Dry Ice Safety




What is Dry Ice?


Dry Ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Unlike most solids, it does not melt into a liquid, but instead changes directly into a gas. This process is called sublimation.  The temperature of dry ice is around -109° F.   It melts very quickly so if you need dry ice for a shipment, buy it as close as possible to the time you need it.



Dry Ice Safety Rules:



1)    Never store dry ice in an airtight container.  As the dry ice melts from a solid directly into a gas, the gas will build up in the container until it bursts.  Sharp pieces of container will go flying all over the place.  Make sure your container is ventilated.  The best place to store dry ice is in a Styrofoam chest with a loose fitting lid.


2)    Never transport dry ice in a plastic bag.  Always use a rigid container when filling your cooler. (Styrofoam works best.)


3)    Only use small amounts of dry ice for transport.  Two to five pounds is the maximum you should use at any one time.


4)  Do not touch dry ice with your skin.  Use a scoop, and insulated (thick) gloves (Cryo gloves).  Since the temperature of dry ice is so cold, it can cause severe frostbite.  If you suspect you have frostbite seek medical help immediately.


5)  Never eat or swallow dry ice.  Again, the temperature of dry ice is very, very cold.  If you swallow dry ice, seek medical help immediately.


6)  Never lie down in, or place small children or pets in homemade clouds from dry ice.  The clouds are made of carbon dioxide gas.  People and pets could suffocate if they breathe in too much gas.


7)  Never place dry ice in an unventilated room or car.  If you are traveling with dry ice in the car, crack a window open.   The same rule applies if you are in a small room, crack a window open. You do not want too much carbon dioxide gas to build up around you.


8)  Always wear safety goggles if you have to manipulate the dry ice.


9)  Do not place dry ice directly on bench tops. The cold temperature could cause the surface to crack.


10)  Leave the area immediately if you start to pant or have difficulty catching your breath.   This is a sign that you have breathed in too much carbon dioxide gas.


11)  Do not store dry ice in your freezer.  It will cause your freezer to become too cold and your freezer may shut off.  However, if you lose power for an extended period of time, dry ice is the best way to keep things cold.



Disposing of Dry Ice:


To dispose of dry ice, place it in a well ventilated container and take it outside where small children and pets cannot reach it.  Simply let it sublimate away.


Thanks to Frances Peed at Sentara Health System for this valuable information.