Dry ice experiments are probably the coolest experiments your children will ever see.
It sublimates, to change into water vapor in the air, without first melting into the water like the regular ice cubes you put in the freezer. Your children will be impressed at how it skips the liquid phase in the state of matter and goes right from solid to gas!
Safety first! Always handle dry ice with caution and always wear gloves or use tongs. You should also avoid directly breathing in the vapor.
It’s not every day we have dry ice in the house, but we do get some here and there when we receive food deliveries. Whenever we manage to salvage a piece that has not fully dissipated, we take advantage and have some fun!
Fun Things to Do with Dry Ice
Making dry ice smoke is super easy! All you have to do is place a piece of dry ice in a cup, add hot water, and smoke will start to appear!
My kids loved blowing the smoke to make it dissipate before it sank to the ground. You could also experiment with room temperature and warm water to see if the same amount of water vapor fog would appear.
Expanding Glove (or Balloon!)
Place a small piece of dry ice inside a latex glove or a balloon and tie it closed. As the dry ice sublimates, it will fill the glove or balloon up with carbon dioxide.
If the piece of dry ice is too big, then the glove or balloon will pop!
Make a bubble solution by mixing some dishwashing detergent and water. Place a piece of dry ice into the bubble solution. Smoke-filled bubbles will start to form!
We only added a small piece of dry ice, but that was enough to form a decent size bubble. Pop the dry ice bubble and watch the smoke be released!
Wet and Dry Ice
To show your kids the difference between dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) and wet ice (ice made from water), simply place them on separate plates.
After leaving the ice for 30 minutes to an hour, ask your kids what they observe. There should be a puddle where the wet ice was. And magic! The plate that had the dry ice now has nothing on it. The dry ice has disappeared into thin air!
Singing Spoon or Fork
Dip a spoon or fork in hot water. Then remove the spoon and immediately press it against dry ice. What do you hear?
When you heat up the spoon and press it against dry ice, you speed up the rate of sublimation. The release of carbon dioxide along with the pressure from the spoon cause very rapid vibrations. As a result, you hear a sharp sound as if the spoon is singing or screaming.
Pour warm water in a clear container with high edges. Add a piece of dry ice to the warm water and watch the smoke form.
Carefully blow bubbles into the container with a straw or bubble wand. The bubbles will seem to be floating! The carbon dioxide escaping the dry ice will help push up the bubbles against gravity and suspend it in midair.
Make your next Halloween party a blast with a spooky, smoking Halloween beverage! Simply pour the beverage of choice in a bowl, and add a piece of dry ice in the bowl.
You should immediately see the water vapor fog form to give the beverage a cool effect. The carbon dioxide released from the dry ice will make your beverage fizzy and carbonated.
CAUTION: DO NOT INGEST THE DRY ICE. Make sure the dry ice is completely gone before you serve the bubbling beverage.
Make Ice Cream
Making homemade ice cream has never been easier. All you have to do is crush dry ice into tiny pieces, and add it to the ice cream mix (milk, heavy cream, sugar, and flavor extract).
Churn the ice cream in a mixer until the ice cream is firm enough to scoop. Then let it sit in the freezer for 30 minutes to ensure that all the dry ice has sublimated. I would be extra safe and leave it overnight.
Just like the smoking beverages, you do NOT want to be biting into a piece of solid dry ice!
Make a Smoking Volcano
One of our favorite projects is making an exploding volcano. Instead of using baking soda and lava, which can make quite a mess, you can use dry ice instead!
Simply replace the vinegar with warm water and place a piece of dry ice in the water. The water vapor fog will make the volcano appear to be smoking!
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