MadSci Network: Other

Re: It's not *really* possible shake a soda can so hard it bursts, is it?

Date: Wed Apr 12 16:16:17 2000
Posted By: Sarah Earley, Grad student, CU Boulder
Area of science: Other
ID: 955474805.Ot

Hi Elissa,

I don't think it's really possible to shake a soda can enough that it 
bursts without doing anything except shaking it, either.  If you added 
enough heat (I'm guessing quite a bit of heat would be required) to the 
soda in the closed can, you could cause enough gas to be forced out of 
solution and into the air space to weaken the can enough to cause it to 
burst.  Exsolution of CO2 gas will occur in order to re-establish 
equilibrium of the system at the different temperature.  

You're right about equilibrium conditions between the amount of gas in 
solution and that in the air space in the closed can.  Though, apparently 
one CAN force a can to swell by shaking it if the soda is warm (that's what 
my source tells me, and I'm inclined to believe experimental evidence over 
my own reasoning).  I'm not exactly sure why this would be if the CO2 
dissolved in the soda were in equilibrium with the gaseous CO2 in the air 
space at the warmer temperature.  Maybe warming the soda without agitating 
it doesn't force carbon dioxide out of solution very rapidly, and only upon 
agitation does the gaseous CO2 leave solution with enough force to warp the 
integrity of the can.  I'm also not sure about your bubble formation idea, 
though that probably plays a role.

Whenever you heat water in a pot on the stove, dissolved gases in the water 
exsolve.  If you keep the lid on the pot and let the water boil, sometimes 
the lid will rattle a bit.  The same principle should apply to the soda.  
Since the exsolved gas is trapped in the can in this case, it will push 
against the sides of the can.  Theoretically, if the pressure of the 
exsolved CO2 on the sides of the can is great enough, the can should burst.  
Of course, the soda can makers have probably made sure that their cans can 
withstand the stresses that extreme environmental conditions on Earth and 
curious people might inflict on their cans.    

Sorry for the lengthy response.  Hopefully this explanation makes sense.

Sarah Earley
CU Boulder

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