The Risks Of Solid CO2: How To Properly Handle Dry Ice

The Risks Of Solid CO2: How To Properly Handle Dry Ice

Most everybody is aware of dry ice as a concept: they know it’s used to create fake fog in spooky environments, to make quick-fix ice cream at home, and even has industrial cleaning properties when utilized as dry ice blasting. Beyond that, people simply know that the material is very cold — cold enough to burn skin if exposed for long enough.


That last one is precisely why proper safety measures — particularly when it comes to dry ice cleaning — is so important. Let’s take a closer look at the chemical components of dry ice and how to ensure personal safety is protected during its use.


CO2 Science

Dry ice is the solidified form of carbon dioxide. Freezing a gas takes extremely cold temperatures, hence the risk of intense burns; carbon dioxide needs to be brought down to -79 degrees Celsius (around -110 Fahrenheit) in order to become dry ice. The ‘fog’ that we so frequently see is actually the dry ice sublimating as it turns immediately from a solid into a gas. This is one of the aspects that makes dry ice blasting so beneficial in food and medical industries: it can quickly and easily destroy grime and buildup without leaving a trace of anything behind — it simply sublimates into the air.


Safety Over Science

While the properties of dry ice (and its uses) are exceptionally interesting, safety always comes first. Here are the two main safety concerns regarding the handling and use of dry ice.


    • Temperature: At -79 degrees Celsius, it won’t take very long at all to burn skin. Protective clothing must always be worn when maneuvering blocks of dry ice. In the event you do get burned, treat the wound like you would a normal heat-related burn.


  • Ventilation: Though carbon dioxide is generally harmless, it can incapacitate and cause unconsciousness in individuals if they’re exposed for too long. It is 40% heavier than the air we breathe, so if your work environment isn’t properly ventilated, carbon dioxide can actually change atmospheric conditions negatively. If you notice yourself starting to pant or developing a headache, leave the area as soon as possible.


If you’re knowledgeable and smart about the decisions you make regarding dry ice use, you’ll have nothing to worry about.


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  • Sabrina Addams
    December 14, 2019, 12:34 am REPLY

    Wow, I never knew that dry ice is the solid form of CO2 and that it can be -110 Fahrenheit. It seems like it would be very important to know how to handle it and wear the proper gear so that you stay safe and unburnt. I was thinking of buying some dry ice to make a frozen ice cream dessert I saw online, so I think I will look into DOT hazmat shipper training so that I’m safe.

  • Skyler Williams
    January 10, 2020, 7:55 pm REPLY

    I actually had no idea that dry ice is the solid form of CO2. My brother owns an ice cream shop and he wants to start using dry ice when he makes the ice cream. I bet he would like to find a company that delivers ice.

  • Derek McDoogle
    April 13, 2020, 7:50 pm REPLY

    I did not know that dry ice could purify some food products. My friend owns a small restaurant and he always likes to have the latest ways to become a better chef each day. It might be a good idea to share this article with him so that he can be aware of the benefits of using dry ice to clean dirt from food.

  • Lyla Peterson
    June 10, 2020, 3:43 pm REPLY

    It’s so interesting that dry ice has to be -79 degrees Celsius to remain solid. I have been thinking about buying some dry ice for my food truck this summer. I will be sure to always wear protective gloves when handling it.