Even if you’ve never been on the wrong end of a shaken soda bottle, you’re likely aware that these fizzy drinks can explode if shaken or frozen and cause sticky chaos.
So how do you avoid product damage (and major messes) while shipping carbonated beverages?
Why do carbonated beverages explode when shaken?
Carbonated drinks contain carbon dioxide under pressure. In an unopened bottle or can, there is an equilibrium between the carbon that has been dissolved into the liquid and the carbon gas floating at the very top of the bottle.
But if you shake the bottle before opening it, some of the carbon that has been floating at the top of the bottle gets suspended in the liquid. This “extra” carbonation stays in larger (though not necessarily visible) bubbles than the already-dissolved carbon. If the container is opened at this point, the large bubbles will rise very quickly to the liquid’s surface, resulting in an explosion. (Source: Kitchn)
Why do carbonated beverages explode when frozen?
Liquid expands when it freezes, creating extreme pressure inside packaging. But frozen soda explosions are not due entirely to water expanding as it freezes, but to the resulting pressure put on an isolated pocket of C02.
Some materials, like flexible plastic, can expand and retract safely, but carbonated beverages in aluminum and glass bottles tend to burst when exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended period.
How to prevent carbonated beverages from exploding in transit?
If shipping carbonated beverages by parcel, USPS has specific guidelines available. But here’s the gist…
- Drinks must be secured with a reliable closure (screw top, soldering, clips, etc.)
- Shipping container or box must be strong enough to protect the contents
- Shipping container must be marked with the type of liquid
- Liquids must be cushioned appropriately in case they break and have something to absorb leakage
If moving pallets or truckloads of carbonated beverages, here is further advice.
Regulate Shipping Temperature – During winter months, or when traveling through extremely cold areas, shippers can take multiple steps to protect freight from freezing.
- Leverage temperature-controlled vehicles
- Use technology to monitor product temperature during transit
- Use pallet covers or insulating cargo blankets
- Try isolated heating solutions, such as built-in trailer compartments that facilitate targeted heating
Keep Things Sturdy – Prevent drinks from getting shaken up. While drinks likely won’t explode from being jostled, extreme movement can impact the integrity of the product or cause a pallet to fall over, in which case breakage is possible.
- Ensure the shrink wrap being used is strong enough
- Use more dunnage if you need it (airbags, foam, corrugated cardboard, molded plastic, blankets, etc.)
- Use load locks if you have to (straps, bars, lumbar, etc.)
- Avoid being stacked on top of other loads, if possible