Help. Tops of Cocktail Shakers Stuck
January 31, 2014 10:28 AM   Subscribe

I have two cocktail shakers with the tops stucks. I am unable to twist off and I have stuck them in warm water to see if this will loosen the metal away from the glass. No go. Any suggestions?
posted by goalyeehah to Food & Drink (16 answers total)
Have you tried freezing them?
posted by Mr Stickfigure at 10:39 AM on January 31, 2014

I think you are probably on the right track with the warm water, but I'd go HOT water on the top, and then plunge the bottom into ice water (assuming they mate in a way where the top surrounds the bottom).

Also: strap wrench?
posted by dirtdirt at 10:39 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

dirtdirt may have a better answer provided that the glass can stand the shock of the temperature change. If I recall correctly, the behavior while freezing/warming in this situation depends heavily on the relative properties of the materials at hand.
posted by Mr Stickfigure at 10:46 AM on January 31, 2014

Also the traditional barman approach is to just knock them lightly against the bar edge or something soft and wooden. Sometimes will applying steady twisting pressure.
posted by kalessin at 10:51 AM on January 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Depending on if the top surrounds or fits into the bottom heat the part you want to expand and freeze the part you want to contract.
posted by edgeways at 11:00 AM on January 31, 2014

You want to heat the top and cool the bottom, so I suggest filling them with cold water then wrapping the top in a heated cloth.
posted by justkevin at 11:06 AM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ex-barman seconding the tap against a wooden edge, usually near the join.
posted by Caskeum at 11:09 AM on January 31, 2014

These are Boston shakers, right? In that case, seconding the advice to heat the metal part with HOT water (as in, nearly boiling) for a minute or so, then twist the halves in opposite directions while tugging. Rubber gloves will be useful for getting a better grip.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:21 AM on January 31, 2014

Incidentally, it may help to know that cocktail shakers become stuck not solely because of contracting materials, but largely as a result of the contracting atmosphere inside the shaker. The quickly-chilled interior actually creates a fairly strong vacuum which has to be broken before the halves can be separated.

In general, I've found that using a Boston shaker is far easier. When people first see one, they wonder how it doesn't leak, but again: the vacuum prevents any leakage and, in fact, they become quite stuck just like a Cobbler shaker. A strong knock with the base of the palm to the inner bend of the shakers' junction breaks the vacuum. You then quickly twist off the top half before the vacuum re-establishes.
posted by gilrain at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

To clarify: Generally hot expands cold contracts, so if it is Boston Shaker, where the glass is inside the metal, you want to cool the glass and heat the metal. If it is a shaker like this one where the metal is inside the glass you want to heat the glass and cool the metal.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:33 PM on January 31, 2014

Mr Stickfigure: " If I recall correctly, the behavior while freezing/warming in this situation depends heavily on the relative properties of the materials at hand."

No, it's pretty generic: almost everything expands when it gets warmer and shrinks when it gets cooler. Different materials have different rates, but if you're heating the outer piece and cooling the inner piece, you are loosening the fit.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 PM on January 31, 2014

It's not rates, but amounts based on change in temperature.

The change in temperature times length times the contraction coefficient gives you the change in length of a linear material when contracting due to temperature drop.

Here's a calculator.

For reference, we are talking about very very very small changes, which is why the difference in contraction value between glass and metal doesn't really matter.

But from the calculator's example, the contraction value is generally less than 1/1000th of the overall length (and probably diameter, but 3D shapes are a little more difficult to calculate) if the temperature drop is 99 degrees centigrade.

For a more practical drop of 21 degrees centigrade (70F to 32F), the contraction will be more like 3/10,000th's of the length.

My guess is that for something really stuck with an unknown adhesive in the mix (perhaps sugar?) what you'll end up needing to do is heat, cool, get a good grip with rubber gloves and knock it lightly against a wood table or counter while twisting.
posted by kalessin at 1:13 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe even a good soak if dried sugar or egg white or other bonding agents is expected.
posted by kalessin at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2014

I'm not joking. It really is almost entirely the vacuum, not the contracting materials. A fairly significant vacuum.
posted by gilrain at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Huh. Cool. I really trust the guy at Cooking Issues. He almost always seems to know what he's talking about and he has deep knowledge, not just superficial knowledge, about what he talks or writes about. His podcast is extremely nifty.

FWIW, I store my shaker open so it can dry out between uses (after a wash or a rinse). But what would fix the vacuum issue? Temporary deformation? I think that's what the light knocking is for, yes?

Also twisting would probably work a hell of a lot better than pulling with respect to vacuums. Anything with potential to change the volume (like pulling) is fighting a lot harder against the vacuum than a sliding movement.
posted by kalessin at 1:27 PM on January 31, 2014

Yes, exactly. A firm knock on the inner corner of the joint followed immediately by twisting off the top half. It can take a little practice, because the vacuum reseals very quickly, but it works.
posted by gilrain at 1:38 PM on January 31, 2014

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