Dry humor and a little scientific fun, anyone?
September 2, 2009 1:18 PM   Subscribe

My lab experiments leave me with about a kilogram of dry ice left over every day, and it just evaporates overnight in the freezer. Seems a downright shame to waste all that potential fun... what are the most entertaining, novel uses for dry ice that you can think of?
posted by lizbunny to Science & Nature (33 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Finish the day playing rockband with your co-workers. Go all out.
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:19 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Extremely dangerous and, depending on your proclivities, very fun:

Section off a piece of dry ice small enough to pass through the neck of a plastic soda/water bottle.

Quickly (**QUICKLY**) put the dry ice in the bottle, add about a table spoon of water, close the cap on the bottle tightly and throw it far, far away from yourself, other people, animals or fragile property.

The ensuing explosion may induce some 911 calls.
posted by de void at 1:23 PM on September 2, 2009

Alton Brown used them to freeze strawberries quickly so they wouldn't lose their juice.

(link is to the "recipe" but the episode of Good Eats is worth seeking out.)
posted by bondcliff at 1:26 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding de void, for the 4th of July, our daytime festivities included placing hunks of it in 2-liter bottles and adding some water...

...we blew the screens out of the windows and blew a small hole in the yard. Definitely fun, but be very fast and very cautious about it. Small plastic shrapnel may result, and minor property damage is entirely possible.
posted by Lifeson at 1:30 PM on September 2, 2009

Freeze warts. Put in a squeezy-bottle half-full of water for autofiring mode. Self-popping balloons. Satisfyingly cold soda. Put in a bowl full of warm, soapy water, then wipe the top for giant bubbles full of vapor. Game of Anti-Hot Potato. Drop in your absinthe for foggy goth action.

Also, be really careful if you attempt to recarbonate flat soda this way. My triple balance beam, it turned out, was off. *BOOM* stiiiiiiicky
posted by adipocere at 1:32 PM on September 2, 2009

Dry Ice Ice Cream
posted by not_on_display at 1:38 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Three words: Gin. And. Tonics.
posted by JoanArkham at 1:40 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Carbonated fruit
posted by O9scar at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2009

Air fertilize your houseplants. Just put some in a container near the plants and let it evaporate.
posted by paulsc at 1:47 PM on September 2, 2009

Take dents out of cars.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:48 PM on September 2, 2009

Ok, I missed the fun part.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:48 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

One thing to mention about de void's suggestion:

If you put almost--but not quite--enough dry ice in the bottle, it won't explode. Until you try to open it. This is the dangerous part. If your dry ice bottle doesn't do anything, *leave it where it is* for at least a day.

You can also make some fog (add hot water), grab some color filters and a camcorder, and pretend to be a 70s arena rock band. But 1kg might not be enough for this.
posted by goingonit at 1:50 PM on September 2, 2009

I would advise against putting it in a bottle with warm water. You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
Seriously, a former coworker of mine suffered corneal damage from doing that.
posted by demiurge at 1:50 PM on September 2, 2009

If you search for "dry ice" + "swimming pool" on YouTube, you will find some pretty dramatic footage of people dropping large quantities of dry ice in the swimming pool.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:58 PM on September 2, 2009

DO NOT USE IT TO MAKE A FROZEN CANDY BAR. I lost a tooth doing this.
posted by Raybun at 2:03 PM on September 2, 2009

In college we'd make progressive screwdriver drinks. Use the dry ice to make vodka ice cubes, add to OJ. Instead of your drink getting watered down as the ice melts, it gets stronger.

This is also fab w/ cream soda and vanilla vodka.
posted by mrsshotglass at 2:06 PM on September 2, 2009 [3 favorites]

Awesome density demonstration.

You will need:

4 feet of wide pvc tubing.
Three pvc elbow joints that fit the pvc.
One bucket (roughly gallon sized).
One small bowl roughly the diameter of the elbow joint.
Two garbage bags or plastic lining.
Tape (duck, or electrical)
Glycerin bubble solution (follow instructions to make your own).
A kg or two of dry ice.
A little water (quarter cup)

Assemble the PVC so that two of the elbows form a 180° hook on the end of the pvc, and one forms a 90° bend on the other end; orient them both to face the same way. Threaded pvc precut works better, but you can do it with unthreaded if you use a putty to seal. Lay out the garbage bag or plastic lining so that your floor is covered for about five feet around. Put the dry ice in the bucket. Stand the bucket next to the wall, and place the pvc hook into it, so that the hook end is on top, facing away from the wall. Tape the other plastic around the top of the bucket, and as you're about to seal it, add a little water.

Give the ice time to evaporate, until the smoke starts to pour from the spout. Take the small bowl of glycerin bubble solution and dip the end of the spout in it, getting a liberal amount on there.

You will now have heavy, goopy bubbles full of smoke that will explode when they hit the ground. (Which is why it's good to put down the tarp or what have you, so you don't have to clean up glycerin).

For extra awesome, use a small fluorescent black light to illuminate the bubbles.
posted by klangklangston at 2:11 PM on September 2, 2009

Friend brought some down the pub, and we had a great time having creepy drinks. Simple fun.
posted by Coobeastie at 2:23 PM on September 2, 2009

We used to fill eppendorf and falcon tubes with tiny pieces of the stuff. Don't cap them until the last possible moment, and then drop them in someone's garbage can. Tiny pops followed my a much larger one.

Alternatively, drop a piece in a toilet.
posted by gagoumot at 2:30 PM on September 2, 2009

-drop a piece in a toilet. That, heh heh heh.
Or put a piece in a bottle and then stretch a balloon over the top so the gas inflates it. Then watch how it drops faster than a balloon filled with plain air.

(Also, it sublimes, it doesn't evaporate. I learned that from my 11 yr old son who may be smarter than me and can burp on command.)
posted by Ochre,Hugh at 3:07 PM on September 2, 2009

I used to take it home and serve dry ice cocktails in martini glasses. Pretty awesome.

Also, it surprises me that you dry ice would evaporate overnight so easily: mine would last much longer if kept in a styrofoam box, even when just left outside on a bench.
posted by halogen at 3:09 PM on September 2, 2009

Use a piece of it as a hockey puck on a linoleum floor.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:18 PM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Build a cloud chamber and watch the subatomic particles fly.
posted by dsword at 3:23 PM on September 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just don't kill anyone.
posted by limeonaire at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2009

If you're making a dry ice bomb, be aware that they can count as bombs and you can get in serious trouble, even arrested. I've seen it happen! So just ... do it far away from people - and I really suggest not putting it into a trash can because that'll just potentially get you in even more trouble. (Think of senior pranks gone horribly wrong!!!)

It *is* fun to throw at ducks.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:26 PM on September 2, 2009

Dry ice bombs are louder than gunshots if you do it right. Be careful.
posted by Jairus at 6:45 PM on September 2, 2009

Whatever you do, DON'T put a small piece in your mouth (moving it constantly) and blow large quantities of 'smoke' out. High school chemistry teachers HATE that.

Who's genius was it to trust 14 year old me with dry ice???
posted by K5 at 7:43 PM on September 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

You can make homemade root beer! (google "root beer" + "dry ice")
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:07 PM on September 2, 2009

You can make it "sing" - take a small bit, put it on a table and press it with a bit of metal (cutlery works well for this). Depending on the size and shape of the metal, you can make a variety of screeching noises. My friends and I spent one new year's eve doing this; after a few hours none of us ever wanted to hear that noise again. BTW; this game is known as "squeal nugget, squeal".
posted by primer_dimer at 4:32 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

BRILLIANT boozy granitas. I accidentally discovered this when I dropped dry ice into a bowl of blue-green cocktail for a witchy effect at a Halloween party. What didn't get drunk coalesced into slush at the bottom of the bowl, which was delicious both at the end of the party *hic* and later on after I took it out of the freezer where I'd stored the excess. It's much smoother than blender drinks. Alco-licious!
posted by stuck on an island at 6:31 AM on September 3, 2009

Huff grain alcohol.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I always enjoyed putting dry ice down the garbage disposal side of the sink and running hot water, then flipping the switch. Be prepared for quite the smoke explosion (not like a bomb, but like... whoa that's a lotta smoke!).

Also- do put small pieces in your mouth and blow smoke.... just make sure to keep it moving.
posted by razzamatazm at 11:52 PM on September 3, 2009

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