Your experience with cracked glass?
June 7, 2020 9:08 AM   Subscribe

After putting hot water in our glass pitcher, the side of our pitcher cracked right above where the handle attaches to the side. See picture 1 and picture 2. So now we need to figure out what we will do next.

What has your experience been with using a cracked pitcher like this one?

Do you think the crack will grow slowly?

Do you think the handle or pitcher will fail suddenly and catastrophically?

Do you think the pitcher will leak?
posted by springo to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience...

Do you think the pitcher will leak?
Yes, and then just when you start to feel safe...

Do you think the handle or pitcher will fail suddenly and catastrophically?

Glass pitchers are not expensive. Please just buy a new one and save yourself the worry and eventual safety hazard!
posted by phunniemee at 9:18 AM on June 7, 2020 [40 favorites]

The way a crack like that works is every time you pick up the pitcher, the crack opens up a little bit and grows a little. The next time you pick it up, it grows a little more. The crack slowly grows until the crack is big enough to keep the pitcher from holding itself together, and it breaks in a catastrophic event.

It's impossible (well, without some kind of really expensive analysis) to know when it will fail completely. It could be next week or next year. It's not difficult to know what happens when it fails--you will have glass flying everywhere. It is not unreasonable to think that someone would be hurt. It's time to replace the pitcher.
posted by Quonab at 9:36 AM on June 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

Yeah the correct "What to do next" is get a new pitcher and throw out the old one.

You can't really repair this, you don't want the handle to fall off when you're carrying it full of lemonade, and you really extra don't want little splinters of glass to wind up in your beverage without you noticing.
posted by aubilenon at 9:58 AM on June 7, 2020 [5 favorites]

Recycle it. If it had sentimental value, I'd say put it on a shelf and don't use it. But this appears to be a very run-of-the mill picture that didn't cost a lot, can be easily replaced, and will be recycled well.
posted by jonathanhughes at 9:59 AM on June 7, 2020

If you don't mind a red lid (or don't plan on using the lid), this pitcher vaguely resembles the one in your photo, has a good price, is dishwasher-safe, and comes from a reputable glassware manufacturer.
posted by box at 10:27 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

You can prolong the life of this pitcher by never putting any water in it that isn't room temperature. Tap water is rarely room temperature so you'd have to only use water that had already stood to get the same temperature as the glass. Adding ice to room temperature water, of course, would be the same as adding cold water. If there is never any difference in temperature between the contents of the pitcher and the ambient temperature and the pitcher itself then the material will not expand or contract rapidly and the crack will be more stable.

But it won't be safe.There are almost certainly many micro fractures in the glass that you might be able to see with a magnifying glass but would likely need a microscope to find. It is possible they will not expand if you treat the pitcher with the utmost care. It far more likely that they will, suddenly.
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:48 AM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Put dried flowers in it (or peacock feathers) and put it somewhere where it looks nice, or put it on the kitchen counter with your wooden spoons in it
... and get a new one to use for liquids.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:17 AM on June 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

To echo what has been said, my experience is that once glass cracks, it is just a matter of time until it fails abruptly. (Like, when picking it up full of water, say.) I don't think that is safe to continue using, other than maybe as a vase for dried flowers.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:21 AM on June 7, 2020

Most glass pitchers aren't heat resistant. When you go shopping for a new one if this is your regular use you should look for one that is specifically rated for hot liquids (Boron Glass). It'll be twice as much as a plain pitcher (still cheap compared to having a pitcher break in use). As a bonus they are generally much thinner than a regular pitcherso weigh less.
posted by Mitheral at 11:26 AM on June 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

But don’t assume that just because it’s called Pyrex that it’s thermal-shock-safe borosilicate glass.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:48 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hello, in case you’re still on the fence here, I have a masters degree in glass science and I would not use that pitcher to hold liquids again, nor would I ever pick it up by the handle again. One of the amazing things about glass and water is that water attacks the SiO2 bonds at the crack tip, thereby speeding up the crack propagation significantly. That is, in fact, the way we get scored glass rod to break cleanly, by getting it wet.

I like the idea of using it as a vase for dried flowers, but again, do not pick it up by the handle. It is not safe.
posted by blurker at 1:28 PM on June 7, 2020 [21 favorites]

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