Everyone has dropped a bottle of soda or accidentally shaken it up and opened it for it to spray all over them. To avoid a mess, you’ll want to wait or let some pressurized gas escape when you twist the cap. But how long does it take a shaken soda to settle?
The gas can take 30 minutes to several hours to settle in a shaken soda bottle. This depends on how badly the drink was shaken and how warm it is. The bubbles will disperse from the nucleation sites naturally or speed up the process by tapping the sides.
You can put your soda back in the fridge and leave it to settle, but this process can take several hours if badly shaken up. If the bottle isn’t badly shaken, you’ll be fine waiting half an hour.
While this isn’t a problem if you only need your sodas later, what if you are thirsty for that soda right now – can you speed up the settling process?
Tapping the sides really does work, but make sure it’s the sides and not the top – see the video of the clear bottle below to see how the bubbles inside reduce when tapped.
In this article, I researched some of the best ways to get around a sticky exploding soda bottle or can. I’ve included some tips on opening shaken sodas and will answer whether your soda is going to be flat when you come to open it. Let’s get started.
What Happens When Soda Is Shaken?
Soda contains pressurized carbon dioxide dissolved in the liquid. This turns into gas bubbles over time and bubbles up, leaving your drink flat eventually.
Nucleation is the process of newly created bubbles hooking to the sides of your bottle or can. Shaking a soda bottle makes it easier for the dissolved carbon dioxide in the liquid to nucleate. Gas bubbles form in your soda much faster than if you handled your soda carefully without shaking.
Once the dissolved gas is bubbled, they begin to vaporize faster as the bubbles join up. The released gas will leave the nucleation points and start accumulating at the top of the bottle, where you’ll notice space left.
If the soda is left to stand, eventually, the gas will begin to escape, and the drink will slowly go flat.
On the other hand, if you open the bottle immediately, the liquid bubbles and shoots out. This explosion happens because the mini whirlpools of microscopic bubbles you created when you shook the liquid create different pressure areas.
The tiny bubbles rapidly increase in size, creating more volume inside the bottle. When you twist off the lid, the expanded bubbles push the foaming liquid out as it explodes into an area of lower pressure.
You can only get these mini vortexes of bubbles by shaking the liquid, which is why shaking or dropping the bottle is necessary for the explosion of foamy soda.
How Do You Calm A Shaken Soda?
You could put your soda back in the fridge and wait 30 minutes for most cans or up to a few hours for the most shaken-up cans, but what if you want that soda right now?
Is there a technique to calm a shaken soda down so you can open it without creating an enormous fizzy mess? You can try a few things, depending on if you are dealing with a can or a bottle.
The methods either utilize tapping to disperse the nucleated carbon dioxide bubbles or allow a slow release of the pressurized gas. See full details on my post how do you calm a shaken soda.
Each method can have varying degrees of success, so I always advise opening your soda over the sink—just in case! Here’s how:
How To Open a Shaken Soda Can
While both cans and bottles of soda will experience the same whirlpool of nucleated bubbles when shaken, their different opening methods can change how you deal with them.
1. The Tapping Method
If you have a can of soda you’ve dropped or shaken, one thing you can try is to begin tapping your fingers over the sides of the can. Repeat this drumming for about ten to fifteen seconds.
This action makes the vortexes of tiny bubbles accumulating on the sides of the can begin to disperse. When you open your can, there won’t be all the varying pressurized areas inside waiting to explode.
This cool science experiment video from Sick Science! will show you just why that works:
You’ve probably seen people tap the top of a soda can to release the bubbles, but for the most part, the bubbles cling to the sides. Therefore, tapping the top of the can has minimal effect, so when they open their soda, there’s usually still some spray.
For the best results, you should tap the sides. So, next time you see someone tapping the top of the can, tell them to switch to drumming or flicking the sides and see what a difference that makes.
2. The Slow Ring Tab Pull Method
When you open the ring pull, pull the ring slightly with your index finger to release any gas that might have built up between the liquid and the seal. You might hear a slight hiss and have a few bubbles. After that has settled, pulling the ring tab open as usual is safe.
How To Open A Shaken Soda Bottle
Opening a bottle of shaken soda is pretty much the same, though the opening is slightly different.
1. The Tapping Method
With a bottle, you can try the tapping method around the sides, especially where the bottle begins to curve into the neck (this is where many bubbles accumulate). While this may not eliminate all the carbonated pressure, it will help, so it’s an excellent first step.
2. The Slow Twist Method
As with the can, you want to allow the built-up gas to escape slowly. You can do this by twisting the cap ever so slightly, pausing, and then giving another slight twist. You may hear a slight hiss of escaping carbon dioxide and see the bubbles fizzing in the neck of the bottle every time you do this.
When you no longer hear the hissing sound or see foaming bubbles, it’s safe to open the bottle cap completely.
How To Tell If A Soda Can Will Explode
You can’t always tell if a soda can will explode just by looking at it. Buying see-through bottles are better than cans as you can’t see what’s inside. What if you’re not sure if a can has been dropped?
Sometimes, a can is very obviously bulging out, which is likely a sign that the contents will explode when you open it. If you’re uncertain about your soda can, simply tap the sides a few times to release any gas nucleated along the inner sides and disperse them back into the liquid.
With a bottle, it’s usually much easier to see if the liquid has been shaken up, as most plastics are see-through or partially see-through. Usually, you can tell from the bubbles along the side and neck that the soda will likely foam if you open it.
One thing that can definitely make soda explode is freezing your sodas.
Does Shaking Soda Flatten It?
When you shake up a soda can, you know that the agitation speeds up the time it takes to release the carbon dioxide gas from the liquid. The gas forms bubbles, and these bubbles will eventually move to the surface of the liquid and disperse.
When you open up your soda and pour a glass, since most of the gas has already been released from the liquid, it will go flat sooner.
Much like stirring your glass of soda makes it go flat faster, any agitation – like shaking the bottle – decreases the time it takes for your drink to go flat.
Sodas do go flat over time even when the bottle or can is not opened. See how long this takes and what you can do to slow it down in my post Does Soda Go Flat If You Don’t Open It?
While it can take anywhere from half an hour to several hours for a shaken soda to settle, you don’t have to wait. Tapping the sides of a can or bottle will help the carbon dioxide gas bubbles hooked onto the side of the bottle to release and enter the air space.
After a few seconds of tapping the sides, it is usually safe to open your shaken soda bottle or can.