Halloween Science – Where Do I Get Dry Ice?
This is an encore post from October, 2010 on Dry Ice at Halloween. We always get a lot of calls and emails about where to find it and how to use it…
Halloween season is the time to make bubbling potions, burping bubbles and low lying fog. The main ingredient in all of these concoctions (besides warm water) is dry ice. During the Halloween season, we get a lot of calls and emails from our customers looking for more information on dry ice. So here’s the low down on dry ice…please leave us a comment below if you have any additional questions on dry ice and our experts will do their best to answer.
What is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is part of the Earth’s atmosphere. Only about 0.035% of our atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide. Most of the air we breathe is nitrogen (79%) and oxygen (20%). Plants use it for photosynthesis and we breath it out.
It is colder than ice made from water at -109.3°F (-78.5°C). Due to it’s extreme cold temperature, it must be handled with insulated gloves. It is used to keep food cold during shipping. When dry ice melts, it turns into a gas and not a liquid, like water. When it melts, it vanishes into thin air. The process from turning from a solid to a gas is called sublimation. When you drop a piece of dry ice in a bucket of water, the gas that you see is a combination of carbon dioxide and water vapor. So, the gas that you see is actually a cloud of tiny water droplets.
Dry Ice Safety
Dry ice must be handled using gloves or tongs, as it will cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin. Never put dry ice into your mouth. If using it to carbonate a beverage, make sure the dry ice is completely gone before serving. When making bubbling, smoking water for young children, it’s best to use tall graduated cylinders filled with water and dry ice. The children are unable to fit their hands in the cylinder to reach the dry ice.
Never trap dry ice in a jar without a vent. The pressure will build up and the jar will explode! This could cause serious harm to you or to someone else.
Where Do I Buy Dry Ice?
Ask any of our customer service representatives what one of the most commonly asked questions they get this time of year, and they will all respond “Where can I buy dry ice?” When purchasing dry ice, it’s a good idea to bring along gloves and an insulated container to carry it in.
Some grocery stores, including King Soopers, Safeway and Wal-Mart sell dry ice. You may want to search their company websites for more information or call around to find a store that sells it. To find a dry ice retailer, check out the Dry Ice Directory.
How Much is Dry Ice and How Much Do I Need?
Dry ice is sold in stores for about $1 per pound. It comes in flat square slabs a few inches thick or as cylinders. Either size will work fine for dry ice experiments. For a few dry ice demonstrations, plan to purchase 5 to 10 pounds.
How Do I Store Dry Ice?
Dry Ice sublimates at a rate of 5 to 10 pounds every 24 hours in a typical ice chest, so it’s best to purchase dry ice as close to the time you will use it as possible. It is best to store it in an ice chest or cooler. Make sure you do not completely seal the container, as the carbon dioxide gas will build up in the container as the dry ice sublimates. Don’t store dry ice in your freezer. The extreme cold will cause the freezer’s thermostat to shut off. Dry ice can be used to save your food if your freezer breaks.
What Are Some Halloween Dry Ice Recipes?
- Boo Bubbles
- Burping Bubbles and Smoking Water
- Dry Ice Crystal Bubble Ball
- Dry Ice Bubbling Acid
- Dry Ice Floating Bubbles
- Dry Ice Mini Smoke Launcher