Rip a pop-can in half with your hands

Ripping a pop can in half with your bare hands is not all that hard if you know a bit of chemistry and a little about how soda cans are fabricated. The key, is the plastic liner that coats the inside of the can. In order to protect the aluminum can from the carbonic acid in sodas, can manufacturers coat the inside of a can with a plastic liner. The liner also protects the inside of beer cans as well.

[jwplayer file=”/content/video/Imag It/Imag it 31 – 20110402 – Can ripper.mp4″ image=”/content/video/Imag It/Imag it 31 – 20110402 – Can ripper.jpg”]

Now, I suppose, if you were really strong you could rip any can in half with your bare hands. In order to make it a for-sure thing for this demonstration, I used a bit of chemistry knowledge to etch the can.

I started by making a scratch around the inside of the can. This scratch cut through the plastic liner that protects the aluminum can. After creating this scratch, I added a 0.5 molar solution of copper chloride to the can. This solution etched nearly through the aluminum in roughly 10 minutes. In fact, the can was nearly leaking after ten minutes. At this point I knew that the aluminum was etched away enough to allow a very clean “rip-apart”.

In order to create the see-through can you see in the video I did nearly the opposite. First, sanding away the paint on the outside of the can exposed the bare aluminum. Then a careful soak in a copper chloride solution etched away the aluminum, leaving behind the internal plastic can liner. This is a tedious process since the liner is very thin and it’s very, very easy to break the plastic while holding or moving the can around while etching.

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