A lot of industries use dry ice for various purposes. If you are wondering how to dispose of dry ice, there are plenty of safe ways in which you can do so.
In doing this, there are certain very important precautions that you need to keep in mind in order to avoid nasty accidents. Dry ice is an extremely useful substance, but it can also be difficult to handle and can lead to serious injuries if not handled with care.
Steps To Follow Before Disposal of Dry Ice
- Wear gloves at all times – During dry ice disposal, make sure that you are wearing gloves at all times. Dry ice freezes at sub-zero temperatures, so if you touch it with your naked skin, you may experience burns and frostbite.
- Do not store dry ice in air-tight containers – It is necessary to put dry ice in an open area for sublimation. Avoid placing the substance in an air-tight container, because the released carbon dioxide can create pressure inside the box and lead to an explosion.
- Do not dispose of dry ice in the trash – Dry ice takes a long time to sublimate (almost 24 hours), so if you put it in the trash or in any public space, other people may touch it inadvertently and burn their skin. Also, the sublimation of dry ice involves the release of pure carbon dioxide gas, which can cause an oxygen deficit in the area. People with breathing problems, as well as babies can experience trouble breathing when coming close to such an area.
Safest Ways of Disposal of Dry Ice
Keep Pouring Hot Water
If you accidentally push dry ice down the sink it will not help, because the sublimation of the material and the gas released may affect your pipes and pores. If you have done this, and are now wondering how to get rid of dry ice in the sink, you can keep pouring hot water down the sink to help quicken the process.
Note: Ideally dry ice should never be disposed of in the sink.
Let it Sublimate At Room Temperature
The best way of disposing of dry ice is to put it at room temperature, in an area that is amply ventilated. The remaining portions of dry ice with automatically sublimate, since dry ice is basically compressed carbon dioxide. But for this process, ensure first that there are no children or pets nearby.
After the dry ice has sublimated entirely, you must dispose of the container as well as the gloves that were used in the process. These things must be chucked off into trash collection zones that are designated for disposing of hazardous wastes.
Use Styrofoam Coolers
There are specific containers that are lined on the inside with Styrofoam that provides insulation. Leave a chunk of dry ice in such Styrofoam containers and let it sublimate in a safe open area. Such containers are meant to let carbon dioxide escape from its sides and are thus not accident-prone. In general, 10 pounds of dry ice takes around 24 hours to sublimate fully, so you will need to wait for a day and also choose a place that is not particularly frequented by kids, animals or any people.
What happens when you touch dry ice?
As mentioned above, touching dry ice can lead to frostbites and skin burns.
Dry ice sublimates at –109.3 F. At such cold temperatures, when dry ice comes in contact with the skin, it can lead to serious injuries. It is most advisable to handle dry ice with properly insulated gloves to avoid any form of contact whatsoever. This is how to handle dry ice.
If you know how to use dry ice, but do not have a pair of insulated gloves around, you can use oven mitts instead. However, oven mitts do not give you the insulation that you require to deal with such cold temperatures, so make sure that you are not touching the ice for too long at a time. If possible, alternate between touching the ice directly and using big, heavy tongs to pick it up.
How Does Dry Ice Work?
When placed under sub-zero temperatures and a lot of pressure, carbon dioxide gas is transformed directly into its solid state, known as dry ice. That is why, during dry ice sublimation, the solid form changes directly into pure carbon dioxide.
Does dry ice melt? Technically, no.
Melting is the process in which a solid change to its liquid state. Since dry ice changes directly into the gaseous form, it does not “melt”, but it sublimates. It takes about 24 hours for a block of dry ice to sublimate completely.
If you are wondering how cold is dry ice, the answer is that it is extremely cold. Dry ice is usually kept at a temperature of –109.3 F, which makes it perfectly effective for keeping things frigid. The ease of transportation of the material also adds to making dry ice the perfect choice for transporting frozen substances.
How To Store Dry Ice?
When it comes to dry ice storage, you will need to be extremely careful. This is again due to the sublimating properties of dry ice.
Storing it in air-tight containers can trap the carbon dioxide inside, leading to an explosion.
Therefore, You Should Always –
- Choose containers that allow carbon dioxide to escape from the sides, like Styrofoam coolers. Such specifications will only be available in vessels that are meant for the storage of dry ice.
- They are available online, or with companies that mail dry ice to customers.
- It is important to remember that containers that are not meant to store dry ice are unsuitable to keep it. So, refrain from using such containers if you want to avoid accidents.
What Is Dry Ice Used For?
Mainly, dry ice is used for freezing purposes – usually to transport perishable substances from one place to another.
However, there are also a number of cool things to do with dry ice.
- For example, you can use dry ice to help your plants grow faster. Since plants require carbon dioxide to grow, placing a small amount of carbon dioxide in close proximity to a plant will release enough carbon dioxide to help it grow faster.
- If you want to create a fog effect for a theatrical presentation, you can easily do this by pouring some hot water on dry ice. The effect will last for five to ten minutes for every pound of the substance you use. If you want it to last longer, simply use more amounts of both the water and the ice.
- Dry ice can also be used to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh. All you need to do is keep a layer of dry ice underneath your fresh produce in the freezer rack to increase their life.
So, if you have some extra dry ice left and are clueless about what to do with dry ice, these ideas will surely help you use it up effectively.