It is not recommended to leave unopened cans or bottles of soda in a hot garage for an extended period of time. The heat can affect the soda in a few ways:
- It may cause the soda to “skunk” – taking on an unpleasant odor and taste.
- It can cause the soda to lose its carbonation and go flat.
- In extreme heat, it could potentially cause cans to swell or even burst.
If you need to store soda in your garage temporarily, it’s best to keep it in a cool, shaded area and consume it within a couple weeks. Unopened soda will generally be safe up to 3 months at room temperature, but garages can get much hotter than indoor room temp.
Effects of Heat on Soda
Soda is sensitive to heat primarily due to its carbonation and ingredients. Here is more detail on how heat impacts soda over time:
Loss of Carbonation
Carbon dioxide provides the bubbly, effervescent texture in soda. It is dissolved and pressurized inside sealed cans and bottles. Over time, the CO2 bubbles will escape the liquid, especially when exposed to heat.
As the soda warms, the CO2 escapes faster from the solution. Higher temperatures speed up the molecular motion, causing gas bubbles to break free. Opening and resealing containers also allows gas to escape.
So heat will cause soda to lose its fizz and go flat more quickly. Room temperature soda kept sealed will maintain good carbonation for 3-6 months. But in hot conditions like a garage, the CO2 is likely to dissipate within weeks.
Exposing soda to heat and light can cause it to take on a skunky flavor. This effect is formally known as “lightstruck flavor.” It occurs due to a chemical reaction between ingredients in the soda and UV rays from sunlight.
The main culprits are riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and sulfur compounds in the soda. When exposed to light, these ingredients react to form new compounds that have a foul, skunk-like taste and smell.
Clear and green glass bottles allow more UV light to reach the soda, making it more prone to skunking. Cans provide more UV protection. But even cans stored in hot, bright garages for extended time can develop off-flavors.
Storing canned soda at high temperatures can potentially cause cans to swell or even burst. The contents expand with heat, putting pressure on the can.
The risk depends on the exact temperature and duration of heat exposure. But leaving cans in an enclosed garage through summer heat could certainly stress the packaging.
Cans may swell slightly due to stretch of the aluminum. At certain points, built up pressure could cause cans to rupture. Damaged, leaking or exploded cans will make a huge mess!
Some chemical changes may occur in soda at high temperatures that impact taste and nutrition. Studies found key impacts include:
- Vitamin C degradation – loss of this nutrient accelerates above room temperature.
- Inverted sugar formation – heat causes some sucrose to convert to fructose and glucose, changing sweetness.
- Color changes – caramel coloring can fade with heat and light exposure.
So extended heat can create subtle changes in the color, sweetness, and nutritional value of soda over time.
How Long Can Soda Last Unrefrigerated?
shelf life depends heavily on storage conditions. Here are general guidelines for how long soda will last safely unrefrigerated:
|Storage Temperature||Unopened Shelf Life||Opened Shelf Life|
|Room temperature (68-77°F)||3-9 months||1-2 days|
|Hot garage (90°F+)||2-3 months||1 day|
As you can see, heat significantly reduces shelf life once containers are opened.
The timer begins once the seal is broken and CO2 starts escaping. Bacteria and mold can enter and grow in opened containers.
An unrefrigerated 12oz can or 20oz bottle should be consumed quickly once opened. Leaving an open container sitting out overnight invites spoilage.
For long term storage, keep unopened cans and bottles away from heat, light, and moisture. An indoor kitchen pantry is ideal. Refrigeration can extend shelf life further after opening.
How to Store Soda in a Hot Garage
If you need to keep a supply of soda in your garage, here are some tips to maintain quality and safety:
Choose a Cool Spot
Look for areas of your garage that may be cooler than others:
- Near the ground or subfloor – hot air rises
- Against cement walls – may be cooler than exposed sites
- Near vents – circulating air could decrease temperature
- Away from appliances – refrigerators and dryers emit heat
- Shaded from windows – blocks warming sunlight
Monitoring different areas with a thermometer can help identify the coolest garage zones.
Insulate Cans and Bottles
Wrap cans and bottles in towels, foam sleeves, or insulation to protect from air temperature. This helps limit warming of the soda inside.
For additional insulation, place the covered cans/bottles in a cooler filled with ice packs. The ice will absorb heat and regulate temperature.
Use Rapid Turnover
Don’t overstock sodas in the garage. Buy smaller quantities and replace them more often for steady supply.
First in, first out inventory management limits duration of heat exposure. Rotate fresh stock to keep product moving.
Avoid Temperature Extremes
Monitor conditions in the garage during extreme weather:
- In winter, bring soda inside if garage drops below freezing
- In summer, bring inside or insulate well if garage exceeds 90°F
Try to maintain temperatures between about 55-80°F for optimal soda storage.
Check for Damage
Inspect cans and bottles carefully for any swell or leaks before consuming. Bulging containers may be pressurized and should be handled with caution.
When exposure length is uncertain, use your senses. Check scent and taste of soda before drinking to check for skunking or other issues.
Can Soda Be Stored Cold in a Garage?
Storing soda in a cold garage can be safe, with the right conditions:
- Temperature must remain reliably 40°F or below
- No risk of freezing/bursting – insulate against freezing
- Protect from precipitation with insulation/wrapping
- Avoid placing directly on concrete – insulate bottom
The garage essentially must provide freezer-like temperature without moisture. This may only be possible seasonally in cold climates.
For most home garages, you’re better off storing cans and bottles at room temperature indoors. Then refrigerating promptly after opening.
A freezer, refrigerator, or insulated cooler is best for chilled storage. Only use your garage if you can verify cold conditions.
Signs Soda has Gone Bad
How can you tell if soda has spoiled and is unsafe to drink? Here are the signs of bad soda:
- Appearance: Mold, mushy/misshapen containers, leaks, exploding cans
- Scent: Skunky, rotten, or chemical odors
- Taste: Flat, rancid, bitter, or sour
- Color: Drastic darkening, fading, or separation
- Sensation: Unusual tingling, burning, or numbness on the tongue
Heat accelerates chemical changes that lead to fouling. If soda ever looks or smells questionable, don’t drink it.
Err on the side of caution – small cost of soda is not worth risking your health. When in doubt, throw it out.
Storing soda in a hot garage can shorten shelf life and degrade taste. But taking proper precautions allows you to keep a supply on hand:
- Find coolest location in garage
- Insulate cans/bottles from air temperature
- Rapid turnover of inventory
- Avoid temperature extremes
- Inspect for damage before drinking
With proper rotation and insulation, soda can remain safe and enjoyable for a period of time even in hot conditions. But cold indoor storage is always ideal for peak quality and longevity.