What Is Dry Ice?

It’s time to make bubbling potions, burping bubbles and low lying fog. The main ingredient in all of these concoctions (besides warm water) is dry ice. We receive a lot of calls and emails from our customers looking for more information on this mysterious substance. So here’s the low down …
What is It?
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is part of the Earth’s atmosphere. Only about 0.035% of our atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide. Most of the air we breathe is nitrogen (79%) and oxygen (20%). Plants use it for photosynthesis and we breath it out.

It is colder than ice made from water at -109.3°F (-78.5°C). Due to it’s extreme cold temperature, it must be handled with insulated gloves. It is used to keep food cold during shipping. When dry ice melts, it turns into a gas and not a liquid, like water. When it melts, it vanishes into thin air. The process from turning from a solid to a gas is called sublimation. When you drop a piece in a bucket of water, the gas that you see is a combination of carbon dioxide and water vapor. So, the gas that you see is actually a cloud of tiny water droplets.


Dry ice must be handled using gloves or tongs, as it will cause severe burns if it comes in contact with your skin. Never put dry ice into your mouth. If using it to carbonate a beverage, make sure the dry ice is completely gone before serving. When making bubbling, smoking water for young children, it’s best to use tall graduated cylinders filled with water and dry ice. The children are unable to fit their hands in the cylinder to reach the dry ice.

Never trap dry ice in a jar without a vent. The pressure will build up and the jar will explode! This could cause serious harm to you or to someone else.

Where Do I Buy Dry Ice?

Ask any of our customer service representatives what one of the most commonly asked questions they get this time of year, and they will all respond “Where can I buy dry ice?” When purchasing dry ice, it’s a good idea to bring along gloves and an insulated container to carry it in.

Some grocery stores, including King Soopers, Safeway and Wal-Mart sell it. You may want to search their company websites for more information or call around to find a store that sells it. To find a dry ice retailer, check out the Dry Ice Directory.

Steve Spangler Science Halloween bubbling dry ice

How Much is It and How Much Do I Need?

Dry ice is sold in stores for about $1 per pound. It comes in flat square slabs a few inches thick or as cylinders. Either size will work fine for these bubbling experiments. For a few dry ice demonstrations, plan to purchase 5 to 10 pounds.


How Do I Store It?

Dry Ice sublimates at a rate of 5 to 10 pounds every 24 hours in a typical ice chest, so it’s best to purchase dry ice as close to the time you will use it as possible. It is best to store it in an ice chest or cooler. Make sure you do not completely seal the container, as the carbon dioxide gas will build up in the container as the dry ice sublimates. Don’t store dry ice in your freezer. The extreme cold will cause the freezer’s thermostat to shut off. Dry ice can be used to save your food if your freezer breaks.

What Are Some Halloween Dry Ice Recipes?

Be sure to check out our Ultimate Dry Ice Science Kit. This kit is filled with the supplies you’ll need for all sorts of amazing and extraordinary experiments including Steve’s famous bubbling Dry Ice Halloween Punch! You’ll create bubbles that smoke, make silverware scream, and even make a crystal ball out of bubbles! These bubbling, foggy concoctions and activities will have your attention for hours. And what would a Steve Spangler Science kit be if you didn’t learn a lot about the science behind the magic, too?


15 replies
    • Susan Wells
      Susan Wells says:

      Hi – Yes, you are welcome to link to our post or share our information on your site along with full credit given to Steve Spangler Science and linking back to our original article. Thank you!

  1. Guy Gardener
    Guy Gardener says:

    Dry ice is so much fun! My friends and I did so many cool things with dry ice. One of my favorites was called the dry ice bomb. I wouldn’t recommend doing it without proper safety gear in a secluded area.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] dry ice tips from Steve Spangler will make me feel much more comfortable with the […]

  2. […] activity works best with a ghostly story told first or a quick lesson on the properties of dry ice. Dry ice can be purchased at local grocery stores and I’ve also seen it at a few Walmarts. […]

  3. […] 3/4 full with warm water. Add a few True Color Tablets for color. Then drop a couple of pieces of dry ice. This also creates a nice bubbling lab sound effect. I also filled a black plastic cauldron with […]

  4. […] Smoke Ring Launcher. For more on dry ice, how to find it, how to handle it and what it is, read the Q&A blog post on all you’ve ever wanted to know about dry ice. Tags: dry ice fun, dry ice halloween party ideas, dry ice smoke rings, halloween dry ice […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *