it be okay once they've cooled off after a few days? Or should I go ahead and dump them (water in sink, bottles in recycling bin)?
posted by gtrwolf to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would keep them as emergency supplies, on the basis that you’re not using them daily or anything, so the exposure would be minimal if it ever even happens.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 9:35 PM on June 28

I would expect them to taste terrible and would dump them for that reason alone. Interested in finding out if there are good cost effective long term water solutions out there because I ran into this same issue after stockpiling bottled water for an impending hurricane a few years ago.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:36 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]

I can tell you that 15-year-old UK Dasani Water with Tom Scott | Ashens is pretty nasty. In my experience even indoor kept soda in plastic is both flat and nasty tasting even without the heat. I'd try one and see, I don't think a sip or two would be terribly harmful after a year. Let us know how it tastes.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:41 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]

Keep them to wash with in the event of a water shutoff?
posted by trig at 11:15 PM on June 28 [14 favorites]

We keep our earthquake water in a cool closet and we still replace it every 2 years. Water sitting in plastic is definitely subject to leached carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, especially when it’s been heated. Water your (non-food) plants with it and move on.
posted by amaire at 11:29 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]

Read conflicting data about whether it'd be safe to drink from them (due to chemicals from the plastic being released into the water), but would it be okay once they've cooled off after a few days?

Anything that leaches out from the plastic into the water when it's hot will not be going back to the plastic when it cools down (actual details of the kinetics will be more complicated, IANAChemist). You can generally assume this is a one-way street and the water is permanently ruined for drinking.
posted by each day we work at 1:17 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]

If your water supply is safe you can store your own. Use gallon jugs, vinegar jugs are sturdy, glass wine jugs are even better. Change every six months. I tried to use the gallon ones from distilled water (ironing) and they all failed after a year or so. Three gallons are almost equivalent to a case of 24-16.9 ounce bottles.
posted by Botanizer at 4:18 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]

Years ago, when I was deployed to Afghanistan, we had a massive stockpile of bottled water for our small combat outpost of 60 or so people. We had to build shaded overhangs and use tarps to keep the bottles out of the sun. Still, the water was completely ruined after a few weeks.

Since our well pump was broken, we'd use that water for everything from washing clothes to filling the flushing toilet tanks. The water we kept inside (our ready supply) lasted much longer.

So to answer your question, I'd dump it and recucle the bottles.
posted by Master Gunner at 4:50 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]

If you drive a car, maybe stick a few bottles in there for non-drinking emergency uses like rinsing sand off your feet before you get back in the car at the beach ...
posted by mccxxiii at 7:14 AM on June 29 [4 favorites]

With 90+ degree temperatures, I'd be putting that water on the landscaping, not down the sink.
posted by aniola at 11:07 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]

Yeah, if you don't drink it, use it to flush the toilet, or do laundry, or water plants.
posted by theora55 at 1:01 PM on June 29

Yeah, sounds like it'd be best to just use the water for ironing and other activities not involving consumption. (Too bad I don't have any plants). Due to space issues I'll probably put a dozen bottles (after wiping them down of course) into our "common area" (a.k.a. the laundry room) with a note for people to take them for watering plants, etc. and NOT for drinking. (There's the risk of someone still going "Water! Drink!", but I'd prefer not to dump them out, especially since we're supposed to be in a drought again and the water can still be used for other things).
posted by gtrwolf at 1:25 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]

Put it in a different container that makes it clear it's not drinking water - a bucket maybe?
posted by each day we work at 5:51 AM on July 1

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