POP! from the Kettle: Coke Zero Pops Leak in Extreme Heat

by Melody Kettle

We've all heard the stories of people leaving children or pets in cars with tragic results. These stories grab headlines but usually occur during a period of extreme heat leaving many to think that if temperatures are not of the record breaking variety everything will be just fine. Wrong!

Compared to last week, current temperatures are downright chilly, but they still can turn the car into an oven quickly. Case in point, a case of Coke Zero. Picked up in the morning, the soda was on the rear seat as the day's errands were being run. The journey included Home Depot, Party City for 4th of July clearance items, a detour to the library to return some books, then back to Kings because I forgot the Sriracha. The air conditioner was running the whole time I was driving, so it seemed cool enough. Nope.

But the time I pulled in the driveway I heard an odd hissing sound coming from the back of the car. No way. Some of the cans of soda were hissing as it must have gotten hot enough to really build the pressure inside the cans while the car was parked. The first can out of the case has a small pinhole that was gurgling soda at the seam between the top and side of the can, three more had popped along the pop-top opening. The big surprise was the can whose lid burst off under the extreme pressure that was building up inside.

At no time in the travels of the day did the car seem so hot that I would have thought anything like this would happen. It was very warm, but as soon as the AC was on things were great.

The obvious lesson about the dangers of hot cars and children or pets is obvious, but now I wonder how many people might have done similar things unknowingly with canned or jarred food items.Under pressure those items can become dangerously explosive, of course there is a whole other set of dangers posed by the seals that break and then appear normal once the product cools down - is there a bacterial risk? Its not worth the risk to find out. Moving forward in warmer weather I'll forgo the combined trips, or perhaps bring those sealed items into the next errand with me on one of the dozen or so reusable grocery bags that are behind my passenger seat.