Ice burns, frostbite, suffocation, loss of consciousness, and even death. Dry ice is no joking matter. Fortunately, you’re in good hands. Oxygen Service Company has handled millions of pounds of dry ice over our 50+ years in business, so we’re dry ice virtuosos. Instead of learning your lessons the hard way, follow these dry ice safety tips!
Before we get into our dry ice safety tips, let’s go back to chemistry class for some basics.
- Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide.
- Dry ice’s solid form exists at –79 ℃! Brr!
- Dry ice never melts. This is because of sublimation, which turns it directly from a solid to a gas. It doesn’t even respect the stages of matter—don’t expect it to respect you.
Now that we understand the basics, let’s review why dry ice is so dangerous.
The primary danger of handling dry ice is skin burns. Dry ice causes near-instant cell death on contact—prolonged contact can cause permanent damage.
Did you know that thousands of people swallow dry ice every year? In response to this, we need to state that dry ice is not safe to swallow. Ingesting it can cause severe internal frostbite, which is wildly painful and difficult to treat.
Carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant. As dry ice sublimates directly into its gaseous form, it fills the surrounding environment with carbon dioxide, which cannot be inhaled. These carbon dioxide vapors are especially dangerous in the space the ice is stored in.
On the topic of storage, never store dry ice in an enclosed space. Dry ice must be properly ventilated to release pressure. When left in a sealed environment, dry ice will gradually build up pressure as it sublimates, leading to dangerous explosions. In fact, some people use dry ice to make bombs. These bombs have caused hundreds of injuries and are illegal in many states. We do not recommend making them.
Oxygen Service Company’s express delivery brings you the dry ice you need, when you need it.
Our dry ice safety tips cover everything you need to know to stay safe when handling dry ice, from the storage of dry ice to how to transport dry ice.
- Never touch dry ice with your bare skin! All it takes is a few seconds for your body to develop severe frostbite.
- Always use protective gloves when handling dry ice. When handling dry ice for extended periods of time, use cryogenic, lab-approved gloves. If your process requires minimal contact with the ice, then protective, nitrile, leather, or insulated gloves are acceptable alternatives.
- Don’t let children handle dry ice! Kids may be tempted to ingest it.
- Always use proper eye protection when handling dry ice.
- Dry ice should never be stored in an air-tight container! Store dry ice in insulated but well-ventilated spaces. This will slow sublimation without building up dangerous amounts of pressure.
- Do not store dry ice in a glass container! Dry ice explosions are dangerous enough without high-speed glass fragments flying around.
- Be careful when handling objects and surfaces that have made contact with dry ice. The extreme cold can make objects highly brittle.
- Minimize how much time you spend in a dry ice storage container. Between the carbon dioxide vapors and extreme cold, these spaces are seriously dangerous.
Now that we’ve covered our dry ice safety tips, it’s time for a pop quiz! Answer these five questions correctly, and we’ll grant you the title of dry ice master. Score your own quiz with the answer key below the questions! No cheating!
- What is dry ice?
a. Super-cooled regular ice
b. Solid nitrogen
c. Solid carbon dioxide
d. A mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide
- What are the dangers of dry ice?
a. Burns and frostbite
d. All of the above
- Dry ice can be found in which of the following stages of matter?
b. Solid and gas
c. Solid and liquid
d. All three stages of matter
- In order to properly handle dry ice, you must:
a. Use protective gear like gloves and safety glasses
b. Give it to children
c. Swallow it
d. Dry ice cannot be safely handled
- When storing dry ice, it should be:
a. Placed in a glass container
b. Stored in an air-tight environment
c. Violently shaken every 10 minutes
d. Be in a well-ventilated container
- Q1: C
- Q2: D
- Q3: B
- Q4: A
- Q5: D
How’d you do? If you passed, we’re proud to bestow you the title of dry ice master! Otherwise, it may be time to hit the books and reread this blog.
Certified dry ice masters only use top-shelf ice. Need long-lasting ice for your commercial or personal needs? Oxygen Service Company can help! We’re the Midwest’s premier supplier of dry ice and gases. Contact us today to see how we can meet your dry ice needs.