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How to Freeze & Shatter Steel

Katrina Arthurs

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon. It is one of the strongest materials in the world and is used in everything from cars and container ships to surgical equipment, refrigerators and construction products. Though highly resistant to hot and cold, it is possible to freeze and shatter steel using compressed air.

There are more than 3,500 different grades of steel.
  1. Attach the straw supplied with the compressed air can to the nozzle. Push one tip of the straw over the small hole of the nozzle until it is secure. If you are freezing a large area, do not use the straw.

  2. Put on sturdy work gloves to protect your fingers from freezing and wear goggles to protect the eyes.

  3. Shake the can a few times then turn it upside down. Hold the tip of the straw or opening of the nozzle one inch away from the area you are freezing. If you are attempting to freeze and shatter a steel lock, insert the straw in the key hole opening.

  4. Depress the nozzle on the compressed air can. Depending on grade and thickness, you will need to keep a constant flow of compressed air on the steel for between 30 and 60 seconds. The steel is frozen and ready to be shattered when a thick, white frost forms. Set the can aside.

  5. Strike the steel with firm force using a hammer to shatter it.

  6. Tip

    Compressed air is most often used to clean dust particles out of hard to reach places. It can be purchased in the office supply section of most major retailers.


    Make sure there is proper ventilation in the area you are working. Wear protective clothing and goggles to avoid contact with skin and eyes.