Hot enough to explode a Coke can in a car

Mythbusters was wrong. A hot day can make a can of soda explode in a car.

And we have a photo from yesterday to prove it.

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This Coke can, left in a car, popped its top as temperatures climbed into the 90s on May 26, 2010. The can was in a cupholder in a Subaru at the Westmont High-Speed Line.

Today brings a more worrisome set of explosive conditions, with thunderstorms - potentially severe, with damaging winds and hail - expected starting this afternoon. Possible downpours pose a threat of localized flooding, especially along the Shore, according to the National Weather Service. The high is expected to hit the upper 80s. (For more on the forecast, go to http://go.philly.com/weather.)

Yesterday the temperature climbed to 92, making it the city's warmest day since August.

As heat built up all afternoon - the high was last reached shortly after 5 p.m. - it got hot enough to burst the top half-off a Coke can inside Marianne Gambardello's silver Subaru Impreza at the Westmont High-Speed Line Station.

"What a mess," she said to her husband, Joseph, an online editor at The Inquirer.

The can, which was not weakened by being previously frozen, was simply sitting in a cupholder in the center console. And the temperature outside didn't even threaten the record of 96, set in 1880.

Apparently, tests by the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters failed to make soda or aerosol cans explode until air temperatures reached about 300 degrees - hotter than any car would get.

Maybe testing a lot more cans would have found some unable to take the heat.

After a broadcast in July 2007, all sorts of people disputed the results on the Mythbusters website. Anecdotes mentioned all sorts of exploding cans - Dr Pepper, lemon lime and seltzer, as well as colas - from California to Louisiana to Maine.

This morning, an Allentown woman emailed a tale of how an exploding soda made her worry her Geo Storm had been struck by gunfire.

About 10 years ago, she had a six-pack of Coke in the trunk and was driving to her afternoon shift as a reporter for WAEB-AM.

"I heard a very, VERY loud BANG and thought someone had shot at my car," she wrote, after reading an initial version of this story.

She "freaked out" and started swerving, but was quite relieved that (a) she didn't crash, and (b) it was only exploding soda.

Not one of her coworkers believed her at first.

They told her it was an urban myth that soda cans explode in cars.

 


HAD A SODA CAN EXPLODE IN YOUR CAR? Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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