How to React Dry Ice & Water

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The rolling fog that results from the reaction of dry ice and water is one of the most familiar and impressive special effects that you can produce without extensive preparation or special equipment. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide, frozen at a temperature of -78 degrees Celsius (-109 degrees Fahrenheit). At room temperature, the dry ice sublimates, turning directly into carbon dioxide gas. When placed in water, the cold carbon dioxide causes water vapor to form large droplets. The resulting carbon dioxide and water cloud, heavier than the surrounding air, spills out and to the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass or plastic container
  • Water
  • Dry ice blocks
  • Protective gloves
  • Tongs
  • Purchase blocks of dry ice. Dry ice is available at party supply stores and some grocery stores.

  • Fill a container with warm water. The container should be larger than the amount of dry ice you intend to use.

  • Using tongs, add dry ice to the water. For large quantities of fog, add about five to 10 pounds of dry ice to four to eight gallons of hot water.

  • Add more dry ice when the fog thins. Each addition of dry ice should produce about 15 minutes of fog. You will know when to replace the dry ice when the fog thins.

  • Replace the water when its temperature drops. Warm water produces thicker fog, so you will need to replace the water cooled by the dry ice.

Tips & Warnings

  • Even in a freezer, dry ice will sublimate. Buy your dry ice as close to the time of use as possible so as not to lose it all in advance. Over 24 hours, expect to lose between five and 10 pounds of dry ice to sublimation. Do not place all of your dry ice in water at once. Add the dry ice only as needed so that it does not sublimate in one short burst.
  • The very cold temperature of dry ice can freeze human skin in a very short amount of time. Never touch dry ice with your skin, and always use protective gloves and tongs to move the ice. Do not store dry ice in a working freezer, as the extremely low temperature of the dry ice can cause your freezer to shut off.

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