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The Science Of Dry Ice: What Is It And How Can It Be Used?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
physical properties of dry ice

Dry ice has a variety of industrial, commercial, and consumer uses. If you’ve been to a Halloween party, you’ve probably seen this product in a few punch bowls. It is frequently used with ice packs, super-cool commercial applications like servers, and is vital to the medical and food shipping industries. Dry ice is versatile in its uses, but how does it work and how is it created? The following will help you understand the science behind dry ice.

What is dry ice?

Dry ice, contrary to its name, is not frozen water. Rather, this product is solid CO2, which has a temperature around -109 degrees F. When this product is in atmospheric pressure, meaning when it is sitting around in a room or a cooler, it warms up and sublimates. Sublimation is a process by which a solid turns into a gas without first becoming a liquid, like water-ice. Dry Ice has a natural state as a gas and is alway attempting to go back to its natural state.

Dry ice is a natural byproduct that forms in several industrial processes, like fermentation and petrochemical refining. It is considered eco-friendly if used correctly. When sublimation occurs, no new CO2 is created because it produces the same amount of CO2 as before.

Safe dry ice handling procedures

Dry ice is cold, so it is important that you don’t underestimate how its temperature can affect you. If you touch this product with your bare hands, it can and will cause significant freeze burns, like frostbite or worse. Additionally, even though it is solid, it is still a form of CO2 that produces a dangerous gas if it isn’t in a well-ventilated room. Eventually, a solid block of CO2 will sublimate into a gaseous state that is colorless, odorless, and can suffocate you. Carbon dioxide is 55% heavier than oxygen, so the gases will stay low until they displace the oxygen. However, dry ice is also non-flammable, so it is an ideal method to cool volatile substances because it isn’t likely to result in a violent chemical reaction.

What kinds of dry ice are available?

Dry ice loses between three and eight pounds every hour due to sublimation depending on certain factors in the environment. If you are transporting or using this product, take into account its rate of sublimation. Dry ice comes in a variety of shapes including snow, pellets, nuggets, slabs, and blocks. The more surface area that is exposed, the more sublimation will occur. So, if you need to transport food or others items, you will want something with less surface area like high-density pellets or snow, versus a block or slab. However, if you are using regular dry ice, slabs are better for long-term transportation.

Looking for reliable dry ice suppliers?

Dry ice is a unique product that has a broad range of consumer, commercial, and industrial applications. If you need to purchase dry ice in large quantities, contact the experts at Reliant Dry Ice today. We carry this product in a variety of forms and are happy to work with you to meet your specific needs. We are passionate about providing high-quality, safe products throughout the United States. You can call us at (714) 330-4281 or Contact Us via email to learn more about our Products, including Insulated Shippers and Gel Packs, and how to use them Safely.