Dry ice is made by pressurizing carbon dioxide that further turns into a liquid when cooled down. This liquid is then injected into a holding tank/press/pelletizer, stored at a temperature of -109°F, and finally – converted to carbon dioxide gas and dry ice snow.
What Is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is carbon dioxide in a solid state that doesn’t melt into a liquid when exposed to heat but into its gaseous form (in a process called sublimination). This type of ice is way cooler than regular ice and can’t be made and kept in a regular freezer because it would quickly turn into gas. It is kept in heavily insulated tanks that slow down the sublimation rate and keep the ice solid for longer.
History of Dry Ice
Adrien Jean Pierre Thilorier was a French inventor who made experiments with dry ice back in 1835, yet it wasn’t until 1925 when it entered the commercial market. It was Thomas Slate who applied for the patent and established a corporation, DryIce Corporation, and a brand „Dry Ice“ in the US. Dry ice was initially found in commercial settings and used for refrigeration purposes only.
Types of Dry Ice
There are four types of dry ice: block, pellet, sliced, and drice dry ice and each form are suitable for various applications/needs.
1. Dry Ice Pellets
Dry ice pellets are most often used for small-scale storage, delivery purposes, conducting experiments, making fog and mist effects, but also in the beverage and food industry. This long-lasting, high-density cylindrical dry ice is available in several diameters (6, 9, 10, and 16mm) and it is sold in packages of 10kg.
2. Dry Ice Slices
Dry ice slices are mostly used for food storage for the airline and storage and transportation of medical supplies for the pharmaceutical industry because it is very long-lasting. It comes in rectangular and square shapes and each slice comes in a separate foil-wrap that prolongs sublimation. It is available in packs of 1 to 10kg.
3. Dry Ice Blocks
Dry ice blocks (also available in other shapes such as brick and slab) are the longest-lasting type of dry ice mostly suitable for industrial usage, far-destination shipping, freeze branding, and making special smoke effects. It is sold in packages of 10kg.
4. Drice (3mm Pellets)
The drice is 3-mm cylindrical dry ice meant for ice blasting and not for domestic use solid in units of 10kg.
Uses Of Dry Ice
Dry ice is primarily used for food refrigeration and cooling, processing and distribution purposes, although it can be used in the entertainment industry (for theatrical and special effects), pest control, in the medical industy (in hospitals and clinics), as a cleaning solution, or mosquito repellant as well.
1. Food Industry
Dry ice is used to prevent food from spoiling or to prevent allergic reactions and foodborne diseases, and for food storage (supermarkets and restaurants use dry ice to store ingredients in food display containers) and transportation because it keeps food flavorful, fresh, and crisp for long periods of time.
2. Beverage Industry
Dry ice is used for beverages to create illusional, smokey effects. Mists of carbon dioxide make it possible to present drinks in impressive ways. It is mostly used with rum, gin, vodka, and tequila.
3. Entertainment Industry
Dry ice is used for creating dramatic and special effects – vapor-like to dense fog, artificial rain, bubbles, and the dispersal of clouds.
4. Healthcare/Medical Industry
Dry ice is used for storing biological and test samples, transporting organs, and minor surgeries (as an alternative to liquid nitrogen) because it leaves no water residue but evaporates, which eliminates the chance of bacteria buildup and contamination.
5. Dry Ice Blasting
Dry ice can be used as an effective, eco-friendly cleaning agent that doesn’t produce secondary waste and it is safe for use on a multitude of surfaces.
6. Pest Control
Dry ice is used for eliminating crawling pests such as bed bugs and mosquitoes as well as rodents (rats). It has almost instant effects, carries no risks for the environment, and is non-harmful for humans.
Dry Ice Safety
- Do not touch dry ice with bare fingers because it can cause frostbites. Wear protective gloves to avoid touching it directly.
- Although it can be used to preserve food, when ingested, dry ice can cause internal frostbite.
- Do not use dry ice in improperly ventilated spaces where the concentration of C02 in the air exceeds 5%.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dry Ice
1. Is dry ice dangerous?
Dry ice is not dangerous at all when used in ventilated areas. Otherwise, when used in small spaces, it starts releasing carbon dioxide gas that may further start building up and cause confusion, disorientation, headache, breathing difficulties, and asphyxiation.
2. How much dry ice do I need?
Approximately 10 to 15 lbs of dry ice per day is needed to freeze food at home, and as twice as more to freeze food or preserve it in display containers (for commercial use).
3. How cold is dry ice?
Dry ice is -109.2 F or -78.5° C cold.
4. How long does dry ice last?
Dry ice lasts can last between 24 and 48 hours before it starts reverting to its original form – gas, depending on the quantity, ambient temperature, and the size of the cooler.
5. How to make dry ice last longer?
To make dry ice last longer, store it in special airtight containers to make it last up to 72 hours. Do not store it in the refrigerator freezer because the temperature in there is way too low to keep dry ice solid. Avoid storing dry ice in plastic, glass, or ceramic containers,
6. How to dispose of dry ice?
To dispose of dry ice, leave it uncovered in a well-ventilated area and at room temperature and dry ice will sublimate to a gas. Do not dispose of it in any kind of waste/garbage can or chemical waste container.
7. How does dry ice differ from liquid nitrogen?
Dry ice is less cold than liquid nitrogen and it is safer to handle because it is solid. Liquid nitrogen is much colder and challenging to handle because it comes in a liquified form. Dry ice is used for preserving food and preventing bacterial growth while liquid nitrogen is too cold to be used for these applications and thus is used as a refrigerant.
If you are a fan of carbonated drinks, root beer, or ice cream, you probably know what dry ice is, but now you know how dry ice is made as well! That’s all we talk about here – ice and ice-making, and if you would like to find out more about it, let’s meet in our next blog!