How to Safely Handle & Utilize Dry Ice
What is dry ice?
Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is commonly used for temporary refrigeration as CO2 does not have a liquid state at normal atmospheric pressure and sublimates directly from the solid state to the gas state.
How Does Dry Ice Function?
As dry ice breaks down it turns into carbon dioxide gas instead of a liquid. The freezing temperature and sublimation feature make dry ice great for refrigeration. Dry ice Is great for shipping products that need to stay cold across the country. Dry ice is used in numerous industries for different properties such as in the food industry when dry ice pellets are added to prevent bacterial growth during large-scale meat grinding, also used for deep cleaning by blasting dry ice with a machine to remove mold, paint, grease and other hard to remove adhesive materials, and is used to store organs for transplants.
Handling Dry Ice Safely
To handle dry ice, you will want to wear heavy gloves preferably insulated gloves, handling dry ice directly without any gloves can easily damage your skin, to pick up dry ice we do recommend you use tongs and to avoid using your hands even when wearing insulated gloves handling dry ice without safety equipment can lead to your skin cells freezing and dying along with causing permanent damage to your skin all within a few moments if one comes in direct contact with dry ice. For the same reasons you do not want to ingest dry ice either for this is much more dangerous, if ingested in a matter of seconds one can feel the effects of what dry ice can do to our bodies, dry ice can freeze the tissue in your mouth, esophagus, and stomach, causing one to feel the same effects as if you were handling dry ice without safety equipment, stinging and numbing sensations will occur, the risk of sublimation of dry ice is the most dangerous, this can cause pressure to build up in your stomach and can cause your stomach to rupture resulting in permanent injury or death. Wearing safety goggles is always a necessity when handling dry ice in case of an explosion to protect your eye and always wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and closed-toed shoes. When using dry ice make sure you are handling this in a well-ventilated area and not in enclosed spaces. If the concentration of carbon dioxide rises above 5% this can now become toxic and ultimately lead to asphyxiation due to the dry ice sublimating from solid to gas, never transport dry ice in a closed vehicle to avoid the buildup of CO2. To store dry ice, use an insulated container such as a Styrofoam cooler that is NOT airtight to prevent the buildup of carbon dioxide gas. To discard dry ice; once you are done using dry ice and wish to discard it you will want to pour warm water over it, the warm water will melt the dry ice making it easy to discard. Never dispose of dry ice in the trash or dump dry ice into a sink drain, this could easily damage your pipes.
Handling Dry Ice for Food and Beverages
Always use certified food-grade dry ice that is contaminate-free. Food that does come in contact with dry ice is safe to consume, as dry ice reaches warmer temperatures dry ice sublimates into carbon dioxide. Adding dry ice directly into food or drinks can cause severe burns in the mouth and throat as mentioned in this article, ingesting dry ice is very dangerous and ultimately deadly, though some bars and restaurants may use dry ice for presentation in their beverages this is still extremely dangerous and we would not recommend trying any beverage associated with dry ice, all it takes is a small pellet of dry ice to break off the bottom of the drink and to come in contact with one's skin, teeth, and internal organs to cause permanent damage and possibly death. When using dry ice to keep food cold make sure your wrap the dry ice in a newspaper or wax paper to add extra layers of insulation that can make the dry ice last longer and always remember to wear safety equipment when handling dry ice.