This Is How Long a Paper Cup Hold Water ~ Longer Than You Think

Paper Cup Holding Water

Because paper cups are inexpensive and believed to be more hygienic than reusable cups, their popularity has grown.

They are more common in coffee shops, children’s parties, and beer parties. But the main advantage of paper cups is biodegradability—these cups break down quickly with no harm.

How long can a paper cup hold water? Good-quality paper cups can hold hot and cold water for longer than 48 hours. But new paper cups come with a water-based coating material that can hold water for at least 78 hours.

Interesting fact: Paper cups have an expiration date! Read this blog post to learn more about paper cup manufacturing and DIY.

Manufacturing Of Paper Cups

Most of the paper we use every day would collapse into mush if we poured hot liquid into it.

Paper cups, however, can handle anything from hot coffee to ice-cold water.

Raw Materials

Paper cups are made from chips of wood. The chips are processed into wood pulp, which is then mashed into paper.

The Royal Society of Chemistry reports that there are 33 grams of wood and bark in each paper cup.

The pulp is bleached with ammonia, sodium hydroxide, and other additives.


Cold drink cups should not be handled in the same manner, as condensation forms on the outside.

This leaves the cup unstable. To address this issue, cup producers have developed a method for spraying wax both inside and outside the cup.

Clay- and wax-coated cups have vanished with the advent of polyethylene (PE)-coated cups.

This procedure covers the surface of the board with a thin coating of PE.

The thin PE coating will allow board waterproofing and seams together.

Paper cups for hot beverages become waterproof because of a small amount of clay in the bottom.

The rotation at high speed will occur so that the clay moves up the sides. This process will render the paper waterproof.

However, this led to drinks smelling and tasting of cardboard.

Shaping the Cup

The flat sheet of plastic-covered paper is folded into a cup shape.

Next, the maker heats the plastic and forces it together with the pieces of the cup so that the plastic seals them.

Special Features

Many paper cups come with special features.

Some of the inner and outer layers of cups are made to insulate hot material without needing a sleeve.

Polymer-coated cups are also sealed and tougher than standard cups.

Types of Paper Cups

1. Corrugated Ripple Paper Cups

The sides of these paper cups are composed of three layers of paper. The top surface has a relief structure.

Corrugated paper cups have the lowest thermal conductivity relative to other types of plastic cups.

  • There are air gaps in the walls of the cups
  • The hands are in contact only with the protruding parts of the screen.

2. Single-Layer Paper Cups for Hot Beverages

These have an internal PLA coating that prevents the paper from getting damp. The cups have a special glue for the seams.

This paper has a much lower thermal conductivity relative to plastic to avoid burning one’s palm/hand.

Still, a paper cup for a hot drink is hot enough that one must be mindful of the temperature before drinking.

Never pour cold beverages or drinks with ice into a single-layer paper cup intended for hot ones.

The temperature inside and outside is different for every paper cup type.

Condensation may occur on the cup surface, allowing the paper to soak and the cup to lose its rigidity.

3. Double-Layer Paper Cups

Two-layer paper cups are simply paper Thermoses. Double walls and air space between them decrease thermal conductivity.

For those reasons, the drink keeps its temperature longer, and the cups do not heat up outside. Thus, they do not burn the palms.

Do Paper Cups Expire?

Paper cups do expire. At present, though, the consistency of disposable paper cups on the market is uneven.

What’s worse is how the hidden danger is rising faster.

Many households do not practice correct storage. Thus, the cups will be left wet and moist, allowing for the growth of bacteria.

If you use improperly stored paper cups, you could be inflicting harm on your health. Some people even develop respiratory disorders.

When ordering disposable paper cups, the public must look at the date of manufacture and the shelf life.

A typical shelf life is 1-2 years, but some disposable paper cups are custom-marked. You have to identify each carefully.

Manufacturers calculate the shelf life of disposable paper cups. Look for the period of aging of the different products and the cycle of decomposition.

The manufacturing date and shelf life of disposable paper cups are printed on the packaging.

The shelf life of different paper cups is also different. Some of them have a shelf life of a maximum of 5 years, while others have a shelf life of only 1 or 2 years.

If disposable cups are improperly used or stocked, they may suffer from bacteria and fungi growth.

Aside from the bad smell, expired paper cups will retain water for no longer than an hour.

Can You Recycle Paper Cups?

Unlike other consumer goods, most paper cups are impossible to recycle, as they are wrapped in plastic. (The plastic prevents the liquid from leaking out of the cup.)

It is also why they are not melted down into pulp and made into recycled paper.

Although some groups use recycled materials such as paper coffee cups, they are very uncommon. Unfortunately, there is not a demand for them.

Not all paper cups are covered in plastic, but most of them are. Less commonly, they are simply lined in wax.

Assessing which is which may be difficult, so I suggest approaching them the same way.

If, however, you are confident that your cup has a wax cover, you will be able to recycle it. You can do this at home or by your community’s organic scheme.

Plastic lids and corrugated sleeves are probably fair game. Or you can add to a global share by developing more viable solutions.

There are many places where you can buy reusable cups. Save the environment while saving your money.

If the cups are made of recycled materials, they usually cannot be recycled after that. Paper and plastic cups are impossible to recycle.

As noted previously, paper cups have plastic coats to prevent them from spilling or letting liquid take over their form.

Very few recycling facilities can handle this form of recycling operation.

If you will be using paper or plastic cups, they should be made from recycled materials.

Knowing that one is using a formerly discarded product is a positive start.

Sadly, most of these cups will still head to the dump after being consumed because they are impossible to recycle.

What’s Good About Paper Cups

  • Low cost, light efficiency, and cost savings in circulation.
  • Attractive appearance.

  • Due to strong advertising, sales are higher than for other types of cups.

  • Accessible operation of packaging machinery to achieve high-quality, high-speed production and packaging.

  • Opening and closing are simple; the cups are easy to open and easy to recover.

  • Have a mix of many materials—aluminum foil, plastic, etc.—to promote safety and resist corrosion and deterioration of contents.

  • Utility model has good light-shielding efficiency, color preservation, fragrance, and inner packaging taste.

  • Compared to glass bottles, paper cups are lightweight and free from breakage.

The technology for the manufacturing of paper cups continues to develop.

New cups can emerge to encourage and expand the range of items, all thanks to new and better technology.

Make a DIY Paper Cup

This DIY is a simple paper cup that can be made at home with pretty much any kind of paper.

You will need:

  • 1 piece of regular printer paper
  • Scissors


  1. Get a standard piece of paper.

  2. Fold the paper from the top right area to the bottom to match the other side.

  3. Use scissors to cut the excess section at the bottom of the piece of paper.

  4. Now that you’ve cut off the extra bit, the result is a triangle. Take one bottom corner and fold it around the center of the other side to make a triangle on the end.

  5. Do the same thing for the other corner and fold it close, so it doesn’t show up again.

  6. Fold the triangles you made to the top down on both sides firmly.

  7. Stick your thumbs in the center of your hand and crack it open.


Paper cups are typically covered in plastic or wax, which keeps the cup waterproof for at least 48 hours.

However, after a while, the paper cup will get soggy. After you let the water settle, it will gradually permeate the plastic or wax and leave the cup soggy.

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