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Why do watermelons crack, split and explode?

Updated on April 3, 2012
This is what a normal watermelon should look like when cut!
This is what a normal watermelon should look like when cut!

When it comes to summer time, nothing beats a good slice of juicy pink watermelon. They decorate signs and posters and all types of summer related items. In the heat they represent coolness, sweetness and something to take the warmth away for a few minutes.

Of course, when you buy a big green and white striped watermelon from the shop and then take it home, you are looking forward to a delicious bite. Your mouth waters, you wish the lights would change as you anticipate the great taste.

You get home and put it on the counter. You run off to put down your stuff when you hear a strange sound. You return to the kitchen and find... a cracked watermelon lying innocently on the counter, its guts splattered around the kitchen. So the question you ask is ...

Why did my water melon explode?

The simple answer? Your water melon was rotten.

If you were lucky, it didn't smell. If you were unlucky it might have really stunk!

The complicated answer? As soon as a fresh plant is removed from its host plant or reaches maturity, it begins to very slowly break down. Heat accelerates this process.

As it breaks down, a colorless gas called acetylene forms inside the water melon. The gas is volatile and quite unstable while in gas form (which is why when it's used in scientific experiments it's usually used in liquid form.)

The gas will try its best to escape the water melon but as it slowly increases due to the rotting in the water melon, the pressure will continue to increase.

When the skin of the watermelon is no longer strong enough to hold the gas inside, it will explode, often spraying all nearby surfaces with rotten water melon.

Sometimes a trip home from the shop in a warm car is the final catalyst required to create an explosion.

How can I avoid a rotten watermelon?

There is one guranteed way to avoid taking home a rotting watermelon that might shower the interior of your house.

Buy a cut water melon or request that the shop owner cut it before you buy it.

This way you can make sure it's in satisfactory condition before you take it home - just remember to keep it as cool as possible on the trip back to your house.

How can I make a water melon explode?

It's a bad idea to try to recreate an exploding water melon. It's possible to recreate an explosion with a chemical procedure but this involves volatile gases and liquids.

Ask your chemistry or science teacher - they may know how to do it and be willing to recreate the exploding water melon for your class!

Watermelon photo thank you to jetalone


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      Victor Yuen 6 months ago

      It just happened to me and yes, believe you me the melon stinks, brought the bits and pieces and managed to get a refund. Not buying anymore with this supermarket. This slight explosion was the first time I experienced it. I'll probably take the advise of having it opened or sliced in half the next time.

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      sam 9 months ago

      what temperature will a watermelon explode

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      Evan 2 years ago

      It leaked through my hard wood floor and puddled in my basement!!!!

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      mike 2 years ago

      Just happened to us. Eating dinner, and watermelon starts leaking a white foamy liquid. Did not have much of a smell, but I stuck a knife into it, at the gas did stink

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      Leon 2 years ago

      Noticed a bunch of liquid running down my table to the floor from a watermelon i bought 2 days ago. After cleaning the mess i checked it and thought nothing was wrong with it. So i cut into it and it sprayed out a liquid that smelled so bad it was unbearable!

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      3 years ago

      It just happened to me o my word what a stink had to was walls and floors with JIK to get rid of the smell!! and I still get that sour smell!!!

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      connie 3 years ago

      OMG...this happen to me a week ago!!!

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      kelly 6 years ago

      Just let one sit for a week and it will explode....ya it happened to me

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      Danielle 6 years ago

      OMg. I just googled this because this recently happened at home. We had gone away for a couple of days and I could smell something in the kitchen. I went to pick up the melon and before I could even grasp it it exploded. What a mess and what a stench!

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      Haydee Anderson 7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      this is an interesting information. I never heard before that watermelons can explode when rotten.