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What's the Difference Between 'Dry' Ice & 'Wet' Ice?

Updated on June 28, 2012
What is the difference between wet and dry ice?
What is the difference between wet and dry ice? | Source

Even though may not have heard of the phrase “wet ice” you likely use wet ice on a daily basis to cool your water, tea or even soda. "Wet Ice" is the normal ice you make in the freezer by freezing water. But have you ever heard of “dry ice”? And what’s the difference between “wet” and “dry” ice anyway?

Dry ice is the solid form of the gas carbon dioxide. Although the liquid form is often used to add bubbles to drinks such as beer or soda pop, it is also used as a preservative in chicken and beef, notes the Penguin Brand of dry ice. Used correctly, dry ice has up to five times the cooling power of traditional wet ice.

But what are more practical, everyday uses of dry ice? When you don’t have access to a refrigerator or freezer, such as during camping trips or power outages, dry ice allows you to keep food fresh or frozen (your choice) for up to 3 to 4 days without the melting mess of wet ice. For freezing items such as meets or ice cream, place the dry ice on top of your foods. For keeping items cool, such as sodas or lunch meats place the dry ice on the bottom of the cooler.

Flash freezing fruit is simple with dry ice, and often more economical than buying store-bought frozen fruits. Clean and dry the small fruit pieces then place the individual piece of fruit on a metal cookie sheet. Position several pounds of dry ice in the bottom of a cooler, and place the cookie sheet directly on top of the ice. Close the lid on the cooler, and allow the fruit to freeze over the next few hours. When flash frozen, place the fruit pieces into a freezer bag for easier storage until you are ready to use them.

Create spooky fog by placing large chunks of dry ice into warm water or unto a large punch bowl filled with your preferred beverage. For best results, use an electric skillet, hot plate, or slow cooker to keep the liquid warm. While you may drink the liquid in the dry ice sits in (as long as the dry ice is “food grade”) avoid touching or drinking chunks of the dry ice.

Although working with dry ice is fun and educational, the extreme nature of the product makes it dangerous if not handled correctly. For best (and safest results) follow these safety tips found below:

  • Never touch dry ice directly with your hands or skin; it will burn you. Use gloves or tongs to avoid skin contact.
  • Avoid inhaling too much of the gas released from the ice, and there isn’t enough oxygen in it. “Heavy carbon dioxide vapor released may cause suffocation” warns the Penguin Brand.
  • Allow dry ice to evaporate naturally in a paper bag placed outdoors. Don’t allow pets or children to come into contact with it.
  • Never place dry ice directly on glass or tile. The extreme temperature (which is about -109 degrees Fahrenheit) could cause the surface to break or crack!


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    • profile image

      Dry Ice 6 years ago

      Great article. You cover quite a bit and have great details.

      Another great advantage of dry ice over water ice is dry ice has great cleaning power. There is a process called dry ice blasting... where people shoot dry ice using compressed air at a surface to clean it. Works great and much better than water blasting.

    • Diane Lockridge profile image

      Diane Lockridge 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Did you really? I can't imagine what the next person thought?!

    • Cookinmom11 profile image

      Cookinmom11 6 years ago from Saint George, Georgia

      It's fun to drop a chunk into a toilet in a crowded restroom, too. :D