Collapsing Can: Gas Laws Atmospheric Pressure

A demonstration of the large force of atmospheric pressure, 14.7 lbs/in2.


For option 1, the soda/pop can, as the can cools, the water vapor in the can also cools and condenses causing a decrease in pressure within the can. Because the can is sealed, there is a decrease in pressure of air inside the can.  The pressure of the atmosphere acting on the walls of the can exerts a force that is not countered by the air pressure within the can. The difference in pressure causes the can to collapse.

On-line videos of this demonstration


Option 1

Soda/Pop Can

10 mL of water

Hot plate to heat/boil the water


Wide container capable of  holding about 500 mL of water


Heat resistant gloves

Option 2

Vacuum pump

Metal gas can

Rubber stopper with glass tubing to fit can

Rubber tubing and connection



    Option 1 (Soda/Pop Can)

    1. Place the water in the can.
    2. Place the can on the hot plate.
    3. Heat the water in the can until it fills with water vapor.
    4. Use the tongs, remove the can from heat and invert it, placing the opening in a shallow container of water.
    5. The can will collapse immediately.


    1. L. Summerlin, C. Borgford, J. Ealy; Chemical Demonstrations: A Sourcebook for Teachers; 1987; Volume 2; P.89 
    2. B.Z. Shakhashiri. Chemical Demonstrations: A Handbook for Teachers of Chemistry; Wisconsin; 1985; Volume 2; p. 6-8

    © Copyright 2012 Email: Randy Sullivan, University of Oregon Chemistry Department and UO Libraries Interactive Media Group