How long should boiled water used for powdered baby formula stay in a Teflon pot? Can it stay in the pot for days?

  • Logic: when you don't for sure know the limiting reagent, you have to assume the preservation time limit and requirements (like refrigeration) apply to each ingredient.
    – zanlok
    Jun 26, 2013 at 20:59

2 Answers 2


Water is not infinitely shelf-stable. No matter what you store it in, it keeps for a short time. The Brita instructions for their water filters say 1-2 days, and this sounds reasonable to me for normal use.

But because you are asking specifically about baby food, I would recommend to not let it stay at all. The reason why you are supposed to boil water for baby food is to kill any bacteria present in it. The moment the water's temperature falls to survivable temperatures, bacteria from the environment can start colonizing it. So if you let water stay around after boiling for a few hours, it will be as dangerous as water which has never been boiled. If you let it sit for longer, it becomes much more dangerous than just using tap water without boiling.

Bottom line: Boil the water fresh for each batch of formula, and use it as soon as it has cooled down to baby-acceptable temperature. If you leave boiled water stay around, it is worse than not bottling it at all.

  • 1
    I don't know where you get your tap water from, but my tap water is not coming fresh from the producer but is rather some billion years old. The reason why BRITA recommends to keep filtered water for no more than 1-2 days is probably that bacteria cultures can easily manifest in the filter cartridges and contaminate otherwise harmless tap water. Jun 26, 2013 at 22:12
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo My tap water comes freshly treated from the producer, after being run through a clearing station and probably also enriched with antibacterial additives (it used to be chlorinated, but I don't know if they replaced that or just left it out). I agree that distilled water in a sealed container is safe for indefinitely long, but an open teflon pot (and to some extent, also a closed one) will get contaminated with time. For a baby, it does not have to support a large colony - the first handful of bacteria may cause a serious disease.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 27, 2013 at 10:35
  • A sealed non-reactive container; note (as one of many examples, I think) recent-ish concerns about BPA in plastic bottles. Of course Teflon is supposed to be foodsafe, although I've heard people have concerns, especially if it's scratched/flaky (don't know the validity, but possibly relevant to OP). Re: tap water, that's very location-dependent (very much a concern specifically for baby formula, in many parts ofthe world). Otherwise agree with you and sarge.
    – hunter2
    Jun 28, 2013 at 6:04

Rumtscho's answer is close to right but wrong enough that I feel I need to post this.

You need to bring the water that you use for formula to a boil before each batch when using powdered formula. This is important because you kill any possible bacteria in the water AND it provides hot enough water to kill any bacteria that has found it's way into the powdered mix. The powder formulas are packed sterile, but once you open the sealed package, the air could introduce pathogens.

You should only prepare one serving at a time. Prepared formula is a perfect growth medium, therefore you need to minimize the time it sits around. You should make sure that you are cooling the bottle with either running or iced water, but making sure to dry the bottle and making sure that the unboiled water doesn't touch the ring or nipple. If you have to prepare formula that isn't going to be used immediately, make sure to cool and then refrigerate. NEVER SERVE YOUR BABY LEFTOVER FORMULA!

You can use the same water in the pot for multiple boilings. Each boiling will kill off anything in the water. However, you do need to make sure that the pot remains covered between boilings, as physical or chemical contaminants could remain in the water after boiling if they manage to get in the pot.

Here is an additional source that is laid out well. All of the stuff in this, and the source are basic food safety. It just becomes extra important because you are feeding a not-yet-formed immune system a perfectly formulated growth medium.

  • +1, because you said more than I did. But I am curious, which parts of my answer would you consider wrong?
    – rumtscho
    Jun 27, 2013 at 10:37
  • @rumtscho Wrong is probably a poor choice of wording. It was more a lack of stress of the parts that could lead the OP down the wrong path. The first sentence of your answer is the only part that I would consider as erroneous, but I also feel like it has little to do with the actual question. The skipping over the necessary cooling step and why it is a problem is the main part of what I felt had to be addressed. Jun 28, 2013 at 1:53
  • @sarge_smith Nice post, but one question. "You can use the same water in the pot for multiple boilings. Each boiling will kill off anything..." This may be correct, but do you know for sure that there are no heat stable microorganisms or toxins that could be a potential hazard here? Might be best to play it safe and recommend fresh tap water for every boiling unless you are certain. Jun 28, 2013 at 18:11
  • @ChrisSteinbach There is no such thing as an organism that can withstand 212 degrees (Except of the bottom of the sea floor, and if those are coming out of your tap, everyone who's pulling off that water source is quite dead.) Any toxins that have been introduced would also have to be from the source (as long as you are keeping the pot covered to prevent introing them yourself) and thus the first boiling didn't get rid of them either. However, if you leave the pot UNCOVERED on the stove, who knows what could be in there, and you should start over with new water. Jun 29, 2013 at 4:26

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