Dry Ice Safety

Dry ice safety is very important. This product can be dangerous if not handled, stored, transported, or disposed of properly.

Fortunately, the hazards of dry ice are simple to understand and manage.


Safety around Children and Animals

Most importantly, do not allow children and animals around dry ice without adult supervision. It is dangerous to touch, eat, drink, and breathe in (the vapors from dry ice fog/clouds).

With that said, there are many great science experiments with cool effects to create using dry ice. As long as you are following proper safety guidelines, you should have a great experience.

Handling Dry Ice Properly

Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide at -109° Farhenheit. It is extremely cold. As a result, if it touches bare skin, it can cause severe damage very quickly. Though commonly referred to as a “burn,” the effect is actually more like frostbite.

For the safe handling of dry ice, wear heavy gloves, eye protection, long sleeves and pants, and closed-toe shoes.

Surfaces and Countertops

Due to the extremely low temperature that dry ice exists at, there is a danger that some materials that dry ice touches can be damaged. Do not place dry ice directly on a countertop, surface, or in a vessel made of ceramic, laminate, tile, crystal, glass, and thin or brittle plastic.

For example, wood, without laminate or veneer, is a good surface to work on. You may want to use a small, portable piece of wood that you don’t need for other uses.

Contact with food and drink

Just like you should not eat or drink anything with dry ice in it, dry ice can have the same burning effect on food that it has on the skin. For example, if using dry ice to keep food or drinks cool, place a barrier of some kind between them. Also, if using blocks of dry ice to cool food in a cooler, wrap the ice in newspaper and place a layer of towels between the ice and food.

Though the fog effect of putting dry ice in a drink is cool, even small bits of the ice that break off can accidentally be swallowed with the drink. Therefore, proper dry ice safety means do not place dry ice in something that will be swallowed.

The cool dry ice punch bowls that are popular at Halloween are made by separating the dry ice (with water) in a larger bowl, and the drink in a smaller bowl set inside of it. Above all, the dry ice should never touch the liquid for drinking inside the smaller bowl.

MSDS

Here is a dry ice safety data sheet provided by Continental Carbonic.

Treating Dry Ice Injuries

Dry ice “burns,” if minor, can be treated similarly to other kinds of burns with an antibiotic ointment and gauze or a bandage. Dry ice burns may cause blisters. Avoid popping or rupturing the blister if possible. See a doctor if you’re not sure what to do about a dry ice burn.

If dry ice is swallowed, call 911 and see a doctor immediately.

Do not lay in or breathe in the clouds of fog from dry ice. It is highly concentrated carbon dioxide (CO2) and can cause asphyxiation. If you feel dizzy, light-headed, or disoriented at all around dry ice, call 911 immediately.

Storing Dry Ice Safely

Never put dry ice in a sealed container, small or large, without some sort of ventilation. Do not store dry ice in the freezer or refrigerator as the low temperature can cause the entire appliance to switch off. When dry ice sublimates, it releases CO2 which can increase pressure in the container causing it to burst.

Therefore, do not use or store dry ice in a basement.

It is okay to store dry ice in an insulated, polystyrene container or a small cooler like you may take on a picnic or camping. In other words, do not use a cooler that locks closed without ventilation.

Ventilation

If storing dry ice in a small, enclosed room or space, the space may fill with CO2 and cause anyone entering or in the room to have trouble or stop breathing. Therefore, always work with, transport, store, and dispose of dry ice in a well-ventilated area.

Dry ice can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on how much you have, to completely evaporate. In addition, blocks of dry ice will go slower than pellets will. Therefore, breaking up blocks into smaller chunks can help you to dispose of them quicker.

Transporting Dry Ice Safely

Above all, when transporting dry ice, always bring with you safety equipment like gloves, eye protection, and a ventilated container to hold the ice secure. Secondly, if the dry ice will be in a vehicle with you, roll down the windows enough to ventilate the cabin. The dry ice will be sublimating into CO2, and you don’t want to pass out on the way home.

Disposing of Dry Ice

In conclusion, when you’re done using the dry ice, allow it to evaporate in a well-ventilated area where no children, animals, or adults who are unfamiliar with it will happen across it. The dry ice will just sublimate (evaporate) away into nothing.

Finally, do not put dry ice down a sink, toilet, or tub drain, or in a trash can.

Dry Ice Advice
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