Around Halloween we spend a lot of time talking about safety; trick-or-treating, checking Halloween candy, and even stranger danger. However, Halloween is also a very good time to speak to your children about things used to make some of those ‘cool’ Halloween special effects such as dry ice.
Dry ice is extremely cold at -109o F (-78.5o C) but that can be a hard concept for children to understand. When you think about it, water freezes at 32o F and many times school will get canceled if the temperature drops to 0o with a wind chill up to negative -25o. What this means is that dry ice, in its natural state, is another 80 degrees colder than the negative wind chill used as the yard stick for closing schools.
When children see the “smoke” from dry ice sublimating in a bubbling cauldron or out of the mouth of a spooky pumpkin, many times their first inclination is to touch the smoke. The smoke is ok to touch, but please warn then from touching dry ice directly. Avoid direct contact with the mouth, eyes, and skin as dry ice will cause severe burns similar to fire.
Dry ice is harmful if eaten or swallowed. We do not recommend placing dry ice directly in drinks or cocktails simply because if the dry ice is not completely sublimated (completely gone) and someone ingests the dry ice it will cause significant internal injuries. Better to be safe and not include dry ice in drinks.
Never let children play with dry ice unsupervised. Dry ice should ALWAYS be handled with gloves and never placed in airtight containers. If dry ice is placed into an airtight container, such as a soda bottle, the internal pressure will cause the bottle to explode, propelling plastic or glass shrapnel through the air. This is extremely dangerous!
And finally, always use dry ice in well ventilated areas. As the dry ice sublimes, or changes to CO2 gas, it displaces the oxygen in the air. Without the oxygen, you will not be able to breathe and suffocation can occur.
Even with all of these cautions, dry ice can add excitement to your Halloween decorations or entertain children with fun science experiments. Bubbling cauldrons, a smoking Halloween punch or an oozing pumpkin can add that special effect to your Halloween parties you are looking for. Or, you can take the opportunity to teach children about the properties of sublimation and the changes in states of matter with the Ghost Bubbles or making a spoon sing. Whatever you decide to do this Halloween season, please handle dry ice safely. Our Halloween safety tips can be found here. And, If you are having trouble finding dry ice, please use our dry ice locator to find our closest distribution branch.