It’s the question that even Wikipedia struggles to answer but now a chemistry lecturer has waded in to the great fizzy drink debate – does tapping a can really stop it from spilling everywhere?
Chris Hamlett, a teacher from Nottingham Trent University, has written a detailed scientific essay for The Conversation explaining his theory on the fizzy phenomenon.
Hamlett starts by providing a brief explanation of the science behind cans and why they fizz over.
Before the can is opened tiny microscopic gas bubbles in the drink attach to the inside wall of the can.
Then when the can is opened the bubbles rise to the surface.
In fact the satisfying fizzing sound you hear when you open a drink is down to the release of these carbon dioxide gas bubbles from the liquid as the CO2 changes solubility when it reacts with the air.
The problem occurs when the bubbles are forced through the liquid at great speed and displace all of the liquid above them as they leave the can.
So in theory, tapping the can to move the bubbles to the surface before opening, should help matters.
Hamlett said: “The bubbles in an unopened can nucleate at the walls so tapping the can before opening could dislodge some of the bubbles enabling them to float to the top of the liquid.”
He added: "A 'tapped' can will have fewer of these 'deep' bubbles and so less liquid will be dislodged – and possibly sprayed out – than an 'untapped' can."
So there you have it, according to science, tapping your can isn't a waste of time and could help you end up wearing less of your drink this summer.