Have you considered how theater productions and Halloween stores have captured the perfect foggy effect? Or, how perishable meats can last for days? All of these factors can be attributed to dry ice.
While too cold for human touch, dry ice is versatile and used in countless industries. And as a cost-effective product, it’s becoming increasingly popular by the day. But what is it, and how can it be used?
Keep reading to learn:
- What dry ice is and its properties
- The industries that use dry ice the most
- 12 conventional uses for dry ice
What Is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2) that has been cooled and pressurized until it turns solid. While similar to traditional ice, dry ice appears like chunks of white, opaque, frozen pellets or blocks.
The Properties of Dry Ice
Dry ice is about -109°F (-78°C) and is much colder than regular ice, which has a temperature of 32°F (0°C). It’s a sublimation product, which means it transitions from a solid to a gas without going through the liquid phase, unlike traditional ice. As it sublimates, it gives off white smoke and can be used to create dramatic special effects on stage or in movies.
Dry Ice has several unique properties, making it an ideal choice for many uses. It is non-toxic, odorless, and does not leave behind any residues or by-products.
What’s Dry Ice Used For?
Dry ice has a wide range of uses in commercial industries and everyday life.
The Most Popular Industries for Dry Ice Use
While virtually every industry uses dry ice to some capacity, some of the most common are the following:
- Medical and Pharmaceutical
12 Conventional Uses for Dry Ice
Some common uses for dry ice include:
1. Food Preservation and Refrigeration
Undoubtedly the most common use for dry ice is the extended preservation of foods. Since dry ice can remove bacteria and minimize the development of mildew and mold, supermarkets, restaurants, and other commercial businesses in the food industry can safely abide by industry regulations.
Dry ice is an excellent tool for preventing foodborne illnesses and allergic reactions. This makes it perfect for shipping perishable goods over long distances, as it can keep food cold enough to prevent spoilage. Additionally, flash-freezing foods helps preserve nutritional content.
2. Frozen Drinks and Cocktails
Also commonly used in the food industry, dry ice can be used to enhance frozen drinks and cocktails, such as slushies and margaritas. By placing the dry ice in a container of warm water, the ice evaporates and creates a smoky effect.
3. Carbonated Drinks
Dry ice is the solidified form of carbon dioxide. And in the food industry, carbon dioxide is the essential gaseous element in carbonated drinks like cola and sparkling water. When dry ice is added to a liquid, it forms carbon dioxide vapors, giving the drink a fizzy texture and icy cold taste.
4. Transferring Medical and Pharmaceutical Supplies
Medical supplies must stay cool while in storage and transport, especially temperature-sensitive products like vaccines and medicines. Dry ice is a great choice for maintaining these temperatures, as it is non-toxic and can easily be stored in an insulated shipping container or cooler.
The benefits don’t stop at medical supplies, either. Dry ice is perfect for preserving organs and tissue samples, especially during invasive surgeries.
5. Cryotherapy and Cryosurgery
Healthcare professionals like to use dry ice for cryotherapy treatments that address symptoms like muscular and joint pain. In a controlled environment, the extremely cold temperature of the dry ice helps reduce inflammation and swelling while also numbing the affected area to reduce pain.
Additionally, dry ice is essential for cryosurgeries that frequently freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. Even on a minor scale, smaller procedures like mole and wart removals use the freezing power of dry ice quite often.
6. Dry Ice Blasting
Dry ice blasting is an abrasive cleaning technique that’s incredibly effective across various industries. When combined with compressed air, blasting tools spray small dry ice pellets in a controlled stream to safely remove dirt, grease, and other contaminants from various surfaces. Plus, since the cold air shrinks the dirt particles, cleanup is much easier.
The construction industry can be dangerous, but dry ice can help remove oxygen from highly flammable tanks, reducing the risk of combustible vapors catching fire at a construction site or manufacturing facility. It’s also instrumental in maintaining the temperature of minerals like asphalt while transported from site to site.
Also, construction workers prefer using dry ice blasting to clean construction equipment and materials.
8. Mosquito Repellant and Pest Control
Since mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, dry ice is often used as a natural mosquito repellant. It can be spread around the perimeter of a home to create an invisible barrier that keeps mosquitoes and other pests away.
Dry ice is even useful for the eradication of rodents. Dry ice pellets can be slipped into rodent tunnels, so when carbon dioxide is released, it causes them to suffocate. It’s important to note that dry ice harms pets and humans, so caution is advised in at-home use.
Dry ice can be used to help clear clogged drains and pipes. The material is placed in the pipes and then allowed to expand, breaking up blockages along the way. This is a much more effective and efficient way of clearing blocked drains than traditional plungers or snake augers.
10. Funeral Homes and Burial Usage
Dry ice is often used in funeral homes and burial services. It is ideal for preserving bodies as it can keep them cool for long periods, giving families more time to arrange a funeral service. And if you’re a mortician, you can use dry ice to skip the expensive embalming process. This is especially ideal for a “Green Burial” — an environmentally-conscious process where the body is preserved over dry ice and buried in a biodegradable casket.
11. Theatrical Effects
Theaters and film productions use dry ice to create fog or smoke effects on the stage. Like cocktails, when combined with hot water, the dry ice produces a dense fog that can create eerie, dramatic, or mysterious effects. It’s also commonly used at concerts and other live events to create an atmosphere of mystery or awe for the audience.
Not commonly known is the use of dry ice in fighting fires. While not an everyday occurrence, firefighters occasionally use dry ice as an effective method for extinguishing fires. The extreme cold temperature of the ice used in this method makes it especially helpful for putting out fires that produce great heat, such as oil and chemical fires.
CK Supply is One of the Leading Dry Ice Companies
If a reputable dry ice supplier is what you need, CK Supply is the perfect choice. We offer the highest quality products and equipment, excellent customer service, and competitive pricing. Whether you need to purchase dry ice, rent ice blasting equipment, or find more ways to ensure storage safety, we’re here to help.
Do you have questions about our services? We’d love to chat with you. Contact us today!