What does the manufacturer claim about their water packaging and how will it affect your decision. According to the FDA, water does not have an expiration. It is the packaging that breaks down and expires over time. So we’re going to go through the different options that are currently on the market and you can decide what is best for your healthcare facility based upon budget, space and how the water will be used.
Aluminum Cans – 50 Year Shelf Life
Aluminum is said to be one of the most flexible and durable products. Aluminum is corrosion resistant which makes it ideal for packing H2O. Aluminum canned beverages are generally considered safe, but because aluminum is reactive to acidic liquids, some are lined with an epoxy resin that can contain BPA. That’s the chemical in plastic that many people are trying to avoid buying. But since these aluminum cans are only holding bacteria-free water, there is no need to coat the cans with epoxy.
We’ve heard speculation that pop cans can evaporate over time through bent seams or small holes. This is done by carbon-dioxide or nitrogen gas creating pressure from the inside out. However, if the top has a Hermetic Seal it makes the given object airtight. Hermetically sealed to prevent the contamination which allows no oxygen, gases, UV light or bacteria to be able to penetrate the can. This allows the can to stay pressurized and sealed for years of assurance.
This is a great drinking water option during a disaster. The only downfall is having to wipe off the top of the lids before drinking for sanitation purposes and it’s not ideal hydrating freeze-dried food.
Canned water – 30-year shelf life
Canned water was one of the first types of packaging long term. Can is made up of Tinplate that consists of sheets of steel, coated with a thin layer of tin. Before the advent of cheap milled steel, the backing metal was iron. While once more widely used, the primary use of tinplate now is the manufacture of tin cans. For many purposes, tinplate has been replaced by galvanized (zinc-coated) vessels. .The zinc layer prevents the iron from rusting through sacrificial protection with the zinc oxidizing instead of the iron, whereas tin will only protect the iron if the tin-surface remains unbroken.
If you leave a steel can of water out long enough it can rust from the outside in and from the inside out. All it takes is for water to work itself into the seams of a metal can over time, and eventually, the water seeps out. Metal cans have seams at the bottom and on the top. A bump or dent any of the seams can weaken the integrity of the can and may compromise the emergency water without even knowing it. Many cans require opening by cutting the “end” open with a church key which can lead to possible injuries.
This is a great option to carry larger amounts of water that can still be moved easily and hydrate freeze-dried food. However, the top of each can needs to be wiped down for sanitation purposes and it’s not ideal to be a stand-alone drinking option.
HDPE Bottles & Barrels – 5 to 20 year Shelf Life
HDPE bottles are very durable thick plastic that BPA Free. It’s made of Type 2 plastic which neither contains bisphenol A nor phthalates. It is not known to contain any other harmful chemicals. It can expand and contract with heat and cold does not degrade easily and can be stored for 100+ years without falling apart. HDPE can be recycled over and over and over again.
Because the product is thick and sturdy, it can preserve water from Water Vapor Transmission Rate (WVTR) which occurs with store-bought bottled water. If you leave store-bought bottled water on a shelf long-enough, the water vaporizes through the pores of the bottle or the lid, and your water supply gets lower and lower. That why it’s usually not the best option for disaster purposes.
HDPE is considered one of the safest plastics and is FDA approved for potable water. Because of its high-density nature, you don’t have the plastic chemicals leaching into the water as you would from cheap plastic. That’s why HDPE is used for long-term water-storage tanks, such as those 55-gallon storage drums we’re familiar with.
The more seams, the more weak points, and the more chances of water escaping over time or becoming contaminated. HDPE plastic bottles are seamless. There is only a hole at the top that is sealed by induction and then a tight lid keeps it all in place for decades without the unnecessary worry that water will eventually “seep” out of broken seams or weak points.
This option is great for drinking and hydrating dehydrated food. Bottles and barrels can be used again and again which makes it ideal for disaster and environmentally sustainability. However, when storing any plastic containers, they can’t be stored directly on concrete or near dangerous chemicals or fumes to avoid leaching and deterioration.
Pouched Water – 5 Year Shelf Life
The water pouches are packaged in mylar according to Coast Guard standards. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). The polyethylene (PET) layer is food-grade plastic with no known toxicities. The foil layer dramatically reduces the transmission of oxygen and moisture through the film. One trade name is Mylar and it’s often used as a generic name.
The pouches are easy to pass out during a disaster, but that’s about it. They can be easily spilled and punctured. It only carries a very small amount of water per pouch, so you’ll need more pouches person compared to the other options available and depending on how high the temperature is when being stored, it can determine if the taste of the water is compromised. It’s also only a 5-year shelf life.
Boxed water – 5-year shelf life
Produced with a unique seven-layer carton. Currently, there is very limited information on what the product is made out of. However since it is made out of a carton, there is a better chance of punctures, potential leaching from pores materials and it’s not very sturdy. It also only contains a very small amount of water which means purchasing more water per person compared to the other options available.
Regardless of the material the water is being stored in, most long term shelf life water option is a great alternative to standard plastic drinking bottles. It is also better for the environment, healthcare facilities pocket and being prepared in case of a disaster. If any of the products letch a small amount of potentially harmful chemicals, it has to be put into perspective that it would be such a small amount that the consumers would ingest that over the short period of time a person would be consuming it, it will most likely not make the anyone sick or cause long term healthcare problems. The most important aspect is making sure the water is completely sterile before packaging and that the water will be there when needed.