Its a bright afternoon, the sun is so blazing hot, so you decide to chill and relax with a can of soda. But, spoiler: just as you pop open the can, it bursts out like a cold spring rushing out of a hole. That awkward moment when your soda bursts out into your face. But it seems that can change if you just understood a little bit of chemistry and physics — its all about having to deal with some gases and pressure.
Related media: Tip – How To Open A Shaken Can Of Soda
Pop Science: Gas And Pressure
There are two types of tapping on a soda can to prevent it from exploding out: tapping on top of it, or tapping on the side. Either way, just one of these taps will really help you out — but only if you know which one is correct. To figure out how to tap your soda can correctly, let’s take a crash course on what makes sodas fizzy in the first place to begin with.
The bubbles in a soda are comprised of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, and the can itself is pressurized (under high pressure) to keep the gas fully dissolved in the soda. Once the can is pop opened, the pressure drops and allows the dissolved CO2 gas to return back into gas, which rises to the top, and as the air outside (under low pressure), it escapes with force.
Obviously, its pretty hard for CO2 to form bubbles in a soda can without disturbing it. This is because the surface tension of the liquid in combination with the pressure, requires a lot of energy for the gas molecules to be separated in the liquid molecules. Turbulence, that is, shaking the can, creates bubbles on its own, however.
Once bubbles are formed, its a lot easier for those bubbles to get bigger — that’s because the larger a bubble’s surface area, the less energy required to break surface tension and increase the number of molecules inside. This is the reason why sodas like diet soda fizzes so much more than other regular sodas. The surface tension in regular sodas are higher than the average diet soda.
Diet Coke and Pepsi, Coke Zero, and many other sugar-free sodas are sweetened with aspartame. Just as soap in a liquid, aspartame serves as a “surfactant,” lowering the surface tension of the soda better than that of sugar does. What this means is that, the lower the surface tension, the less energy is required by the gas molecules to dissolve in diet soda for bubbling — resulting in way more foam than other sugar flavored sodas.
Now that you know why sodas fizz, how do you keep it from happening?
Tapping It? You Got It Right
The best way is to just exercise some patience and wait, since the calmer the soda is, the fewer the bubbling effect, which will result in a lower surface tension, and thus no kaboom, explosions. But remember, its easier to make an already formed bubble get bigger than it is to form a bubble in the first place. But to where the heck with all this chemistry, you just want to enjoy your soda right now.
So an ideal way for you is to freeze the soda, since lower temperature means lower pressure, which means less of a pressure difference when you finally crack open the can. You see, you still have to wait a while, patiently. But yes, tapping the soda can can actually help. Since the bubbles form via turbulence, they usually get stuck to the sides of the soda can.
This is the idea, if you can free those bubbles on the sides, they’ll rise up to the top, forming one huge bubble, that harmlessly escapes as gas when you pop open the soda can, instead of rushing out along with the soda.
Its Just A Tap
But here’s the catch: most people focus on tapping on the top of the soda can. This neglects the bubbles clinging to the sides and bottom of the soda can, letting them free to rush out violently when the pressure is released. But if you happen to be tapping on the sides of the soda can, you might be able to free up those bubbles to the top, letting them escape harmlessly.
Here at The Factionary, we experimented with the two different tapping methods, and behold, we were thoroughly impressed by the power of the tap, side tapping is. Give it a try on your next can of soda!
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Mar 03, 2019.