Cutting a bottle in half with string and acetone is an exciting and low-cost trick that is sure to impress friends and family. Found in certain varieties of nail polish remover, acetone, when burning on the right kind of string, can soften glass. When an acetone-softened glass bottle is dunked in water, the sudden change of temperature provokes the glass to split along the circumference that was soaked with acetone. Safety precautions should be taken to protect against broken glass and burning chemicals when performing this experiment.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Nail polish remover
- Kitchen string
- Tub of water
- Wine bottle
- Safety equipment
Assemble the materials necessary for splitting a bottle in half. Make sure to get acetone nail polish remover, as opposed to nonacetone polish remover; without the correct kind of polish remover, the bottle will not split in half. Select a wine bottle, or other large, glass bottle, that you want to split, and peel off any labels from the glass. Clean the project area, whether it be the kitchen, the bathroom, the garage, or any other suitable location. Move large objects to the side, if possible, so they won't get in the way in the case of an emergency. Put on safety goggles and sturdy, fireproof gloves.
Fill up a bathtub, sink, or large bucket with room-temperature water. Test the water height with the bottle; the bottle should fit comfortably and completely in the water-filled container when rotated either horizontally or vertically, depending on preference. Pour a small amount, an inch or less, of acetone-based nail polish remover into a cup. Wrap cotton kitchen string, also known as butcher's twine, around the centre of the bottle two or three times, cut the string, and tie the string tightly enough to stay secure around the bottle. Slip the loop of string off the bottle, and soak it for several seconds in the acetone.
Position yourself over the water. Slip the knotted loop of string back onto the bottle and slide it down the body until it is roughly centred; when put back in the water, the bottle will split where the string is placed, so choose the position carefully and with safety foremost in mind. Grip the neck of the bottle with one hand and hold the bottle away from you, over the water. Pick up the lighter with the other hand and carefully light the acetone-soaked string on fire.
Rotate the bottle slowly several times so that the flame travels equally to every part of the string. Wait for around 10 seconds, or until the flame starts to die down. Dunk the bottle into the water, either horizontally or vertically, and hold it under for a few seconds. Listen for the distinctive pops and crackles that indicate separating glass. Lift the bottle out of the water, grip each side of the bottle, and gently pull the two halves apart.
Tips and warnings
- If the bottle does not split after the first attempt, dry off the bottle, cut a new length of string, and try again.
- Acetone is flammable and generates intense heat when ignited. The wine bottle will melt where it contacts the burning string. Additionally, the wine bottle may have very sharp edges when successfully split. Make sure to exercise extreme caution when cutting a wine bottle, and wear fireproof gloves, along with safety goggles, to minimise risk.
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