Stuck Glass Lifehack: Better Living Through Science!


During a recent spate of particularly uninspired dish washing, I stacked a glass into a mug to make more room on the counter. When I finally got around to doing the dishes, I found that no matter how I tried, I could not get the two unstuck. As the mug was one of my favorites and the tumbler was the last from my first set of glassware in college (Polo Club, whatWHAT), I did not want to just toss the conjoined monstrosity. After manhandling the pair to the point where I was afraid of breaking one/the other– or worse–slicing my hand open,  I soaked them in hot, soapy water hoping to lubricate the situation. No luck. Somewhere in the back of my brain, an echo of a memory about the trick having something to do with temperature fluctuation fluttered to the surface, and I placed the mug/glass in the freezer hoping the cold would constrict the glass allowing for removal. Again, no dice. To the internet, I went!

Turns out, I was soooo close. I just needed to combine the cold and hot. The awesome website Lifehacker (filled with all kinds of goodies) took me to a link from the good people over at Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen (a trusted purveyor of kitchen/recipe wisdom– seriously, buy their cookbook).

If you don’t have time to watch the video, summarizes it thusly:

“Most of us just kind of wiggle them a little until we break the seal and then slide them apart, but there’s always that tense moment when you’re worried you might break them. America’s Test Kitchen has a better way: fill the top glass with a little ice, and then put the bottom glass into a sink or bowl of warm water. Give it a second or two to work, and the difference in temperatures between the two will cause the bottom one to expand a little and the top one to contract a little. (This is the same principle behind why running a stuck jar lid under warm water makes it easier to open.) It’s not much movement, but it’s enough to get the two apart safely, without much force and without worrying about breaking glass.”

Sure enough. I filled my top glass with ice and added some water to speed the chilling and poured warm (not boiling) water from a recently used tea kettle into the bottom mug and presto… within 8 seconds, the pair separated!

You guys know how much I love a good lifehack, so I just had to share! Isn’t science the best! Do you still have pieces from original sets? What tricks have you used to get something unstuck? As always, let us know!


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