Blending Hot Liquids
Why is it that when you blend hot liquids they blow the lid off the blender if you aren't holding it in place?--Dave
Actually, the science of this is pretty straight forward. As you know, when you heat a gas, it expands. So, you put hot liquid into the the jar of the blender and put the lid on. At this point you have a near boiling liquid with some near room temperature air between it and the top of the jar. When you start the blender, the air is pulled down through the liquid into the blades where it is broken into millions of tiny bubbles. At the same time, all of that air gets heated up and expands to about a quarter again the volume it had before*. Because some of it is incorporated into the liquid, the effect of the expanding air is to push the liquid upwards. Both the now hot air above the liquid plus the expanding liquid force the lid off the container.
In order to be safe, it is recommended when you blend hot liquids that you never fill the jar more than half full, that you put the lid on and then cover it with a dry towel and hold it down by hand. Also, use as slow a speed as possible.
* If you are interested in a more scientific explanation, the basic equation that describes the relationship between pressure, volume and temperature of a gas is PV=nRT, where:
P is the pressure of the gas;
V is the volume it occupies
n is the amount of the gas there is;
R is a scientific constant; and
T is the temperature of the gas in degrees Kelvin.
Kelvin is a temperature scale that has the same scale as Celsius, except that 0°K is the absolutely lowest temperature that anything can possibly reach. 0°K is the same as -459.67°F or -273.15°C. What the formula says is that if you double the temperature, either the volume will double, the pressure will double (if the gas is tightly contained), or some combination of the two will occur.
So, the air in the blender jar is at room temperature, which is about 293°K. You turn on the blender, and all of a sudden it is heated to around 373°K. Assuming that the pressure tries to stay the same, which it will do if possible since the container has a lid that can be blown off, the gas expands by 373/293 = 1.273 times.
Way back in 2010, MinetTruly wrote: "I wonder why I didn't have any problems? Both times, the soup was just-a-bit-too-hot-to-eat-comfortably, and filled the blender with less than an inch to spare.""Less than an inch to spare" is what...um...spared you. There was very little air to expand. If your blender had been only half full or so,it could have been a different story.Trying to hold the lid down is, in my experience, not the best choice. The pressure can exceed the ability to hold the lid down, and when it finally pops it does so with great force. Instead, I take out the center stopper of the lid a put a towel over the opening (or use a towel without a lid if it doesn't have a stopper), and let the expanding air escape on its own. Starting at very low speed (or pulsing for single-speed blenders) then ramping up the speed after the air has mixed with the liquid for a while can also limit explosiveness.
Posted by: SeikiBrian | Jul 01, 2014 at 11:14 PM
Yep, just happened to me! Making homemade broccoli cheese soup. The recipe called to purÃ©e the broccoli, carrots, cream and chicken stock. The lid blew off, shooting the hot liquid in every direction all over my kitchen and myself! I will be purchasing a hand emulsion device very soon! What a mess! LOL
Posted by: Lisa Hopson | Apr 02, 2013 at 12:01 PM
I'm commenting on an old post I know. Just wanted to see how many people this has happened to...It wasn't the Merriest Christmas at my house this year after I decided to make Mexican hot chocolate for three on Christmas Day. The directions said heat milk to boiling then blend heated milk with chocolate in electric blender. It didn't seem safe so I put a hand towel over the top and held the lid down tight as I pressed the button. This was after running scalding hot water in the glass pitcher to warm it up. Next thing I knew there was burning hot milk all over my chest and face as well as the kitchen. I immediately threw off my shirt and jumped in a cool shower hoping to cool off my skin. I had to go to the ER with second degree burns on my chest (only first degree on my face). They had to give me morphine! I threw away the box of hot chocolate after that...
Posted by: Shane Webb | Dec 27, 2010 at 11:16 AM
We have had many a pumpkin soup blender explosion in our kitchen. We can't even fill one tenth of our blender with hot liquid without it exploding out the top and burning us. We cool it in the fridge overnight now, and blend it the next day :)
Posted by: dylan | Nov 01, 2010 at 05:05 PM
I blended hot stuff twice without any problem. Then my friend showed me this article. I wonder why I didn't have any problems? Both times, the soup was just-a-bit-too-hot-to-eat-comfortably, and filled the blender with less than an inch to spare.
Posted by: MinetTruly | Jan 16, 2010 at 09:48 PM
I just watched a re-run of the Food Network's show "Chopped". One of the contestant/chefs was burned after trying to blend a hot eggnog concoction in a blender. He thought he was holding the lid down sufficiently, but the lid completely blew off and he was hit in the face with hot eggnog. This 2007 article has fantastic info and great tips! ~~Thank you Kitchen Savvy!~~
Posted by: hockeypuck | Dec 16, 2009 at 12:24 AM
You would think they would have this on the instructions for the blender instead of just saying that it is compatible with hot stuff. :) Glad to see this hint. I had mine less then half full with the lid held down and it still happened so next time I will make sure to have a towel. Thnx
Posted by: melody | Nov 12, 2009 at 12:20 PM
Yeah, this is serious stuff. I just got back from the ER with 2nd degree burns on my face because of a hot liquid in blender mistake. I was even holding the lid down and it still blew off. Please, be careful!!!!!!
Posted by: jtd | Oct 18, 2009 at 03:32 AM
God I wish I'd known this before
Posted by: g | Jul 02, 2009 at 04:10 PM
What an excellent explanation! I've wondered about this for years and only now decided to do a search for the answer.
Posted by: Bill Jenner | Feb 14, 2009 at 02:10 PM
I wish I would have known this previously... all I can say is 'ouch!'.
Posted by: Aaron | Apr 09, 2008 at 11:44 AM