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What is dry ice and dry ice maker?

Updated on October 5, 2015

What is dry ice and dry ice maker

What is dry ice and dry ice maker

It sounds like an oxy-moron, doesn’t it? How can ice (frozen water) be dry? If you’ve ever seen dry ice smoking in some container while people with goggles stood around conducting some kind of science experiments, it looks like something out of some futuristic world.

So, what actually dry ice is? Is it natural or synthetic? How is it generated and maybe it has negative effect on health? And if you can get it, what exactly would you do with it?

Well, the first thing you need to know is that it’s not exactly ice. Well, it’s not frozen water ice, anyway. It’s actually a very interesting substance that is all at once useful, dangerous, and awesomely entertaining!

Let’s find out it and much more about dry ice.


What exactly is it?

Dry ice is also known as card ice (or Cardice). Namely, dry ice is carbon dioxide (CO2). Its physical qualities are as follows: odorless, colorless, non-flammable, with some acidic capacities.

The temperature of its solid state is lower than temperature of frozen water (or water ice). Unlike other solid elements, when temperature or pressure goes high such dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) sublimes directly in gas (oxygen) without becoming liquid first. This physical quality of the dry ice makes it especially suitable for different uses. In nature carbon dioxide as a gas is produced by leaving beings in the process of breathing. Ocean water contains it in huge amount as well. Some volume of carbon dioxide on our planet is transformed into oxygen by plants – this process is known as photosynthesis. However, according to scientists, excess carbon dioxide leads to the global climate change.

Dry ice was discovered by a French chemist around mid 1830s (19th century). For the first time dry ice was introduced into industry only in early 1920s in the United States – where solid carbon dioxide was patented. Since then DryIce Corporation of America sells solid carbon dioxide as the product known as “dry ice”. For its perfect refrigerating qualities dry ice soon becomes widely used in food industry.

What do you do with dry ice?

Due to its perfect refrigerating capacities, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) as a coolant is widely used in different industries – first of all for preserving products such as ice cream, quick freezing fruits, vegetables and other such frozen products. Regular ice would take a long time to chill these products to safe temperatures, and in this longer process the quality and nutrient value can suffer. Some products that have a high water content—like certain fruits—that prolonged freezing process can result in waterlogged, freezer-burned products. Dry ice can flash-freeze them in a much shorter time, thereby avoiding the damage.

Dry ice also has different scientific and military applications. Recently debates have begun on inventing carbon dioxide cooling mechanisms in the new age automobiles. But automobile industry opponents have not come to mutual agreement on that yet.

For parties and holidays, dried is that stuff that creates that beautiful mist that hangs in the air. This is what gives your Halloween graveyard display that spooky, unearthly appeal, and makes your retro 70’s Disco party feel like you’re in Saturday Night Fever.

Dry Ice Fun - Cool Science Experiments


How to make dry ice

Let’s now talk about how is dry ice made and what actually is a dry ice maker? The process of manufacturing dry ice is not a difficult one. However it has several steps. The first step is to produce carbon dioxide gases, or gasses with high concentration of such. It is possible either by fermentation or as a side product of another chemical reaction. The second step is to turn the gas into liquid. To do so, low pressures and temperatures are applied to carbon dioxide gas. Then, in order to further lower the temperature of carbon dioxide, pressure is reduced to some extent. It finally leads to formation of solid carbon dioxide which then is compressed to 30kg blocks or smaller pellets.

There are different types of dry ice makers available in the market. Price varies from $120 up to $1000 and higher.

Dry ice should be handled with caution as its extreme cooling temperatures may easily cause skin burns. Also a person can by all means become suffocated if in confined location in the presence of big volume of unprotected dry ice - as it easily turns into gas (oxygen). But if safety precautions are taken, there is no reason you can’t utilize this very cool (literally) product.


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