Dry Ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide and is not dangerous if it is stored and used correctly. When people ask why dry ice is dangerous what they are really looking for is an answer to whether or not dry ice can be used safely and, if so, how it can be handled safely.
Dry ice presents hazards because it is extremely cold and because it quickly sublimates into carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide is not toxic, but it can build up pressure or displace normal air, potentially causing problems.
How it works:
When you put a little dry ice into a liquid (cocktail/spirit etc) it begins to rapidly sublimate from the outside in (and it cools the drink nicely). This causes CO2 to be rapidly released, forming large, white bubbles which rise to the surface. When the bubbles reach the surface and burst a ‘fog’ is created. The fog is a mixture of CO2, air, and whatever fluid it popped out of. Because it’s cold and denser than air, the fog is nice and heavy and will last until the drink warms up.
The Dry Ice Facts:
• Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide.
• Dry ice is extremely cold (-78.5°C). At this temperature it sublimates from the solid state into the gaseous state.
• The first published observation of dry ice was in 1835 by French chemist Charles Thilorier. He noted the formation of dry ice when a container of liquid carbon dioxide was opened.
• Dry ice density usually ranges between 1.2 and 1.6 kg/dm3.
• The molecular weight of dry ice is 44.01 g/mole.
• The specific gravity of dry ice is 1.56 (water = 1).
Elite Bar Events safety tips for using Dry Ice
• Contact with dry ice can result in frostbite and cold burns. Avoid allowing contact between dry ice and the skin, eyes, or mouth.
• Always use insulated gloves when handling dry ice.
• Although dry ice and carbon dioxide are not toxic, the use of dry ice may present a respiratory hazard because it can sink and displace air near the ground or when it mixes with the air, there is more carbon dioxide (less oxygen) in each breath. Use dry ice in a well-ventilated area. Do not attempt to ‘smoke’ your drink!
• Do not seal dry ice in glass or other closed containers, since the pressure buildup may result in breakage or bursting.
• The dry ice itself must not be consumed. This may be the most important thing you need to remember. Every time you give someone a drink with a cube of dry ice you absolutely must caution them to not let it get into their mouths or especially swallow it. It so cold that they could get internal frost bite in their mouth, throat, or even stomach. The good news? Dry ice is dense, and so it will sink to the bottom of your glass. Just caution people against taking the drink like a shot or inverting the glass all the way.