An Idaho man recently learned that leaving plastic water bottles in your car can cause some serious damage in the heat. Battery technician Dioni Amuchastegu was sitting in his truck on his lunch break when he saw smoke out of the corner of his eye. Dioni turned to find that the passenger seat of his truck was burning.
image credit: Idaho Power
The information in the message is true. Given the right kind of plastic container and the right environmental conditions, sun shining through a water bottle can indeed lead to combustion. A round plastic bottle filled with clear water can act as a lens that concentrates the sun’s energy on one point.
image credit: shefinds
Basically, the bottle acts like a magnifying glass. This magnifying effect can be easily seen if one looks at an object through a full bottle. As many of us will recall from childhood experiments, it is not at all difficult to burn holes in paper or dry leaves using a magnifying glass.
It turns out that light was being refracted through a plastic water bottle, which caused the passenger seat to catch fire. Two charred holes in the passenger seat prove Dioni’s story. Idaho Power explained that a round, plastic water bottle filled with a clear liquid can act as a lens to concentrate the sun’s energy on one point.
Eventually, enough heat is created to spark flames and ignite a fire.If your car tends to get a little cluttered, the most important thing to remember is to get rid of any plastic water bottles lying around. On a sunny day, those bottles could end up starting a fire in your vehicle.