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Last winter, my mother stored a couple of planters by putting one inside the other. The planters are embossed with a decorative pattern on the outside and smooth on the inside, with an inward-curving lip at the top.

Now it's the season to bring the pots out and put plants in them, but these two planters refuse to be pulled apart. They were stacked together when temperatures were close to freezing; now it's always at least 60ºF outside, and I believe the inside planter has expanded so that the decorative pattern has a greater diameter than the inner lip of the outside planter.

My father and I have tried the macho approach of pulling them apart with all our strength, but without success. I also tried storing them in a refrigerator for a while, but they didn't contract enough to pull apart (assuming my temperature theory is correct). I would like to try putting them in a freezer, but we don't have a freezer that's big enough.

How can I detach these planters without busting one of them in half?

  • Perhaps just busting / chipping / bending the lip will work, since that seems to be what's keeping the inner one trapped. – BrettFromLA May 10 '15 at 23:08
  • What are these planters made of? – J. Musser Nov 17 '16 at 1:38
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  1. You could buy dry ice to put in the inner planter, but that might cost more than the planters.

  2. Instead, put the outside planter in a large pot of boiling water, plugging drain holes so the inner one doesn't get hot too quickly. This should expand the outer one so it drops off without struggle. Let me know if that works.

BTW, this technique is used to install cylinder liners (sleeves) in internal-combustion engines, sometimes using liquid nitrogen to chill the liner before putting it in the engine block.

  • Additionally, filling the inner pot with ice while boiling the outer one may help. It may also lead to cracking from the temperature differential, so use this idea with caution and as a secondary method if just boiling water alone doesn't work. – FreeMan May 11 '15 at 12:51
  • Obvious precaution: The boiling water level in the pot will raise significantly when you put the planter in it. Be careful not to submerge the planter too quickly, and keep an eye on the boiling water so it doesn't spill over. A way to avoid this and include the right amount of water is to put the planter in the cold pot, add the right amount of water, take the planter out, then start heating the water in the pot. Once boiling, you can submerge the planter without fear of the boiling water spilling over the sides. – BrettFromLA May 11 '15 at 18:29

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