Cool Things to Do With Dry Ice

Fun and Interesting Dry Ice Science Projects

Dry Ice
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Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is called "dry ice" because it's frozen, yet never melts into a liquid at ordinary pressures. Dry ice sublimates or makes the transition directly from frozen solid into carbon dioxide gas. If you are lucky enough to get some dry ice, there are lot of projects you can try. Here are some of my favorite cool things to do with dry ice.

  • Homemade Dry Ice - First you need dry ice, so if you don't have any, make it! This project uses compressed carbon dioxide gas to make the solid form of the compound.
  • Dry Ice Fog - The classic project is to put a chunk of dry ice in hot water, causing it to produce clouds of vapor or fog. You can get vapor if you start out with cold water, but the effect won't be as spectacular. Remember, the dry ice will cool the water, so if the effect fades you can recharge it by adding more hot water.
  • Dry Ice Crystal Ball - Place a piece of dry ice in a bowl or cup containing bubble solution. Wet a towel with bubble solution and pull it across the lip of the bowl, trapping the carbon dioxide into a giant bubble that resembles a crystal ball. The "ball" is filled with swirling vapor. For an added effect, place a small, waterproof light inside the bowl. Good choices include a glow stick or an LED taped to a coin battery and sealed in a small plastic bag.
  • Frozen Bubble - Freeze a soap bubble over a piece of dry ice. The bubble will appear to float in the air over the dry ice. The bubble floats because the pressure produced by sublimation is greater than atmospheric pressure above the bubble.
  • Fizzy Fruit - Freeze strawberries or other fruit using dry ice. Carbon dioxide bubbles become trapped in the fruit, making it fizzy and carbonated.
  • Singing or Screaming Spoon - Press any metal object against a piece of dry ice and it will appear to sing or scream as it vibrates.
  • Dry Ice Ice Cream - You can use dry ice to make instant ice cream. Because carbon dioxide gas is released, the resulting ice cream is bubbly and carbonated, sort of like an ice cream float.
  • Dry Ice Bubbles - Place a piece of dry ice in bubble solution. Fog-filled bubbles will form. Popping them releases dry ice fog, which is a cool effect.
  • Simulate a Comet - Simulate a comet using dry ice and a few other simple materials. It will even produce a "tail" like a real comet.
  • Dry Ice Jack-o'-Lantern - Make a cool Halloween jack-o'-lantern that spews dry ice fog.
  • Dry Ice Erupting Volcano Cake - While you can't eat dry ice, you can use it as a decoration for food. In this project, dry ice produces a volcanic eruption for a volcano cake.
  • Dry Ice Bomb - Sealing dry ice into a container will cause it to burst. The safest version of this is to place a small piece of dry ice into a plastic film canister or potato chip can with a pop lid.
  • Inflate a Balloon - Seal a small piece of dry ice inside a balloon. As the dry ice sublimates, the balloon will blow up. If you use too big a piece of dry ice, the balloon will pop! This works because converting the solid into a vapor produces pressure. A balloon inflated with dry ice typically pops long before it gets as full as it would if it was filled with air. This is because the part of the balloon in contact with the dry ice freezes and becomes brittle.
  • Inflate a Glove - Similarly, you can put a piece of dry ice into a latex or other plastic glove and tie it closed. The dry ice will inflate the glove.

Dry ice is a lot of fun to play with, but it is very cold, plus there are other hazards associated with it. Before attempting a project involving dry ice, be sure you are aware of dry ice risks. Have fun and be safe!

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Cool Things to Do With Dry Ice." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2023, April 5). Cool Things to Do With Dry Ice. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Cool Things to Do With Dry Ice." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).