What Is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is the name given to carbon dioxide, a gas, when it freezes into a solid state. Dry ice is used to refrigerate food. It is called “dry” ice because when it melts, it doesn’t melt into a liquid like ordinary “wet” ice does. Dry ice melts into a gas.

Foods that have to be shipped over long distances are frequently packed in dry ice. This includes meat, fish, and eggs. The ice cream that you buy from a truck on the street is also packed in dry ice, and the “steam” that you see coming out of the truck when the driver opens the little door and takes out your pop or cone is actually the gas given off by the dry ice as it melts upon coming in contact with the warmer air outside.

Clouds are often “seeded” with dry ice pellets to create rain in drought-stricken areas. The dry ice lowers the temperature of the moisture already in the clouds and makes that moisture fall as rain or snow.

Because dry ice is much colder than ordinary ice, sometimes reaching temperatures as low as -112° Fahrenheit, it is very dangerous to handle. Touching it can cause frostbite and burns; using it in an enclosed room can serious breathing problems because of the harmful gases it gives off; eating it can cause death!

Dry ice is used on theater stages to create the effects of fog!