boiling tin cans - death risk - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 12-12-2010
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boiling tin cans - death wish

I have been in the habit of throwing unpeirced tin cans into a saucepan of water - usually two on their sides and bringing the pan slowly to the boil
simmering for a while and then opening the cans and eating the food.

This saves on washing up and allows the cooking of two or more ingredients in one saucepan - you also have the pan of hot water left over for doing the washing up with

I put a film up of this technique on the bottom of my website Keep Turning Left and also mentioned this idea on a british yachting forum

the next thing I knew was I got this posting from an illustrious and well respected UK yachting journalist quoting me



'cooking food in the cans - just boil them in the saucepan surrounded by water - they have never yet exploded - let them cool a little - and serve straight from the tin - no washing up'

I'm concerned that you've published this tip twice recently. I agree, boiling a can in a kettle is a good idea but please, please, put a hole in the top first. Water wont get in 'cos the internal pressure is pushing steam out - simple physics. But a school contemporary of mine is probably still recovering from the results of a tin of baked beans blowing up in a pan of boiling water.
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I sat on the naughty step for a while. Then decided to ask a higher authority

namely the denizens of sailnet to see if I could find anyone -anywhere - who has managed to explode a tin can by immersing it in boiling water.
Needless to say if you put a tin can on an open fire something like this will happen -

YouTube - Being Stupid 101 - Exploding Tomato Soup Can

but is just boiling them on a single ring on the slug a physical manifestation of my own death wish?

So has anyone witnessed an exploding can - or is this an urban myth/old wives tale?
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Last edited by dylanwinter1; 12-12-2010 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 12-12-2010
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Had a crew member put a can of beans on an engine exhaust manifold and it BLEW UP! He spent a week cleaning that engine compartment.

So in other words; It is a very very BAD Idea to heat unopened cans of any sort. It is hazardous to your safety and to the boats.

DON'T DO IT!!!
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Old 12-12-2010
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I think the key is that you are starting with the cans in cold water and slowly raising the temp. If you dropped the cans in a rapidly boiling pot, i think it may be a different story.
Keep in mind that I was a liberal arts major, and my engineering and science background is largely theoretical, and/or self taught, punctuated by loud expletives and mutterings of "well, I won't do THAT again."
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Old 12-12-2010
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Eventually it could burst, but it will bulge first similar to how Botulism causes the cans to bulge due to gas production.
But there's no reason to not be careful.
It doesn't need to be fully submerged. You could break the top open with the can opener and fill the pan with enough water to submerge it 3/4's of the way with the can standing vertically in the pan. Your food will heat without any blockbuster movie style explosions and everyone on the internet will be happy.

Exposing it to direct heat will surely cause it to burst. The water prevents that.
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Old 12-12-2010
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I thought the concern might have come from lead poisoning from the solder in the cans. Early canning, which used lead soldering, ended up killing many crew on polar explorations as they tried to make it through winters. Modern cans don't have that problem. They are engineered to be as light and inexpensive as possible, however, which means explosions could easily result from steam generated by heating them.
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Old 12-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boasun View Post
Had a crew member put a can of beans on an engine exhaust manifold and it BLEW UP! He spent a week cleaning that engine compartment.

So in other words; It is a very very BAD Idea to heat unopened cans of any sort. It is hazardous to your safety and to the boats.

DON'T DO IT!!!
thanks for you certainty about cans on exhuast manifolds

but I am putting then into a suacepan of water and bringing to the boil

the contents of the cans cannot get hotter than that of the surrounding water which is bang on boiling point - no higher

can the contents of the cansget above boiling point if the ater around it is at boiling point

discuss - please write on just one side of a peice of paper.
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Old 12-12-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sublime View Post
Eventually it could burst, but it will bulge first similar to how Botulism causes the cans to bulge due to gas production.
But there's no reason to not be careful.
It doesn't need to be fully submerged. You could break the top open with the can opener and fill the pan with enough water to submerge it 3/4's of the way with the can standing vertically in the pan. Your food will heat without any blockbuster movie style explosions and everyone on the internet will be happy.

Exposing it to direct heat will surely cause it to burst. The water prevents that.
making a hole has two downsides

the casns then have to stand upright - this way I can heat two casns on their sides

being on their sides gives a two point conatact - or at worse a single line contact with the bottom of the can.

Also when upright and peirced I find that the conents always oozes a little and the water in the pan - which I want for wshing up will be contaminated.

hang an a moment chaps and a progressive thinker who knows some physics or some food tyechnology or even common US army practice will be along in a moment

have you looked at my film to see how I did it

Dylan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paulk View Post
I thought the concern might have come from lead poisoning from the solder in the cans. Early canning, which used lead soldering, ended up killing many crew on polar explorations as they tried to make it through winters. Modern cans don't have that problem. They are engineered to be as light and inexpensive as possible, however, which means explosions could easily result from steam generated by heating them.
It wasn't the lead solder that killed them, but the substandard canning which led to botulism. When the process was first discovered it was thought to be the answer for long term expeditions, but poor quality control led to trouble. The Franklin Expedition is the best known example.
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Old 12-12-2010
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In doing this, you need to make sure that the can is always completely covered with water. While the can is submerged in water, it can never be hotter than 212 degrees F (or 100 degrees C) which is the boiling point of water. However, if the can is exposed out of the water, the temperature can increase because the water vapor rising off the water can have a temperature higher than boiling water. This can cause the can to superheat and explode.

The technique of boiling a can in water is safe IF and only if the can stays completely submerged.

This is commonly used to make caramel by boiling sweetened condensed milk in the can. Here is an explanation of that How to Make Caramel from Sweetened Condensed Milk: 11 steps - wikiHow
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Old 12-12-2010
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Yesss - the first person who knows has turned up

although I am not sure about needing to completley cover it

I have never sone this can the vapour in the saucepan be hotter than 100 c

if so by how much - enough to make the contents of the can boil?

I would be asmazed but I do not know

is there a free thinking scientist out there?
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