Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Soda Can Experiment Update - July 7, 2010

So you may recall that I've found lots of corroded and rotted aluminum cans at the beach. And that I started an experiment to see if I could recreate the conditions that cause a can to rot. My last update was more than 3 weeks ago, so I wanted to drop another quick post.

A really quick post. What's changed in 3 weeks?
Not a lot.

New corrosion may be happening, but it's going so slowly that there's nothing really to show.
My hunch is that the exposed metal has oxidized, leaving very little surface area of fresh aluminum to react with the salt and corrode.

Thus, another rethink (or perhaps "threethink" at this point). I was so busy narrowing things down that I think I lost sight of the forest. The beach isn't one event, it's a system. It's sand, wind, salty air, wet times when the tide comes in, starkly dry times when it goes out. People kicking things around, burying them. It's dynamic, unpredictable. It's not a can sitting in a bucket of water on a countertop for a month.

So, my rethink: Make a soda can experience real beach conditions. A can should be drunk, crushed, shaken around in wet sand, shaken around in dry sand, tumbled, rolled, exposed to bright light, buried. Only by doing that will I be able to say whether it was a beach environment that causes a can to rot like those that I've collected.

More to follow!


  1. That's a good point. Have you read about the beach combers over in Cornwall...the things they pick which have come across the Atlantic. I've just remembered in the flotsam and jetsam of my memory - this gentleman: Nick Darke:

    Goodness knows how I've salted away his name. He sounds/sounded absolutely fascinating and I'd love to know more about him. I did read an excellent broadsheet article about him and I'll see if I can find it. Must dash..Haltwhistle Carnival beckons!

  2. Hmm. Still can't find that article.(Frustration.) There are some interesting obits on him though...

  3. Thank you so much for these links! It's one of those fields of study where every time you learn something, you open up yourself to a half-dozen new questions & things to explore. A year ago I'd have never thought I could find oceans & currents & plastics, etc., so amazing. Now I'm spellbound.