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Serendipity and Pyrex

Feb 17, 2012

Here’s a thing, courtesy the excellent Now I Know newsletter. Corning’s sale of Pyrex to World Kitchen in 1998 had profound effects on crack cocaine production.

That’s because Pyrex used to be made using borosilicate glass, which does not shatter when being subjected to the sudden changes of temperature you get when you splash water on a jug you’ve just taken out of the oven. When World Kitchen took over it started to make Pyrex products for the US market out of tempered soda-lime glass, which is more susceptible to, essentially, exploding in such circumstances.

My fascination with this is partly down to the fact I’ve been watching Breaking Bad, but anyway – part of crack cocaine production requires sudden cooling, which shop-bought Pyrex used to handle just fine. But the new type definitely did not, meaning vital equipment suddenly became hard to find.

The result was an increase in theft of lab equipment from laboratories. Chaos, eh?