If you’ve ever tried tapping the top or side of a freshly shaken soda can to minimize the explosive spray when opening it, you’re not alone. This common practice has been passed down as a soda-saving tip for years. But is there any scientific basis behind it, or is it merely an old wives’ tale? We decided to dive into this fizzy conundrum and conducted our experiment to get to the bottom of it.

The internet is awash with opinions on both sides of the can-tapping debate, but it seems that no one has put it to the test—except for Snopes. Even though Snopes experimented, their sample size was modest, consisting of just three trials. While a small sample size can sometimes yield meaningful results, Snopes’ findings were primarily anecdotal rather than backed by quantitative data. Consequently, we remained skeptical about accepting their conclusion as the final word on the matter.

However, for the curious minds out there, Snopes did find that tapping the can’s side resulted in slightly less foam than simply opening it without any tapping. Yet, the practical difference was rather negligible.

Expert opinions on this carbonated conundrum are just as divided as those of internet users. Karl J. Siebert, a biochemist from Cornell University renowned for his expertise in beverage foam, argues that tapping the can accomplishes little and may even exacerbate the issue. Dr. Siebert cautions that tapping might cause additional bubbles to form, making the situation worse rather than better.

Nevertheless, many credible sources still champion the practice of tapping. But why does it supposedly work? To understand the theory behind it, we need to delve into the science of soda.

When a soda can is shaken, carbon dioxide that has dissolved in the liquid forms bubbles at specific nucleation sites inside the container. It is believed that not all of these bubbles will rise to the surface but will instead cling to the interior of the can at different nucleation points. Upon opening the can, the high internal pressure causes these bubbles to expand and rapidly rise, releasing some of the liquid that surrounds them.

The theory goes that tapping the can dislodges these air bubbles, causing them to float to the top of the liquid. Then, when you crack open the can, the gas escapes harmlessly, leaving the liquid undisturbed.

To investigate the effectiveness of can tapping, we needed a reliable method to consistently shake our soda cans. Enter the Shakenator T-3000, our custom-built device designed to do just that. It precisely shakes the can ten times with a stroke length of 1.125 inches (2.9 cm) for every button press. After some experimentation, we found that 150 shakes (equivalent to 8.8 full shakes per second) were the magic number to achieve our coldest temperatures and observe measurable success with Coke cans.

But temperature plays a crucial role in this carbonated equation. The Shakenator T-3000 not only tracks the number of shakes and the duration of the run but also monitors the temperature throughout the experiment.

Now, with our trusty Shakenator in hand, we were ready to put the can-tapping theory to the test. Would it stand up to scrutiny, or would it fizzle out like a flat soda?

Tips For Reducing Soda Fizz

  • Before even opening that shaken soda can, ensure it’s thoroughly chilled. Colder liquids hold onto gas better than warmer ones, so refrigerate your soda for a while to help minimize fizz when you crack it open.
  • When it’s time to enjoy your soda, don’t pop the tab or pull the ring with enthusiasm. Instead, open it slowly and steadily. Rapidly releasing the pressure can lead to a fizzy explosion.
  • Pouring your soda into a glass? Tilt the glass at an angle while pouring to reduce the impact on the liquid’s surface. This gentle approach helps maintain carbonation levels.
  • It may sound obvious but avoid shaking your soda can or bottle if possible. Even the slightest agitation can trigger excess fizz. Handle your carbonated beverages with care.
  • If your soda has lost some fizz but you still want to enjoy it, try this trick: open the can just a tiny bit, let some gas escape slowly, and then reclose it. Repeat this process until you achieve your desired level of carbonation.
  • Sipping your soda through a straw can help reduce the amount of gas that comes in contact with your taste buds. This can make the soda taste less carbonated, especially if it’s too fizzy for your liking.
  • For a quick fix, gently stir your soda with a straw or a stirring stick. This helps release some of the trapped gas, making the soda taste less bubbly.
  • If you consistently find sodas too fizzy for your palate, consider choosing drinks with lower carbonation levels or opting for alternatives like iced tea or fruit juices.
  • Pouring your soda into a glass and letting it sit for a few minutes can help reduce the fizz. The act of decanting allows some of the carbonation to escape naturally.
  • Adding ice to your soda can not only chill it but also help tame the fizz. The ice cools the liquid and can absorb some of the carbonation as it melts.
  • If all else fails and you prefer your soda with minimal fizz, consider leaving it open for a while to go flat. Just remember to consume it within a reasonable timeframe to avoid it going entirely stale.

Soda Fizz Reduction Experiments

1. The Spoon Method

In this experiment, you can try placing a clean, dry metal spoon upside down inside your shaken soda can before sealing it back up. The theory is that the metal from the spoon could help dissipate excess gas. After a few minutes, open the can and observe if there’s a noticeable reduction in fizz.

2. The Salt Solution

Prepare two identical glasses of shaken soda—one with a pinch of salt stirred in and the other without. The salt is believed to provide nucleation sites for gas bubbles to gather, reducing fizz. Compare the two glasses for differences in the amount of foam and fizz when you open them.

3. The Temperature Test

Experiment with the impact of temperature on soda fizz. Shake two identical cans vigorously and then place one in the refrigerator while leaving the other at room temperature. Open both cans at the same time and note any variations in fizz levels.

4. The Coin Technique

This quirky experiment involves placing a clean coin on top of the soda can and securing it with tape before gently shaking the can. The idea is that the coin might disrupt the carbonation process. Open the can carefully and observe if the coin made a difference in fizz reduction.

5. The Straw Challenge

Grab a straw and create a small opening on the top of your shaken soda can. Insert the straw into the can, seal the opening with tape, and let it sit for a few minutes. This experiment tests whether allowing the gas to escape through the straw results in a less fizzy beverage when you eventually open it.

6. The Soap Suds Solution

Dip a clean finger into the dishwashing liquid and lightly touch the surface of your shaken soda can’s opening before sealing it. Some believe that the soap film might discourage excess foam formation. Open the can after a few minutes and see if there’s a noticeable reduction in fizz.

Our experiment aimed to settle the debate once and for all. Did tapping the can significantly reduce the soda spray upon opening? We meticulously tracked our shaking and tapping process and observed the outcomes, all while keeping a close eye on temperature fluctuations.