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Old 11-23-2007, 01:33 PM   #1
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Color me dumb! The exploding glass chafing dish

We had an incident (or rather, I was the cause of an incident) just before searving Thanksgiving dinner. About 30 minutes before the guests were to arrive, a glass chafing dish exploded in my dining room, spewing glass shards over a two foot area, along with the bread dressing that was in it.

I would have thought that a chafing dish would be able to withstand the heat of the little alcohol burner cups that came with it. I do have to admit that I had added an extra sterno-burning cup under the dish. But even so... The dish was filled with bread dressing, the best I have ever made, by the way, and about twenty minutes after the bruners were lit under the chafing dish, we heard what sounded like something falling off of the dining room table. We ran in to see the alcohol cups still burning, even though they were pretty much buried by the dressing, and a very broken glass chafing dish. The mess was easily cleaned up, the floor vacumed, and everything put back in order, except from my dressing of course. I was just dissapointed.

Fortunately, I had cooked 1/2 of the dressing in the oven, and 1/2 in the bird (stuffing). So I still had good stuffing with the meal, just not as much for left-overs (can anybody say turkey and dressing sandwiches). My metal chafing dish worked pefectly. I will never own a glass chafing dish again.

I should have known better. I mean, uneven heating of glass will cause tremendous pressures do to thermal expansion and cause catastropic failure. But I do have to ask, how did the old Visions Cookware get around this problem?

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

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Old 11-23-2007, 01:47 PM   #2
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That's interesting! Was the chafing dish marked? Would have thought it would have been designed for heat, like Pyrex.

But then again, they sell candles in glass that isn't heat safe, so who knows?

You should have made my stuffing, it was nasty and no one would have missed it, LOL!

Good thing no one got hurt.
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Old 11-23-2007, 03:43 PM   #3
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Glass is not a very good conductor of heat, at least compared with metal.

So a flame might heat up an area of weakness and cause the explosion.

Have seen Pyrex glass that had been used for a while break under not very severe conditions.

I would go with the metal chafing dish in the futurre.

Glad you had enough extra.

Take care.
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Old 11-23-2007, 06:08 PM   #4
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Awwwwww, GW!!! You poor guy!

What a bummer to have such a trauma happen at ALL, nevermind when you'd made your best stuffing ever, AND, just before guests were to arrive!

I'm sure that you didn't let it wreck your good time.

And it's not dumb to use an item in the manner it was intended. Not sure if the extra sterno was the straw that broke the glass's "back", but it would have been something I might have done, too!

Thank you for sharing your experience!

Lee
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Old 11-23-2007, 06:14 PM   #5
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Hmmmm, maybe that's why I still have a lot of my old pans and practically none of my glass stuff. :-) They break easily. Mostly in my sink tho. :-)
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Old 11-23-2007, 06:29 PM   #6
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You probably just hit a fault in the glass. At least the explosion didn't send glass shards into the rest of the dinner, or explode while anyone was near it. The situation couuld have been much worse then.

Hey if it had been me, it would have exploded and left a trail of dressing over walls, ceiling....
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Old 11-23-2007, 09:19 PM   #7
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So sorry to hear GWeed--glad noone was hurt............
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Old 11-23-2007, 10:23 PM   #8
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Bummer Goodweed - I think you voided your warranty when you added the extra heat source?

Somewhere, from years ago, I think I remember hearing on a PBS cooking show that Sterno chould be used with metal chafing dishes or metal with glass inserts but not directly under the glass only in a metal frame type ... they need the lower temp alcohol burners. Of course, there is no specific mention about that on the Sterno website - and I think I heard this when I was in college (circa 1970-1974) and could have cared less because I couldn't afford a chafing dish, or a reason to have one! So, don't rely on my memory.

Logic would suggest that the problem was uneven heating or cooling - but some of these stores about exploding pyrex seem to defy explanation.
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Old 11-23-2007, 10:46 PM   #9
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Bummer Goodweed - I think you voided your warranty when you added the extra heat source? ...
The reason I titled this "color me dumb" is that I know full well the hazzards of uneven heating in materials such as glass and ceramics. They have little to no flexibility, and due to immense pressures caused by thermal expansion, have a tendency to fail catastrophically. I should have known that extra heat, and indeed, the sterno flame would be too hot in too concentrated an area. The dish would have been just fine in an oven, where all parts of the glass would be subject to the same heat, and thus expand uniformly. But a flame under glass, or ceramic, is just asking for trouble.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 11-24-2007, 12:26 AM   #10
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Well, Goodweed - you know that I know that you know about thermal expansion/contraction .... whew - got dizzy there on that one ...

Anyway - that's why I thought you might get a kick out of some of the exploding pyrex stories ...
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Old 11-24-2007, 01:08 AM   #11
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So sorry Good Weed of the North. some where in all of our cooking lives we have pulled some teriffic boo boo's and I am not telling mine
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Old 11-24-2007, 04:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
Logic would suggest that the problem was uneven heating or cooling
agreed, it even happens to Lab glassware too, that`s why even with Pyrex or Borosilicate ware, there are special diffuser adaptors to go on the bunsens (or we use a hot plate and a liquid medium to transfer heat.

it can be quite scary when you have a volatile liquid heating and you start to hear that tinkling or pinking sound!

uneven heating is a killer for glassware, and of course with 2 heat sources you have 2 areas of expansion and a middle area under twice the pressure now.

Sorry to hear it Bro! and of course being Glass you can`t take any risks you have to deep 6 the whole lot
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Old 11-24-2007, 04:57 AM   #13
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I don't even use glass anymore.

1. Family doesn't care what I use, just as long as it's cooked. :-)

2. I don't trust the glass.

3. I trust me even less. :-)
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Old 11-24-2007, 09:05 AM   #14
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Sorry to hear about that Goodweed -and I'm glad no one was hurt.
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Old 11-24-2007, 11:06 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Michael in FtW View Post
Bummer Goodweed - I think you voided your warranty when you added the extra heat source? ... ... Logic would suggest that the problem was uneven heating or cooling - but some of these stores about exploding pyrex seem to defy explanation.
Yup. Those stories make sense to me. And yup, I knew that Pyrex is no longer made of borosilicate glass. It's a shame that profit is so much more important than is quality in our world.

Seeeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 11-24-2007, 11:31 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goodweed of the North View Post
We had an incident (or rather, I was the cause of an incident) just before searving Thanksgiving dinner. About 30 minutes before the guests were to arrive, a glass chafing dish exploded in my dining room, spewing glass shards over a two foot area, along with the bread dressing that was in it.

I would have thought that a chafing dish would be able to withstand the heat of the little alcohol burner cups that came with it. I do have to admit that I had added an extra sterno-burning cup under the dish.
I'm sorry about your dressing, GW. Good thing you had more

This happened once when I was a waitress in college, working a reception with a buffet. When I started working there, I was taught to keep the lid of the Sterno cup and set it halfway across the cup, to lower the temp a little. We had a new person there one day, and she threw it away before we started, so we went ahead and lit the Sternos. Sure enough, one of the glass serving dishes exploded DURING THE RECEPTION. Yikes. I think it ruined three dishes, since there were 6 or 8 items on the buffet.
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