How is Dry Ice Made?

Updated: January 15, 2018

One of the questions we always get is, “How is dry ice made?” This is a very common question because dry ice has a very mysterious element to it. The fog it gives off makes it seem magical. However, dry ice has a very interesting back story and production process.

History of Dry Ice

Dry ice wasn’t produced commercially until the 1920s in America, and the company that sold it referred to it as “dry ice.” It kept the name in the decades after its introduction; however, the substance was also referred to as “hot ice” as a reference to the burning sensation one would feel upon touching it. At Emergency Ice, we know all there is to know about the production and uses of this special ice. Let us walk you through it.

How is Dry Ice Made?

When carbon dioxide reaches a solid state, we call it “dry ice,” and this material is used in all sorts of applications. Carbon dioxide is found naturally within the earth’s atmosphere, and it’s the gas that we humans exhale and plants use during the process of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is denser than air and is transformed into a solid when placed under pressure at a low temperature of -109 degrees Fahrenheit.

The manufacturing process for dry ice begins with the compression and cooling of the gas, which liquefies when the pressure reaches 870 lb/in(2). The liquid is then sent into large tanks for storage until it will reach a dry ice factory where a “dry ice press” is used to create the final product. The liquid carbon dioxide is sent into the press and evaporates swiftly upon being exposed to regular, atmospheric pressure.

After evaporation, the dry ice press exerts significant pressure to force the material to turn into a solid block that resembles snow. At the conclusion of the manufacturing process, blocks emerge from the press that weigh a little over 50 pounds. The blocks are quickly placed into containers that keep the blocks cold and keep the dry ice from disappearing during shipment to distributors, wholesalers, and businesses.

Next time someone asks, “How is dry ice made?” you will be able to show off your in-depth knowledge.

How Do People Use Dry Ice?

Dry ice is used in all sorts of venues from refrigeration for food to entertainment and live shows. If dry ice is used to keep food cool or fresh, it must be manufactured as “food grade” dry ice to make sure the food it may come into contact with won’t become contaminated. One of the benefits of using dry ice to keep food cool is that it reduces the number of bacteria that may grow when the food is shipped.

In addition to keeping food fresh, dry ice also has a few other interesting uses. One use is inserting it into gopher holes as a pest-removal system. Another use is placing it on a table outside the house to attract mosquitoes and keep them away from human activity in the vicinity. One newly discovered use for dry ice features cleaning electronic equipment that eliminates the need to use harsh solvents.

Is Dry Ice Safe?

While dry ice isn’t considered poisonous, the solid carbon dioxide is incredibly cold, which means humans must wear protective gear like gloves to interact with it. If dry ice becomes concentrated in a small space, it may become toxic if the amount of carbon dioxide in the space reaches more than 5 percent. To eliminate any danger when using dry ice, the user should ensure the space is well ventilated.

Dry Ice from Emergency Ice

With decades of experience in ice delivery, Emergency Ice is your Dallas partner for a full range of ice services. Are you interested in using ice at your business? Do you require ice for a special event? Contact us today to discuss your project or ice needs, and we’ll help you determine the best ice for your project.

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