Aluminum can thickness

While crushing a lifetimes accumulation of aluminum cans this past weekend, I noticed that my foot met little opposition from various empty beer cans. They all crushed like paper. But my kids’ “soda/pop/softdrink” cans had a lot of “body.” Took quite a bit more effort.
So what is going on? Are the beer companies catering to macho guys who crush their beer cans by hand, or are the softdrink companies worried that my kids might have an accident?

More pressure in can of soda.Ask your kids they’ll say ,“Why do you think they call it pop,Pop?A can can explode!”

Signitorily yours, Mr John
" Pardon me while I have a strange interlude."-Marx

“More pressure in can of soda”

This “Pop” wants to know why.

WAG: Carbonation is added artificially to pop, and in order to keep it from going flat too quickly they need to add more. Beer OTOH gets its carbonation from fermenting and may not develop as much. Also the pop may release its CO[sub]2[/sub] more quickly than beer, higher viscosity etc.

Where I work, there’s a large amount of Hispanic workers (that’s landscaping for you) and I occassionally find a can of guava juice on the ground. When I lift the empty can to put it in the trash, I swear that the guava juice people must make those cans out of depleted uranium or something; they weigh a ton. Wonder why.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

The guava juice cans are made of steel, and plated with zinc on the inside to resist the acidity of the juice. They only feel heavy because you’re used to the featherweight aluminum cans.


“Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity.”~~G.K.Chesterton 1908

Two hose clamps and a beer can used to make a good patch for a hole in an exhaust pipe.(You got to empty the can first for one thing) I was gonna get rich once, I could either invest in an aluminum refinery or corner the market on church keys. I aint rich. (They used to GIVE those things away, now I can’t hardly find one.)

Based on observation of the way they behave when you pour them, I’d say that beer is nowhere near as carbonated as soda pop is. If beer fizzed the way Coca-Cola does, the head would last for hours.

Fun trick: if a soda can is not dented, you can stand on top of it. Put your foot on the can so that the top is just back of the arch. As long as you keep your weight centered above the can, it’s strong enough to hold even a fairly heavy person. Next, lower your other foot and gently tap the side of the can. It will collapse immediately. It’ll also collapse if you wobble too much when standing up, or if the can is already dented.

One definition of ‘needled beer’ is beer that has had aritficial carbonation added to hide it’s age or lack of complete fermentation. Beer carbonation is from one of yeast’s waste products,CO2. The alcohol is the other one. Once the fermentation is over ,that’s all ya gets.


Dunno if I buy the “more carbonation = thicker can” hypothesis. I base this on the fact that Yoo-Hoo cans are thick and heavy and Yoo-Hoo isn’t carbonated. The weight of a steel-can with coating as opposed to an aluminum can is a bit more plausible.

European pop cans are also heavier. Can’t tell you why.

“I think it would be a great idea” Mohandas Ghandi’s answer when asked what he thought of Western civilization

I am sorry,Voltaire, I have never had a Yoohoo. Is it in a steel can? Are you saying that there is another reason for soda pop cans to be thicker?

Scientific American had an article on Al can manufacture a couple of years ago, but I can’t find it on their website. Anybody got a back issue?

found it.

Scientific American, Sept '94, pg 48, William F. Hosford and John L. Duncan.

Doesn’t answer the question in the OP, but shoots down the “more pressure in soda” argument. Most beer is pasteurized in the can, producing up to 90 psi internal pressure.

The authors make no distinction between soda and beer can manufacturing techniques.

My own impromptu measurements also show no difference in thickness between Mt. Dew and Bud Light cans (.003") but I used a very cheap micrometer. However, I agree- the beer cans do seem to crush more easily.

My WAGs:
1: extra paint/decor on soda cans adds strength. (not bloody likely)
2: beer companies can afford better manufacturing equipment resulting in (unmeasurably) thinner cans.
3: different alloy.

I’m starting to like the idea that the cans are made out of different alloys in order to minimize the reactivity of the different contents.

Eureka …?

Submitted for peer review:

There is nothing different about the thickness of the materials. The difference is in the design.

Soda cans have slightly smaller lids (about .125" shorter across the diameter). The “necked-down” portion of the can (where the side meets the lid) forms a correspondingly greater angle with the vertical. So, for a vertically applied load, more of the force is distrtibuted radially in a soda can than it would be in a beer can. This radial force acts to stretch the top of the sidewall apart rather than buckle it.

Or, stated the other way around, for a beer can, a greater percentage of the applied force goes into buckling the wall. So less overall force is needed to crush the beer can.

Wadda ya think?

OK for what its worth ,from The Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising at
" The technical problems in canning soda was similar to those of canning
beer. The product was, however, more acidic, and the pressures of the
carbonation in soft drinks was somewhat greater. "
Omni, the cans have a plastic lining. the cans are pure aluminum,thats why they can be recycled.
pmh,your idea sounded good 'till i compared some different brands of beer,some had smaller rims than some soda cans.Jeeze,I’m sorry I shoulda realized some of yall might wanta help empUH ,empUH , empty some of the cans for rim to rim comparishon . I still got feelers out on the thickness issue.
I am kinda mistfied that it only took Mr twain, i mean sam a weekend to crush a lifetimes supply of beer cans. It takes me a week to do a weekends worth.


Two things:

Damon Runyon (during Prohibition): “… only it turns out the beer is not real, and by no means nice, being all needled up with alky, and full of headaches, and one thing and another.” (I knew there was a reason I had to read that again!)

And the beer can in my hand (Okanagan Spring Premium Lager) has a narrow top like a pop can.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

I haven’t given up on my premise yet.

I maintain the common beers (bud, coors, miller brands) have larger tops than the common sodas (coke and pepsi). At least this is the case I observed in my visit to the local market.

mr john and rjk, how much force do your small-top beer cans require to crush WRT soda cans?

Am I taking this too seriously yet?