Dry ice is used in cooking and construction as a cleaner, an insecticide, a way to create fog or smoke as a theater special effect, and an element in school science experiments. It is usually sold in block form, but can also be purchased in pellets from grocery stores and other types of retailers. Here are a few important terms to know when shopping for dry ice.
CO2 – The chemical formula for carbon dioxide. In its solid form CO2 is called dry ice.
Liquid Nitrogen – A liquefied gas with a temperature of -321 Fahrenheit. It is used in many of the same applications as dry ice, but has a different chemical composition.
Liquid Hydrogen – Dry ice can be used to generate the fuel source liquid hydrogen from coal. As a fuel it is also cleaner than coal.
Sublimation – The process of going from a solid to a gas without passing through a liquid form. Sublimating a solid block of CO2 into CO2 gas by raising its temperature creates dry ice.
Dry Ice Blasting – A cleaning method in which dry ice is projected at high speeds to clean surfaces. Blasting is used to clean boats, construction materials, and buildings that have been damaged by fire.
Pelletizer – A pelletizer makes small nuggets, or pellets of dry ice that are used for blasting.
Block Press – A machine that creates blocks of dry ice weighing 50 pounds or more.
Reforming Press – A machine that takes scrap pieces of dry ice and reforms them into pellets.
Dry ice is an important substance used by many businesses. It is important to understand the difference between dry ice and standard ice.
Anyone can make typical ice blocks. All you need to do is freeze water to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in a mold, and you will have cubes to use for a drink or to keep food cold.
The dry form on the other hand is created in a completely different way. Dry ice is not actually ice but rather CO2. When CO2 reaches a temperature of -109.3 Fahrenheit, it becomes dry ice. Science professionals create this substance, and it is not something you make at home.
Although standard cubes melt, dry ice will evaporate in a sublime process and turn into a gas. It has some temperature similarities to liquid nitrogen, but is easier to work with.
Dry ice has many uses. Commercial cleaners blast the substance to clean bricks. Blasting is one of the most efficient ways to clean the outside of a brick home. Do not try this yourself, professionals have the correct tools to get the right amount of pressure to do the blasting correctly.
In a solid form, dry ice comes in pellets or blocks. Although it is not recommended to make your own, if you take careful safety precautions you can do your own experiments at a party with it. You will see a fog and smoke form from dry ice projects. Be sure to wear goggles. Always store your supply of dry ice in an insulated box, and it should also be shipped in this type of cooling container.
Be careful when handling dry ice, it can feel as hot as coal, and to avoid coal like burns, use special gloves, tongs and protective gear.