How to Handle and Use Dry Ice

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Dry ice isn't really ice at all — it's a solid form of carbon dioxide. However, it sure does function like ice, and can be a very useful thing when it comes to electricity outages. Furthermore, the "smoke" it emits as it melts also creates great special effects for Halloween parties and concerts. Dry ice can be fun, but it can also be dangerous. Here are some important handling and general safety tips.

Never buy dry ice too far in advance. It can melt fast and is not easily stored. If you're having a party, buy it the day of the party, only hours before.

Do not store dry ice in your freezer unless you have lost electricity. Dry ice can be a great tool to keep your frozen goods from spoiling during electricity outages, but make sure there is a barrier of some sort between it and the food. Keeping dry ice wrapped up and placing it on top of the objects that need cooling is always a good plan.

If your freezer is working, do not store the ice in there and expect it to last longer. Instead, the extreme cold from the dry ice can potentially shut down your freezer.

Always keep dry ice in its sealed container until you are ready to use it.

When handling dry ice, wear well insulated gloves and/or use tongs. Do not touch dry ice with your bare skin — you will be very badly burned.

When breaking pieces of dry ice, use a hammer and chisel and avoid skin contact at all costs.

When using it as a special effect, place it on a glass dish or similarly hard surface. Dry ice can burn through plastic.

Never put small pieces of dry ice in a drink. It is not edible and will mean a trip to the emergency room if swallowed. If you want to create the illusion of smoke pouring out of a potion, place a large piece of dry ice on a glass plate inside a large punch bowl.

Always keep dry ice in a well-ventilated area. The fumes that are released as it melts are carbon dioxide; if there is no ventilation a person can suffocate from the vapors. Keep the windows open when transporting dry ice in your car.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful and enjoy your dry ice experience!
  • Don't throw out leftover dry ice. The only safe way to dispose of it is to allow it to evaporate completely in a well-ventilated area.

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