Homemade Liquid Nitrogen Simulant

Poor Man's Liquid Nitrogen - Cryogenic Fluid

Real liquid nitrogen is nontoxic and vaporizes upon contact with skin.
Real liquid nitrogen is nontoxic and vaporizes upon contact with skin. Daniel Cattermole / EyeEm / Getty Images

You can make your own homemade liquid nitrogen using readily available materials. It's not really liquid nitrogen, however, but cryogenic-temperature alcohol. The chilled alcohol can be used for many liquid nitrogen projects, such as freezing flowers or other materials. It is not suitable for ice cream or anything edible. Also, although this "poor man's liquid nitrogen" is very cold, it doesn't vaporize off your skin like true liquid nitrogen, meaning it can give you frostbite very easily.

Avoid skin contact and use all the safety precautions you would use with nitrogen.

Homemade "Liquid Nitrogen" Materials

  • dry ice
  • 99% rubbing alcohol or methanol (lower percentage will work but you'll get a gelatinous cryofluid)
  • plastic container (don't use glass because extreme temperature changes may cause it to shatter)

Prepare the Homemade "Liquid Nitrogen"

You've got two ways to do this.

  1. Pour the alcohol into a plastic container and nest this container inside a bucket of dry ice.

     

  2. Alternatively, you can pour the alcohol directly over the dry ice. This is easier, but you won't have control over the temperature of the dry ice, so it's possible your alcohol will freeze.

Use the homemade liquid nitrogen simulant to super-cool science projects or chill materials. If you don't use all of the liquid at one time, you can store it in the freezer or an insulated cooler to help it last longer. Or, if the alcohol warms up, you can re-chill it using more dry ice.

After the project is completed, the rubbing alcohol will remain useful for its normal purpose and may be returned to its container.