# Bursting a metal pipe using freeze spray...

## Recommended Posts

Hey,

I want to do an experiment to see if a metal pipe (copper) will burst if it is filled with water and then frozen using a freeze spray on the outside of the pipe.

The spray I am looking at is the kind you use on skin tags so it goes to minus 50c (-60f)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MG-Chemicals-403C-235G-Super-HFO-1234ZE/dp/B07CCHPC1R/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=liquid+nitrogen&qid=1640914658&sr=8-5

##### Share on other sites

Doesn't anyone know the answer to this?

##### Share on other sites

What was the question?

##### Share on other sites

15 hours ago, zapatos said:

What was the question?

Will a half inch copper pipe filled with water.....

A, freeze with the spray I linked
B, Split the copper

##### Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, frankie514 said:

Will a half inch copper pipe filled with water.....

A, freeze with the spray I linked
B, Split the copper

It's your experiment. I thought that is what you were going to tell us! 😁

We know water freezes and that -60F is cold enough to do so. We also know that ice can split copper pipes (I can personally attest to that.)

The question seems to be whether or not the amount of spray you have can freeze the amount of water you have in the pipe. Also included are what contaminants are in the water, if any air is in the pipe, and if the pipe is sealed.

##### Share on other sites

The usual answer for these type of questions is " it depends" .

If you just freeze at one point, the ice will just slide along the pipe, when the pressure builds up. Ideally, to split the pipe, you need a substantial length to freeze, with the ends freezing before the centre, to contain the pressure.

##### Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, mistermack said:

The usual answer for these type of questions is " it depends" .

If you just freeze at one point, the ice will just slide along the pipe, when the pressure builds up. Ideally, to split the pipe, you need a substantial length to freeze, with the ends freezing before the centre, to contain the pressure.

Also, it is now common practice for plumbers to freeze the water in a radiator pipe when disconnecting the radiator, thereby avoiding the need to drain the system. (I've had a guy do this to two radiators in my house recently.) So clearly it can be done without cracking the pipe. Copper is ductile so can take a certain amount of stretching before it cracks. From what I have managed to look up quickly, it retains this ductility down to very low temperatures.

So my best guess would be it is unlikely to split - provided there are no joints in the vicinity.

##### Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, exchemist said:

So my best guess would be it is unlikely to split - provided there are no joints in the vicinity.

I used the wrong type of faucet for an outdoor installation that is drained for the winter. Because of the faucet I used some water remained behind the faucet and froze, splitting the pipe about 12 inches from the faucet and not close to any other joint.

##### Share on other sites

Yeah, the value of drain-out faucets is learned in one lesson.  Before they were prevalent, houses here all had to have an interior shutoff valve for outside faucets.

Am in South Dakota, so PEX is popular.  It can balloon two to three times its nominal diameter without bursting.  I was happy to live in a PEX plumbed older house... until all the dread over plastic nanoparticles ratcheted up.  Now we're advised to only use the cold tap for cooking or drinking, and let it run ≥ 30 seconds first.

##### Share on other sites

On 12/30/2021 at 8:38 PM, frankie514 said:

Hey,

I want to do an experiment to see if a metal pipe (copper) will burst if it is filled with water and then frozen using a freeze spray on the outside of the pipe.

The spray I am looking at is the kind you use on skin tags so it goes to minus 50c (-60f)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/MG-Chemicals-403C-235G-Super-HFO-1234ZE/dp/B07CCHPC1R/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=liquid+nitrogen&qid=1640914658&sr=8-5

I'm thinking you might need a large amount for it to work. Would normally use a refrigerant like that with a kit for creating an ice plug.

You might want to use something like liquid nitrogen for its lower boiling point.

##### Share on other sites

You might want to try dry ice, or even ice and salt because they are cheap.

##### Share on other sites

If you DON'T want a burst, I've found that along with lagging and draining, one of the best methods of stopping bursts is to leave the tap slowly dripping. It only takes a very minor flow to make the difference.

##### Share on other sites

• 1 year later...
On 1/3/2022 at 10:20 AM, John Cuthber said:

You might want to try dry ice, or even ice and salt because they are cheap.

I think adding bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a bag (put holes in top of bag to let CO_2 out,   will cause the mixture to act in a similar way to the instant freeze packs you can get.

I have not tried the above yet,  but thought about putting the vinegar in a syringe, so once the bag is sealed the reaction can be triggered more easily.

Sounds like an interesting experiment you want to propose,  perhaps using different freeze methods allow comparison of results, so freeze spray,  ice, icepack,  ice + salt etc

Paul

On 1/2/2022 at 6:43 PM, zapatos said:

It's your experiment. I thought that is what you were going to tell us! 😁

We know water freezes and that -60F is cold enough to do so. We also know that ice can split copper pipes (I can personally attest to that.)

The question seems to be whether or not the amount of spray you have can freeze the amount of water you have in the pipe. Also included are what contaminants are in the water, if any air is in the pipe, and if the pipe is sealed.

Could use de-ionized water,  as that may have less contaminants,  however if the purpose of this experiment is to test normal tap water,   then maybe this could be your 'control'  for a comparison point.

Paul

## Create an account

Register a new account