Application of Explosives to Everyday Problems

I have a small stainless steel shaker. I like the shaker. It works well, and is aesthetically pleasing. It has one problem - the top slides over the cup in a manner that gives it quite a tendency to stick. This probably has something to do with the bottom being ice-cold, and thus contracted, when the top is slid over it. I didn't worry about it because I could always get it off with sufficient force. Until... well, until the day I couldn't. I applied as much force as was possible without damaging the shaker, in various directions. It wouldn't budge. I tried filling it with ice water through the strainer-holes in the top, and running the top under hot-as-it-gets tap water while I wrenched at it. It didn't help.

Clearly, this situation cried out for the use of explosives. The strainer-holes looked to be just about the right size for a ladyfinger. As luck would have it, I had a handful of loose ladyfingers laying around from some Fourth of July in the distant past. It turned out that they wouldn't quite fit; I had to drill the center strainer hole out by 15 mils (little enough that it still looked identical to the others). Then a ladyfinger fit snugly, which was convenient: I pushed a ladyfinger down into the hole until just the very top stuck out.

I spent enough of my life blowing things up with ladyfingers and firecrackers that I was pretty sure this would work. Even a ladyfinger produces a great overpressure when contained in a small vessel. The other strainer holes would provide an exit path for the gases, but even so I thought the cap might bounce off the ceiling.

We gathered at the garage door for the Cracking of the Shaker. I lit the fuse. It almost went out! This was an old ladyfinger. And in fact when it did finally pop, it very briefly began to fizzle (you can see the sparks if you single-frame through the movie). But in the end it blew, with Just the Right Amount of Force.

The end.

More Pyrotechnics
December 19th 2007   •   This web page maintained by John DuBois