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Why did my sublimation tumbler burn?

If you are using a sublimation tumbler, there’s a very good chance that you’ve experienced some sort of problem. Sublimation tumblers are useful for things like printing on glass or metal, but they can be difficult to use. They aren’t cheap – most sublimation machines start at around $300 and go up from there – but they’re worth it if you have the right setup.

Water boils at 212°F.

When water boils, it reaches 212°F and begins to vaporize. Boiling is a chemical reaction that occurs when a liquid is heated enough until its molecules break apart into smaller parts, which can then escape as gas or steam. The temperature at which this happens depends on several factors:

  • The altitude of the location where you’re boiling (the higher up, the lower the boiling point)
  • How much pressure there is in your container (the higher your container’s pressure, the lower its boiling point will be)
  • How humid it is outside (moist air contributes to lower temperatures overall).

When you heat water on the stove, it cools down.

When you heat water on the stove, it cools down. The heat will be transferred to the air and then warm up again as it warms up again. If you put your tumbler in a cold room or leave it on its own while heating up, there is a good chance that when you pour your water into the tumbler, it will not reach 212°F because of this fact (and also because some people don’t pay attention).

If it cools below 212°F, the water will stop boiling.

If your water has cooled below 212°F and is still boiling, you can get it going again by adding more heat. You can do this by:

  • Use a hair dryer or light bulb to warm the water back up to 212°F (or higher). This will cause the water to boil again.
  • Turn on an oven, grill, or other source of heat that’s higher than 212°F but not hot enough to burn yourself on contact (like touching an electric burner).

The tumbler wasn’t hot enough to make water boil at 212°F – that requires a higher temperature.

If you’re using a 20oz sublimation tumbler and you want it to work properly, your water must be around 140°F or hotter. This is because the molecules in the water molecules are moving faster than they normally would at room temperature, so when they get close enough together for heat to take effect (around 212°F), there is enough energy between them for them to start moving faster still. If your lids were on tight enough that none of this happened then we wouldn’t have had any trouble with our tumblers blowing up!

To begin a sublimation tumbler, use water 140°F or hotter.

If your tumbler’s temperature is not at least 140°F, it will not be able to sublimate the ink and heat it up to create images on the paper.


The best thing to do when you notice your sublimation tumbler has burned is to turn on the water and use it as soon as possible. If possible, try not to use the tumbler again until it has cooled down and can be used at its full potential of 140°F or higher.



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