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r/explainlikeimfive
5.1k
Posted by2 months ago

eli5: Why are soup/food cans so much more robust than beverage cans, even though both cans are made to withstand the pressure of being stacked vertically for shipping and storage?

Crushing a soda can is easy, crushing a soup can is way harder. The soup cans are also often corrugated. What explains the difference?

Edit: thanks for the responses all. The consensus is that can drinks are pressurized, which makes them stronger in general when sealed, so they can get away with using less material. Also, food/soup cans need to be able to withstand high temps since people cook them directly in the can apparently.

545 comments
94% Upvoted
level 1

Soda cans are pressurized, and a lot of their strength comes from that fact. Much like an inflated balloon can hold its shape, and a deflated one can’t. If one takes an intact can, a person can readily stand on it without issue. Open the can and release the pressure, and the can will crumple under the same weight.

Soup cans usually have foods where pressurizing doesn’t make sense, either because the can needs a wide opening or because the food shouldn’t be fizzy. So therefore the can itself needs to take the weight without depending on internal pressure to keep it rigid.

7.3k
level 2

I now have a strange urge to try carbonated soup…..

2.8k
level 2

Also more pressure (soda) vs vacuum (food). Food is canned hot, sealed, and then as cools develops a vacuum as liquids contracts. Takes more strength to then self support under a vacuum, even slight.

175
level 2

Soup cans usually have foods where pressurizing doesn’t make sense, either because the can needs a wide opening or because the food shouldn’t be fizzy. So therefore the can itself needs to take the weight without depending on internal pressure to keep it rigid.

Soup cans contents (and most other canned food items) are often under a vacuum which means that the can needs to be able to hold the weight of cans stacked on it plus the pull of the vacuum. The vacuum helps ensure that bacteria which may have survived the canning process have no access to oxygen and the lack of oxygen also helps any fat content to not go rancid.

46
level 2

Can you imagine opening a can of carbonated soup that you dropped? You'd have an Old Faithful geyser of minestrone.

29
level 2

If one takes an intact can, a person can readily stand on it without issue. Open the can and release the pressure, and the can will crumple under the same weight.

This is a party trick I've discovered - if you are very careful, you can literally stand on a single empty soda can. Idk how it works, but most people are willing to take a bet that you couldn't put your entire weight on it without crumpling.

17
level 2

Fun fact: the external tanks for the space shuttle were relatively thin and had to be stored pressurized or they'd crumple under their own weight.

32
level 2
· 2 mo. ago

Soup cans are sealed while hot, resulting in a slight vacuum at room temperature. Any soup can which doesn’t suck in air when initially punctured should be thrown out immediately.

8
level 2
5
level 2

Dated a girl who’s family ran a coke distribution center. She told me a story of a time when a worker stacked a bunch of lemonade (no CO2) on the bottom of a stack of pallets. Since they lacked the extra pressure from being charged with CO2 (they still have pressure just not as much), the weight of the upper pallets of soda crushed the lower pallets of lemonade, causing a very sticky mess in the warehouse.

19
level 2

Fun fact - when weight lifting the same concept applies. For doing something like a squat or deadlift, you want to breath in a huge breath and “push out” your abdomen before the rep. A lot of people think you’re suppose to flex your muscles but that’s not fully true.

18
level 2

So if you were to somehow fill a soda can with flat soda would it still crush under the same weight?

3
level 2

Seems counterintuitive to me that I can get a nickel for returning a flimsy soda-can, but not a stout stew can.

9

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