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Author Topic: Bottle needs unstoppering!  (Read 6022 times)
Angus A Fitziron
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« on: April 26, 2009, 11:45:09 pm »

Help. I have an old demi-john with a ground glass stopper. Unfortunately the stopper is well and truly stuck. The bottle is empty but used to contain some kind of mild alkali, probably a solution of Epsom Salts, as a wash for acid spills. I have tried soaking the top in WD40 to see if it will lubricate the joint but no go. I have tried warming the neck with hot water and also warming the whole bottle in the hope that the air will expand and blow it out - all with no luck. Any ideas from the bottle experts? Its not a very old bottle, moulded not blown, probably 50 ~ 60 years old but I would like to be able to use it. Ta
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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 12:21:40 am »

As far as I know WD40 is not a lubricant.
Warm water is what I would suggest, slowly get it hotter though, start with luke warm and move on up to pretty hot but not too hot. Try and get water to stay on top of the stopper for a while and seep into the join, perhaps a thin oil could do this but it may also leave residues on the glass. That should loosen it up a bit though.
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« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2009, 01:29:22 am »

I would try tapping very, very gently, with something not too hard (like a wood or resin screwdriver handle) all around the neck, where the stopper is imbedded.

This is based purely on intution, however, and could be quite the wrong thing to do ...
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« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2009, 02:21:16 am »

I remember and ancient (70's or 80's) British science show where they wrapped a length of string around the neck several times and then pulled it back and forth rapidly to heat and expand the neck and allow the stopper out - same idea as the hot water but more localized
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« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2009, 03:16:33 am »

If you can submerge the bottle completely, keeping it upright, the stopper will eventually come loose. In the lab we had lead rings that would fit around the neck of a bottle or flask, resting on the shoulder. The weight would hold the bottle down to prevent floating. If you could accomplish this, the air would be constantly pushing up and as it loosened, water would seep into the joint to dissolve whatever is holding it. I have used this trick many times to free the stoppers of BOD bottles that have broken off in the bottle...
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« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2009, 03:19:58 am »

Mr. Ringling, that is ingenius Grin *takes notes* I am sure it would work!
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« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2009, 04:48:24 am »

It's my understanding that strong bases can actually dissolve glass, and can cause ground glass surfaces to literally become welded. This is why ground glass stoppers, stopcocks, petcocks, taper-joints, ball-joints and so forth should always be lubricated with silicone grease before being mated. You might have success by slowly warming the entire vessel while gently rapping the joint with a piece of wood. Drape a heavy blanket over the top of the stopper and for Cog's sake do not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE lean over top of it while you do this — imagine being hit by a champagne cork, then imagine the cork is as solid and heavy as a billiard ball. Permanent injury is a very realistic possibility.

Of course, depending on the strength of the solution in the carboy, and how long it's been in there, you might just be SOL. I don't say that you are, only that you should be prepared for the possibility.
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« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2009, 08:18:53 am »

 Personally, I would put it in the freezer and hope it causes the glass to constrict rather than expand as what happens when you heat it.
Just my two cents.
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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2009, 08:59:21 am »

Warm the bottle while keeping the stopper cold.
This could be done by soaking the bottle right up to the top of the neck (but not over) in hot water (weighted, as suggested above), and place an ice cube (IC) atop the stopper. Use a cardboard tube or similar inserted over the stopper to hold the IC in place. The cardboard may get mushy, but will help hold the IC in place. Replace the IC when it melts.
The idea here is to get the bottle to expand and the stopper to contract at the same time.
Possible Plan B: Drill it out. Best done professionally. If you just drill a hole thru the stopper, you may still be able to use the bottle. Use a cork to seal the new hole.
Possible Plan C: Drill a hole somewhere else. Maybe in the side, and lay the bottle sideways in a custom cradle. If one side of the bottle is thicker (due to possible manufacturing inconsistencies), drill in the thickest side.
Possible Plan D: Cut the neck clean off.

I hope the best you'll be able to stick with Plan A.

Give it a bottled Splat!
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Angus A Fitziron
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2009, 11:21:08 am »

Wow, thanks everybody for an excellent response. I will have a go at as many of these as it takes (or until disaster befalls the whole enterprise). I shall begin in order of risk, so Mr Jringling, step forward (I just happen to have an old 70 gallon domestic header tank and if I can plug enough holes I should be able to stand the bottle up in it) (second thoughts, the wildlife pond should be deep enough as well......)
Cheers guys, I'll let you know what happens ~ probably tomorrow as today is a baby sitting day.
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Arvis
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2009, 03:54:53 pm »

Wow, thanks everybody for an excellent response. I will have a go at as many of these as it takes (or until disaster befalls the whole enterprise). I shall begin in order of risk, so Mr Jringling, step forward (I just happen to have an old 70 gallon domestic header tank and if I can plug enough holes I should be able to stand the bottle up in it) (second thoughts, the wildlife pond should be deep enough as well......)
Cheers guys, I'll let you know what happens ~ probably tomorrow as today is a baby sitting day.
"Here kid, hold the bottle...  ...now as I swing this sledge hammer, don't move!"
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2009, 04:38:53 pm »

As far as I know WD40 is not a lubricant.
What? WD40 not a lubricant? Although not it's primary use, it does say it's a lubricant on their website and on some of their cans.

"If it moves and it's not supposed to ... duct tape.
 If it doesn't move and is supposed to ... WD40"
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« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2009, 05:20:54 pm »

As far as I know WD40 is not a lubricant.
What? WD40 not a lubricant? Although not it's primary use, it does say it's a lubricant on their website and on some of their cans.

"If it moves and it's not supposed to ... duct tape.
 If it doesn't move and is supposed to ... WD40"

I've used WD40 on just about every door hinge in my entire house.  I can assure you that it is, in fact, a lubricating fluid.
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« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2009, 05:33:30 pm »

WD40 is a lubricant, just not a very good one. The "WD" stands for water displacement and its primary purpose is to remove moisture from joints. This reduces the amount of iron oxid fixative (ie rust) in any joint thereby loosing said joint and making it easier to move or open. Now depending on what is causing the stopper to stick WD40 may very well work. Wouldn't count on it but it may. Also, if the material sticking the stopper is not reactive you may try acetone or turpentine as they have a very good history of loosening glass items as they dissolve most things that stick to glass.
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Arvis
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« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2009, 07:06:36 pm »

 Water displacer formula #40. Designed by our engineers back in the days of the Apollo space program getting our boys on the moon. Formula #40 was the one that finally worked as it was supposed to. Primary active ingredient is a fish oil. The fragrance is supposed to be a secret. Also handy for arthritis and fish bait. (this info may not be accurate as I'm going off of memory here I haven't looked it up)
I could also be wrong about when it was developed...   ...it may have been before the Apollo missions but I'm sure it was NASA.

 As for the bottle I like the acetone idea. I'd probably try that when just freezing would fail.
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Marrock
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« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2009, 07:35:53 pm »

Could always give white vinegar a try, depending on what's jamming it up the vinegar might dissolve it enough to get it out.

And be very careful doing the heat/cold thing, that's a great way to remove the bottle permanently from existence due to thermal shock.
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Angus A Fitziron
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« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2009, 12:45:10 pm »

If you can submerge the bottle completely, keeping it upright, the stopper will eventually come loose. In the lab we had lead rings that would fit around the neck of a bottle or flask, resting on the shoulder. The weight would hold the bottle down to prevent floating. If you could accomplish this, the air would be constantly pushing up and as it loosened, water would seep into the joint to dissolve whatever is holding it. I have used this trick many times to free the stoppers of BOD bottles that have broken off in the bottle...
I've remembered that I re-purposed my spare tank into a fire wood store (full already!). Does it only work if the bottle is upright? I've got it submerged on its side at the moment. Your post says "eventually" come loose. How long, typically, should I expect "eventually" to be?
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Marrock
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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2009, 12:51:32 pm »

I've remembered that I re-purposed my spare tank into a fire wood store (full already!). Does it only work if the bottle is upright? I've got it submerged on its side at the moment. Your post says "eventually" come loose. How long, typically, should I expect "eventually" to be?

Yeah, it does matter, you want the air trying to escape to press against the stopper to push it loose.
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2009, 01:46:07 pm »

I've remembered that I re-purposed my spare tank into a fire wood store (full already!). Does it only work if the bottle is upright? I've got it submerged on its side at the moment. Your post says "eventually" come loose. How long, typically, should I expect "eventually" to be?
Upright will work the best. The longest I had to soak a bottle was 5 days, but it would depend on what the binding factor is. Residue from an alkali solution should be polar and should dissolve in the water... eventually... Grin Give it a week, after that try one of the other suggestions...
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Arvis
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2009, 02:44:47 pm »

I've remembered that I re-purposed my spare tank into a fire wood store (full already!). Does it only work if the bottle is upright? I've got it submerged on its side at the moment. Your post says "eventually" come loose. How long, typically, should I expect "eventually" to be?
Upright will work the best. The longest I had to soak a bottle was 5 days, but it would depend on what the binding factor is. Residue from an alkali solution should be polar and should dissolve in the water... eventually... Grin Give it a week, after that try one of the other suggestions...

 Heh, the same trick in the acetone! (cut to the chase, do it with acetone first!)  Cheesy
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Angus A Fitziron
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2009, 06:16:17 pm »

OK, it's now upright but I have only got about 2 cms of cover over the neck opening. No tiny streams of air bubbles that I can see yet.
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Arvis
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2009, 06:28:08 pm »

OK, it's now upright but I have only got about 2 cms of cover over the neck opening. No tiny streams of air bubbles that I can see yet.

 The deeper it is the better it would work? (just guessing here)
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Angus A Fitziron
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2009, 08:57:45 pm »

Trouble is, it's quite a tall bottle ~ 13", so it's in a bucket at the moment, only other choice is the wild life pond and I am certainly not using lead in there to weigh it down! Still if needs must I am sure there is a way.
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Marrock
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2009, 10:11:37 pm »

Trouble is, it's quite a tall bottle ~ 13", so it's in a bucket at the moment, only other choice is the wild life pond and I am certainly not using lead in there to weigh it down! Still if needs must I am sure there is a way.

Plastic milk jugs filled with sand.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2009, 10:12:24 pm »

Got any dust bins? Fill one of them with water I am sure that would be deep enough Cheesy
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