How to Make Your Own Dry Ice

Dry ice adds a fantastic touch to any occasion. Junior high proms would not have been the same without it, Halloween parties would not have been as frightful, and 1980s music videos would not have left such an unforgettable impact.

What Is Dry Ice, Exactly?

Dry ice, which is sometimes mistaken for its cold cousin, liquid nitrogen, is simply cooled and condensed carbon dioxide. When it reaches ambient temperature and pressure, it bypasses the melting process and sublimates straight into carbon dioxide gas. Dry ice is extremely cold, with a temperature of -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it’s not fogging up rock concerts, it’s frequently utilized to keep perishables refrigerated during transportation. (In 1924, Thomas Slate was the first to sell it to railcars.) It also has a variety of other exciting applications. For example, it is being employed to rid the New York City subway system of rats. Try it on the underbelly of an RC car for some truly cool Fast and Furious effects.

Dry ice is found in abundance on a number of celestial bodies in our solar system, including Mars and many of Uranus’ and Neptune’s moons. NASA’s Mars Obiter Express discovered an avalanche of dry ice cascading down Martian slopes seven years ago.

Dry ice purchased at a store can be costly and difficult to locate. Furthermore, making anything from scratch is far more enjoyable (at your own risk, of course). Fortunately, Popular Mechanics has you covered with a really simple formula for making your own ghostly steam.

How Is Dry Ice Made?

It’s actually rather simple, and you can build it using items you most likely already have at home.

Ingredients:

  • Gloves for heavy work
  • Extinguisher for carbon dioxide fires (must be labeled C02)
  • Bag made of cloth

Instructions:

  1. Seal the cloth bag securely around the nozzle of your Co2 fire extinguisher.
  2. Shoot away! (Alternatively, depending on the extinguisher type, open the valve.)
  3. Close the nozzle or valve of the fire extinguisher.
  4. Shake that bag like a polaroid camera.
  5. Take the newly produced dry ice out of the bag and enjoy it.

If you want to keep it chilled for longer, place it in a styrofoam cooler with the lid slightly ajar.

But… Isn’t Dry Ice Risky?

It is possible! Remember, the material is quite cold. Prolonged contact with dry ice can cause your skin cells to freeze, resulting in an injury compared to a burn. Be careful not to consume it if you put it in a fancy cocktail. Also, make sure you properly dispose of it by not dropping it down the drain or throwing it in the garbage. Pour boiling water into the container you’re storing it in to accelerate sublimation.

Also, be sure you utilize it in a well-ventilated area. Too much carbon dioxide in the air can be harmful, especially for youngsters, Fido, and Fluffy. Finally, storing dry ice in a sealed container (even your freezer) causes pressure to develop causing the container to burst. Please don’t build a dry ice bomb by mistake.

Having said that, dry ice can be a lot of fun to play with and can elevate any party. Enjoy.

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