Frostbite Theater

Here's a Question! - Steam Filled Can in Ice Water

A little bit of water is poured into an aluminum soda can. The can is placed on a heater and the water is brought to a boil. The can is picked up, turned upside down, and then slowly lowered into a bath of ice water. What happens to the can?

Announcer: Frostbite Theater presents... Cold Cuts! No baloney!

Joanna and Steve: Just science!

Joanna: Hi! I'm Joanna!

Steve: And I'm Steve!

Joanna: Here's a question for you...

Steve: A little bit of water is poured into an aluminum soda can.

Joanna: The can is placed on a heater and the water is brought to a boil.

Steve: The can is picked up, turned upside down, and then slowly lowered into a bath of ice water.

Joanna: What happens to the can?

Steve: Does it inflate like a balloon?

Joanna: Does it just sort of sit there?

Steve: Does it suddenly collapse in on itself?

Joanna: Or, does it whistle like a tea kettle?

Pause the video now if you'd like to think it over before we show you what happens.

Joanna: This can doesn't suddenly implode because the air pressure is the same inside the can as outside the can.

Steve: Putting the can in ice water cools the gas inside it. If a gas' temperature drops, and its volume stays the same, then its pressure drops.

Joanna: But, there's more to it that that. Remember, there was boiling water inside the can, so a lot of the gas in the can was water vapor, not just regular air. Putting it in the ice water cooled it enough to change it back to a liquid.

Steve: So, suddenly, a lot of the gas that was in the can wasn't gas anymore.

Joanna: This really lowered the pressure and the atmosphere did the rest.

Thanks for watching. I hope you'll join us again soon for another question!