Despite the rise of high-quality bottled water delivery services, many companies still produce subpar tap water that’s poured in to low-quality plastic bottles. Although this water is typically harmless, what happens if you leave your bottled water in a hot car? Is it still safe to drink after being exposed to such extreme temperatures?
This has recently become a topic of debate. Some plastics researchers saying that people shouldn’t drink bottles of water that have been sitting in hot environments for a long time, such as on the passenger seat of a car that’s parked in direct sunlight on a hot day. The fear among the researchers is that the heat could cause the chemicals in the plastic bottle to get into the water, and no one wants to drink plastic.
However, the International Bottled Water Association disagrees with this claim, saying that plastic bottles are regulated and produced according to strict rules – ones that make sure that they can withstand extreme heat.
A Professor’s Take on Drinking Bottled Water from the Car
No matter where you purchase your bottled water, researchers are encouraging you to think twice before consuming it after exposing it to extreme heat inside a car. Cheryl Watson, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, explained what she thought was happening in layman’s terms:
“When you heat things up, the molecules jiggle around faster, and that makes them escape from one phase into another. So the plastic leaches its component chemicals out into the water much faster and more with heat applied to it. It’s kind of like when you put mint leaves in your tea. The heat extracts the mint-tasting molecules and it happens faster in hot tea than it does in cold tea.”
It’s not uncommon for people to talk about the phenomenon of drinks tasting “better” out of glass than they do out of plastic bottles, and Cheryl thinks that this could be indicative of her hypothesis. Similarly, anyone who has ever drunk water from a bottle that has been left in a hot car may notice that the water suddenly tastes more “artificial” or “plastic” than usual.
The Bottom Line
Regulating bodies such as the International Bottled Water Association reject these claims about the dangers of leaving bottled water in hot places, although it could be argued that their opinion is somewhat biased. Regardless, if you utilize bottled water delivery from a company that uses pharmaceutical-grade glass bottles or very high-grade plastic bottles, you can rest assured that your bottled water should be safe to drink, whether it’s been in a hot car or not.
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