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Exploding glassware?

Has anybody here had a glass cooking/baking dish shatter or "explode" (through no fault of your own!)?

I'm researching possible defects in glass cookware -- there seems to be a huge increase in such complaints! Thanks.

P.S. BONUS POINTS if you live in or around Chicago!!!

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  1. Was it hot? Did you put it down on a cold granite counter?
    Could be a rapid temperature change.

    1. I've done it but it was my fault. If you ever want to see glass shards all over the place, and I mean itsy bitsy pieces EVERYWHERE, try it yourself. Mine was the fault of rapid temperature change. I pulled it from a very hot oven and went outside on a chilly night (party snacks). It actually had bruschetta in it, so it was a dry hot pan and I lazily placed it on cold, wet ground when the bread was transfered to an already in use platter. POP!

      1. We just had a glass pyrex baking dish shatter in the drawer below our oven. Stacked inside the dish was a smaller glass version of the dish which remained intact. I believe the dish broke due to the impact between the two dishes...potentially if the drawer was pulled out too far and hit the floor. Not in Chicago.

        1 Reply
        1. re: adams_jo

          This happened about 6 weeks ago: My girlfriend removed a Pyrex baking dish from the oven after heating up some biscuits -- the thing just shattered when she set it down on the range top. That type of temperature change *should* be completely normal. I was just relieved she wasn't hurt by the exploding glass shards....

        2. You need to be careful with older pyrex that has been used a lot. The glass develops fatigue and is prone too shattering. I know some people have pieces that belonged to their grandmothers and are still going strong. Maybe someo of the formulation has been "improved" so they can sell more of the stuff but shattering is not as uncommon as you think.

          1. Had that happen a couple of months ago. Had green glass plates (about 5 years old). Took it out of the cupboard, put my dinner on it (polish sausage and pototoes) and BAM - the plate complete disengrated. It wasn't even shards of glass mostly - just little balls like a windshield/glass explosion. Never happened before or after and I have no reason why. I don't have a dishwasher and I put hot stuff on them before.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lbs

              That is so weird! lbs, I'd love to talk to you about this. Will you E-mail me your contact info (I'll tell you what I'm researching and why we're so interested!)? Thanks!

              v-dowdle [at] northwestern [dot] edu

              1. re: v2da2dl

                About a year ago I had a bowl just shatter when I touched it. There were four nested bowls - arcoroc, I think - & when I just touched the bowls, just one (the second one in) totally shattered. At the time I thought maybe the previous week's smallish earthquake (around 4.0) was to blame. I wonder why just the one bowl and nothing else?


            2. Candy is right about "fatigue" in older glass. It often gets fissures that you can't even see from rapid temperature changes - fridge to oven to table to freezer to micro or DW cycles. Cystal is very prone to this. I was at a dinner party where a votive holder exploded like a grenade when the candle burned down too low.
              We also lost a lot of china and glassware to tile countertops when we carelessly placed things down at just the wrong angle. Some things just chipped but others shattered.

              1. I have seen this seemingly spontaneous shattering with my pyrex and also with my picardie water glasses, both made with tempered glass. There is a tendency for this to occur with this glass as it will develop weak spots, usually from a bump or drop, but will not break right away.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Leslie

                  Several years ago someone who knew the science behind it posted an explanation of why tempered glass behaves this way, but as Candy points out above, it tends to develop weak points over time that aren't visible to the eye. The wonderful thing about both Pyrex and Picardie glasses is their durability - they don't break if you drop them or bump other dishes, etc. Great for klutzy people like me. I haven't had Pyrex shatter, and I'm careful about the extreme heat transfer, but eventually my Picardie tumblers (usually after many years of use and abuse) will shatter into a million tiny nuggets.

                2. Interesting anectdotes. I've had it happen to me, and a little research sheds some light on the subject. Pyrex is a brand name, not a kind of glass, and some glass-wares that are branded as Pyrex are not intended for heating...like glass measuring cups or cake platters. Pyrex (as in funeral "pyre" or "pyro"-maniac)is famous for their line of wares that ARE intended for cooking and for this they melt-up a batch of glass formulated with silica and borax, to create a borosilicate glass (naturally) which has, among other properties, a very low co-efficient of expansion. This sounds really technical but it's not. We all know that most solids, and all glasses, react to heat by expanding so you can imagine the part of a cake platter thats closer to the heating element in an oven being heated (and expanding) quicker. So that part of the plate expands more than the cooler parts and because the glass is brittle, the stress builds up until the glass cant handle it and it breaks...sometimes spectacularly, though usually disasterously. Pyrex's formula for borosilicate glass has such a low co-efficient of expansion that the hot parts are pretty much the same size as the cold parts and so the casserole survives the uneven heating unlike the regular kind of glass we use. Tempered glass is not necessarily Pyrex or intended for use in cooking. Rather, tempering is a way to make glass extremely hard by cooling the material quickly and evenly. This means the outside shrinks more than the inside which squeezes the glass making it dense and then when the inside finally catches up in in its cooling it keeps the outside skin in compression and makes it really hard (I'm skipping the some of the technical stuff cuz I'm not an engineer). And when I say hard, I mean as hard as steel. But even the hardest of stuff can be broken and when it does in the case of tempered glass, and sometimes it's only the tiniest nick, you see it shatters instantaneously into zillions of granular sorts of chunks or even grains. But what about a nice heavy handblown glass bowl or plate, not tempered and not pyrex...sometimes these objects will seemingly break for no reason at all. Whether it's hand-blown or machine made glass ware (especially if it's thick) when it's finished being formed from the molten state it then has to cool very slowly so it cools very evenly, and not have the stresses accumulate inside it that it would if it were it to cool too quickly and (probably) too unevenly. So, you bring your nice glass bowl home and years later it just breaks. Well, these cooling processes are rarely perfect but glass is strong so it survives the process for a long time. Maybe the glass was stronger before its surface started to see the wear and tear of use and was able to resist what stesses it had until...boink! See? Remember that Pyrex avoids this kinda problem by shrinking and expanding only a tiny tiny bit. Lost yet? Well, another reason might be an impurity in the glass...a little piece of firebrick or some impertectly melted component now resides unseen in the visible spectrum of light. Or maybe a string of glass from the previous day's batch of glass mixes in the furnace. Likewise, it too would be invisible to our eyes. In any event, it would mean it's not your fault. If you have a set of polarized lenses or even a couple of polaroid sunglasses hangin' around you can see some nice rainbows in transparent glass stuff...the more intense the rainbows the higher the stress and glass will eventually have to alleviate that somewhere along the geologic time scale...and I hope long past our immediate needs.

                  1. I once had a hand-blown Simon Pearce salad bowl that was on the counter waiting to be washed after dinner. When I picked it up to wash it, it came apart in my hands in two pieces. I called the Simon Pearce headquarters in Vermont, and they explained, as previous posters have, that sometimes glass just contains an intrinsic weakness or flaw that causes it to break apart.

                    As a result of this conversation they sent me a replacement bowl that actually had a prettier shape than the original bowl. This happened at least 10 years ago; the new bowl is still alive and well.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Pumpkinseed

                      Pumpkinseed, Back when I was in High School we had a two couple dinner party while my friend's parents were out of town. His mother just asked us to "be sure and not use the good stemware". Well of course we did. We made ice cream floats and left the spoons in the glasses. We then cranked up the stereo. A funny thing happens when a metal spoon vibrates inside a crystal glass.....

                      1. re: Pumpkinseed

                        Funny. I had a brand new Simon Pearce cake plate that had just been washed and was sitting on the island when someone brushed against it and it turned into sand. The people at Simon Pearce were kind enough to send another and the replacement is still here 7 years later.

                      2. I had a tempered glass cutting board for about 5 years. One night, I had it on the counter (where it lived) next to the stove and used it to dice an onion. Can't recall what I was cooking on the stove (professional gas) but the cutting board did not get hot.

                        About 2:00 AM, we heard this gawd-awful sound, like a window was shattered with a brick. Went downstairs; glass EVERYWHERE! The darned thing literally just exploded. Think major car accident glass everywhere.

                        Did a little bit of research on tempered glass and found that it indeed occurs. Glass that it "tempered" is under continual stress to temper it and make it stronger. Can't recall where I found it but it wasn't that hard to find on the WWW.

                        Live in far western Chicago suburbs. Hopefully bonus points are chocolate covered. *grin*

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Dee S

                          Hmm, maybe it was the knife gods punishing you for using a glass cutting board.

                          Check out this letter/article:


                          1. re: HaagenDazs

                            Prolly.....I get busted for all kinds of things. Karma train and all. One day, all the good I've done in this world will come to fruition.....*snicker* *chortle*....but then again...

                            I've never used the glass board without a flexible plastic one on top. I'm sure it was stressed over the years and, like we all will some day, gave up the ghost. It was just so darned freaky!

                          2. re: Dee S

                            I have a tempered glass cooktop. Now I have a new one. After 16 years of hard use it shattered. I use counter savers to place hot things on never to cut on. I was cleaning up in the kitchen and had slid the glass counter saver aside to wipe up any crumbs that had collected underneath. When I slid it back into place it it tapped the cooktop ever so slightly and the whole thing imploded. It looked like a fractured televison screeen. A major Oh #%&*!. See photo of cooktop and countersaver before implosion. Sorry it is a bit dark. Found out this in a hazard with glass tops and even happens with new ones age doesn't count that much but mine did get very heavy use.

                          3. I reached into my microwave to take out an acoroc plate and as soon as my cold hand hit the hot plate (only microwave hot, not oven hot) the plate exploded into tons of glass shards I was lucky it was inside the microwave and not right in my face!

                            1. I have had this occur twice....the first time it was a new glass in a set just purchased at Bloomingdale's. I returned the rest of the glasses. This shattered in my hand as it was being removed from the dishwasher.
                              The second time was today, when the glass was standing on the counter with some water in it...it just exploded!

                              1. This JUST happened to me and I live in the 'burbs of Chicago. It was the scariest thing ever. I have two nano-shards of glass in my foot due to this bugger. Basically I took the pyrex out of the oven and put it on the stove top. I than poored warm liguid in it and with in 2 minutes it shattered.

                                1. Consumerist recently ran a column on exploding Pyrex. A lot of commenters theorize that Corning has cheaped out on the materials.


                                  1. IIRC, Corning sold the Pyrex trademark to another company. If my recollection is correct, the new ownership may be trying to cut corners, resulting in an inferior product. Does anyone else recall reading about Corning having sold that trademark?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Ted in Central NJ



                                      BTW- The first link explains better the shattering issues and glass type changes.

                                    2. Here's something weird...

                                      My mother has had a couple tempered glass cutting boards in her kitchen for years. The other morning she woke up to find one had shattered during the night. Most of the cutting board was still on the counter, but part of it had sprayed out over the room.

                                      The temperature change between day and night is maybe 6-10 degrees.

                                      My mom wonders if it had something to do with my brother's recent death, like it's a message from beyond. I'm thinking there might be a sounder, more scientific reason, but I'm at wit's end to come up with one.

                                      Anyone ideas?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: glassman1


                                        Well, back many moons ago, we had some plates in the cabinet just up and break over the night. We cleaned up the mess to feel this strange vibration within the entire cabinet runs covering 4 different walls. It stopped before we could locate the source. About 1:30 in the AM I woke up to get a glass of milk when the compressor in the fridge started up. Within minutes the dishes, glasses, and the cups were in tune to the refrigerator hums -n- vibes. However, none broke this time. Upon sampling the milk it wasn't all that cold to me, so I checked it with the thermometer. Hummm, 44 degrees...

                                        Anyway it was the refrigerator that was on its last leg. The compressor was the likely suspect as they have been known to resonate before totally failing.


                                      2. Since Pyrex appears to explode mostly when a hot baking vessel is put directly on a cold surface, I wonder whether incidents have increased with the advent of so much granite on kitchen countertops -- in other words, whether it is a Pyrex problem or a cold stone problem. When we had Formica counterops, I always put hot ovenware (and pots) on a trivet. We now have engineered stone (Granite Transformations, best for no-mess remodels) that can take the heat, so I stopped using trivets. Now I will start again.

                                        FWIW, this thread and the one on counterop materials started me thinking along this cause-and-effect line.

                                        1. This has happened to me too. It was with a pyrex. I learned from someone in a cookware store it is something about the temperature change.

                                          1. "Glass" generally refers to a transparent matrix, usually soda-lime and silica (Pyrex has its own formula, which is a fluid, having no true molecular bonds. It just so happens that at the temperatures at which humans can survive, it behaves as if it were a solid. Glass needs to be tempered and/or annealed, heating and cooling treatments to reduce internal stress and resist rapid temperature shifts. The key to this matrix surviving is a pristine surface. When the martix is cooling from the molten state, the surface forms an hard, glossy "enamel" resistent to chemical interaction. However, if this enamel is disrupted, the matrix will begin preferentially bonding with oxygen and water molecules. And as this bonding continues, a "discontinuity" in the fluid begins to form, and propagate.
                                            And eventually, usually under stress (such as rapid temperature shift, vibrations, a good hit), but sometimes simply due to the development of this disassociation over time, the glass will arrive at a critical point and fail. The glass enamel is ruptured by inpact, repeated frictive contact with other glass, nesting is not a really good thing, and is easily disrupted by contact with metal. And that's why sparkling wine is bottles in new bottles, only. And why you should have that tiny chip in the windshield attend to ASAP.

                                            1. In tempered glass used in the construction industry, the same tempering process which strengthens glass can also cause an increase in nickel sulfide inclusions. These are small naturally-occurring impurities in glass that will sometimes expand due to changes in temperature (even moderate changes) and cause spontaneous breakages even without any sharp impact.

                                              1. I had this happen too, in the oven. I was going to bake some drumsticks and my metal pans were in the dishwasher, so I went with one of my Pyrex baking dishes instead. It exploded halfway through the cooking time. What I found was that the uneven-ness of the temperature of the hot chicken pieces vs. the untouched/unused part of the pan was the culprit. Now I never use a Pyrex unless I can cover the entire area of the pan with a sauce or casserole filling or something that evens out the temp so it warms and cools at the same rate.

                                                1. Oh! I know the answer, and I'm from Chicago, bonus! I just read it on a blog, here's the link.


                                                  alternately just head straight to the wikipedia


                                                  In short, they changed the formula they were using in 1998, so its not your grandma's pyrex.

                                                  1. Just happened to me five minutes ago, just made some french fries in a glass dish with some crisco oil, when finished i moved it from the front burner to the back burner, put a lid on it to protect the oil from whatever may linger in the enviorment, turn my back then BOOM glass and oil everything, was like a ticking time bomb! All was safe though except i have a gas stove

                                                    1. Believe I once read an article on this which said to be sure never to put a hot Pyrex dish onto a wet surface, even if the water is not cold. Before this, I once had a casserole shatter when set onto a damp towel atop the counter.

                                                      1. This happend to me today. I was baking chicken in a pyrex box. I took it out of the oven and placed it ontop of my granite table. As soon as it touched the table it expolded. I was just very thankful i didn't get hurt.And my chicken didn't ruin either ;]. It was still exploding after 5 minutes. So if this happens to you please be careful. Let it cool.