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I was in the mood to give someone a bottle of whiskey, but to customize it, I wanted to decorate it with polymer clay. But to set polymer clay, you have to put it in the oven and so therefore I would have to put it on the bottle of alcohol and then put in the oven.

My question is, is it safe to keep the bottle unopened with alcohol inside or should I just pour out the alcohol and reseal it with wax?

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    What temperature do you need to bake the clay at, and for how long? – dbmag9 Dec 25 '20 at 0:36
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    Also, are you assuming that the clay will stick to glass? If you haven't tried it before I would not expect that to work. A better solution is probably to make your decorations, bake them without the bottle, then stick them on with glue. – dbmag9 Dec 25 '20 at 0:38
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    @Mast and a cheap oven, a cheap kitchen, cheap hands and cheap eyes. – Eric Duminil Dec 25 '20 at 9:26
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    The recipient needs to know it's been decanted so they don't put it on a shelf for a year and then try to drink it. – Mazura Dec 25 '20 at 9:27
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    In addition to the safety concerns, wouldn't heating the whiskey also ruin, or at least alter, its taste? – nick012000 Dec 25 '20 at 12:43
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In general, you wouldn't want to put a sealed glass bottle filled with any liquid in your oven.

If you want to try and are still working on it, remove the cap, empty the alcohol into another container, bake the bottle and cap covered in clay separately leaving room to screw the cap on.

Let the bottle cool completely, then add the alcohol back in.

It's imperative that you let the bottle cool to room temperature, the shock of the oven hot bottle having liquid poured into it would probably shatter it.

In my opinion, baking a sealed, full bottle, is just asking for either a dangerous accident or a big mess.

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    To me, this is only opinion that, in part, repeats what the poster already stated. – Rob Dec 25 '20 at 11:12
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    It's best to be descriptive when you're answering a question. – BobKayser Dec 25 '20 at 11:29
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    Additionally, putting the open bottle with whiskey in it in the oven will result in you not having whiskey afterwards (you’ll have something, but it won’t be whiskey, and I wouldn’t want to drink it after it had been in an oven with setting polymer clay). – Austin Hemmelgarn Dec 25 '20 at 12:55
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    A large container of liquid is going to be a thermal sink, throwing off the curing times for your clay. Also, you’d want to make sure you’re using a clay that doesn’t shrink as it cures or it’ll peel itself off. You might try wrapping another (empty) bottle in parchment, making and curing your design, and then gluing it onto the full bottle – Joe Dec 26 '20 at 13:21
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    Let's get down to brass tacks: "baking a sealed, full bottle, is just asking"... TO EXPLODE. – RonJohn Dec 26 '20 at 23:01
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Use different modelling clay

Two-part putties such as Milliput are just as well designed for fine model-making, and set in air at room temperature.

If you start with a white putty then you can mix it with acrylic paint to colour it. It'll be weaker but this probably isn't an issue. It'll also set faster with the water in the acrylic paint though, so only mix up a small quantity at a time. Or just use plain white and paint it.

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I don't know how hot or how long your polymer clay bakes for, so you might get away with it, but in general I wouldn't risk putting a sealed container in the oven, whatever the contents.

The primary risk isn't alcohol igniting, but vapour forming in the bottle under pressure can break the bottle or more likely the cap. If the alcohol was going to ignite, it would have to get out of the bottle and mix with air anyway. Loosening the lid would relieve the pressure, but there is some chance of hot alcohol fumes igniting if there's an ignition source. This probably wouldn't be catastrophic. The large thermal mass of the contents works in your favour, but the long baking time means the drink can get quite hot.

You may also scorch the label or cap, spoiling the existing print. At the fairly low temperatures used for most polymer clay this isn't too likely,

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    You also won’t have whiskey afterwards if it’s open, because the alcohol and most of the aromatics that make it whiskey will evaporate pretty quickly even at low temperatures. – Austin Hemmelgarn Dec 25 '20 at 12:56
  • Quite a bit of the alcohol would go if fully open, and a fair bit of water too, but it would ruin decent whisky. If just open enough to vent the pressure, the effect would be much less (@Austin) – Chris H Dec 25 '20 at 14:52
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    @chepner, alcohol doesn't evaporate that much faster than the water, and will take some time to heat up. So it will get a little weaker, but reduce in volume a fair bit. I was trying to stick to the safety aspect the question concentrated on,but I don't think it would be good for the whisky either – Chris H Dec 25 '20 at 22:46
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    @PeterCordes glass isn't a great conductor of heat either. It's annoyingly in between. But rather then relying too heavily on the insulating properties of glass, I'm thinking of the contents taking time to heat up - of course the heat has to pass through the glass, but if you put half a litre of cold water (spirits will evaporate faster, but not by too much) in a fairly thick walled glass container, the rise won't be too bad. At least it won't boil, though the vapour pressure will rise. I'd chill it only that would increase the thermal stress on the glass – Chris H Dec 27 '20 at 10:45
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    @Peter the clay will heat much faster than the contents. Glass isn't that good a conductor. I'd go as hot as the clay allows, for the shortest time, testing on something similar but scrap first. – Chris H Dec 27 '20 at 10:55
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It might cause an explosion and a house fire. A sealed bottle would explode without a doubt. The heat differential caused by different thicknesses of clay would stress the glass. The combination of heated alcohol vapour and the heating elements of the oven would probably blow the door off your oven and set your kitchen on fire.

If you decide to go ahead, make sure you video it and leave the room. It would make a spectacular video on social media!

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    Indeed. While not quite Darwin Award material, the OP's idea is certainly an exciting one. – TonyK Dec 26 '20 at 2:36
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You're making a pressure cooker.

That's a very bad idea. The pressure will escape once it builds high enough. Either will happen:

  1. the glass and clay hold together, and the cap blows off, spraying flammable liquid into the hot oven, or
  2. the glass and clay shatter, not only spraying flammable liquid into the hot oven but also lots of sharp, high-speed fragments everywhere.

In either case, there will be a fire in the oven, and the glass will probably break.

Bottom line: it's a Bad Idea.

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It is a sweet idea for a gift. But heating closed things makes them blow up. Here is how you can get where you want to be safely.

  1. Make a sleeve the size of your bottle. Or use an open empty bottle the same size.

  2. Decorate sleeve with polymer clay. Or decorate empty bottle with circumferential clay decor.

  3. Put decorated sleeve onto gift bottle with a little glue to hold in place. Or slide clay off of empty bottle (if you put it in the freezer bottle will shrink and this should not be hard) and glue pieces onto gift bottle. Curve will be correct.

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