Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide, a normal part of our earth's atmosphere. It is the gas that we exhale during breathing and the gas that plants use in photosynthesis. It is also the same gas commonly added to water to make soda water. This gas is often captured during industrial processes and recycled to make Dry Ice.
Dry Ice is particularly useful for freezing, and keeping things frozen because of its very cold temperature: -109.3°F or -78.5°C. Dry Ice is widely used because it is simple to freeze and easy to handle using insulated gloves. Dry Ice changes directly from a solid to a gas -sublimation- in normal atmospheric conditions without going through a wet liquid stage. Therefore it gets the name "dry ice."
As a general rule, Dry Ice will sublimate at a rate of five to ten pounds every 24 hours in a typical ice chest. This sublimation continues from the time of purchase; therefore, pick up Dry Ice as close to the time needed as possible. Bring an ice chest or some other insulated container to hold the Dry Ice and slow the sublimation rate. Dry Ice sublimates faster than regular ice melts but will extend the life of regular ice.
It is best not to store Dry Ice in your freezer because your freezer's thermostat will shut off the freezer due to the extreme cold of the Dry Ice! Of course if the freezer is broken, Dry Ice will save all your frozen goods.
Commercial shippers of perishables often use dry ice even for non frozen goods. Dry ice gives more than twice the cooling energy per pound of weight and three times the cooling energy per volume than regular water ice (H2O). It is often mixed with regular ice to save shipping weight and extend the cooling energy of water ice. Sometimes dry ice is made on the spot from liquid CO2. The resulting dry ice snow is packed in the top of a shipping container offering extended cooling without electrical refrigeration equipment and connections.
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In the spring many schools around the country are conducting science fairs to help children learn time management skills and see practical applications to relevant questions. From building water rockets to balloons that won’t pop or finding out how much sugar is in a can of soda, science fairs offer a great learning experience for our next generation of scientists.
Dry ice lends itself to several great science experiments including boo bubbles, blowing up balloons and making a spoon sing. Tyler from Latrobe, PA decided to do his spring science fair experiment to make a dry ice bubble. Tyler’s question was, “Which soap will make the biggest bubble?” Using Dawn dish soap, All laundry detergent and ordinary hand soap, Tyler hypothesized that using Dawn would make the largest bubble.
To create a dry ice bubble similar to Tyler’s experiment, you will need the following materials:
- Dry ice pellets
- Large bowl with a “lip” around the top edge
- Warm water
- Small cup for soap mixture
- Shoe string
- Liquid soap
- Towels/paper towels
- Safety Glasses
In each small cup, mix 2 tablespoons of soap with 2 tablespoons of water and place a shoe string inside to soak. Fill the large bowl half full with warm water. When ready to begin, dunk your finger in the first soapy mixture and run it around the lip of the bowl. Wearing gloves and using tongs, place several dry ice pellets in the water. Quickly, take the shoe string and drag it across the top of the bowl to form a seal to trap the sublimating carbon dioxide gas, creating a bubble.
Do this again with the other types of soap to see if you get different results. Was Tyler correct with his hypothesis? Maybe you have other types of soap you want to try. And, to take it a step further you can “grow” bubbles by adding some of your soap solution to the bowl of dry ice and water. See how high you can grow the bubbles!
Please be safe when handling dry ice. Click here for our dry ice safe handling tips.
Good luck to Tyler with his science fair project and Thank You for using Continental Carbonic dry ice!