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Cool Science - Crushing Cans

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Cool Science - Crushing Cans

If your recycling bin is full of aluminum cans, why not use science to help crush the cans and make room in your bin!

Fill a bowl with cold water. Then put enough water to cover the bottom of the soda can. Place the can directly on the stove burner and turn up the heat. Once you hear a bubbling sound in the can leave the on the burner for 1 more minute.

Make sure you do this next part quickly. Using tongs, get good grip on the can near the bottom edge. Then lift the can off of the burner, flip it over and put the mouth of the can into the cold bowl of water.

So what force is great enough to crush the can?

Before we heated the can it was full of air and water. But when the water boiled, it changed from a liquid to a gas or water vapour. The water vapour pushed out all the air that was in the can.

When the can was placed in the cold water upside down, the water vapour cooled and condensed back into water. But the water took up less space as a liquid than it did as a gas. This caused the pressure inside of the can to suddenly drop. Since the air pressure on the outside of the can was higher than inside it, the can imploded.

Now that’s cool science!

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