We are having a party at work, we want to use dry ice as an effect, can we put it into our punch and then drink it? Is it safe?

Asked by: Jan Casella


The first question should be 'what is dry ice'. The so-called dry ice is in fact solid carbon dioxide (CO2). At room temperature, carbon dioxide sublimates at room temperature (and pressure), without at all going into the liquid phase (hence the name, 'dry').

Dry IceThere is no danger at all in consuming a drink that was cooled down using dry ice - most of the carbon dioxide will just sublimate into the air. The 'worst' thing that can happen is, some of the carbon dioxide may dissolve in the drink. If this happens at high pressures, what you will get is a carbonated beverage (soda). However, the solubility of carbon dioxide in water is small at room conditions (that's why your coke bubbles when you open the can) and the 'taste' of carbon dioxide will not be noticeable at all. In any case, it will work much better than regular ice, which will eventually melt and water your punch down.
Answered by: Yasar Safkan, Ph.D., Sofware Engineer, Noktalar A.S., Istanbul, Turkey
Also, this being a party and all, you should be aware of a few basic safety precautions. Carbon Dioxide is not toxic in itself. However, it will displace oxygen and if any of your party people stand over the punch bowl and breath in the vapors for a long period of time they will pass out due to a lack of oxygen. You may want to be watchful for this. Also, dry ice is VERY cold. If any one holds it in their hand for a long period of time (As in 'I can hold this longer than you!') it will cause damage to the skin and underlying tissue.
Answered by: Tom Young, B.A., Science Teacher, Whitehouse High School

Yes, of course, this question is the equivalent of CAN YOU DRINK COKE... dry ice is nothing but frozen carbon dioxide, which sublime to form the smoking effect that you want to see. It's perfectly safe. However, you need to make sure that your dry ice source is reliable, that no contaminates are in the ice. Though, theoretically, pure dry ice is perfectly safe. (Though you shouldn't eat it since it can easily burn you.)
Answered by: John Brimacombe, Ph.D., Head of physics department at WVSS