Have you ever been prepping for a big party or barbecue only to realize at the last minute that you forgot to chill the sodas and sparkling waters? We've all experienced that moment of panic. Guests are due to arrive in 15 minutes, the burgers are sizzling on the grill, but the beverage cooler is filled with nothing but lukewarm cans and bottles! Yikes! In a moment of desperation, you might be tempted to toss all those cans and bottles into the freezer to rapidly cool them down. But before you fill up the freezer in a frenzy, stop and ask yourself:
Is freezing soda a brilliant party-saving hack or a fizzy mess waiting to happen? Will the cans and bottles withstand the icy temps unscathed? Or will you end up with a basement full of sticky soda explosions?
If you've ever considered the freezer as an emergency soda chiller, you've probably wondered about the bubbly consequences. Freezing soda seems like it could either save the day or create an epic fizzy fail. Well, wonder no more! In this article, we're getting to the bottom of the science behind freezing carbonated beverages. Read on to discover the frosty truth about whether or not rapidly freezing cans and bottles of soda, seltzer and other sparkling drinks is a party trick or party foul waiting to happen!
Why Does Soda Explode When Frozen?
Let's start with the basics: why does soda explode when it's frozen? The short answer is that the ingredients don't play nicely together at freezing temperatures.
See, soda contains carbon dioxide, which makes it fizzy. When soda is chilled in the fridge, the CO2 stays dissolved in the liquid. But when you put soda in the freezer, the CO2 and water start battling it out.
Here's how it goes down: as the temperature drops below freezing, the water in the soda begins to freeze and expand (water expands as it solidifies into ice). The CO2 gas also takes up more space as it gets colder. With two ingredients vying for space in the can or bottle, pressure starts building up. Before long, KABOOM! The pressurized CO2 ruptures the container to escape, resulting in a sticky soda-splosion.
So in summary:
- Soda contains CO2 gas and water
- Water expands when frozen, CO2 expands when chilled
- Both push against container, pressure builds
- Container ruptures, soda erupts
- Talk about a scientific reaction! Now let's look at what factors determine when sodas will blow their tops in the freezer.
The Freezing Time Depends on a Few Factors
How long can you freeze soda before BOOM? Well, a few key factors come into play:
Type of Soda
Diet sodas tend to freeze and explode faster than regular sodas. That's because the sugar or high fructose corn syrup in regular sodas lowers the freezing point, so it takes longer to solidify. The artificial sweeteners in diet sodas don't have this effect.
Container Size and Type
A can or bottle's size and material impacts freezing time too. Smaller cans freeze faster than 2-liter bottles. And plastic bottles are a bit more flexible than aluminum cans when pressure builds.
The colder your freezer, the less time it takes. A freezer set to 0°F will freeze soda faster than one at 20°F.
Recommended Freezing Times
Now for the freezing time estimates you've been waiting for!
- 12 oz can - 4 to 6 hours before exploding
- 7.5 oz mini can - Around 3 to 4 hours
- 20 oz plastic bottle - 5 to 6 hours
- 2 liter plastic bottle - About 6 hours
- If freezer is warmer, add 1-2 hours
As you can see, it doesn't take long for sodas to get slushy and angry in the deep freeze. I suggest setting a phone timer if you try freezing soda - you don't want to clean frozen Sprite off the ceiling!
Quick Cooling Tips for Soda
Okay, so you can't freeze sodas for long without explosions. But what if you need to chill them fast for a party? Here are some tips:
Freeze for 20 Minutes
Placing sodas in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes cools them down quickly without bursting. Set a timer and remove promptly!
Ice Bucket Method
Make an ice bath by filling a bucket with ice and water. Submerge sodas for 5-10 minutes. Add salt to the water to chill even faster!
Bonus tip: Wrap cans in paper towels before submerging to prevent water condensation.
Freeze 2-Liter Bottles Only Half Full
If freezing a 2-liter is your only option, leave it half empty. This provides room for ice expansion and slows the pressure buildup. Still set a timer for 4-5 hours max.
Is Freezing Soda Long-Term Possible?
What if you buy soda in bulk and want to freeze it for months? Surprisingly, you can freeze soda long-term without explosions by taking one key step:
Remove it from the can or bottle first!
- Carefully pour soda into freezer-safe, airtight containers
- Leave 1-2 inches of headspace for expansion
- Seal lids tightly
- Freeze away!
- Stored this way in a 0°F freezer, soda stays fresh for 6 months. Just thaw in the fridge before opening.
- Removing soda from cans and bottles prevents pressure buildup. Just be sure to use containers meant for freezing liquids.
FAQs about Freezing Soda
Here are answers to some common questions about this fizzy freezing experiment:
Does soda freeze solid into a block of ice?
Nope! The sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners act like a natural anti-freeze. Frozen soda becomes slushy but doesn't turn rock solid.
Is it possible to freeze soda cans without explosions?
Sadly, no. Even if you "open" the can first to release pressure, the expanding soda will rupture the can once frozen. Stick to plastic bottles if freezing cans is a must.
Can you re-freeze thawed frozen soda?
You can freeze thawed soda one more time, but the quality won't be as good. Re-freezing introduces more air into the soda, making it foamier.
What's the best way to thaw frozen soda?
For best results, thaw frozen soda slowly in the fridge overnight. Letting it thaw too quickly can ruin the carbonation.
Can you freeze canned sparkling waters and seltzers too?
Yep, carbonated waters and seltzers behave just like sodas when frozen. Expect explosions unless you take the recommended precautions.
BrainPOP: Perfectly Chilled Sparkling Sodas
After learning the soda science behind freezing sodas, you may be wondering: is there a better way to enjoy ice-cold bubbly beverages anytime? That's where BrainPOP's line of sparkling smart sodas comes in. Our naturally-flavored sodas contain brain-boosting nutrients and are:
- Chilled to perfection
- Bursting with bubbly flavor
- Canned for ultimate portability
- Never frozen, never exploding!
BrainPOP eliminates the need for freezer experiments. Just crack open an ice-cold can for instant fizzy refreshment, anytime.
Our sodas are expertly carbonated and flavored with natural extracts. And our proprietary formula provides a smooth, crisp tasting experience. No shaking frosty cans or cleaning sticky soda-plosions!
Next time you need chilled sodas fast, skip the freezer frenzy. Keep BrainPOP's sparkling smart sodas stocked in the fridge for party and everyday enjoyment. Crack open a cold one and drink in the refreshing taste of fizzy science!