Many items we use or consume every day are packaged in pressurized, airtight containers, including aerosol deodorant, dry shampoo, sodas and beer, and canned foods.
When traveling, passengers may require these items but might be nervous about packing them in their checked luggage.
Fortunately, aerosols and canned foods or beverages are not likely to explode when packed in checked bags. Luggage holds, like airplane cabins, are pressurized and temperature controlled, ensuring items remain safe in transit. That said, if canned goods aren’t packed properly, they may be punctured or damaged by baggage handling, leading to leaks.
This article reviews TSA guidelines around bringing canned or aerosol items in checked luggage and offers advice on how to pack them properly.
Can You Bring Cans on a Plane?
The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows travelers to pack aerosol cans and canned food or beverages in both checked luggage and carry-on bags.
When bringing aerosols or canned goods in carry-on bags, passengers must follow the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule.
The 3-1-1 rule states that any liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, or pastes in carry-on bags must be in containers of 3.4 oz (100 mL) or less and must fit into a single quart-size (1 liter) clear, plastic bag.
Some airports require that passengers use the plastic bags provided at security, while others may allow travelers to bring their own.
If you’re bringing your own bag for liquids etc., ensure it’s less than one quart (1L), or you risk having your items confiscated.
Do Airlines Have Restrictions on Canned Goods?
There are no TSA restrictions on packing canned items in checked bags; however, airlines or the destination country may have rules on what’s allowed.
Before packing any non-clothing items in checked bags, double-check what’s permitted by the airline and any international customs bureaus (if applicable).
Additionally, airlines have size/weight limits for carry-on and checked bags, so ensure whatever you pack doesn’t make your luggage heavier (and more expensive) than necessary.
Will Cans Explode in the Luggage Hold?
Luggage holds are pressurized, so it’s unlikely that cans or other aerosol containers will explode if packed in checked luggage – but no system is perfect.
If the hold loses pressure for any reason, there is a risk these items may burst.
The greatest change in pressure happens during take-off and landing when the plane is changing altitude rapidly.
However, luggage holds often transport pets and special cargo, so airlines take extreme precautions to ensure they remain adequately pressurized.
Sometimes plastic containers, like shampoo, leak in checked luggage, but this is usually due to compression by other items.
Cans packed in checked bags may also be dented if they come in contact with other hard items but shouldn’t break unless punctured.
Will Changes in Temperature Damage Cans?
Extreme temperature changes can cause cans to pop their seals, but luggage holds are both pressurized and temperature controlled.
Slight temperature changes may occur during a flight but not to the extremes necessary to cause exploding cans.
Aerosol cans only rupture after exposure to heat over 120ºF (49ºC) – which is highly unlikely to occur on an aircraft.
Canned drinks and canned food containing liquids are also affected by changes in temperature; however, again, it’s unlikely these items will be exposed to the heat/cold required to do any damage.
Warm temperatures can cause some liquids to expand, weakening their container, but canned beverages are more likely to become frothy (or go bad) rather than burst.
Most liquids also expand when frozen, but most beverages only freeze in temperatures below 28ºF (-2ºC).
In either case, extreme temperatures can affect the integrity of the can and weaken it, but they won’t necessarily explode.
How Do You Pack Cans in Checked Bags?
When packing cans, especially canned food or beverages, air travelers should put each item in a plastic bag and wrap them individually in clothes, towels, or bubble wrap.
Treating each canned item separately protects the cans themselves and other items in the bag.
According to TSA guidelines, air travelers can pack aerosol cans and canned food and beverages in their carry-on or checked bags.
Because luggage holds and airplane cabins are pressurized and temperature controlled, there is little risk that cans will explode mid-flight.
Canned items in carry-on must conform to the 3-1-1 liquids rule.
There are no restrictions for transporting canned goods in checked luggage – other than the airline’s baggage size and weight limits.
When packing canned goods, passengers should be aware of any sharp or heavy objects in their luggage that may puncture or damage the can.
Wrapping cans in plastic bags, bubble wrap, and/or clothing will protect them and other items inside the checked bag.