Dry Ice Experiments - Feedback from our Visitors

I've done [carbonation] in a large "orange" cooler that is slightly propped open to create "root beer" for my students. It usually works pretty well but you have to have a couple big chunks of dry ice.
Jennifer N.

I have an experiment with dry ice that I created for my students to see the effects of the CO2. I place 3 or 4 candles of graduated heights into an empty 10 gallon aquarium,. The tallest candle is about the height of the side of the aquarium, the next candle-a couple of inches shorter, the next candle-a couple of inches shorter, etc down to a tea light size candle. I light all the candles, and then while introducing the topic of dry ice, I get a chunk of dry ice (about the size of my hand or a little larger and place it into the tank next to the candles. Students start noticing that the candles will begin extinguishing one at a time from shortest to tallest over the next several minutes. I usually ask the students to please stop blowing out the candles, and they vehemently assert that they did nothing. However, they are paying close attention to the experiment. The candles also give me an indicator of how much CO2 is in the tank. When the tallest candle goes out, then the tank is ready to blow bubbles into and float them on the CO2 gas in the tank. After the students blow bubbles into the tank of CO2, there will be many frozen bubbles and bubble fragments-which are very interesting for observation. We took photos. Then, we added some hot water to the tank to enable observation of the sublimation which is taking place. Almost everyone I know adds water to dry ice, but we took it a little further. We added a to cup of dawn dishwashing liquid to the water and dry ice. Of course, there are lots of bubbles afterward. Let students have a scoop of the bubbles in their hands and they will think that they are going to get really wet, but the bubbles are rather dry instead. The trapped vapor inside the bubbles gives a nice effect when the bubbles pop. If you have your tank in a protected spot, you can add enough water and dish detergent to cause the bubbles to spill over the top of the aquarium. Very dramatic!
Toni Aldridge

In a prior life (I'm now an attorney based in Philadelphia) I used to service soda machines. Not the kind which dispense cans/bottles. Rather the ones that make carbonated water to mix with flavor in a cup. Compressed CO2 gas at about 1,000 psi is reduced to about 40psi into a steel container to which cold water (the colder the water the better for the dissolving of CO2 into the water) (Carbon dioxide is soluble in water, in which it spontaneously interconverts between CO2 and H2CO3 (carbonic acid, Wikipedia) is added via strong motor driven pump (Procon pump). When, the water is ejected into the cup with flavor added, the pressure is released, the temperature rises and the dissolved CO2 releases from the water via bubbling. Yes, you can have CO2 as a liquid. It is a liquid at room temperature in a strong steel tank at about 1000psi. You can even transfer it as a liquid from tank to tank. (Very dangerous) Once the pressure is released, the liquid will try to change state from a liquid to a gas. it will "take" heat" from anything in order to use it to change state. I would load a very large two story steel tank with solid CO2 (dry ice). Seal the top. warm the tank with water along the outside which the dry ice "uses" to change into a high pressure liquid. Then i could attach a hose (obviously very, very strong) and connect smaller tanks to the large one. Open the valves, While weighing the smaller tank I could add about 30 lbs to the smaller tank to use in the soda dispenser. To add a small amount of solid CO2 to a bottle could be done with a little math. I suppose one could attach a balloon to the top of a carbonated soda bottle. Measure the change in size of the balloon as the soda warms and releases the dissolved CO2. Since solid CO2 (dry ice) expands predictably, all you would have to do is work backwards and add a small piece of dry ice weighing what you need to dissolve into the cold water in the bottle to achieve that same gaseous volume as was in the balloon.
Frankly, since i have been an attorney for the past 35 years, i might be a tad rusty in my thoughts but this is pure math and physics.

Louis E. Slawe, Esq

Dear sir or madam,

I have just recently picked up the hobby of making sparking wine (champagne). It requires taking a bottle of typical wine, putting it into a thick walled champagne bottle, and adding a small amount of sugar and fermenting yeast. The yeast will feed on the sugar and produce a fair amount of carbon dioxide but since the bottle is capped off the gas stays in the bottle. When the cork is popped, the gas bubbles off through the liquid and when drank, gives that spritzy feeling associated with sparkling wine.

Today, after researching about dry ice, I have come to the conclusion that I can pour my finished wine into a bottle, drop a measured amount of dry ice into the liquid, cap it quickly and wire down the cork. After the dry ice is completely dissolved I should be able to open the bottle, and drink it like any other sparkling wine. Since dry ice is only a solid form of carbon dioxide gas I assume it will not pose any health threat, I have read stories of people way back when they were kids adding it to their homemade soda to make it fizzy.

The reason why I would find this approach to making a sparkling wine more appealing is because when yeast re-ferments inside the bottle it throws a deposit that looks like dust or sand and that deposit needs to be "disgorged" out of the bottle before it can be drank or the flavor will be ruined and the appearence will be cloudy. It is not that the pressure is any less great than dry ice, the more sugar is added the greater the pressure, thick glass champagne bottles can handle around 90 psi of pressure. While making my sparkling wine I am very serious about safety and wear heavy clothes with a face shield while handling the bottles and store them in an Igloo cooler while fermenting in the unlikely case that one explodes. I plan to conduct an experiment with a tiny amount of dry ice in sparkling wine bottles to better create the drink I make. I wanted to pass the idea along for feedback and I will contact you when I get some results.


Hi there,
I have in fact made carbonated water within a closed container. I made it by putting a small (tip of your thumb size) piece of ice into a plastic pepsi bottle adding water (of course..) and loosely tightened the cap. This needs to be done very carefully! I tightened the cap completely and shook the bottle as hard as I could. This increases the surface area of the water against the CO2 bubbles, thus helping the atmosphere within the bottle lower in pressure by reaching equilibrium. (Wrapping a towel aroud the bottle will keep you safe from any explosion..) Once all of the dry ice has evaporated, the result will be (highly) corbonated water. Sometimes, if there is enough CO2 dissolved into the water, fog will reappear.... Although I have done this several times, the first time I did it the pepsi bottle exploded and scratched my hand, but didn't result in shrapnel.. Just a small crack in the bottle. If you want to try it though, rolling it up in a towel should do the trick (safety-wise!)

-Harrison Frazier

Carbonated Chocolate Milk taste Great! But the Bubbles don't stop growing! A good outside drink.
Strawberry Milk might look like Lava flow.

I used about a pea-sized piece of dry ice in a 2-liter bottle of home- made strawberry wine. It was wonderful.

I did open the lid every so often to let any built-up gas escape, but I think the tiny pea was okay. I pushed against the side of the bottle to see how firm it was, and kept it in the refrigerator, and the wine was cold to begin with. I think monitoring the firmness of the bottle would be safe enough, as long as you started with such a small amount, and never let it get very far. [I hadn't filtered the wine, so it did bubble over when I opened it!]

Piet Van Allen
San Jose, CA

I was reading your article about dry ice and beverage carbonation. I found that the Green "Perrier" half liter plastic bottles are very good at resisting exploding and can build up a good amount of pressure. they are good are resisting exploding and will explode given enough pressure so always be careful. I dissected one and found that the bottle is made up of two plastic layers, an outer green thicker plastic layer and an inner clear thinner plastic layer. this unique design could explain why these bottle can resist pressure. use a quarter sized chip of dry ice, filled the bottle half way with ice cold water (ice cold water gives you more time to get away if it does explode) and let it sit for one day. the next day do not squeeze the bottle hard but if you do it will feel rock hard. do not drop it, throw it, kick it, etc. be careful unscrewing the cap and point it away from your face or anyone else. the water should be pretty carbonated. try longer time exposures for different effects. once again these bottles can resist pressure but they will explode, it is basically a bomb so be careful. FYI, putting dry ice in a bottle and closing it is kinda illegal. This Email is for informational use only. ; ) >From Dan,
Great Website!

I just wanted to tell you about an experience I had with dry ice. While camping with my family one summer I thought how neat it would be to use dry ice instead of bagged water ice to keep our food cool in our cooler. Dry ice works very well, actually too well as it froze the milk, lettuce, meat and grapes that were in out cooler. We chucked the lettuce but as it was a hot day frozen grapes sounded really nice. To our surprise when you popped one in you mouth they had a fizzy taste. We had carbonated our grapes! It was really a neat accidental experiment. So as a future MG science teacher I will add this to one of the aspects of my lesson plan when I talk about CO2 and dry ice.

Jim Hawlk

I have an interesting observation regarding the carbonation of drinks (for which people have noted in your feedbacks you can do by adding dry ice). I chaperoned for a family in Northumberland in 1999. They would shoot pheasants and sorts. Being a science grad in chemistry I was intrigued by this pump device they religiously put on all their soft-drink bottles in the fridge. After taking a glass from the bottle you were meant to pump the bottle back up with the pressure-pump lid that replaced its standard capping. My mind wondered to partial-pressures. As I recall it, the solubility of a gas in a liquid, across the liquid/atmosphere interface, is directly proportional to the partial-pressure of its presence in the atmosphere above the liquid interface. So for example if we have an atmosphere of air (nitrogen/oxygen = 99.99%) above the soda-water then the partial pressure of CO2 is close to Al Gore. Thus if you use this pump to build up pressure in the bottle it would make absolutely no difference to the partial-pressure of CO2 and thus absolutely no difference to the fizziness of the drink. Thus this gadget (which fooled these oligarchs) was a total patented scam? What you think?
Jake McCann

Hi Jake,
Thanks for pointing this out. Yes, adding air (at any pressure) to the headspace above a soft drink does nothing to dissuade the CO2 from coming out. The original seltzer bottles that had CO2 cartridges are what you need. These fill the headspace with CO2, which then establishes an equilibrium with the CO2 dissolved in the soda.

Q: Hey I was wondering how much dry ice is a pound thanks.

A: The molar mass of CO2 is 44 grams.
A pound is about 453.6 grams.
So a pound of dry ice is 453.6/44 = 10.31 moles of CO2

The Ideal Gas Law says PV=nRT
P = pressure
V = volume
n = number of moles of the gas
R = gas constant .082057 L atm / K mol
T = temperature of the gas

This allows you to calculate the volume of the gas if you know the temperature, the pressure and the quantity of gas.

Working in liters, atmospheres (of pressure), Kelvins (for temperature), and moles (for quantity), then the gas constant "R" is .082057 L atm / K mol.

If we use room temperature, about 293 Kelvins, 1 atmosphere of pressure, and 10.3 moles (for your 1 pound)

we get V = nRT/P = (10.3)(.082057)(293)/ (1) = 247.8 or about 250 liters of gas.

So, 1 pound of dry ice, when it "sublimes" (turns to gas) will produce 250 liters of gas, enough to fill 125 2-liter bottles.

I hope this helps!


Just so you know.. The results of placing dry ice in a container with water and closing the top on it... results in being charged with a CLASS B FELONY for manufacturing a bomb.
My 14 year old son and 2 friends were playing around with this experiment and was bombarded with the FBI, Homeland Security, The Bomb Squad and 6 Police Cars. They were playing around with this in the front yard in open view. Neighbors called police complaining of sounds like gunshots.
Even though all authorities knew they were playing, they still charged these juvenile kids with a Class B Felony that will be on their records until they are 18 years old.
This is apparently a very illegal experiment and obviously know one knows this.
Charla Mask

I've done this experiment at a friends house, when we got dry ice for the first time. We got wide range of experience from when we exploded some(not actually some, about 50 actually :D) soda bottles. So we knew when they would explode and when they were on the border to do so. I found out that you can put in about any amount of dry ice, not too much though, but about two small pellets, say 20 grams is enough.

  1. Put in 10-20 grams of dry ice.
  2. Close the bottle. If it gets too hard, open the cap a bit. Just let it fizz for a second or two. Seal it tightly again.
  3. Repeat step 2 until all the dry ice has sublimated.
  4. Enjoy your sparkling water! :D

Additional. Add some flavouring! *thumbs up* Try the flavouring from Soda stream.


To expand the "Singing" or "Screaming Spoon" idea - I decided to add a few different metal items to our dry ice during our experiments. Wearing thick winter gloves, I pressed a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar coin, paper clip, and metal scissors to the dry ice. Different sounds were emitted by different coins, objects. Even the older kids laughed when I remarked, "I wonder what George Washington will have to say?" Or, "What does Lincoln think about this?" " I wonder what Sacajawea's voice sounds like?" The really cool part of this for teachers is that the students have to listen so closely- without a sound - or they will miss the noise made - because a paper clip makes such a slight noise that it is hard to catch. I think we might use a microphone on it next time. Another thing we did was the classic experiment of using an empty 10 gallon aquarium with dry ice and hot water --creating the fog that dry ice is so famous for. Then we shined different light sources into the fog: regular flashlight, black light, laser pointer, and then we dropped a glow stick into it. Now take the same tank, dry ice, and water and add Dawn dish washing soap to it. After the bubbles fill the tank, shine the same lights listed above into the bubbles. The kids had lots of "OOOs and AHHHHs" for this effect. The reflection and refraction is different with the bubbles in there. Shining the lights at different angles and from different sides of the tank produced different effects- especially the laser pointer. One more experiment that we did was to freeze a flower. Take a flower with a lot of petals- like a mum or daisy, etc... Just lay it inside the cooler with the extra dry ice while you conduct other dry ice experiments. Then after it has had time to freeze, take it out and remark on the beauty of the flower right before you smack it against the side of the aquarium. The petals will shatter into crumbles. Enjoyed your site.

Toni Aldridge

I do a science-is-fun presentation, usually for girl scouts, usually about 10 years old. I ran across your site looking for some more cool stuff to show them. I may have to carbonate grapes next time I do the show. But you barely mentioned my favorite trick - balloon bombs. Pop bottle bombs are WAY too dangerous, but balloon bombs are fun. It takes a little less than 1/4 cup of dry ice pellets to explode a 9" balloon. I put the kids in winter gloves, and have them put the dry ice in the balloon. The balloon inflates very slowly, slow enough that the kids can pass it around and feel the balloon as it inflates. When it pops the dry ice drops, and the balloon fragments flutter not more than a foot from the site of the explosion. You can speed it up with a heat gun or hair dryer. I usually hold the balloon with one hand and the heat gun with the other and have never even gotten stung by the balloon. I also have them hold the dry ice over a lit votive candle and watch it go out. I make my fog in a clear 4-cup pyrex measuring cup so the audience can see the water ice shell that forms on the dry ice.

Jo W.

Here is a picture of a soapy bubble we created between experiments. The bubble you see is at least 10cm in diameter. We made some warm soapy water and threw in a large lump of dry ice. Just an awesome display!!! We would be extremely honoured to see our effort on your great website. Keep up the cool work!!! (haha - puntastic!!).

From Julian and Anthony
(Post-Doctoral Researchers, Imperial College London)

Brian, I saw on your message board that you hadnt heard of the dent removing
properties of dry ice... I don't know if you know of the others....

Car Dent Removal
Hold a little Dry Ice on a small car dent
and it will reduce the dent without
chipping or cracking the paint.

Keep Mosquitoes Away
Place a block of Dry Ice in your yard
and mosquitoes will be attracted to it,
instead of you and your guests.

Gopher Eradication
The gas that Dry Ice creates (C02) is
heavier than air so it will find its way to
the bottom of gopher nests.

On the Singing Spoon, it might be worth specifying out that you should hold the spoon by the handle.
If you were to directly press the bowl against the dry ice the spoon could freeze to your fingers.
(I did something like that when I was kid, no lasting damage but it was pretty painful).

Popping Film Cans-
I have tried this and was amused by how the children started to try and make games with this idea. One of the games was catching the lid when it came back down and that gave me an idea:
Set the canister on the floor and put the dry ice and very little (a couple of drops or so) water in with the dry ice, to speed up the sublimation.
Have the adult both put the lid on and watch that the children do not lean over the container!!!!
Have the (kids, or adults, as in my case) hold their hands and arms straight out with their hands open and over the area where the lid will fly up and listen for the "pop" noise and try and clap their hands together to catch the lid as it goes up!!!
This was what 2 adult females, 1 adult male, 4 children and myself did last night for about 2 or 3 hours. The nine year old boy was outdoing all of us!

Thanks for the ideas on your page, hope this idea is a big hit!!!!

I was reading your web page about the accident involving the dry ice and the loss of the woman's sight. On July 3, 1999 a similar accident happened in my family.
My then three year old son was seriously injured, He lost one of his eyes, his right thumb was 75% severed and broken, his left thumb was 50% severed and he had a gash about 4 inches long on his stomach. I had also never heard of this and was mortified. My son is now doing wonderful and we are very vocal about it to let people know what can happen with what I found out after the fact to be called "dry ice bombs".
Angela Hinkhouse
I think this is a pretty important issue, as there seems to be much interest in sealing dry ice into those two-liter soda bottles. If anyone experiments with dry ice bombs in front of an audience, please stress the hazards, and the safety precautions one should take: