Why Does a Canned Soda Feel Colder Than a Bottled One?

Discover why a canned soda feels colder than a bottled one due to thermal conductivity, and how it affects soda temperature.

Why Does a Canned Soda Feel Colder Than a Bottled One?
Photo by National Cancer Institute / Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why a canned soda always feels colder than its bottled counterpart, even when they've been in the refrigerator for the same amount of time?

Let's delve into the intriguing science behind this phenomenon.

Thermal Conductivity: The Key to Understanding

When you touch something and it feels cold, it's because heat is leaving your body and flowing into the cold object.

This process is known as thermal conduction.

Different materials conduct heat at different rates, which is measured in Watts per meter Kelvin (W/mK).

The higher the thermal conductivity coefficient, the faster a material conducts heat.

Glass vs. Aluminum: A Stark Contrast

Glass, commonly used for soda bottles, has a thermal conductivity coefficient of around 0.8 W/mK.

In contrast, aluminum, the material of choice for soda cans, boasts a coefficient of around 239 W/mK.

This significant difference means that the metallic can is more effective at drawing heat away from your hand compared to the glass bottle.

The Initial Sensation vs. Sustained Cooling

Upon initial removal from the fridge, both canned and bottled sodas are at the same temperature.

However, due to the dissimilar thermal conductivities of the materials, the aluminum can feels colder to the touch as it absorbs heat from your hand more rapidly.

Nevertheless, the glass bottle retains its coolness for a prolonged duration, offering a more sustained cooling effect.

Environmental Impact and User Experience

The choice between canned and bottled soda not only impacts the perceived temperature but also has environmental implications.

The aluminum can's superior thermal conductivity may lead to a more refreshing first sip, but the glass bottle's ability to retain coldness could be advantageous for individuals looking to enjoy their drink over an extended period.

Embracing the Science of Sensation

The next time you reach for a chilled soda, take a moment to appreciate the scientific principles at play.

The contrasting materials of cans and bottles influence not only how the beverage feels in your hand but also the duration of its refreshing chill.