Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide that passes from a solid to a gas without going through the liquid phase, so when used to cool food and beverages it doesn't leave water behind like regular ice. Dry ice can cause burns on skin, should never be swallowed, and care must be taken when transporting and storing it.
Safety Concerns Recommendations:
- Dry ice can cause burns on skin and should never be eaten
- Dry ice can cause containers or surfaces it is stored in to crack
- Dry ice can cause an explosion if stored in a sealed container
- Dry ice can cause asphyxiation
Dry Ice Storage and Transport:
- Dry ice is to be stored in a well-ventilated locations and placed in insulated and ventilated storage areas, insulated coolers, or a special coolers designed for the storage of dry ice. [link]
- Because of the thermal expansion of dry ice (one pound of dry ice produces about 250 liters of gaseous carbon dioxide), sufficient gaseous carbon dioxide can be released in a sealed container to cause an pressure explosion. Dry ice is never to be stored in any type of tightly sealed devices such as an ultra-low freezer or plastic/glass container. [link]
- If transporting dry ice in a vehicle, be sure to ventilate the vehicle by keeping windows open to avoid an excess of carbon dioxide fumes that can cause asphyxiation. Several bartenders have reported dizziness caused when transporting dry ice in a closed vehicle. In at least one incident [link], people transporting dry ice died due to lack of proper ventilation.
Using Dry Ice:
- Dry ice can cause burns or frostbite. Avoid skin contact with dry ice and consider handling it wearing cloth or leather gloves, using towels, etc.
- Dry ice should never be consumed. Not only can it burn internally, it releases gas as it turns from a solid to a gas.
- In a bar setting, dry ice bubbles and makes fog when submersed into warmer liquids. However, serving a customer a drink with dry ice in it allows the possibility that the customer can swallow it. Do not serve dry ice to customers (or to yourself).
- Store dry ice in a well-ventilated area to minimize the build up of carbon dioxide. The sublimated carbon dioxide gas will sink to low areas and replace oxygenated air. This could cause suffocation if breathed exclusively. Use caution if storing dry ice in a deep cooler, and do not stick your head into an ice chest to obtain dry ice.
- Do not store dry ice in a tightly sealed container. Gas can build up and cause an explosion.
- Ventilation is important to prevent build-up of carbon dioxide. Do not store dry ice in a confined area such as in walk-in coolers, refrigerators, freezers, or vehicles.
- Do not dispose of dry ice in a sink, toilet or other drain.
- Dry ice can crack solid countertops or tiled surfaces due to its extremely cold temperature.
Reading and Resources:
"1 dead, 1 in critical condition from dry ice in Seattle car" [link]
"Safe handling of Dry Ice" DryIceInfo.com [link]
"Safety Program - Dry Ice (Solid Carbon Dioxide)" SafetyInfo.com [link]
Printable dry ice safety sheet in multiple languages [link]
Dry ice material safety sheet [link]