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Will Cans Explode in Checked luggage? (Can You Bring Cans On A Plane)

exploded pop can

There’s an urban legend about soda cans, or even beer cans popping spectacularly on aircraft flights.

While it’s common knowledge that the cabin is a safe place to sip your favorite soda, and can you bring soda on a plane in your carry-on bags or not, especially since the cabin crew/flight attendants frequently serve soft drinks to patrons, the cargo hold is another story, as it’s pressurized.

Hardly anyone except the aircraft crew takes a look down there, so it’s no surprise that people wonder if their sodas in plastic bottles and other important drinks or cans (canned drinks) are safe.

So will soda cans explode in checked luggage? OR can you take canned drinks in checked baggage?

It’s possible, yes, but not very likely. 

Here is why, while there exists a chance that pressure changes in the cargo hold will cause damage to a soda can and thus give the carbon dioxide a chance to expand rapidly, the cargo hold would have to lose complete pressurization.

The soda cans would have to be exposed to this sudden change in pressure for a real explosion to occur.

It’s much more likely that any pressure changes in an aircraft cargo hold will cause your soda to leak or spray a small amount onto the surrounding cargo.

Aircraft cargo holds are pressurized by default, so the chances of complete depressurization are low.

In any event, a depressurized cargo hold would cause bigger issues for an aircraft than worrying about the pack of soda it was carrying. 

It’s much smarter to worry about preserving the rest of your cargo and keeping your cans intact from leaks than worrying about them exploding.

After all, your soda won’t be as good if it’s lost all its carbonation by the time in Air Travel you’ve landed from your flight.

So you have to know, will cans explode on a plane?

  That said, I do use neoprene sleeves to wrap mine when I travel, and you can get these here.  

Do cans explode on planes?

Cans can burst or leak if they are punctured or damaged.

This can happen during takeoff or landing when the cabin pressure changes rapidly. To prevent this, airlines require that all liquids, including canned drinks, be placed in a quart-sized clear plastic bag.

This bag must be sealed and placed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of the passenger.

In addition, some airlines have restrictions on the type of cans that are allowed on a plane.

For example, they may prohibit aerosol cans, as these contain pressurized liquids that can be dangerous if they explode or leak.

In conclusion, while cans do not explode on a plane, it is important to take precautions to prevent leaks or ruptures.

By following the airline’s guidelines and properly packing liquids, passengers can ensure that they arrive at their destination with their drinks intact.

Can you bring canned drinks on a plane?

Yes, you can bring canned drinks on a plane, but there are some restrictions that you need to be aware of.

Most airlines allow you to bring cans of soda, juice, or other non-alcoholic beverages in your carry-on or checked luggage.

However, there are some limits on the number of liquids that you can bring on board.

According to the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), you can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on and checked bags.

These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

If you carry canned drinks in your checked luggage, ensure they are packed properly to prevent them from spilling or leaking.

You can put them in a plastic bag or wrap them in bubble wrap to prevent any damage.

It’s also important to note that canned drinks that contain alcohol are subject to different rules and regulations. Alcoholic beverages with more than 24% alcohol content are prohibited in carry-on and checked luggage.

However, you can bring smaller containers of alcohol with less than 24% alcohol content, but they still have to be packed in your checked luggage.

In conclusion, you can bring canned drinks on a plane, but you must follow the TSA’s rules and regulations for liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes.

Be mindful of the amount of liquid you’re bringing and pack it properly to prevent any damage during the flight.

The Pressurized Cargo Hold & Soda Cans On A Plane (at HIGH Altitude)

Most commercial airline cargo holds are pressurized, just like the main cabin.

Suppose you ever look at a cross-section of a regular commercial aircraft.

In that case, you’ll notice that the round shape of the fuselage (just like a SODA Can or bottle) helps to disperse pressure and withstand pressure changes as the aircraft goes from higher to lower altitudes or vice versa.

Curved fuselages are much more efficient at withstanding bulkhead pressures and can protect passengers and cargo.

aluminium cylindrical shapeNaturally, the cargo hold is within this curve fuselage and rests on a flat surface connected to the fuselage’s curvature.

This helps maintain a normal amount of pressure inside the cargo hold despite the crazy elevation changes that take place during the regular flight.

It’s for this reason that pets can be transported in the cargo hold from place to place; they wouldn’t be able to survive the pressure change if the cargo hold wasn’t properly pressurized.

However, cargo holds occasionally undergo pressure changes far greater than those in the cabin with Millions of soda cans.

Like all systems of an aircraft, minor malfunctions can occur at any time.

These malfunctions are not always catastrophic.

Sometimes it’s just a slight dip in pressurization, but even a slight change can cause fluids to leak from their containers or other damage to occur to cargo.

For instance, soda being transported without being wrapped in other protective material may experience a slight pressure change in the ambient environment, causing the soda to expand.

This expansion can strain the can or other container and cause leaking or popping, although a full-on soda explosion is highly unlikely.

In order for a soda can to actually explode, the pressure change would have to be very quick and very intense.

What about beer cans on a plane, in checked luggage?

Will cans of beer explode on a plane?

  • The same principles apply to soda cans. 
  • They are both fizzy carbonated beverages with sugars. 

You can take them on board with your carry-on bags, and It’s highly unlikely they’ll explore, BUT you should still wrap them properly in your checked luggage as there’s more chance of it happening there, unlikely BUT possible. 

So that IF it were to explode or burst through being knocked around them, your clothes would be safe.

Teleporting a soda to the top of Mount Everest would likely do the trick, but since you can’t accomplish that with modern technology, the worst you’ll ever have to worry about is soda (or beer) leaking over the rest of your cargo.

Temperature Changes To Your Can Of Soda (Fizzy Drinks)

Temperature changes can also affect whether or not your soda manages your aviation journey intact.

frozen soda pop can exploded

Image Courtesy of Jackie

Warmer temperatures cause fluid to expand and the surface tension of a soda beverage to become weaker.

Put simply, warmer temperatures make soda more likely to foam and froth.

Therefore, a cargo hold that is warmed after hours of flight in the sun may add to a potential leak and cause soda and cola bottle foam to expand all over your cargo.

On the flip side, cold cargo holds will contain your soda for longer, even if minor pressure (atmospheric pressure) changes occur.

The surface tension of the liquid will increase rather than decrease, keeping the beverage (Alcoholic beverage) inside the can stable.

Of course, most modern cargo holds are already temperature-controlled, and the temperature can even be adjusted from the aircraft’s cockpit.

The walls of the cargo hold are typically insulated both for fire protection and to keep cargo from becoming too cold since the temperature at cruising altitude is frequently freezing.

All in all, both temperature and pressure variations in the cargo hold are not usually enough to cause damage to your soda and mini wine bottles. But malfunctions can occur, so you may occasionally experience a leak or malfunction in the seal of your soda can or bottle anyway.

How Attitude Pressurization Can Harm a Soda Can (or Beer Can)

A sudden or extra pressure change can cause critical damage to a soda can if it happens quickly.

Basically, ambient pressure can best be thought of as the force exerted on the can in all directions.

This surface-level pressure is brought about by gravity and the surrounding atmosphere at most ground-level elevations.

However, the air pressure is much less intense at high altitudes (such as those frequently used for commercial aircraft).

Air isn’t as crowded at higher altitudes, so less pressure is exerted on all surfaces after a certain point.

Two a can of soda, gives license to the carbon dioxide to expand and attempt to escape.

The carbon dioxide in soda is normally bonded to water, but these bonds can break under the right circumstances.

The lower surface tension of the soda combined with less ambient pressure means that it’s a lot easier for the CO2 molecules in a can of soda to bubble up and expand.

This is a recipe for rapid expansion and an explosion if everything happens fast enough.

That being said, pressure changes, if they happen slowly and two small degrees, are more likely to cause slight damage to a can instead of a catastrophic, sticky explosion.

Aluminum cans are likely to bend or crack under stress as a result of pressure changes.

It’s these slight cracks and injuries that allow soda to leak through onto the rest of your cargo.

Alternative Solutions For Packing Soda Cans  (Checked Luggage)

Although your can of soda isn’t likely to explode, it’s still better to transport soda and other carbonated beverages in ways other than simply throwing them in your luggage and hoping for the best.

Your checked luggage likely has other items, like clothes or souvenirs, that you don’t want to be covered in Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

Thankfully, there are several solutions and SIMPLE TRICKS you can use to transport carbonated beverages like soda, in your checked luggage without as much risk.

So, how can you bring a 12 pack of soda on a plane? 

Firstly, you can wrap your soda in bubble wrap or a similarly insulated material and store it with the rest of your luggage.

While this doesn’t necessarily combat the risk of pressure damage to the can from a poorly maintained cargo hold, such an insulator will protect the rest of your cargo from any fluid that leaks out of the can.

Of course, you end up losing a little bit of the soda itself, but it’s still better than having to wash your clothes of soda stains immediately upon disembarkation.

Another cost-effective soda protection method is placing each can in an individual Ziploc bag.

Placing the cans in sealed Ziploc bags serves two purposes.

  • First, it protects the rest of your cargo in the event of a can leaking.
  • Secondly, it forms a second pressurized seal that can defend the can from pressure damage if the cargo hold malfunctions in some way.

Taken together, most cans of soda should be perfectly safe if you put them in a Ziploc bag and surround them with bubble wrap or another insulating material.

The odds of real damage being done to your cans with both of these methods combined are low.

Plus, the rest of your clothing or luggage will be totally protected in the event that a can does leak somehow.

foam packaging for sodaAlternatively, you can use a special beer, soda, energy drink, fizzy Coke, or wine container to transport your carbonated goods from place to place.

These containers are the same size as typical cases of luggage and are usually packed with Styrofoam.

Styrofoam has special places cut out of its mass where you stick cans of soda or bottles of wine.

The Styrofoam acts as an insulating material and the case seals shut.

The case acts as an additional barrier against pressure changes since even a depressurized cargo hold won’t cause the internal pressure inside the case to change. 

Not really needed for your carry-on luggage, though.

But still is the safest way to transport soda in the hold if you want to be 100% sure it’ll make it to your destination without damaging it.

These cases can be expensive, however. They are normally used for beer or wine, and the price reflects this intention.

While you can use them for soda normal bootle, most people aren’t serious enough about transporting soft drinks to develop specific cases for this issue.

  And, as I said, I do use neoprene sleeves that act as great insulation –  you can get these here.  

Featured Image by nathanmac87 @ Flickr

Can you take soft drink cans on a plane to Australia?

I got this question from one of my readers.   

Simply put, can you take cans on a plane?

Yes, you can take soda cans on a plane, and you can even take beer cans on a plane.

But if they go into the Pressurized hold with your checked luggage and not in your carry-on bags, you should pack them safely.

If only to protect your clothing should they be knocked around in bad weather and burst through impact, rather than a cabin or hold pressure