Why do cans explode when shaken?

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Yannis Guerra

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Why do cans explode when shaken?
« on: 12/02/2011 23:30:02 »
Yannis Guerra  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hello Naked Scientists!

My question has to do with soda (pop) cans. Why when you shake them and then later open them, they burst out in foam?. If you don't shake them they release just a little bit of gas when you open them, so I can't be that you are dissolving extra gas. Also you are not decreasing the volume of the can, so it shouldn't be an increase in pressure.

Thanks and hopefully you can answer this question that has been bubbling in my mind (pun intended!)

Yannis Guerra
Chicago, Illinois

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 12/02/2011 23:30:02 by _system »


Offline bardman

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Why do cans explode when shaken?
« Reply #1 on: 18/02/2011 03:53:37 »
An unshaken can has a thin layer of pressurized air at the top (thus the leak of air when cracked). When you shake it, you distribute the air throughout the rest of the liquid (though probably not completely). Thus, the air is not just pushing down on the liquid (like in the unshaken case), the air mixed in the liquid is exerting pressure outward in all directions, it can only escape out the top. Thus, liquid is forced out the top and is foamy from the air content mixed in.