Experiment: can a pop bottle explode on the store shelf?


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/02/27/experiment-can-a-pop-bottle-e.html


Making things go boom for science a well honored tradition!


Chris says the caps are designed to come off before the bottles can explode, which is a relief


You can use the supplied caps to contain the pressure until explosion, which I know because I’ve done it.
My buddies at the deli had an uncle in the fire extinguisher biz, and for whatever reason that business includes trade in dry ice, so they always had a bunch of dry ice to screw around with. A half-full drink bottle with its cap put back on after adding a little dry ice to dissolve in the drink (or just water) will build the necessary pressure to make a bang you can hear for many blocks.


Note that these explosions are far bigger than what would happen in the store–air compresses, water does not. Try it with a full bottle and it’s nowhere near the bang.

And noahdjango’s observation isn’t all that relevant–a dry ice bomb means you have dry ice in contact with the bottle. That sort of temperature will weaken a lot of materials.


we did tests where the dry ice was kept from contact, and the bottles still blew. that reaction builds up plenty of pressure. same with drano and aluminium foil in a closed bottle of this style. same with…heck there are dozens of variations of the simple plastic bottle bomb.

louder for sure. still the same internal pressure required to break the bottle, but since the air compresses there is a lot more rapid expansion when it decompresses.



here, I’ll post it again:

Chris says the caps are designed to come off before the bottles can explode, which is a relief

my anecdote is in response to this assertion, not to the question posed in the headline to which you are responding. I never implied that a pop bottle could explode on a store shelf because I don’t think it can. But the cap will hold enough pressure if you rig the bottle to explode by other means. That is all.


I understand Champagne can explode in the wine cellar, if it’s not turned regularly.


As I understand caps, they’re designed to let the pressure out as you open it. It creates a vent that releases the pressure out the sides while still being locked on via the threads, rather than blow the cap off the bottle and hurt a person’s hand.


Yeah, I was going to say, I know people who have made CO2 bombs with some dry ice. I know kids also who made some chemical bombs and blew up a mail box or two.

Coincidentally, in this old school paintball group I am on, someone posted an old article on over filling CO2 bottles and the dangers, and a guy showed what happens when a 20oz bottle has 22oz and a steel burst disk. What he didn’t show was the Minimag that was BENT from the blast (these had steel bodies!) and he said it moved a pool table a foot. Fortunately, it wasn’t around anyone at the time it burst.


that makes a lot more sense and seems pretty reasonable.

They do sell grey plastic caps for 2 liter bottles with red rubber pressure diaphragms in the top that are intended to pop up to indicate the bottle is over pressure and if pressure builds further they eventually release before the bottle blows up or reaches failure. they are sold at most homebrewing shops. I’ve never seen one on any sort of retail product like soda though because the pressure isn’t increasing after capping and they are far below tolerance. i could see them being useful on kombucha, but never see it.



Another repeat offender here, though my preferred vapor is nitrogen rather than carbon dioxide. I’ve probably blown up about fifty 2-liter bottles, none of which lost the cap. The loud bang is much subdued if you tie the bottle to a lead brick so it can sink to the middle of a garbage can full of water, the water in which then goes up about two stories. (Also the water pipes in heat to the liquid nitrogen very efficiently, so the whole thing takes about a minute instead of 15.) Don’t try this at home, kids.


All I know is that I’ve had plenty of plastic bottles of pop “explode” by leaking around the cap, but I have never had one explode its walls. The main thing I learned from the video is that the plastic bottle deforms into near a balloon shape before it bursts, which I’ve never seen happen in my world (which doesn’t involve dry ice or drano or even Mentos in my pop bottles).


When I was a boy my dad did some homebrewing. Manually capped into stubbies (Canadian here). Stored them in the front door closet. One night they were out, so we had a babysitter. All quiet until “pop!”, then a few minutes later “pop!”; poor girl was very frightened since we couldn’t locate the source. It sounded muffled, so she thought it was outside, but very near the house.

It wasn’t too long before we noticed the river of beer coming from the closet…

I think he put too much sugar for bottle conditioning. Lost all 3 cases…


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