The No Water Go Bad Conspiracy

“No water go bad.”

It’s the kind of phrase a five year old kid with a lisp might say while you were getting him one of those mylar metallic-reflective balloons as you told him he shouldn’t drink what was left in that water bottle hanging out the back of the stroller of his five month old sister because eventually, like all other foods on this planet — water eventually goes bad.

Yet that’s not the conspiracy I’m talking about here.

Apparently, water never goes bad. Buy a bottle of water, drink half of it, then leave the remaining amount of water in the bottle in the backseat of your car and let it bake in the sun for weeks or months and then one day come back to your car after a night of partying and feel the need to hydrate your system and with zero money and zero stores open you’ll find yourself contemplating the one thing you never thought you’d contemplate…

Drinking water that’s been sitting in a bottle, heating up and cooling down, laying behind the passenger side seat of your car after ten months of action.

The conspiracy water theorists will tell you that water lasts forever. That it never goes bad. Whether it’s warm or cold or been shaken or stirred — water will always be good as long as it’s been safe inside some kind of bottle where the evil scents and chemicals of the world couldn’t get at it. That water in a bottle is the one consumed item on this planet that will never ever go bad.

It makes no sense to me.

Doesn’t water go bad? I mean, couldn’t it possibly ever go bad? Sitting there, all those hours, for all those days, getting heated up then cooled down, then tossed around then shaken and stirred then opened then closed? I wouldn’t eat a sandwich that was hermetically sealed inside a ziploc bag and stored in a FRIDGE for a week…so why would I drink out of a bottle of water that’s been lodged between an old box of Ding Dongs and a tire iron in the trunk of my car for a month?

Water is the elixir of life, you might say. Water, is the clearest form of liquid flattery ever to pass beyond those parched lips of yours, you might think to yourself but not say because it sort of sounds kind of ghey. Water is the one liquid that keeps the human race alive, you might write down on a little index card and hang on your office cubicle wall next to your wispy-old haired pencil-eraser troll toy, in the hopes that that girl down the hall will notice how “in touch with the environment” you really are and eventually agree to go out with you…

But despite these sayings and thoughts and sexually-harrassing actions you take part in, I still don’t buy the fact that water, stuck in a bottle, in the back of my car, for over a month…is safe to drink.

If I handed you a package of yogurt that had no expiration date on it…would you eat it? Even if it was cold and fresh and the pre-printed logo on the outside of the package wasn’t smeared (like most old food packages normally do after they’ve been rubbing up against newly packaged food in the back of the fridge and often wedged in between some kind of cottage cheese container) you still wouldn’t eat it.

So then why must you perpetrate the faux-water no-go bad conspiracy?

I, for one, will never agree.

16 comments on “The No Water Go Bad Conspiracy

  1. Rabbit - May 28, 2006 at 10:59 am -

    So then when does water go bad? I need to know. It takes an awfully long time to open all those Evian bottles to prepare my bath and I want to be sure it’s still sparkling fresh before I get in.

  2. Pierce - May 28, 2006 at 12:23 pm -

    What exactly is going bad? The hydrogen or the oxygen?

  3. better safe than sorry - May 28, 2006 at 12:41 pm -

    actually it does go bad, or looks like it goes bad. if you freeze it and then thaw it and refreeze it (i think that’s the order) the water develops a natural silt like substance in it, it’s fine to drink, but doesn’t look right, you can see the substance in the bottom of the bottle. one of my kids did a science experiment on this last year.

  4. Anne - May 28, 2006 at 1:06 pm -

    Sounds gross. Maybe I’ll stick to milk instead of water…oh yeah…all milk is is refiltered water…hm.

    Is that why water tastes gross sometimes?

  5. Pauly D - May 28, 2006 at 1:49 pm -

    Rabbit – That’s the THING. No one knows.

    Anne – Everything is water.

  6. JM - May 28, 2006 at 1:50 pm -

    Thank you, oh thank you, for giving me correct props for inventing the slang word “ghey.”

    And thanks for implying that my website is ghey in the doing.

  7. Anne - May 28, 2006 at 4:09 pm -

    Everything is water.

    I know; I was being facetious.

  8. C(h)ristine - May 28, 2006 at 4:45 pm -

    dude, when you find the answer to this, let me know! i’ve been wondering the same thing myself. seriously. i’ve always got a half-full bottle of water lying around, sloshing in the backseat (or passenger seat) of my car…after a workout, i keep eyeing it. at least, i think, it’ll be good for that possible emergency situation where i slide off the side of a steep road, and have to subsist on whatever’s in my car for days until people find me (because the S.O.S. button on my car doesn’t work outside of cellphone range (yay, geniuses) which is probably where i’ll actually need it).

    i keep thinking of the little girl who survived for a week in a crashed car drinking gatorade.

    my husband thinks water goes bad — “if you backwashed in it, and i’m sure you have, because it’s impossible not to backwash, then THOSE germs will start to multiply….”

    okay, enough thinking about this for now.
    just let me know.

  9. Adri - May 28, 2006 at 7:27 pm -

    Well it’s not the WATER that goes bad… it’s the structure of the plastic as it heats and cools… seeping carcinogenic chemicals into your previously pure water. Mmmm-mmmm cancer agents. Love em! Oh and don’t forget the bacteria.

  10. Eve - May 28, 2006 at 11:43 pm -

    I think it’s actually sealed bottle water that doesn’t go “bad.” Bottled water has already been purified and sealed, so it will last indefinitely if stored that way. (Though, I think if kept in a warm or damp place, it might not taste as good once you open it and drink it.) Once it’s opened, though, all bets are off. Although there’s nothing about the actual water that will spoil, it can become contaminated by bacteria, algae, and various insect larvae (yum!).

  11. Melanie - May 29, 2006 at 12:55 am -

    I think emergency preparedness guidelines recommend that you change your stored water every 6 months. So, I guess you’ve got that long ’til it’s possibly unsafe. In the back of the car, next to the tire iron? Maybe not so long.

  12. Syd - May 29, 2006 at 9:21 am -

    I believe if the water is distilled, all impurities have been pulled out in the process, the water would never go bad. But if it is water out of the tap, I think bacteria would indeed begin to grow inside the insidious plastic bottle. But if you knew what you were swallowing from your tap it would make your toes curl.

    I personally have partaked of ancient water from a dented plastic bottle and I did not incur any illness from doing so.

    JM’s website is very interesting, is it gay or ghey?

  13. susan - May 29, 2006 at 9:33 am -

    There is no conspiracy. Just some people too trusting, too oblivious, too unaware or too cheap to open a new bottle. Find me someone who states, “Water does NOT go BAD!” as they pick up a half-full, bits of debris floating, back-wash accentuated bottle of water and swig it back and I’ll show you a crazy person on their way to a mysterious illness!

  14. imnotanidiot - April 6, 2007 at 8:04 am -

    the only thing that can make water go ”bad” is if it is contaminated by something. even purifyed and distilled water is not just water, it has impurities. H2O itself does not go bad, the same water has been on this planet for billions of years, now if water went bad then dont you think all the water on earth would be bad???

  15. Trey - May 10, 2007 at 4:46 am -

    ok fine, so water doesnt go bad. its just the things growing inside the water that “go bad”. if you want to argue that, then i will argue that my month old sandwich has not gone bad either, there is just a battalion of mold spores taking over… but the sandwich itself has not “gone bad”.

    if there are things growing in my sandwich, and it has gone bad… then when things grow in my water, i say it has also gone bad.

  16. fail - January 30, 2008 at 2:29 am -

    Think harder, people.

    Yes, the sandwich goes bad, but no, the water does not. When something has “gone bad,” it means it’s not the same as it was before, when it was “good.” That is, it’s been degraded somehow — bacteria or yeast might metabolize it to a waste product; or it might undergo a chemical reaction in the presence of heat, air, water, or sunlight; or it might absorb odors from the air. No matter what, though, the makeup of the food is changing. Stuff is added, stuff is taken away, stuff is transformed into other stuff.

    With the exception of chemicals from packaging seeping into the water (which does happen on very long timescales), it is impossible for purified water to “degrade.” Water is not a growth medium for bacteria or yeast, nor does it contain a growth medium. Water does not undergo any chemical reaction just sitting in a closed bottle under ordinary conditions. And finally, assuming a tight seal, it’s unlikely that any substantial amount of offensive gas will dissolve in the water. If any does, it’s probably going to be the air you breathe, in which case, I don’t think you’d really care.

    If you eat and your mouth is full of food particles, and then you spit into the water, and you expose the bottle to heat, open it to the atmosphere, et cetera, of course something is going to grow in there eventually. But since the water is not the growth medium, it is not going to be degraded. And since there probably wasn’t very much growth medium added, not very much is going to grow. Furthermore, if you were to add an antimicrobial agent like triclosan, you would kill everything in the water (which, by the way, would never have changed whatsoever), and you’d be good to go.

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