Something there is that doesn't love an unstuck bowl
June 8, 2022 5:39 PM   Subscribe

It all started with a tweet from artist Chi Nguyen on Monday. "Twitter, I need your help." Two bowls had become stuck together while doing the dishes, and they would not come apart!

The internet collectively had many, many suggestions to unstick the bowls.

A short list of suggestions:
  • Freezer, then cold water
  • Freezer, then rubber mallet
  • Passive-aggressive comments to either/both bowls
  • Tap lightly onto the table
  • Hot out of the dishwasher
  • A toddler
But today I can tell you that they have become separated again!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
The gravity of this situation bowls me over.
posted by clavdivs at 5:47 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]

I do love that entire list of things to try to get two bowls apart, however. That's worth of saving for future reference.
posted by hippybear at 5:55 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

This is the most inspiring story of community coming together of the early to mid 2020s.
posted by goatdog at 6:13 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]

“Tell a toddler the bowls must stay together” is galaxy-brain stuff.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:21 PM on June 8 [37 favorites]

I used to work in a flower shop. The first time I was allowed to work alone there, the "downtime" task given to me was to separate a tower of large buckets which had been vacuum-sealed together in much the same way - they were stacked while wet and fused together as they dried. It initially felt impossible, but I ended up unsticking the entire mass with the use of the wedge of wood we used as a doorstop plus a rubber mallet, using the wedge to prise just the tiniest opening for air to escape and release the seal. It was not easy! There were around twenty of the dang things and it took forever and even once the seal was broken, peeling the buckets out took some elbow grease.

When my boss came in later, she seemed absolutely shocked that I had managed to do it, and said she was just going to throw them out and... you know what, I'm just realizing while writing this that she was probably trying to play a prank on me. God damn it. Later hires we would just ask them to refresh the water buckets for all our pre-assembled bouquets, but we'd replace one of the buckets with one full of fake plants to see if they noticed.

(Anyway in this case the bowls are absolutely inflexible, so that wouldn't have worked, but I think I would have tried blasting the edges with compressed air... I'm almost sad they're apart so I can't tell if my idea would have succeeded!)
posted by one of these days at 6:24 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]

Reminds me of the stuck sofa in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:42 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]

Interesting; my immediate thought of hot water + cold water got ruled out pretty quick. Twice, in fact. Oh well.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:52 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

Pretty sure WD40 would have done it.
posted by bz at 6:59 PM on June 8

First of all, I'm happy they're apart! Second of all, I work in a ceramics studio some lately, and I woulda said to put them both in the freezer overnight and then wrap them both in a dish towel, making sure it's thick underneath for when the small one falls out, and turn them upside down and then plonk them with a mallet. Rotate the outer bowl around, make sure the mallet's always hitting on the towel near where the littler bowl's rim is and then just plonk plonk plonk around. Every once in a while, hit the big bowl from straight down, aiming for the foot (the thicker part of the bottom, usually the outer side of the bottom part). Even if you get more than all the way, keep gently plonking, smaller and smaller rotations.

And then if even that doesn't work, then pour some hot hot water on the outside one and do the same thing. In case anyone ever needs this information.

And Chi Nguyen is rad!
posted by lauranesson at 7:05 PM on June 8

Pretty sure WD40 would have done it.

That was listed as tried in the second Tweet.
posted by primethyme at 7:27 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

Once the bowls vacuum breaks, add graphite.
posted by clavdivs at 7:43 PM on June 8

When the vacuum breaks
Then add the graphite
And out will come bowly
No longer airtight
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:47 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]

dip the bowls in mercury, wash gently.
No, but the pourous nature of bowls, perhaps boil them.
posted by clavdivs at 8:57 PM on June 8

Mmmmm. Mercury dipped bowls! What every kitchen needs!
posted by hippybear at 8:59 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]

Define the interior of the outer bowl to be the space you are in. Now take the double dual or something. If you believe it, it will happen.
posted by TreeRooster at 9:03 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]

Redefine the pair of stuck bowls to be one, doubly reinforced bowl.
posted by darkstar at 9:07 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]

Did they try turning the bowls off, then on again?
posted by The otter lady at 9:20 PM on June 8 [19 favorites]

dip the bowls in mercury
Ah, mercury! Sweetest of the transition metals.
posted by xedrik at 9:57 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]

Ask a dishwasher. Blow air between them with your lips or a straw.

I used to get pint glasses stuck together all the time working at my friend's bar. Pulling just made it worse. Blow some air between them and they'd instantly part.

If they're really stuck use canned air duster, or an air compressor with blowgun.
posted by loquacious at 10:05 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]

I'm glad he managed to get the bowls apart. I think I would have tried the toddler first, if I had one on staff that day. They have a remarkable persistence and are barely bound by the laws of reality.

My worst 2 things that shouldn't be stuck together but have gotten stuck together that I experienced was a kitchen sink strainer basket and a canning lid. Surprisingly difficult to remove when you have a full sink. My solution was to stab the canning lid repeatedly and get a pair of needle nose pliers through one of the holes.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:11 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]

Did they try breaking the bowls and duct-taping them back together?
posted by zompist at 10:14 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]

Obligatorily: hell, with the Axiom of Choice you can break the two bowls and duct-tape them back into a single bowl of half the original total volume.
posted by away for regrooving at 12:11 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]

A toddler

A few weeks ago, I made coffee in the Moka pot. This particular pot is 15+ years old and, these days, gets used only a few times a year. The gasket is a bit sticky. When I went to clean it out, I found that it wouldn't open.

I tried jar openers. I tried rubber bands. I tried a strap wrench. I ran hot water over it. I put it in the freezer. I banged it on the deck. I put it in the freezer and then poured hot water into it. mrsozzy tried all the same things and we were utterly unable to open it. This went on for -- literally -- several days.

We had about given up and consigned ourselves buying a replacement pot when our 35-pound 8-year-old said that she wanted to try.

Wouldn't you know, it was like the sword in the fucking stone, popped right open.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:45 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]

I worked in a LOT of pubs back in the day, and picked up an old potman's trick. Take the stuck items and lay the side of the outer one against the corner of a bar or counter at a 45⁰ angle. Then, holding both gently, with a very very slight pulling apart pressure, slide the lip of the outer item down so that the edge passes the counter edge. The inner item then bounces gently on the edge. If it doesn't free it, rotate a few degrees and try again. Do not increase speed or force. Just repeat and turn. The items will separate in nearly every case (I'd say well over 99%), usually within 30 seconds.
posted by howfar at 5:50 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the Robert Frost reference in the title. It made me happy.
posted by Well I never at 8:19 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]

As an aside. Do you have one of those plastic kitchen garbage pails that seems to hold on to the garbage bag and refuse to let it go?

Drill a few holes in it, near the bottom. Problem solved.
posted by Splunge at 9:06 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]

Did anyone try adding St-Germain to the bowls?
posted by slkinsey at 9:37 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Gravity + patience is hard to beat, but fiddling with things is irresistible.
posted by theora55 at 11:55 PM on June 9

I really loved this note thanking everyone for their support. (And the replies from all over the world, too! Sometimes the internet can be not sucky.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:44 PM on June 12

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