Is it advisable to drink water that has been sitting overnight?

Many of us wake up feeling thirsty and instinctively grab the bottle kept on the bedside table to drink water. But have you ever wondered whether you should be drinking water that has been left to sit overnight, or in simple terms, stale water?

The human body is made up of 70 per cent water. It is essential to drink water to maintain the body’s temperature, detox it through sweat, urination and bowel movements, and lubricate the joints.

But is there something called stale water?

If water is left in the open without a cover, it mixes with carbon dioxide. While there is no harmful effect of this, it slightly reduces the pH level of water. The effect of reaction is minimal, said Dr Gaurav Jain, consultant, internal medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi. However, the expert added that while is safe for a healthy person to drink water that’s been sitting overnight, “if this water is consumed by an already ill or unhealthy person, it may make them prone to catching another infection through contamination since their immunity is low. But, there is no harm in drinking stale water if it is stored properly,” he told

Dr Ashit Bhagwati, honorary consultant, internal medicine and honorary academic director, ICU at Bhatia Hospital Mumbai said that contamination can occur if water is left uncovered. “Our environment is filled with tiny dust particles and other pollutants which settle down over a period of time. So leaving a glass of water uncovered all night will lead to contamination from dust and other particles,” said Dr Bhagwati.

Alternatively, the container used to store water may become smelly over a period of time due to usage, making it essential to clean it after every use. Not doing so also makes it a collection ground for bacteria and other viruses that can pass through the bottle brim to the water, explained Preety Tyagi, Lead Health Coach, Nutritionist, and founder of MY22BMI.

Experts suggest it is also best to avoid consuming water kept in closed spaces like cars. “Water kept for long in plastic bottles or closed containers in a car is not safe as it heats up in sunlight and allows bacteria to breed,” said Dr Jain.

So, what is the best way store water?

Tyagi mentioned that it is better to avoid water that has been left over the countertop or on the bedside table overnight. “The best practice is to walk up to the source of water such as the water filter and grab a fresh glass, fill it up with fresh water and consume,” she said.

It is advisable to avoid storing water in plastics bottles because it can get contaminated with the chemicals used in making them, said Dr Bhagwati. “In early times people used earthen pots and copper to store water which are comparatively safer,” she added.

According to ayurvedic practitioner Dr Dixa Bhavsar, the quality of water stored in a copper vessel as per Ayurveda are:

Ushna – hot in nature
Rasa (taste) – sweet and slightly pungent
Katu vipaka – undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion

In an Instagram post, she mentioned that Ayurveda recommended to store water in copper vessels as it has the ability to kill bacteria, if any.

However, remember to clean copper vessels at least twice a week.

Here’s how you can clean them properly.

Lemon and salt

To naturally clean copper pots and pans, and less fragile copper pieces, cut a lemon in half, add salt to the cut side and rub gently onto the item. You can also make a paste with lemon juice, and equal parts salt and non-oxidised cornstarch or baking soda.

Vinegar and salt

Rub a mixture of 1 tablespoon of table salt and 1 cup of white vinegar onto the vessel with a soft cloth and rinse. Or, immerse the tarnished copper into a pot of 3 cups of water and the salt-vinegar mixture, and boil until the grime and tarnish comes off.

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