Dry Ice-Capades (Nov, 1947)

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Dry Ice-Capades

Dry ice is very interesting stuff! Get yourself a chunk (handling it with gloves) and perform the simple experiments illustrated here.

DRY ice is solid carbon dioxide. It’s very interesting stuff. For one thing, it sublimes at room temperature; that is, although a solid, it evaporates to form a gas without passing through the liquid state. The mist you see formed by dry ice is water “squeezed” out of the air because it has been chilled below the dewpoint.

Dry ice will readily freeze water and other liquids, and is sometimes used to “quick-freeze” food. The water in plant or animal tissues, under proper conditions, freezes very rapidly and the hard, frozen tissue then is brittle and shatters when struck. The “burns” caused by dry ice are really areas where the body fluids have been frozen. Since ice formation is often accompanied by the growth of needle-like crystals, one can see that these frost-bites can be both painful and dangerous. For the sake of safety, dry ice should be handled with gloves or tongs, not with bare hands.

On the following pages are photographs illustrating a few experiments that may be performed with dry ice. Try them!

  1. Stannous says: November 24, 200712:54 pm

    This is all well and good but the title makes me wonder- could you ice skate on dry ice?

    My guess is not (and you sure wouldn’t want to fall) but maybe it would melt just enough from the friction of the skates to avoid sticking.

  2. Blurgle says: November 24, 20074:01 pm

    The title made me wonder if the Ice Capades company sued Mechanix Illustrated for trademark infringement!

    Although this is an interesting article, since in the last year I’ve been getting chunks of dry ice in my grocery deliveries.

  3. Blurgle says: November 24, 20074:03 pm

    Although I don’t think I’ll try the mercury experiment.

  4. mrdweeb says: November 24, 20079:48 pm

    I’ve got the mercury right here–whoops!–spilled it all over the place.

  5. AJ says: November 26, 20075:41 am

    The way skating on water ice works is by the blade friction melting the ice, and then “floating” on the water. Since “dry” ice doesn’t pass through the liquid stage (at normal pressures) there is no liquid to float on. Therefore, skating on it wouldn’t work well at all.

  6. Tucker says: July 8, 20109:43 pm

    It is very true. I have seen dry ice burns before… they are not cool. There is some more safety tips on the dry ice website.

    I love the first part of that article. “Get yourself a chunk”. That is hilarious.

  7. Firebrand38 says: July 9, 20107:14 am

    Tucker: Just a laugh riot. How would you have phrased it?

  8. jayessell says: July 9, 20107:29 am

    Google ‘dry ice buttocks’.
    There are incidents from 1993 and 2004.

    “It is quite extraordinary that none of the organisers of this event realised the danger to which they were exposing these young people and as a consequence they have all suffered the most appalling injuries.”

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