Can I drink coconut water that’s been left out?

Quick Answer

It’s generally not recommended to drink coconut water that’s been left out unrefrigerated. Coconut water is perishable and can spoil quickly at room temperature. Drinking spoiled coconut water can cause digestive issues like stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If the coconut water was left out for over 2 hours or smells or tastes off, it’s best to discard it. To extend the shelf life of opened coconut water, refrigerate it and drink within 2-3 days. Unopened, canned coconut water will keep up to a year.

How Long Can Coconut Water Sit Out?

Fresh coconut water has a short shelf life and can only be left out at room temperature for 1-2 hours before it starts to spoil. The perishability is due to the high water content and nutrients in coconut water that make an ideal environment for microbial growth when left unrefrigerated.

Some factors that determine how long coconut water will last at room temp:

  • Container: Coconut water in open containers exposed to air and contaminants will spoil faster than sealed, canned coconut water.
  • Pasteurization: Pasteurized coconut water lasts longer than raw, unpasteurized varieties due to heat destroying pathogens.
  • Added Preservatives: Some bottled coconut waters have preservatives to extend shelf life.
  • Storage Temperature: Warmer temperatures speed up spoilage.

As a general rule, don’t drink any coconut water that’s been left out overnight. Discard opened coconut water left for more than 2 hours at room temperature.

How to Tell if Coconut Water Has Gone Bad

It can be difficult to tell if coconut water has started to spoil. Coconut water doesn’t always change taste, smell, or appearance when going bad. Here are some signs that indicate coconut water has spoiled:

  • Sour taste and smell
  • Fizzy or bubbly texture
  • Cloudy appearance
  • Mold visible on surface
  • Rancid odor
  • Change from clear liquid to pinkish or yellowish color

The safest approach is to discard any coconut water that’s been left out too long, even if it doesn’t show obvious signs of spoilage. Don’t rely on taste, smell or appearance alone to determine if it’s still good.

Can You Get Sick from Drinking Spoiled Coconut Water?

Yes, you can get sick from drinking coconut water that’s started to ferment or has mold growth. Spoiled coconut water contains harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and others that can lead to foodborne illness. Symptoms usually appear within hours or days of drinking contaminated coconut water.

Potential illnesses and symptoms include:

  • Gastroenteritis – stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Food poisoning – vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache
  • Salmonella – diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting
  • E.coli – severe bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, vomiting
  • Listeria – fever, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea

At-risk groups like pregnant women, children, elderly and those with weak immune systems are more vulnerable to severe complications from foodborne pathogens. Healthy adults will likely recover from spoiled coconut water with rest and hydration. Seek medical care if symptoms don’t improve after a few days.

Preventing Foodborne Illness

To avoid getting sick, be mindful of coconut water storage and shelf life. Follow these food safety guidelines:

  • Refrigerate opened coconut water and use within 2-3 days
  • Keep unopened cans in cool, dry place up to a year
  • Don’t let coconut water sit out for more than 1-2 hours
  • Discard any coconut water that smells or tastes abnormal
  • Don’t drink from shared containers or use old straws
  • Wash container before opening if reusable

Does Coconut Water Go Bad When Frozen?

Properly frozen coconut water doesn’t go bad. Freezing stops microbial growth that causes spoilage. Frozen coconut water maintains its quality and nutrition for up to 6 months in a 0°F (-18°C) freezer.

To freeze coconut water:

  • Make sure coconut water is fresh, not spoiled.
  • Store in airtight containers, leaving headspace to prevent bursting.
  • Lay flat in freezer for faster freezing.
  • Once frozen, packages can be stacked.
  • Label containers with date and contents.

Thaw frozen coconut water overnight in the fridge before using. Don’t refreeze thawed coconut water. Discard if any odd odor, texture, or appearance after thawing.

Signs of Frozen Coconut Water Going Bad

Even when properly stored in the freezer, coconut water quality can decline over time. Signs that frozen coconut water may be spoiled:

  • Ice crystals or fouled odor when opening
  • Unnatural separation of liquid and solids
  • Change in consistency after thawing – chunky, slimy, mushy
  • Mold growth inside container
  • Discoloration or darkened water

For best quality and food safety, use frozen coconut water within 6 months. Discard if you see any signs of spoilage. Don’t taste test questionable coconut water.

Can Spoiled Coconut Water Make You Sick if Cooked?

Cooking spoiled coconut water doesn’t necessarily make it safe to consume. While cooking can destroy some bacteria, certain toxins released by microbes can survive high temperatures. If coconut water has started fermenting or has significant mold growth, the toxins could still cause illness if ingested.

It’s risky business trying to salvage bad coconut water through cooking. You have no way to know exactly which pathogens are present and if cooking will neutralize all danger. Even if the taste improves, health risks remain. It’s simply not worth getting sick over one container of coconut water. Play it safe and toss out any spoiled coconut water, cooked or not.

Does Coconut Water Go Bad When Canned?

Properly canned and stored coconut water has a much longer shelf life than fresh. Unopened canned coconut water typically stays good for:

  • 12-18 months at room temperature
  • 2-5 years in refrigerator after opening
  • Indefinite frozen

The canning process involves high heat treatment that destroys bacteria and enzymes that cause coconut water to spoil. Vacuum sealing then prevents any microbes from contaminating the contents.

An unopened can stored in a cool, dry place can keep up to a year at optimal quality. Over time, color, odor, and taste may start to degrade but the coconut water would still be safe to consume. Discard any bulging, leaking, or heavily dented cans. Once opened, refrigerate and use canned coconut water within a week.

Signs of Spoiled Canned Coconut Water

Watch for the following signs that may indicate canned coconut water has spoiled:

  • Leaks or bulging from can
  • Dents, rust, or damage to can
  • Foul, rotten, or unpleasant smell
  • Mold inside can or on surface of liquid
  • Fizzing or bubbling when opened
  • Changes in appearance – thickened, chunky, separation

Don’t taste coconut water from a can with any signs of spoilage. Botulism is a rare but dangerous type of food poisoning that can grow in improperly canned goods. Discard the entire contaminated can even if the contents look and smell normal. Don’t take chances with suspect cans.

Does Coconut Water Go Bad When Powdered?

Dried, powdered coconut water has an extended shelf life compared to liquid versions. When stored properly, powdered coconut water can last:

  • 1-2 years at room temperature
  • 2-3 years refrigerated
  • Indefinite frozen

The low moisture content prevents microbial growth and slows chemical reactions that lead to spoiled food. Keep powder dry and sealed in an airtight container away from humidity. Humidity causes clumping and affects quality over time.

Signs of Spoiled Powdered Coconut Water

Check powdered coconut water for these signs of possible spoilage before using:

  • Clumping of powder
  • Change in color
  • Stale, musty or bitter odor
  • Taste that seems off when reconstituted
  • Presence of mold

If powdered coconut water develops an off taste, color or smell, it may be stale or oxidized but not necessarily unsafe. However, discard any powder with mold for food safety. Keeping it in the freezer prevents spoilage for long term storage.

How Long Does Coconut Water Last Once Opened?

The shelf life of opened coconut water depends on the type:

  • Fresh young coconut water – 1-2 hours room temp, 1-2 days refrigerated
  • Pasteurized juice box/bottled – 3-5 days refrigerated
  • Canned – 5-7 days refrigerated
  • Frozen – 6 months frozen

Once exposed to air and contaminants, microbial growth speeds up in opened coconut water. Refrigerate and consume opened coconut water as soon as possible.

Tips for storing opened coconut water:

  • Transfer to a clean airtight container or jar
  • Make sure you have headspace to allow expansion
  • Store upright towards the front of the fridge
  • Finish within 3-5 days
  • Don’t return unused portions to original container

Discard any coconut water that smells, tastes or looks abnormal. Don’t go just based on use-by dates – they can be unreliable for perishables like coconut water. If in doubt, throw it out.


Coconut water has a limited shelf life and can spoil quickly when left out unrefrigerated or kept past its prime. Drinking bad coconut water poses health risks from foodborne pathogens. Always inspect coconut water for changes in odor, texture, and appearance before drinking or using in recipes. Promptly refrigerate opened coconut water and discard if any signs of spoilage. Follow proper storage methods to extend the shelf life of fresh, canned, frozen, and powdered coconut water. But when in doubt if coconut water has gone bad, don’t take chances – throw it out!

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