Dry ice can be obtained in the form of flakes, pellets or blocks. This is often used to transport objects that are sensitive to heat, to create a fog effect, or to conduct scientific experiments. To dispose of what remains, it is best to allow it to return to its gaseous state in a place with good ventilation. It is important that you never leave dry ice indoors, as it could cause an explosion or carbon dioxide poisoning.
Method 1 of 2: Let the Dry Ice Soak Up
Step 1. Wear insulated gloves to handle the ice
If it comes in direct contact with the skin, dry ice can cause injury. After touching it for a few seconds, you could get cold burns or frostbite injuries. Therefore, you should never touch dry ice without the protective barrier provided by thermally insulated gloves.
- If you have no choice, oven mitts or regular winter gloves can be used to handle dry ice for a few seconds at a time.
- Nitrile gloves do not provide any protection against dry ice.
- If possible, use tweezers to handle the dry ice.
Step 2. Place the dry ice in an open, well-ventilated place to enhance it
When ice is left at a temperature above -80 ° C (-110 ° F), it transforms from a solid to a gaseous state. Put it in a well-ventilated space so the carbon dioxide can disperse without hurting you. Also, be sure to support it on a sturdy plastic or styrofoam tray to avoid damaging the floor.
- For example, you can leave dry ice in a large room with large windows or on a secure balcony.
- If possible, choose an area where you don't spend a lot of time to avoid exposing yourself to carbon dioxide.
- Never put dry ice directly on tile or the hard surface of a counter, as extreme cold can damage the material.
Step 3. Allow the dry ice to sit for at least a day until it is completely sublimated
Depending on the volume of ice you have, it could take several days for it to return to its gaseous state. Allow the dry ice to sit in a well-ventilated area for a day. After this time, you will have to return to check the progress. Avoid spending a lot of time in this area to minimize exposure to the gaseous carbon dioxide that is being released.
- As a general rule of thumb, consider that 10 pounds of dry ice can take around 24 hours to fully sublimate.
- Dry ice blocks take longer to sublimate than pellets or flakes.
Method 2 of 2: Avoid Potential Problems
Step 1. Don't dump dry ice in public access areas
Leaving it in a shared space, such as a corridor or other public areas, puts people at risk for burns from contact with this substance. It can also cause a build-up of carbon dioxide, creating an atmosphere with a low amount of oxygen. Always store or dispose of carbon dioxide where other people will not have access.
Make sure animals can't access dry ice when you dispose of it, as they could also get contact burns
Step 2. Never dispose of dry ice in a trash can or landfill
Dry ice needs to sublimate or evaporate in a well ventilated area. The buildup of carbon dioxide vapor in a closed environment could cause an explosion, making it a very dangerous situation. Therefore, avoid placing it in a garbage can or container, or in a building waste dump.
An explosion could cause damage to people or objects
Step 3. Don't flush dry ice down the toilet or try to run it through the sink
The extreme cold from ice can damage pipes and other parts of the mechanism. Avoid trying to dump it down the sink, as you would normal ice that melts easily. Similarly, flushing it down the toilet might seem like a quick and easy way to get rid of the ice, but doing so could damage the pipes.
Step 4. Store dry ice in containers that allow the release of carbon dioxide
Before disposing of ice, avoid keeping it in a sealed container that is not designed for the storage of this specific substance. For example, polystyrene containers can be used for mailing dry ice or storage containers for dry ice. You can get one from a shipping company or science equipment store online.
- Containers that are not specifically designed for dry ice do not have the insulation or ventilation capabilities required for safe storage.
- Polystyrene is a suitable storage material for dry ice, as it is insulating but does not create an airtight seal.
Step 5. If you are transporting it by car, store the dry ice in the trunk
Carbon dioxide released by ice when sublimated can quickly build up in the passenger cabin of a small vehicle. This could make the driver feel dizzy or disoriented, increasing the risk of an accident. Always secure dry ice in the trunk of the car if you are moving it.
Avoid transporting dry ice long distances
- Keep dry ice out of the reach of children and pets.
- Treat a dry ice burn as you would a normal burn.
- Open a window while using the dry ice to make sure the air circulates.
- Some symptoms of overexposure to carbon dioxide are headaches, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.