Dry ice safety is essential for all dry ice use. Make sure everyone understands the dangers of contact and the need for proper ventilation.
Caution: Always supervise children around the dry ice.
Dry ice temperature is frigid at -109° or -78°C. Always handle dry ice with care and wear protective gloves whenever touching it. It is harmless if touched briefly, but prolonged contact with the skin will freeze cells and cause injury similar to a burn.
Normal air is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and only 0.035% Carbon Dioxide. If the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air rises above 0.5%, CO2 can become dangerous. CO2 is heavier than air and will accumulate in lower spaces. Do not enter closed areas that have stored dry ice before airing out.
PICK-UP TIME AND TRANSPORTING
Please pick up the dry ice when needed or have it delivered to your location. It sublimes 10 to 15 pounds every 24 hours, depending upon the insulation. If transported on a flatbed truck, make sure to protect it from rain, or you may look like a special effects vehicle with smoke-like fog pouring out behind you. One truck was stopped by the police when this happened.
Treat dry ice burns the same as heat burns. Otherwise, if only red, it will heal at the same rate as a regular burn. Apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and bandage when the damaged skin site needs to be protected. See a doctor if the skin blisters or peels off.
DRY ICE Beverages
It is OK to put big chunks of dry ice into beverages for drinking as long as the dry ice is food grade. (CO2 used in the beverage industry.) It will carbonate the drink. Do not swallow the dry ice pieces.
DRY ICE “Firecrackers”
This injury came from holding the bottle when it ruptured! Luckily it missed both eyes!
Small pieces of dry ice placed in an empty one-liter plastic soda bottle filled ¼ with hot water may explode sometime after the top is tightly screwed on. It also may crack and only fizzle. Wear gloves and eye protection because the resulting explosion will shoot the bottle top and pieces of the plastic bottle. Please make sure no one is holding the bottle or near it when it bursts.
Some municipalities classify these dry ice “firecrackers” as dangerous “terrorist explosives” and outlaw them even though this eruption sprays only carbon dioxide gas and water. Therefore DO NOT DO THIS IF IT IS ILLEGAL IN YOUR COMMUNITY!
It is even more dangerous to use anything other than plastic bottles, and it should never be allowed!
TOO MUCH CO2
Small concentrations of CO2 can cause quicker breathing, headaches, and sleepiness in some but are otherwise not harmful. Danger! If dry ice has been left in a closed auto, van, room, or walk-in freezer for more than 15 minutes, open doors to allow adequate ventilation before entering. Exit all areas containing dry ice CO2 if you start to breathe quickly, develop a headache, or your fingernails or lips start to turn blue. These are signs that you have too much CO2.
Unwrap and leave it at room temperature in a well-ventilated area. It will sublimate from a solid into a gas.
Do not leave dry ice on tiled countertops or floors as the extreme cold could crack them.
It may be best to wear protective face protection and, in confined spaces, wear a breathing apparatus supplying oxygen.
PROVIDE adequate ventilation.
Have additional ventilation for indoor projects and monitor yourself and others for shortness of breath or dizziness.
A CO2 monitor may be helpful.
Caution:Keep dry ice away from children or others who could take the dry ice. You may be liable for any injuries. Keep the working area well ventilated at all times.
Store dry ice in an insulated container. The thicker the insulation, the slower it will sublimate. Do not store dry ice in a completely airtight container. It may explode. Keep proper air ventilation wherever dry ice is stored. Suffocation can occur in too high a concentration. There are Commercial Storage Containers available for safe storage.
ASCO offers wall-mounted solutions for area monitoring and portable devices for personal protection. ASCO CO2 Gas Detectors ensure continuous and automatic CO2 content measuring in the ambient air using infrared absorption measuring (NDIR).