You might have known dry ice as a Halloween Party staple or a special effect product in theatres used to set a spooky mood, but the uses and application of this substance go beyond them. Dry ice gives a foggy appearance and doesn’t melt into a puddle like regular ice. So, what is it composed of, its properties, and how long does dry ice last? Know everything below.
What is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. In the manufacturing process, pure carbon dioxide gas is first pressurized and cooled to turn it into a liquid. The liquid carbon dioxide is fed into a dry ice production machine. Here, the pressure is released, thus giving a snow effect to the gas. It is then compressed into pellets or blocks of dry ice.
The term ‘dry ice’ was firstly coined by Prest Air Devices. Originally, it was a trademarked term, but people still call it solidified or frozen carbon dioxide.
How is Dry Ice Manufactured?
Carbon dioxide is frozen by compressing it to a high pressure to create dry ice. Upon its release, the gas quickly expands and evaporates, thus cooling to the freezing point of -109.3 F or -78.5 C and becoming solid snow. It can be further compressed into pellets, blocks, and other forms, depending upon the required application.
How Long Does Dry Ice Last?
Any amount of dry ice in any form stored for 24 hours loses around 5 pounds. If you leave 20 pounds of dry ice open, you will lose at least 10 pounds within a day. The duration of sublimation depends upon the amount of dry ice you have and the storage practices you apply to keep the ice.
A few factors, too, affect the duration factors of dry ice, including ambient temperature and air circulation.
What are the Uses of Dry Ice?
Dry ice is used in emergencies to keep the food and drinks fresh. Besides this, there are many other uses of dry ice in homes, businesses, and other places.
- Dry ice is used while carrying perishable commodities like meat and groceries while traveling. You can fill the container with ice, toss it in your car, and rest assured about its freshness for such storage of your eatables will endure many days of travel.
- Dry ice is a popular product when it comes to commercial cargo delivery. Chocolate is transported in a dry ice-cooled box to keep it from melting.
- One of the little-known applications of dry ice is mosquito traps. Mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide or dry ice. When you sublimate it into vapor, it attracts the insects in the same manner as the swarm of a thousand people does. Consequently, you can use it in drawing mosquitoes away from the traps.
- Dry ice makes a popular choice for hunters and anglers who need to preserve their newly caught hunts like fish, rabbits, etc. When you store the meat with regular ice, it starts melting, and the deposition of water on the meat may encourage bacterial growth. However, it is not the case with dry ice.
- The use of dry ice is also prevalent among plumbers. They use it to freeze water pipes during maintenance. Mechanics also use dry ice to repair a dent in the cars.
- Dry ice is a popular product in medical settings, used as a disinfectant or cryotherapy.
How do I Store Dry Ice at home?
There are a few considerations to observe if you want to store dry ice at home. For instance, always place the product in an insulated container like ice in a cooler. Ensure to keep the cooler in a well-ventilated area. Do not leave the ice unattended as it may be dangerous. If you do not handle dry ice properly, it may lead to ice burn injuries.
Here are the essential things to consider while storing dry ice.
Protect your Eyes and Hands
The cold surface temperature of dry ice may lead to skin damage and even frostbite. Thus, never touch it with your bare hands. Always use gloves such as Nitrile exam gloves for protection. You may also use insulated or cryogenic gloves to handle dry ice. Besides protecting your hands, save your eyes by wearing a face shield or safety glasses.
Do Not Store it in a Poorly Ventilated Area
Many people commit the mistake of storing dry ice in enclosed areas. When stored in a small or enclosed space, carbon dioxide may become one and a half times heavier than air. Moreover, it starts delivering toxic effects, and many cause you to stop breathing or make you unconscious. It is because dry ice needs a larger space for sublimation or it may lead to suffocation and respiratory arrest.
Do Not Keep Dry Ice in Air-Tight Containers
Never store dry ice in air-tight containers. If dry ice starts subliming in a sealed container, the carbon dioxide gas will pressurize the container, thus causing it to explore. Always choose the containers that allow the gas to escape.
Never Eat or Swallow Dry Ice
Unlike regular ice, dry ice may be a dangerous product. It is much colder than the former, and consuming it may damage your body. Thus, never eat or swallow dry ice.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is dry ice dangerous?
Dry ice is a dangerous substance. We, therefore, urge you to take all the above-listed safety instructions seriously while handling it in any form. Store it in a container that allows gas to escape and keep dry ice in a well-ventilated space.
- How can I avoid dry ice from melting?
You can save dry ice from melting by covering the dry ice block’s exterior with layers of towels, newspaper, or even a paper bag. This step will ensure that sublimation becomes slower, and your dry ice may last longer than expected.
- Can I store dry ice in plastic?
Never put dry ice in a closed container like glass, plastic, ice chest, or freezer. Secure the top of the dry ice with a loose lid.