The “Chinese Water Torture” method of splitting bottles

I had described, in a previous post, a method of splitting glass bottles that involves the use of a propane torch. This method is problematic. The glass is very sensitive to the extreme heat of the torch flame. If there are any structural irregularities in the glass, exposure to the torch flame heat will result in unpredictable crack lines, instead of a nice, clean, straight cut that follows the score line. Out of five attempts, only two resulted in an acceptable cut and even with these there were some unevenness that had to be rectified with a grinder. A 40% success rate is terribly inefficient. It results in a lot of wasted bottles.

Currently, I use a different method which was developed by a physicist who does this to make vacuum chambers. Such an application would require rather precise cutting. It’s pretty simple. After etching the score line, you pour boiling hot water over the line while turning the bottle slowly.  Then you pour cold water over the line in the same manner. You repeat this process until the bottle splits. It takes about four or five passes before it splits.

I call this the Chinese Water Torture method. I heat the water using my Krupps coffee machine. It’s faster than boiling a kettle of water on the stove. I also like the fact that it eliminates the cost of having to get a propane torch.

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