I drink water at work from a plastic bottle, refilled at cooler. I wonder if putting lemon cuts (0.25 lemon/L) in it will preserve it and decent way to keep water safe. Is there a chance that lemon can go bad if left in bottle for two or three days?

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    @Stephie please write an answer if you have one. Short answers are OK, answers in comments are not.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 12:19
  • any idea why the downvote? I wonder because I want to calibrate my questions to rules of the community, it seems to be in scope Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 23:21

1 Answer 1


This is more likely to introduce organic matter (the lemon cuts) that can induce spoilage than prevent it... common experience shows that food that has "some lemon juice" added (and the amount you are suggesting is in the same order of magnitude) is not significantly preserved by that, so we can assume the acid (which would be the preserving factor) is far too diluted in that mixture to keep either the water or the lemons from spoiling. Also, lemons as bought from a store or vegetable stand are far too widely variable in their acid content to make any statement on chemical potency - the only remotely safe way to preserve anything via the acid from natural produce would be to educate yourself on the suitable pH range, then after each preparation take a sample and examine it with a pH measuring device (pH meter, indicating paper - do not dip such devices directly into anything that still gets served as food or drink!).

  • OK, now I see it in more detail. I was thinking there is some common knowledge, but couldn't find any. Drinking out of bottle adds only bacteria from mouth, but lemon itself definitely can bring something extra. I'll try to run a test: take a sip from bottles with and without lemon, and let them stay for couple of days, then see under microscope or grow cultures Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 21:03
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    Some bacteria will be there anyway even with clean water, to have the water even close to clear of any bacteria you would need to at least fill it into a sterile container right after boiling or, even more effective, pressure cooking it. Compare what is done in canning to get stuff actually, truly sterile: Food is sealed into containers which are then, as a whole, pressure cooked. Drinks you get in shelf-stable containers in a supermarket will have been cooked (pasteurized) OR have been treated with DMDC OR be far more alcoholic or acidic than lemony water. Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 23:09

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