Abstract It is well known that graphite can absorb large quantities of water, which can represent an abundant source of oxygen impurities in fusion plasmas if the corresponding components are not properly outgassed. We have outgassed various fusion-relevant graphites (e.g., POCO AXF-5Q) for 1.5 h at 1500 ° C to release absorbed water and have subsequently exposed the samples to air for various periods of time. Re-absorption of water during the air exposure was estimated by measuring the amount of water produced in subsequent outgassing runs. The results show that the amount of water re-absorbed increases by a factor of approximately 10 within 8 h compared to the sample in the outgassed state but with no air exposure. The water content of the ‘as received’ material is reached after approximately 30 days. Re-absorption of water was significantly reduced by purification of the investigated graphite samples. This purification process, which consists of heating the sample at 2800 ° C for 30 min in an argon atmosphere, reduces the levels of trace impurities which can be responsible for catalytic surface reactions on the internal surfaces of the graphic. After exposing an outgassed sample to an electron cyclotron heated plasma followed by 1 h air exposure, the amount of water desorbed was observed to increase by a factor of 6. Data will be presented to correlate this effect with trace impurities.