Hydrating is vital, especially when traveling long distances. Also, if you’re unsure about water safety at your destination, you might want to stack some in your checked bag. However, you may wonder whether your bottled water can explode in your checked luggage when flying to your destination.
Bottled water in your checked luggage or a carry-on will not explode unless mishandled. Unlike other liquids, bottled water is filled and sealed, and the pressure differences don’t affect it. Therefore, it’s unlikely that the pressure difference during the flight will cause it to explode.
In this article, I’ll discuss a few topics related to this question, including why bottled liquids explode. I’ll also offer some tips on preventing liquids from exploding and why you don’t need to carry bottled water.
Why Bottled Liquids Might Explode
Ideally, airlines should pressurize the luggage compartment in the plane such that it remains the same at sea level or at least the same pressure as at 8000 feet above sea level. However, some airlines don’t.
For this reason, pressure changes as the plane cruises at different heights, affecting the air inside and outside liquid bottles.
The main reasons why the bottled liquids explode include:
Most people make the mistake of packing half-full bottles. Thus, the container contains half air and half water. As the pressure changes with height, the air inside the bottle expands.
Since the bottle is sealed, the air can’t escape. Therefore, the bottle explodes.
Sometimes, the bottle may not explode. Still, you will experience leakages if the bottle is not sealed tightly. This phenomenon happens because the air pushes some liquid out as it escapes.
Your bottled liquid might explode depending on:
- Where you place it in the bag
- How you position it in the bag
- How you handle the luggage
For instance, placing the bottle at the top or bottom of the suitcase can cause it to explode.
If there’s pressure on top or below your bag, it will affect the bottled liquid, causing it to explode.
Therefore, it’s essential to ensure you place it strategically at a place with enough cushioning.
Sometimes, there might be luggage on top of your luggage, applying pressure onto it. If the pressure is too much, it can cause your bottled liquid to explode.
Tips on Preventing Your Bottled Liquids From Exploding
Some of the liquids we pack in checked luggage can explode, creating a mess. They can also ruin your clothes, especially if they are colored or are bleach-like. Additionally, if there’s an electronic in the luggage, it could suffer irreparable damage. The worst case is if you’re carrying important papers as they could get ruined beyond repair.
Thus, it’s better to take precautions to avoid such messes. The following tips can help you prevent bottled liquids from exploding:
Ensure Your Bottles Are Full
This tip applies to all liquids you intend to carry in your checked luggage. When your bottles aren’t full, air occupies the space left.
As mentioned earlier, this air expands with changes in pressure and can lead to an explosion. Therefore, before capping the bottles, ensure there’s no left space.
Use a Polythene Wrap on the Mouth of the Bottles
Sometimes screwing the caps tight isn’t enough. Place a polythene wrap around the mouth to secure them and screw the cap back tightly.
You can also wrap duct tape on top to ensure the cap stays in place.
Cushion the Bottles
You don’t want to place your bottled liquid where it interacts directly with the surface, as this can cause an explosion in case of mishandling. Instead, wrap the bottle with some heavy clothes and place it in the middle. Also, make sure there are clothes under the bottle and some on top.
Use Ziploc Bags
Although they don’t prevent the bottled liquids from exploding, they reduce the extent of the mess. Therefore, it would help if you placed your bottled liquids in Ziploc bags to ensure they don’t spread in case the bottle leaks or explodes during your flight.
Carry Them in Your Carry-on
Your carry-on bag has no risk of exploding since it doesn’t get mishandled and you carry it in the pressurized passenger compartments. Hence, you can pack your bottled liquids in the carry-on. However, ensure these liquids meet the 3-1-1 rule to avoid confiscation or emptying by TSA.
The 3-1-1 rule accommodates bottled liquids 3 ounces (100ml) and below. Additionally, you must label and place them in a clear Ziploc bag. Also, you can only carry one bag, thereby limiting the number of bottles you can take. Thus, you can include liquids with high chances of exploding, such as shampoo and conditioner.
Why You Don’t Need Bottled Water in Your Checked Luggage
The fact is, you’ll only use your bottled water after you land. Besides, it’s an unnecessary addition to the allowed luggage weight. Remember your luggage must meet the minimum weight requirement.
Consequently, you might have to leave some essentials to carry bottled water or pay for the extra weight.
Many places have clean and safe water for use; hence no need to carry bottled water. Nowadays, even third-world countries have bottled water that’s safe for drinking unless you go to a place where sanitation is compromised.
Nevertheless, you’ll still find bottled water in the airports and hotels where you can purchase some. If you don’t trust the local brands, you can buy imported brands from countries you can recognize.
Note that you can only carry a few bottles, which won’t be enough unless your stay is short. Hence if you’re planning to stay for more than two days, you’ll still need the water at your destination.
If you feel uncomfortable using the locally available water, consider carrying water treatment chemicals and cleansers. These are easier to package and take with you. And you can treat large amounts of water for general use.
Bottled water in your checked bag is unlikely to explode because the pressure differences don’t affect it since it’s filled and sealed. However, other liquids such as shampoo and conditioner in your checked luggage might burst.
The main reasons for an explosion occurring include pressure differences and mishandling.
To prevent bottled liquids from exploding:
- Ensure they’re full to avoid air in the bottle.
- Cushion them properly using some heavy clothes.
- Use Ziploc bags.
- Ensure you seal them properly to minimize leakages.
- Use carry-ons.
- Travel Easier: Can You Bring Bottled Water on a Plane?
- Transportation Security Administration: Liquids Rule
- Washington State Department of Health: Water Purification
- The Sun: Stop Toiletries from Exploding inside Your Suitcase on Flights with this Clever Tip
- Lifesavvy: How to Keep Your Toiletries from Leaking in Your Travel Bag
- Aeroclass.org: Aircraft Pressurized Cabin