I was preparing a bowl of Ramen Noodles, and rather than use a ladle decided to just pour the soup directly into an old ceramic bowl (at least 10 years old).

Suddenly, the soup starts to spill out of it, and I look and see a long crack leading from the rim to the base and around in a circle - bowl completely ruined!

What could cause a ceramic bowl to crack like this from just pouring in hot noodles and broth?

  • 2
    New ceramic is very good at handling thermal stress but over time tiny fractures form and very hot liquid is very good at finishing the job
    – eps
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


Your bowl broke because of thermal fracturing.


Thermal fracturing in glass occurs when a sufficient temperature differential is created within glass.[1] As a warmed area expands or a cooled area contracts, stress forces develop, potentially leading to fracture. A temperature differential may be created in many ways, including solar heating, space heating devices, fire, or hot and cold liquids.

Heat causes things to expand. Cold causes them to contract. If a rigid object expands in one area more than another that puts stress on that area and it might be more than the object can handle. True for glass or anything else that is rigid - ceramics, concrete, rocks, even metal.

One would think a soup bowl could handle such stresses but not this time - hot soup, cold bowl and it broke. Take comfort in the fact that your bowl died proudly in service and will go straight to bowl Valhalla.

  • 3
    And while ceramic is known for it's ability to handle thermal shocks much better than most materials, over time from getting knocked around it forms micro and hairline fractures which can be destroyed, particularly when they encounter large amounts of extremely hot liquid.
    – eps
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 18:22
  • The partial fractures can already exist in the bowl from its making, invisibly small, and successive heating and cooling causes them to become bigger until crack.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 21:52

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