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Dry shampoo bottle explodes, blowing hole through roof of woman's car

One mom is raising awareness about the dangers of leaving aerosol cans in a hot vehicle after a bottle of her daughter's dry shampoo "blasted off like a missile."
Christine Debrecht is warning others after a can of dry shampoo blew up in her daughter's car on a hot day.
Christine Debrecht is warning others after a can of dry shampoo blew up in her daughter's car on a hot day.Courtesy of Christine Bader Debrecht
/ Source: TODAY

A 19-year-old from Missouri learned an important lesson after a canister of dry shampoo she'd stashed in her car exploded and shot off "like a missile," smashing a hole in her sunroof.

Christine Debrecht, the woman's mother, said she felt lucky no one was hurt after the bottle of Equate dry shampoo blew up in the center console of her daughter's Honda Civic while it was parked outside her home in St. Peters, Missouri, on Sept. 18.

At first, Debrecht told TODAY, she thought someone had thrown a brick through the sunroof or that an object had fallen from the sky.

Debrecht told TODAY she initially thought someone had thrown a brick through the sunroof. Courtesy of Christine Bader Debrecht

"We thought it came from above,” Debrehct, 50, said.

But then, her daughter noticed white powder all over the car's interior.

“It must have blasted off like a missile,” Debrehct said. "We're just glad no one was hurt."

In a Facebook post about the incident, Debrecht included photos of the damage caused by the bottle of Equate Tea Tree dry shampoo. She asked TODAY not to use her daughter's name.

“It was hot yesterday and the can exploded,” Debrecht wrote in the post. “It blew the console cover off its hinges, shot through the sunroof, and went high enough in the air that it landed about 50 feet away.”

David Constable, science director of the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute, told TODAY that the combination of volatile gasses like butane and propane — which are used to propel the product — pressure in the can, and the extreme heat likely caused the bottle to blast off "like a rocket."

"You really shouldn’t leave cans under pressure in a hot car, that’s just common sense," Constable told TODAY.

The explosion blew the lid of the center console off its hinges.Courtesy of Christine Bader Debrecht

Walmart, which owns the Equate brand, told NBC News in a statement that the bottle “includes a specific warning, like most aerosol products, that it may explode if heated and not stored as directed.”

A warning on the label says the can should be stored at temperatures cooler than 120 degrees.

Although it was around 90 degrees the day the bottle exploded, temperatures inside a car can rise approximately 40 degrees within one hour, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which tracks such data in relation to hot car deaths.

Dr. Michelle Francl, a professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, told TODAY exploding products could be an unforeseen hazard for drivers and car owners.

“It’s a greenhouse effect,” Francl said. “We think about it with people and pets, but not with our stuff.”