Dry Ice Balloon

Want to blow up a balloon without wasting all of your breath and energy? Some frozen carbon dioxide might do the trick!

Blowing up balloons can be quite the task. You'll spend a ton of time huffing and puffing while blowing your breath into the rubbery orb. Don't waste all of that time and energy making yourself light-headed! Try dropping a piece of dry ice into a balloon instead, and watch what happens.

Experiment Materials

  • Dry ice
  • Balloons
  • Tongs or heavy gloves

Experiment

  1. Use tongs or heavy gloves to drop a small piece of dry ice inside of a balloon. Ask a friend for help, if you need it.
  2. Tie a knot in the opening to seal off the balloon.
  3. Place the balloon in an area that it can go undisturbed for a period of time.
  4. Watch the balloon from a safe distance. What's happening?
  5. Before you know it, the balloon will be fully inflated!

Take It Further

Try changing these factors for even more science fun:

  • Try different sizes and shapes of balloons.
  • Try adding a little bit of water to the balloons, before the dry ice.
  • Change the size of dry ice chunk you put in the balloon.

How Does It Work?

When dry ice is exposed to warm air, a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced through a process called sublimation. This is because dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, and it needs to be really, really cold to stay frozen. The balloon inflates because the carbon dioxide gas takes up lots of space, eventually filling the space inside and making the balloon stretch out.

Careful, though! If you drop a piece of dry ice into the balloon that's too big, the balloon might explode from the pressure. That's why it's very important that you stand at a safe distance while the dry ice is subliming.