Dry ice is simply the solid form of carbon dioxide. Used primarily as a cooling agent, it bests traditional water ice with its lower temperature and clean “melting”. It is most useful for preserving items that must remain cold or frozen, such as ice cream or biological samples, where mechanical cooling is unavailable.

Uses For Dry Ice

The uses for dry ice vary from camping refrigeration to haunted houses. When dry ice is placed in water, sublimation (a solid turning into a gas) is accelerated, and low-sinking, dense clouds of smoke-like fog are created. This is used for dramatic effects in fog machines at theatres, haunted houses, and nightclubs. Extended camping trips can benefit from a cooler of frozen food kept cold with dry ice, which will last longer than traditional water ice. Extended power outages are another reason to be familiar with dry ice, as it will preserve frozen food for a longer time.
In addition, dry ice can be used to make ice cream, stop ice sculptures from melting and prevent insect activity in closed containers of grain. It is occasionally used to freeze and remove warts, and plumbers use it to freeze water in pipes so they can work on them without turning off the water main. Exterminators even use it to trap mosquitoes and other insects and to rid an area of rodents, because of its carbon dioxide off-gassing.

Safety

Due to its extremely low temperature, handlers must wear protective clothing, including gloves and long sleeves to avoid frostbite. Dry ice should only be exposed to open air in a well-ventilated environment because of its fast carbon dioxide production. Dry ice’s extreme cold makes it dangerous to handle without protection due to burns caused by freezing. While generally not very toxic, its outgassing can cause elevated carbon dioxide levels in the blood due to buildup in confined locations.

Preservation

When using dry ice, the more it is exposed to air the faster it will sublimate and disappear. When using it for something like a long camping trip, care should be taken to reduce the amount of air in the container. Place the dry ice on top of frozen foods in an insulated container and fill the rest of the space with newspaper or towels to remove as much air as possible. Cover the outside of the dry ice block with a few layers of paper or towels to add insulation and slow sublimation. Don’t use a completely sealed container or the off-gassing will cause the container to burst. Keep the cooler in a ventilated place and don’t ride in a completely closed up vehicle with it.

Eureka Oxygen carries dry ice for whatever need you to have, from party fun to camping trips! See our website for the location closest to you and give us a call!