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Episode 29: Cooling a six-pack, ancient battery, and rebuilding Buster (extended edition)

  • Fastest way of cooling a six-pack (originally test of cooling with gasoline)
    • Gasoline can cool a six-pack: mythbusted
    • Fire extinguisher can cool a six-pack: confirmed
  • An archeological find from between 250BC-250AD is an ancient battery.
    • ... and was used for electro-plating: plausible
    • ... and was used for accupuncture: plausible
    • ... and was used for 'experiencing God': plausible
  • Testing Buster's new body

Update: The MythBusters did a live demonstration of cooling a six-pack at their Encinal High benefit event.

Fastest way of cooling a six-pack

Myth: Can gasoline cool a six-pack? A contributor said that in Vietnam they would bury the six-pack in the sand, pour quart of gasoline over it, and set it on fire.

"There's nothing more patriotic than gasoline and beer"

Connecticut Yankee and Fritz for their expert opinion. 38 degrees -- ideal temperature

Tested experiment with sand, gas, and beer. The end result: warmer, sandy beer.

This was an example of using a obviously fake myth in order to do a bunch of experiments.

Experiment 1: Ice vs. Ice + water vs. Ice + water + salt vs. fridge vs. freezer

Initial measurements:

  • Ice
  • Ice + water: 33 degrees
  • Ice + water + salt (salt melts ice and lowers the freezing point): 24 degrees

Results (after 5 minutes):

  • ice: 57 degrees
  • ice water: 44 degrees
  • salt water: 35.9 degrees
  • freezer: 55 degrees
  • fridge: 60 degrees

Final results: * Ice + water + salt: 5 minutes * Ice + water: 15 minutes * Freezer: 25 minutes * Ice: 30 minutes * Fridge: 40+ minutes

Experiment 2: Fire extinguisher

Squirted for 3 minutes: 37 degrees

Jamie, "If you do have one and you're willing to spend maybe, you know, $30 on having your beer cooled, now, then I guess you could do that"

Experiment 3: Custom cooling

Ancient electricity

Myth: based on single piece of archeological evidence: in the 1930s an urn was found in Baghdad 250bc - 250ad, found copper pipe, iron rod in center, cork made of asphalt at the top, and residue of acidic liquid on the inside. Was this an ancient battery?

Modern batteries were invented 200 years ago, but the battery-like jar that dates back 2000 years. The build team was used to investigate the jar to see if it could, in fact, be a battery, and also to figure out what potential uses of a battery from that time might be.

They made 10 terra cotta jars that were 6" high, 1.5" hole in top and then inserted an iron bar wrapped in a copper tube. For the acidic contents they first did a demonstration/test with a basic lemon battery: zinc, copper, and a lemon. The acidic lemon juice strips electrons off the copper that flow to the zinc, creating a charge. Using iron instead of zinc (to stay accurate to the archeological find) they got 1/3 of the volts.

With the full array of 10 pots they were able to generate 4 volts -- not the most powerful battery, but definitely plausible.

What was it used for?

Three possible uses that people have speculated:

  1. electro-plating
  2. pain relief with accupuncture
  3. experiencing God

Jamie felt that it was #3


Accupuncture has been around for over 2000 years.

Tested accupuncture with battery on Scottie -- a little rougher than modern charge techniques, but it works. However, on at least one of the needles, got a little too warm and they took it off.


The electro-plating experiment worked as well: they were able to plate a small medallion.

Experiencing 'God'

The idea for this one was that the electric current was run through a religious artifact that people would then touch to 'experience God.'

Tory built a 'replica Ark of the Convenant' to test #3. Kari handled the two golden angels for the top of the Ark (one Adam angel and one Jamie angel). She did a stunningly good job -- her statue-making talent is not one they've shown off befeore.

Tory and Kari electrified the angels by hooking up the electric fense transformer (10,000 volts, but low amps) and proceeded to shocked the hell out of Tory and Scottie. They then had to decide whether to do the same to Adam (use the same amount of volts or lower it)...

... Adam was pissed.

All three potential uses of the ancient battery: plausible

Testing Buster's new body

No myth here, they just wanted to eek more TV time out of Buster's rebuild which they originally showed during the Buster Special. They showed the rebuilding of Buster in more detail as a build-up to a grand inaugural dropping of Buster inside Earl the Caddy from the top of a crane.

Crash-test dummies are built for 80G's -- buster has taken 5 times that (probably in the elevator drop). He's was also fried pretty thoroughly in the Ming Dynasty Astronaut episode.

For his skeleton they cast aluminum joints with poplar wood to simulate bones (similar breaking characteristics)

For his body/shell they carved foam body parts to make plastic molds for creating Buster's new silicon rubber skin. They used a vacuum forming process to make the molds, which looks pretty cool (like dropping a sheet of molten saran wrap over the thing that you want to make a mold of). I want a machine that can do that.

As for the dropping: Earl the Caddy is officially dead (Buster survives minus and arm and a bone).


What was the proportion of salt to water in order to cool the six pack?

when you made a conon with a sand blaster you didn't use some thing cald black budy that will make it have more electrisity

Baghdad batteries are freakin awesome. my physics class is recreating them.

The cooling-beer-cans-by-burning-them idea appeared in a sketch from "The Fast Show" in the UK ("Brilliant!" in the US). I suspect that was the origin of the myth - I certainly hope so.

Hi All,

Anyone know what sort of foam was used as the molds for Buster's body parts??

Looks like it's easier to carve that stuff rather than using wood.


Does water cool a beer faster if it's circulating?

WWII desert vets told me that they used aviation gas evaporation to cool beer in the desert.

Okay, I think it's cool that you can cool a six pack with a fire extinguisher, it safe? I don't know...all those chemicals around the food/alcohol doesn't sound like a good combo!

"The acidic lemon juice strips electrons off the copper and positive ions off the zinc forcing a balancing charge (electrons) to move from the zinc to the copper through the external circuit.