From 50 Dangerous Things: boil water in a paper cup

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22 Responses to “From 50 Dangerous Things: boil water in a paper cup”

  1. Lobster says:

    Very useful if you find yourself in the wild with nothing but a stack of paper cups. :)

  2. CapnSoggy says:

    I remember, as a kid, having a book called “Boiling water in a paper cup…” or something like that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Awesome idea. I discovered this basic principle when I was one day inspired to hold a lighter up to a plastic bottle of water. I look forward to convincing some friends to bet me this won’t work and then triumphantly prove them wrong.

    Also the phrase in my captcha is “bedded that” as in “yeah, I bedded that.”. Raunchy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Amazon has this book for about $25. Just picked up a copy, hope the rest of the experiments are as interesting…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well of course we don’t use Farenheit for scientific uses, that what we have Rankine for.

  6. jjasper says:

    Hey anon @ # 17 – You could always learn to cook your own food.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Watch Mr Wizard did this in the 50′s on TV.

  8. Stefan Jones says:

    I read long ago about a “roughing it” version of this that used large green leaves folded into a cup.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Microwave oven ftw.

  10. Anonymous says:

    using a brown paper bag impressed me.

  11. Hodge says:

    a variation of this idea is to use an origami paper kettle (easy to make); then you get a jet of steam from the top. (Warning: do not let the “wings” catch fire !)

  12. Anonymous says:

    So if I could get my wife to make meatloaf in the form of a cup and fill it with water, I could for once in my miserable life have an unburned dinner??

    Handy info!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Same thing works quite well with plastic baggies, just the normal sandwich baggies. We used to reheat coffee this way in jail.

  14. unapologetic says:

    An interesting (and sad) real world analog for this experiment: when I came back to New Orleans after Katrina and went exploring in my neighborhood, I found a house that caught fire during the storm and had burned down… but only to the waterline – anything on the ground floor that was underwater remained intact. (photo from my flickr set: http://tinyurl.com/yj7pzqu)

  15. Opspin says:

    Is there by any chance a version with metric (SI) units?

    From Wikipedia:

    Only in the United States and a few other countries (such as Belize) does the Fahrenheit system continue to be used, and only for non-scientific use

    • SamSam says:

      Incredibly, it turns out that this trick still works if you tell the cup you’re using Fahrenheit. I don’t know how, but it’s true! Admittedly, the water still needs to be in Celsius though.

  16. Phrosty says:

    This reminds me of the time I filled a styrofoam cup with water and, using a can of hairspray and a lighter as a flame-thrower, tried to burn up the cup. The cup melted until only a super-thin layer remained, without a single leak. I guess the water kept the rest from burning up. The cup was too thin to pick up without spilling the water though.

  17. Haakon IV says:

    @Ospin: Really? There aren’t that many numbers with units to convert, and it is straightforward. But here you go:

    At 1000 m water will start to boil at 97°C – a full 3 C° lower than at sea level… Water boils at 100°C (or less) but paper doesn’t burn until it gets to almost 260°C.

    We Americans may not be very good at learning other languages, but many of us are fluent in multiple systems of units (and yes, my distinction between °C and C° is an intentional nitpick: the former is a temperature, the latter a temperature difference).

    • xaxa says:

      @Haakon IV:
      Possibly, Ospin was making some comment that the original, nice, round 1000m was converted into feet for Americans (3300ft), but the original number was lost.

  18. lilomar says:

    I’ve done this over a campfire. It’s interesting to see the top part of the cup catch fire and burn away, leaving the surface of the water right at the rim of the cup.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I did this in Scouts way back when. We hardboiled an egg on a fire in a paper cup. I had completely forgotten about that.

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