Dry Ice Experiments
Dry ice can be a fun substance to use in experiments. It has cool properties that cause it to fog and make bubbles when placed in water and other liquids.
So grab some dry ice and get ready to have some fun with science. Make foggy bubbles, screaming metal, frost things over, pop the caps off containers, make a fire extinguisher, blow up a balloon, and do more with dry ice.
Handling Dry Ice Safely
- Dry ice is the frozen form of carbon dioxide, the gas we exhale. It is not toxic. It is -109.3oF (-78.5oC), so if you touch it with your bare skin, it can give you a burn similar to a freezer burn.
- Dry ice goes directly from a solid to a gas, skipping the liquid state. This is called sublimation.
- Use tongs or wear gloves to handle the dry ice. Don’t pick it up with your bare hands.
- Don’t place dry ice directly onto counters or tables because it could damage them. Place a towel underneath it before putting it on any surface susceptible to damage.
- Dry ice should be used in well-ventilated areas because the gas produced as it melts could make breathing difficult due to the extra carbon dioxide in the air.
- For more safety tips, where to buy dry ice, and other information about dry ice, see the article below.
1. Foggy Gurgling Bubbles
- Large container
- Dry ice
- Liquid dish soap
- Warm water
To make a bubbling concoction with dry ice, simply mix in some liquid dish soap. You will create foggy suds that will literally gurgle and bubble out of the container.
The best place for this experiment is either outside or in a place that can be cleaned easily because the soap suds will more than likely spill over the container. You can keep the container in the sink and allow the bubbles to flow down the drain as well.
First, fill a container about halfway full of water. Add a few drops of the dish soap. Stir the soap into the water. Add a few pieces of dry ice and watch what happens.
The soap bubbles will have fog in them from the dry ice. The mix will also begin to produce bigger than normal bubbles of soap. As more dry ice sublimates in the water, the bubbles will spill over the container. Notice the sound the mixture makes. It makes a sound similar to water boiling.
More dry ice and soap can be added if the mixture stops reacting. More warm water can also be added if the dry ice isn’t sublimating quickly enough.
2. Pop the Cap
- Small piece of dry ice
- Empty film canister
You can make a film canister blow its lid by putting dry ice inside of it. Put a piece or a few pieces of dry ice inside an empty film container. You want it to be half to ¾ of the way full. Then put the lid back onto the canister.
Point the film canister away from you and anyone else or sit it somewhere flat and take a few steps back. The pressure will begin to build inside the container from the gas being released as the dry ice melts. When the pressure builds up enough, it will pop the cap off the container.
The cap can fly a few yards so safety goggles are a good idea. If you try this with another type of container, such as drink bottles, the pressure can cause the bottle to explode, causing damage to the ears, or, the lid could fly off and hurt someone. So be careful when using dry ice in sealed containers.
3. Balloon Blow Up
- Dry ice
- Empty soda bottle
Blow up a balloon using dry ice. First, put a few pieces of dry ice into the bottle. Then quickly put the opening of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle.
The gas released as the dry ice sublimates will begin to blow up the balloon. When the balloon is fully inflated, take it off of the bottle and tie the end.
You can blow up another balloon with your breath. Then throw that balloon and the balloon filled with dry ice (carbon dioxide) up into the air to see which falls quicker.
Carbon dioxide weighs more than air, so it will sink quicker.
4. Milk Bubbles
- Dry ice
Want to make your milk bubbly? Put a few pieces of dry ice into a cup of milk and watch as the dry ice causes the milk the bubble and fog.
5. Screaming Metal
- Dry ice
- Metal spoon
- Other pieces of metal
If you place metal objects on dry ice, it will cause the metal to make an eerie screaming sound. To begin, place a piece of dry ice on a flat surface. Make sure to wear gloves or use tongs when handling the dry ice. Place a towel underneath the dry ice before laying it down. Don’t place the dry ice directly on tables or countertops because it could damage them.
Once the dry ice is in place, put a quarter on top. After a few seconds, the quarter will begin to vibrate and make a squealing sound. You can also try the experiment with a metal spoon. Hold the spoon onto the dry ice. It will also screech.
Metal knives and most flat metal pieces will also scream when in contact with the dry ice. Experiment with different types of metal to see what kinds of sounds you can make by placing the metal onto the dry ice.
The sound is made as the dry ice begins to sublimate (turn to a gas) around the metal. This causes the metal to vibrate very quickly. This vibration is the screaming sound that you hear.
6. Frosted Over
- Dry ice
- Small objects
Coat objects in a layer of frost using dry ice. Lay a piece of dry ice out. Make sure to put a towel underneath it if it is on a counter or a table so that it won’t damage the surface.
Place an object on top of the dry ice and watch as the object becomes covered with frost. It works best with objects that are not flat. Metal objects such as screws work well because the metal will cool quickly.
Experiment with various shapes and materials to see which produces the best frost effect.
7. Put Out the Fire
- Dry ice
- Warm water
- Empty bottle with a sports cap
Many types of fire extinguishers have carbon dioxide in them. Make a fire extinguisher using dry ice. Put warm water in a drink bottle with a sports cap.
Add a few pieces of dry ice and put the lid back on. Keep the sports cap popped open throughout the whole experiment.
Fog will begin to come out of the opening. Point the fog at a lit candle and the fog will put out the flame.
8. Spooky Fog and Bubbling Concoction
- Dry ice
- Warm water
- Food coloring (optional)
As dry ice melts, it creates an eerie fog that clings to the side of the container as it rolls out to the ground. It is easy to create a concoction that looks like something a mad scientist would have made.
Get a container and fill it about ¾ full of warm water. It is best to avoid glass containers because the dry ice will chill the container. Glass containers are more prone to shattering when cold.
If you want to add food coloring, mix a few drops of it into the water.
Add a few pieces of dry ice into the container using tongs or while wearing gloves. The mixture should begin to bubble and gurgle. Fog will start rolling out of the container.
If the reaction starts slowing down, you can add more dry ice. If you can see pieces of dry ice that haven’t melted yet, you can add more warm water.
This is a great experiment to do for Halloween. Dry ice makes great fog effects. Just make sure the area is well ventilated.
Bonus: Dry Ice Drinks
Dry ice can be used to make carbonated drinks or to give drinks a special fogging effect.
john on November 27, 2019:
Drek on November 04, 2019:
Lots of fun on Halloween with the kids. Easy to find and relatively simple and cheap.
CupcakeLover_12 on October 10, 2019:
Really nice and cool Science Fair Project Idea!
Ms. Allison on July 13, 2019:
What fun ideas! We will have to try the screaming quarter and screeching spoon! And, maybe even the bubbles.
odoyoenosh on February 14, 2019:
this site is very lively I like it.
GamingDino22 on September 16, 2018:
i got good ideas for this website
Steve Bazata on April 25, 2018:
I love science
cameron dinger on April 23, 2018:
bob222 on June 02, 2017:
Your experiments are so much fun to do.
krushi on November 02, 2015:
zainab on August 31, 2014:
dear science lover im in school and we are doing science experiment about friction and i love ur ideas i will try them thnx !!!
Cool on March 01, 2014:
Darrell on October 29, 2012:
Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on October 21, 2011:
Science Lover - Yes, everything is safe to put down the sink. The leftover dry ice will melt away after a bit. Or you can run hot water over it to melt it away faster. Just make sure the area is well ventilated if you do.
Science Lover on October 21, 2011:
What do you do after you are done with the experiment? Do you drain it in the sink?
RGEES on September 12, 2011:
Great article! ))
Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on June 26, 2011:
cydro - Thanks! Childhood is one of the best times in life. Experiences are new and everything seems amazing. I just settle for acting like a kid most of the time.
Blake Atkinson from Kentucky on June 25, 2011:
Very nice hub, and it's really in depth. Makes me want to be a kid again!
Candace Bacon (author) from Far, far away on May 30, 2011:
I love to see kids getting excited about learning. Science can be fun. Thanks for commenting.
Beth100 from Canada on May 29, 2011:
These are fabulous experiments and the screaming metal was the hit with the lab class. They're still discussing it! It's become an annual experiment in our high school. Thanks for providing more ideas!