Everything You Need to Know About Dry Ice

Be sure to keep this in mind before transporting it in your car.

Related To:
116031610

116031610

Photo by: Instants/Getty

Instants/Getty

Whether you need it for refrigeration, making a spooky fog or fizzy fruit, dry ice is a fun science experiment waiting to happen.

What Is It?

Dry ice isn’t related to regular ice at all. Instead of frozen water, it's solidified CO2 (carbon dioxide) and is way colder than the ice cubes in your lemonade (-109F!). That means it can cool down or freeze solids and liquids at a much quicker rate. As dry ice evaporates, it turns into color- and odorless CO2 gas that can have an eerie effect. It's super cool, but can also be super dangerous. Read on for the dos and don'ts of dry ice.

How to Handle Dry Ice

  • Direct contact with skin should always be avoided — it could cause burns similar to frost bite. Be sure to wear insulated gloves when handling it.
  • Give dry ice a little breathing room. The best place to store it is in a cooler wrapped in a towel. Coolers aren't air-tight so there will be enough ventilation for some of the vapors to escape as the dry ice evaporates. Don't store in a fridge, freezer or other air-tight place otherwise you run the risk of it building up too much pressure which could have unintended explosive consequences.
  • If you're transporting dry ice in your car, be sure to keep its container vented and open the car windows — you don't want to inhale any of the gas.
  • Cutting and chipping dry ice can be tricky. Try to buy it in the form and size you need, like a chunk that will fit nicely in a Halloween cauldron. If you do need to cut it then be sure to wear insulated gloves and protective eyewear.
  • Allow any leftover dry ice to turn into a gas in a well-ventilated area — outdoors works great. Just be sure to keep out of reach from kids and pets.
  • NEVER eat or swallow dry ice.

Where to Find Dry Ice

Your local grocery store or national super store chains should sell dry ice, but of course, call ahead to check. It comes in one to five-pound blocks and should be bought the day of use. Otherwise, it will completely evaporate within 24 hours.

1160697727

1160697727

Photo by: Jordan Lye/Getty

Jordan Lye/Getty

What to Do with Dry Ice

For Making Fog: Dry ice needs to be submerged in water to react. Warm water creates a dense and thick fog — expect a one-pound block to be completely evaporated within 20 minutes. Colder water will make a thinner fog that lasts longer.

For Refrigeration: If you're using dry ice to keep food cold, be sure to wrap it in a towel and store everything together in a container that isn't air-tight, like a cooler. Keep things you don’t want frozen away from it.

964282240

964282240

Photo by: Sean Locke / EyeEm/Getty

Sean Locke / EyeEm/Getty

Have (Safe) Fun with Dry Ice

Besides the obligatory creepy witch's cauldron at Halloween here are a few ways to play with dry ice:

  • Drop a block into a punch bowl for a side of fog. Make sure no pieces chip off.
  • Fruit with fizz: Turn grapes, strawberries and orange segments (that's just a start) into an effervescent treat: Wrap dry ice in a towel and place in a clean cooler. Add fruit, shut the lid and wait about 12 hours. You'll have fruit with a secret fizz — like soda — inside.
  • Make a singing spoon for an easy party trick: Hold a metal object near dry ice and listen to it "sing" and vibrate.

Related Content:

Next Up

7 Tips to Organize Your Decorating and Baking Supplies

Much of the organizing of decorating and baking supplies comes down to labeled bins you can nest and stack.

How to Julienne, Dice and More: A Step-by-Step Guide

Flip through this guide to learn how to chop and dice like a pro, then watch our how-to video.

How to Clean Any Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertop Appliance

Follow these easy steps for cleaning stainless steel kitchen appliances that sparkle like new.

How to Sanitize a Kitchen Sponge

Your kitchen sponge has a dirty secret: It may be one of the filthiest spots in your home. Here are two ways to clean it.

What You Need to Know About Nonstick Cookware

Using coated pans means having a different set of cooking rules and expectations.

7 Tips to Organize Your Spice Rack

Before you begin to organize your spices, go through what you have and discard any that are old and have no scent. Combine duplicates into one jar if possible.

10 Tips to Organize Your Refrigerator

A full fridge doesn’t have to be a cluttered fridge. When a refrigerator is organized, you won’t have to dig around to find something to cook or snack on. It makes you more excited to open the door, which means you’ll end up wasting less of the food inside.

14 Tips to Organize Your Pantry

Keeping your pantry organized will help with menu planning and shopping. A quick glance will tell you what you need and what you have space for.

5 Kitchen Tips You'll Never Forget

Up your game in the kitchen by putting these clever lessons into practice immediately.

Multipurpose Kitchen Supplies: An A-to-Z Guide

Give common kitchen tools a second chance with these tips for new uses for everyday kitchen supplies.

Latest Stories