Mystery behind Ikea glass table 'spontaneously' exploding

A woman has detailed the terrifying moment her Ikea glass desk shattered into tiny pieces with a warning to others who might have the same table.

The woman said it happened "spontaneously," something she believes happens often, but there could be a simple explanation for the seemingly random explosion.

"Hope no one else has this table. It just spontaneously shattered," she wrote on Facebook alongside a photo of the broken glass.

A picture of an Ikea desk which shattered into pieces. Source: Facebook
A woman said her Ikea desk 'spontaneously' shattered into pieces. Source: Facebook

It's unclear where she was at the time, but it appears no one was injured when the incident occurred.

The table appears to be from the Galant range, although this can't be confirmed. The Galant desk has since been discontinued at Ikea and replaced with the Bekant range.

Facebook users share their own experiences

The woman claims she had heard of it happening to others with glass dining tables, coffee tables and bedside tables all randomly exploding.

Her post was flooded with comments from others agreeing it's a common occurrence as dozens warned against tempered glass furniture.

"Had exactly the same thing happen to ours. It wasn't an Ikea desk but looked very much the same, and it just exploded one evening," one said, admitting it "bloody scared us half to death."

"We’ve had two outdoor glass tables shatter (not Ikea) and our glass shower door shattered," another revealed.

Tempered or toughened glass can break if it's exposed to heat. Source: Facebook
Tempered or toughened glass can break if it's exposed to heat. Source: Facebook

A third said it happened to a friend recently.

"This is a known issue for this type of glass," she said.

Another user said the issue has been ongoing "for a few years" and urged her to contact Ikea.

What causes the glass to break?

Some suggested the reasons they thought her table broke and questioned its placement in the room.

According to many, a glass table under or near a window is a no-no because the heat penetrating through the glass can damage the table over time

"Glass table in front of a window which will generate heat on the glass, which is already a known issue for glass tables shattering, it was a disaster waiting to happen," one explained.

Others also blamed the circuit machine on the ground which was once being used on the table.

In reality, there are various reasons why a glass table might break.

Glass furniture is usually made from toughened or tempered glass which is specifically designed to shatter when damaged.

It's a safety feature to reduce the risk of injury, as it doesn’t form large and jagged shards like normal glass does.

Other products including car windows, oven doors, shower screens, glass cookware also use this glass, which is why people sometimes experience the same "exploding" effect.

Shower screens are also known to shatter unexpectedly. Source:  Cady Tran
Shower screens are also known to shatter unexpectedly. Source: Cady Tran

According to the experts at Construction Specifier, thermal stress, or heat, is a big factor.

"Thermally induced stresses in glass are caused by a positive temperature difference between the centre and edge of the glass lite, meaning the former is hotter than the latter," their website explained.

"The expansion of the heated glass centre results in tensile stress at the edge of the glass. If the thermally induced stress exceeds the edge strength of the glass, breakage occurs."

Another reason is due to minor chips and scratches, according to the British Contract Furnishing Association.

"If toughened glass is damaged — for example by chips and scratches — it can lead to the glass breaking, seemingly of its own accord," it said on their website.

"Damage to the glass (not always visible) can get worse over time until it reaches a critical point when it may shatter. This is not a fault with the product or design, this is how the toughened glass is intended to behave if damaged."

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