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Having Fun with Dry Ice

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"Having Fun with Dry Ice"
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Have you ever heard of dry ice, and wondered what it was or what you could do with it?This article gives you five fun and safe experiments that can be done to understand what dry ice is and its properties.

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide (CO2). At room temperature and pressure, carbon dioxide is a gas, which forms around 0.035% and it contributes to the greenhouse effect. Carbon Dioxide possesses a different quality from many of the other compounds found on Earth. When the carbon dioxide gas is cooled, it does not turn into a liquid, but skips that physical state and becomes a solid. This process is called sublimation. This property of dry ice is what makes it so interesting for experiments.  That is why solid carbon dioxide is called dry ice, since it doesn’t turn into a liquid.

1 pound of dry ice, when it sublimes, will produce 250 litres of CO2 gas at atmospheric pressure.

Dry ice is used as a coolant to keep food cold during transportation. You could obtain dry ice from grocery stores or ice cream shops who sell dry ice to the public. Wal-Mart also sells dry ice for around $1 per pound. When transporting dry ice, never seal it in a container since it can explode and cause temporary or permanent deafness. Preferably, store dry ice in a Styrofoam container, with the lid sitting loosely over the dry ice.

Warning !

Since dry ice is extremely cold (110 degrees F/ -78 degrees C), handling it with your bare hands will cause frost bite or burn your skin, damaging it permanently when it comes into direct contact with your skin. When handling dry ice, wear a pair of insulating gloves or use tongs. Never put dry ice into your mouth and always wear protective goggles when handling solid carbon dioxide.

Experiment 1 : Dry Ice Bubble

Place some dry ice in a bowl that has a lip at the top and add some water on the ice. Soak a piece of cloth with a soapy mixture. Run the piece of cloth around the lip of the bowl and then drag it across the top of the bowl to form a bubble layer of the dry ice. The gas released when the dry ice cools makes the bubble grow. Keeping watching your bubble grow and grow.

Experiment 2 : Screaming Spoon

Place a spoon under hot running water for a few minutes. Hold it by the handle and press it firmly against a chunk of dry ice. The dry ice will sublime and the gas released will push the spoon away. When the sublimation process slows down, the spoon falls down on the dry ice again and the process is repeated so rapidly that the spoon vibrates. The vibrations cause a screaming noise.

Experiment 3 : Freezing Liquid

Place a small chunk of dry ice into a container containing rubbing alcohol. Drop a flower or a piece of fruit into the container and observe what happens. Make sure that you don’t eat the fruit after you have used it for this experiment. The object you put in the container will freeze rapidly.

Experiment 4 : Foggy Atmosphere

Drop a few chunks of dry ice into a bowl of hot water. The warmth will cause the dry ice to sublime, creating a dense fog. This experiment can be used in various parties. It is ideal for a Halloween party to create a creepy atmosphere. Put a few containers with warm water and dry ice all around the house to really make your Halloween party special. You could also animate a volcano in this way. Place a container in the centre of a paper mache volcano.

Experiment 5 :  Magic Balloon

Take an uninflated balloon and force the neck open. Drop a chunk of dry ice into the balloon and tie the balloon closed. Leave it aside for a while and watch what happens. For a more fun experiment, add more dry ice into an uninflated balloon and throw it into a pool. It will eventually reach bursting point and shower everyone around with water.

What Dry Ice is Used For In Everyday Life :

-          Dry ice is sometimes used as part of theatre productions and performances to create a dense foggy effect.

-          It is also used to preserve food and make ice cream.

-          It comes in handy to freeze lab samples.

Dry Ice is a cheap and fun source of excitement, making Science a popular subject with every child.

More about this author: Elisa Calleja

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