What can dry ice do

Applications of dry ice

The term dry ice itself can be deceiving. Ice is usually associated with frozen water (i.e. H2O), but dry ice has very little to do with the clear liquid and instead consists of carbon dioxide (CO2). Few gases can take on a solid state - in our case, carbon dioxide turns into dry ice.

Dry ice has a temperature of -78.5 degrees Celsius and has the special property that it evaporates directly and does not first become liquid - this is one of the reasons for the popularity of the solid, but more on that later.

Dry ice does not occur naturally on earth. It is obtained by releasing and relaxing pressurized CO2 - a so-called relaxation cold is released, which cools the carbon dioxide down to such an extent that the coveted dry ice is created.

Applications

Dry ice can be found in a wide variety of industries and areas of application. It is used in gastronomy, event technology, cleaning and of course in industry.

Refrigeration of food

Probably the largest area of ‚Äč‚Äčapplication for dry ice is the cooling of food. Dry ice has a cooling capacity 3 times as high as normal ice, which is why even small amounts produce excellent cooling.

As already mentioned before, dry ice does not melt, but evaporates directly (sublimation). This has the advantage that it disappears without leaving any residue - with conventional ice, water remains.
For this reason, dry ice is a popular coolant for transport, as the water residue from ice can damage the goods or at least their packaging.
However, you should make sure that you do not allow food to come into direct contact with dry ice - the enormous cold is harmful to most goods.

Dry ice is also used for cooling in industry, for example in the manufacture of cold baths, cold shrinking or hardening of metal and plastics.

Another application of dry ice is molecular cuisine - here ingredients in the preparation of dishes are cooled to an extreme degree with the help of carbon dioxide in order to create special culinary experiences.

Create fog with dry ice

In event technology, dry ice is used to generate fog or smoke. Although fog machines are becoming more common these days, dry ice is still a popular way to create fog.

The specialty is that dry ice is heavier than air and the resulting mist settles on the ground. This effect cannot or only partially be achieved with a fog machine.

In order to create the fog, the solid dry ice has to be poured with warm water. As mentioned before, the temperature difference causes the carbon dioxide to evaporate directly and we have our ground fog.

Cleaning with dry ice

Machines, vehicles, walls and much more can be cleaned with so-called dry ice blasting. The dry ice cools down any dirt residues, grease, grease and oil residues in a flash and makes them brittle. The solid CO2 penetrates the embrittled surface and sublimes when it hits it. This increases the volume of carbon dioxide by 700 to 1000 times and "blasts" away the dirt particles.

A big advantage is that dry ice is extremely gentle on the material. It's relatively soft, so it won't damage most surfaces. This enables e.g. the cleaning of sensitive electrical components.

As the dry ice evaporates directly, there is no residue left in the machine, unlike conventional cleaning agents. In this way you can often save yourself the complicated dismantling of the equipment.

Dangers of dry ice

Carbon dioxide is a non-toxic, chemically inert (that is, the gas does not change in chemical processes) gas.

One danger is that CO2 is heavier than air. This means that it cannot escape in closed rooms and there is a risk of suffocation. It is therefore very important to use dry ice in well-ventilated rooms (extreme care must be taken, especially in basement rooms).

Another danger is the cold burn. Since dry ice has a temperature of -78.5 degrees Celsius, it should never come into contact with the skin. It is advisable to only touch the dry ice with thick protective gloves in order to counteract the cold and avoid burns or frostbite.

Transport & storage of dry ice

As mentioned before, CO2 is heavier than air and therefore poses a certain risk of suffocation. Therefore, dry ice must always be physically separated from the driver when transporting vehicles.

As mentioned before, storage in cellars is very dangerous and should therefore be avoided as a matter of urgency. Even closed rooms are not a suitable storage place for dry ice.

Dry ice should never be stored in gas-tight containers, as the condensation can create high pressure that can even burst the container.
Usually, dry ice is stored in styrofoam boxes with lids. These are not airtight, but they insulate the cold well enough to avoid excessive losses through evaporation.

However, the mentioned losses cannot be completely avoided - after all, the environment will always be warmer than -78.5 degrees Celsius.
To 24 hours Storage can lead to losses of up to 20% count on 48 hours up to 35% and at 72 hours up to 60%.

It is therefore advisable to get the dry ice as close as possible to the time of use in order to minimize losses and risks.