MHS Chemistry
Air Pressure & Soda Cans

empty soda can
Bunsen burner
metal tongs


  1. Fill a pan with water to about ½ inch from the top.
  2. Measure the diameter and height of the can.  Use this to calculate the surface area and volume.
  3. Read the room pressure from the barometer in the back of the room.
  4. Determine the mass of the dry soda can.
  5. Fill the can to the tippity toppity and determine the mass of the can full of water.
  6. Empty all but a few drops of the water from the can.  Grip it gently in the tongs with your palm up and heat it over a Bunsen burner.  Move it around slightly so it doesn’t burn through.
  7. Observe the clouds coming out of the top.  When the cloud disappears, quickly flip the can so the top goes flatly into the water.  Observe.  Repeat.
Data & Results - show all your calculations.
    2.    diameter of can                                       __________ in.

            height of can                                          __________ in.

            surface area of can (from d & h)         __________ in.2

            volume of can (from d & h)                  __________ in.3

    3.    pressure of room                                     __________ mmHg

           pressure in room                                     __________ lb/in.2

    4.    mass of empty can                                   __________ g

            mass of can full of water                        __________ g

    a.    Calculate the total force on the outside of the can, in pounds.
           (this is the force that crushed the can!)

    b.    What was the cloud coming out of the top of the can?

    c.    Why won’t reheating the can cause it to re-inflate?

   d.    Mass of water in can                                 __________ g

    e.    Volume of can (from water, in “d”)         __________ mL

    f.    Volume of can in in3                                 __________ in3
          (1 in. = 25.4 mm; 1 mL = 1 mm3)

    g.    Assume the volume you calculated in “f.” is the “correct” volume.
           Calculate the percent error in the volume you calculated in #2?

[Air Pressure & Soda Cans score sheet][MHS Chem page]