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Spontaneous explosion of my glass cutting board

I really like kitchen glassware of nearly every form for all those essential functions; drinking, eating, baking. I have all kinds of drinking glasses, baking dishes, pie dishes, canning jars, Pyrex measuring cups and even a set of Corning's Visions glass pots.

The latest type of glassware I've added to my collection are glass cutting boards. They're kind of smooth on one side and kind of pebbly on the other side. And they usually come with four little disc feet attached to the bottom. I liked them so much, I have five, in various sizes.

Well, at least I used to have five. 1May 2007, one small one, that I had resting on a small wooden table in my bathroom for a couple of years exploded. Yup, exploded all by itself. There were no apparent external temperatures, pressures or other stressors acting on the glass board. Nothing fell on it. Had I dropped something on it, or quickly heated it or bumped it into a metal pipe or anything, I could accept I had somehow triggered the event.

When I left for work, it was intact. No one else was in the house. When I came home from work, the board was in hundreds of pieces all across the bathroom floor and in the bathtub. A few pieces even made it out into the hallway about 8 feet away.

I have to tell you, it took an amazingly long time for me to even get my brain to process what was before me. When I first saw all the broken glass, I assumed it somehow came from the shower window, that it had somehow been pushed in, fallen into the bathtub with enough force to sweep up and out of the tub.

When I saw the window was intact, I realized the broken glass had been the glass cutting board. So I began looking for what could have fallen on it to break it. Nothing else in the bathroom was out of place. Not even the roll of toilet paper, plastic cup and a couple of other small lightweight items that were still resting on the remains of the glass board had moved significantly.

Big earthquake? Nope.

Then all logic left my brain. I started speculating about high energy beams, sonic waves, ghosts, poltergeists, errant microwaves from some James Bondian-type killer satellite, etc.

Finally I decided to phone my brother. While I kept staring at the mess, he had the wherewithal to go online. He searched for phrases like 'spontaneous glass explosion' and the like.

A thing like that exists? Remarkably, yes. Is it rare? Apparently not as rare as you might think.

http://www.oldcastleglass.com/design criteria

"Such inclusions can cause spontaneous breakage in tempered glass, without any load being applied, at any time, even five or ten years after the tempered glass has been fabricated. These inclusions are typically so small (about 0.010" in diameter) that they are virtually impossible to locate and identify in an individual unbroken lite of glass."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_glass_breakage (I shall add to the wiki :)

What troubles me now, is I have several glass cutting boards that I use as a work surface for polymer clay and quite a number of pyrex and corning baking dishes, etc. in the kitchen.

So I thought I'd let you folks benefit from my personal experience. Since manufacturers and retailers don't want to bother telling you about the risks, and some will even try to make you believe it was your fault when your glass table, shower or patio door explodes.

Treat your tempered glassware with some respect. And you might want to think carefully about how you store kitchenware items, especially if you have children or pets! If you decide to keep them (talking about the glassware, not your children or pets :), consider storing them so that they can't cause any harm if they decide to spontaneously shatter into a million pieces.

Wanna peek? The thumbnails are large, and the actual images are monstrously large and unedited.

IMG_0225 IMG_0229 IMG_0228


top view of table where glass board lived, you can see the items that sat on top of board, they were not disturbed during the explosion


i changed angles and turned on the camera's flash to show the glass bits better


another view of the scatter on the floor

IMG_0235 IMG_0238


lower right hand corner shows a partial view of a shelved unit. leading edge of the glass board jutted 1" further out than the unit, enough clearance to allow some glass fragments to shoot about 6 feet away.


different angle of the mess on the floor beneath the table. curiously, the explosion that was strong enough to shoot glass 6 feet away seemed to be strictly horizontal, parallel to the board.


more mess on the floor

IMG_0243 IMG_0244


then i removed the items resting on top of the glass board so i could get a better look at the fracture patterns



Last update to this page: 05 May 07. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.