OF DRY ICE
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: Keep dry ice away from other people. You may be liable for any injuries. Keep the working area well ventilated at all times.
Normal air is 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and only 0.035% Carbon Dioxide. If the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises above 0.5%, CO2 can become dangerous.
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 pant and breath quickly, develop a headache, or your fingernails or lips start to turn blue. These are signs that you have breathed in too much CO2.
Carbon dioxide is heavier than air.
Because CO2 is heavier than air, it will accumulate in lower spaces. Do not enter closed storage areas that have or had stored dry ice before airing out completely.
Always provide adequate ventilation.
Always provide additional ventilation for indoor projects and monitor yourself and others for shortness of breath and dizziness. A CO2 monitor may be helpful.
Dry ice temperature is frigid at -109F 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. It may be best for some work to wear protective face protection and, in confined spaces, wear a breathing apparatus supplying oxygen.
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. Dry Ice’s sublimation to CO2 gas will cause any airtight container to expand or possibly explode. Keep proper air ventilation wherever dry ice is stored. The sublimated CO2 gas will sink to low areas and replace oxygenated air. Suffocation could occur in too high a concentration. There are Commercial Storage Containers available for safer storage.
PICK-UP TIME AND TRANSPORTING
Plan to pick up the dry ice as close to the time needed or have it delivered to your location on the day required. It sublimates at a rate of around 10% every 24 hours, depending upon its 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. See a doctor if the skin blisters or peels off. Otherwise, if only red, it will heal at the same rate as a burn. Apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and bandage only if the damaged skin area needs to be protected.
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 and then filled ¼ to ½ with hot water may explode immediately or sometime after the top is tightly screwed on. It also may crack anywhere and only fizzle. Wear gloves and eye protection because the resulting explosion may blast out pieces of the plastic bottle and the bottle top. Please make sure no one is holding the bottle or near it when it explodes. Although the explosion sprays mostly carbon dioxide gas and water, many municipalities classify them with more dangerous firecrackers or “terrorist explosives” and outlaw them. Therefore DO NOT DO THIS IF IT IS ILLEGAL IN YOUR COMMUNITY! For safety, DO NOT EVER ALLOW CHILDREN TO DO THIS. Always supervise children around Dry Ice. Of course, using anything other than plastic bottles is even more dangerous and by no means should ever be permitted!
TILED FLOORS OR COUNTERTOPS
Do not leave Dry Ice on tiled countertops or floors as the extreme cold could crack them.
Here are two Material Safety Datasheets available online.
Airgas – https://www.airgas.com/msds/001091.pdf
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 unattended where children or others could take it. You may be liable for injuries.