Dry Ice Experiments

– Learning Science The Fun Way

By: - Science - May 26, 2011
dry ice experiments

Dry ice experiments are a fun way of learning about how carbon dioxide works when it is frozen and in its solid form.  Whether you are using it for a school project or just adding it as a fun game at a party, one of the most popular forms is called dry ice blasting.

Dry ice blasting is used to abrasively clean a surface when the carbon dioxide is used to add additional pressure for air surface cleaning.  Being closely related to soda, plastic bead or sand blasting, you can use it for a good science fair project to show how dry ice experiments can be educational, useful and fun.  Best of all, if you do this when the air in the room is at room temperature, no residue of the carbon dioxide will be left behind. But how does it work?

To test such experiments by using blasting, you have to learn to propel pellets of dry ice against a solid surface at very high speeds.  In fact, the pellets are very soft, less dense in comparison to other things used for blast type cleaning.  When the pellets hit the surface, they disperse right away, using the minimal amount of energy needed to cause an abrasive force.  This force combines high heat, shearing stress and thermal shock to the surface, which dries out the dirt particles, no matter how thick they might be, and causes them to flake off.  Because of the impact, the pellets evaporate into a gas, causing an even harder attack on the dirt.

Other dry ice lab experiments are equally as fun to perform.  Disappearing ice involves combining dry ice with water to make the water freeze within seconds.  When the combined ice is put on surface for an hour, the water ice will melt, leaving a pool behind, but the dry ice will remain.

Smoking, bubbling or burping water dry ice type experiments can be used to show how the dry ice is much colder than regular ice and reacts to even the coldest temperatures of regular water.  You stick only a small amount of dry ice into a tube and sit that into a big bucket of water.  The dry ice will burp, bubble and steam as it is melted and evaporated by the heat of the water, which too you may feel very cold regardless.  Eventually the dry ice will no longer steam, bubble or burp and will freeze the water in which it stands.

Whether you want to try dry ice blasting or any other type of dry ice experiments, caution is needed.  Dry ice freezes most things that come into contact with it because it is so much colder than regular ice.  Never put your bare hands on the dry ice and always use special tongs to handle the ice.  Always keep the dry ice away from younger children and if you are in school, always have an adult supervising your experiments with dry ice to remain safe.

Photo: dry ice – copyright 2008, The Earwig; reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License 2.0, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dry_ice_in_cup.jpg

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