Dry Ice Science Fun!

Posted by Annie on Dec 3, 2009 in Activity |

This is my favorite time of year and as a homeschooling family this is the perfect time of year to do things we wouldn’t normally do any other time of year.

Cool Dry I Devices

For instance, this past month, we’ve had several frozen food items shipped to us which contain dry ice — what a novelty. I have been told that dry ice is very cool (in more ways than one) and can be used in some really neat science experiments.

When our Turducken arrived packed in dry ice, I thought to myself, “This will be so cool. I’ll save the dry ice and we can do some fun experiments with it.” Since it was already in a plastic bag, I picked it up with my bare hands and put it in the freezer, to save for later. I had it in my hand just for a couple of seconds.

As soon as I had released the dry ice into the freezer and closed the door, I knew I had a problem. I had burned one of my fingers. I immediately ran warm water over my hand, then washed my hands with soap and water. It took almost an hour before I had feeling back in my finger and to be honest, I was more than a little worried. I had absolutely no feeling left in my finger tip.

A word of caution, if you place a holiday order and it’s packed in dry ice, do save it, just be sure you don’t handle it with your bare hands. I’m certain that dry ice can do some serious damage, if you don’t take precautions.

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Instead of melting, dry ice turns directly into carbon dioxide gas but does not melt like real ice. Dry ice must be handled with care as it is -110 °F (-78 °C). I found out the hard way that dry ice must be handled using gloves or tongs, as it will cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin. I was lucky.

Here are some interesting and fun experiments you can try with your dry ice.

Fun with Dry Ice

Dry Ice Safety

What is Dry Ice?

Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Unlike most solids, it does not melt into a liquid, but instead changes directly into a gas. This process is called sublimation. The temperature of dry ice is around -109 ° F! It melts very quickly so if you need dry ice for an experiment or project, buy it as close as possible to the time you need it.

Dry Ice Safety Rules:

  1. KIDS: Never use dry ice without adult supervision. Dry ice can cause serious injury if not used carefully!
  2. Never store dry ice in an airtight container. As the dry ice melts from a solid directly into a gas, the gas will build up in the container until it bursts. Sharp pieces of container will go flying all over the place. Make sure your container is ventilated!!! The best place to store dry ice is in a styrofoam chest with a loose fitting lid.
  3. Do not touch dry ice with your skin! Use tongs, insulated (thick) gloves or an oven mitt. Since the temperature of dry ice is so cold, it can cause severe frostbite. If you suspect you have frostbite seek medical help immediately.
  4. Never eat or swallow dry ice! Again, the temperature of dry ice is very, very cold. If you swallow dry ice, seek medical help immediately.
  5. Never lay down in, or place small children or pets in homemade clouds. The clouds are made of carbon dioxide gas! People and pets could suffocate if they breathe in too much gas.
  6. Never place dry ice in an unventilated room or car. If you are traveling with dry ice in the car, crack a window open. Same rule applies if you are in a small room, crack a window open. You do not want too much carbon dioxide gas to build up around you.
  7. Always wear safety goggles when doing experiments with dry ice.
  8. Do not place dry ice directly on countertops. The cold temperature could cause the surface to crack.
  9. Leave the area immediately if you start to pant or have difficulty catching your breath. This is a sign that you have breathed in too much carbon dioxide gas.
  10. Do not store dry ice in your freezer. It will cause your freezer to become too cold and your freezer may shut off. However, if you lose power for an extended period of time, dry ice is the best way to keep things cold!

Disposing of Dry Ice:

To dispose of dry ice, place in a well ventilated container and take it outside where small children and pets cannot reach it. Simply let it sublimate away!

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