Here's How To Stop A Frozen Soda Can From Exploding

Sometimes life can just get the best of you. Little things can just put a damper on your day or be slightly annoying. Having a frozen can of soda explode is one of them. If you winced a little while reading, you know how horrible the experience can be. However, according to NBC News, the occurrence can be more than just annoying, it can be dangerous, as one young boy in China found out (stitches included). With that in mind, is there any way to stop a frozen can from exploding? The answer is yes. There are a few ways to prevent the annoyance, but depending on which trick you use, it could take a while. Nevertheless, one hack — wrapping the frozen can with a damp, warm towel — might be the quickest method.

Granted, using a flash-freezing method to make frozen soda slushies is excellent. Nonetheless, nobody wants a rock-solid soda, primarily because it can be a volatile situation. So, this trick might be worth it since the principles behind the process are backed by science. In this case, thermodynamics makes this trick possible. Here's how.

What happens inside a frozen soda and why a warm towel can help

Despite the widespread idea that soda has the tendency to explode when frozen due to water expansion (which soda has in ample amounts), it's the carbon dioxide inside the can that has a tendency to be truly volatile. Live Science explains that the gas inside those soda bubbles is the actual hazard causing exploding cans. "Once [carbon dioxide] has been forced out of the water as water crystallizes, the carbon dioxide accumulates in the small remaining space in the can and the pressure of that gas skyrockets." This is what can cause your can to rupture when it's frozen instead of nicely chilled.

Still, that's not to say that water doesn't play a part in helping that icy soda become a bomb. When water freezes, it can swell with tremendous strength — "up to tons per square inch," according to Encylopedia Brittanica. This can also cause the can to explode. Thus, bringing the can back to a normal temperature can help reduce the risk of explosion. Nevertheless, there are a few hurdles to watch out for when attempting this hack.

What to avoid when heating a carbonated can with a paper towel

Because a soda can's freezing rate can vary depending on how much sugar it contains (the sugar in regular soda slows down the process of freezing), thawing a diet beverage might take a bit longer. Either way, you must be careful when rapidly unfreezing a carbonated drink. After all, the can will still be under a lot of pressure as you proceed. That's why most suggest a safer approach, like placing the item in a sealed container (in case of popping) and in the fridge to defrost or simply thawing it on a countertop. Of course, these alternatives will take longer than the paper towel method. 

Nonetheless, you can use a warm, moist towel if you're in a hurry. Remember that the keyword here is warm, not hot  — this trick follows the same methods and scientific principles as defrosting in the more traditional manner so higher heat might be too much of a change and cause the can to explode anyway. So, while wrapping a frozen soda can with a warm towel may be a nifty, speedy way to salvage your beverage successfully, proceed with caution, and when in doubt, use the fridge or countertop method.