When you would like to send perishable food to family and friends who live in a different state, how do you go about it? A genius idea is using dry ice. Put dry ice safely covered, of course, and store your food in it and ship it to them. Unfortunately, people don't talk about enough is how to dispose of dry ice safely. We will discuss how to get rid of dry ice using a couple of methods.
- What Is Dry Ice?
- Uses Of Dry Ice
- How To Get Rid Of Dry Ice
- Safety Precautions When Handling Dry Ice
- The Bottom Line
What Is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide gas. Ever heard of the expression" burning cold"? This is literally what dry ice will do to you if you touch it just for a couple of seconds. Dry ice is extremely cold. It is safe to say you need to take special precautions when handling dry ice. Dry ice will cause frostbite if it comes into direct contact with your bare skin.
Before disposing of dry ice, you might have uses for it until you are done with it. How you store dry ice will determine your safety as well as your family's. Dry ice can be very dangerous. If it is well-stored in an airtight container, the gas buildup will cause an explosion. Wearing insulated gloves will protect the user from frostbite.
Dry ice turns into carbon dioxide gas through sublimation which can cause asphyxiation and death. Because carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, it settles lower in the atmosphere. So when you breathe it in, you will not even notice what is happening until you have difficulty breathing. That is how deadly it is. Therefore, it is important to store dry ice safely in a well-ventilated area.
Uses Of Dry Ice
Dry ice remains frozen at -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. It is colder than regular ice. Dry ice can be used to flash-freeze foods. It can also be easily transported. Even though dry ice is harmful, it does have some uses that make it very useful. One thing you should be really careful not to do is to dispose of dry ice into a trash can. Dry ice has the following uses:
1) Oil Processing
Over time, oil tanks get build-up which is polluted. Dry ice is therefore used to remove these pollutants and clean the tanks. A certain chemical is mixed with dry ice and poured into the tanks. As a result, oil is separated from the oil. This oil does not have to be wasted. On the contrary, it can be refined and used for many purposes.
Dry ice has an extreme cold. This low temperature is ideal for freezing food. Especially when freezing food such as meat and meat products. You are able to have your food staying fresh for longer even when there is no power. However, you do have to keep your food in a zip lock bag. Dry ice is always releasing carbon dioxide, and it is therefore important to wear gloves when handling it.
3) Insect repellent
Insects such as mosquitoes cause malaria, which is an incredibly deadly disease. However, mosquitoes are attracted to sources of carbon dioxide. Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide. At temperatures above -109 degrees Fahrenheit, it starts to sublime. It thus drives mosquitoes away from humans. It thus acts as a repellent.
4) Medical Procedures
There are some minor medical procedures that require dry ice to carry out. As such, dry ice is used to remove warts and skin tags. The skin is frozen, and this makes it a much easier procedure to carry out. Dry ice is also used to freeze biological samples that need transportation. Bone marrow is also frozen while transported.
How To Get Rid Of Dry Ice
When dry ice is left at normal room temperature, it sublimes. This means that it turns into gas directly instead of liquid first. Regular ice, however, melts into a liquid when it is left at room temperature. Therefore, dry ice is harmful because it is solidified carbon dioxide gas. Because of this, it is very important to know how to dispose of dry ice safely.
a) Put It Outside
One of the easiest and trouble-free methods to dump dry ice is to leave it outside. However, you need to wear insulated gloves when handling dry ice. Also, wear protective gear and make sure that you are not too close to the dry ice. If too much carbon dioxide gas is inhaled, it will cause difficulty breathing and ultimately suffocation and death.
Therefore, it is important to ensure that even if it is outside, no children no pets go near it. Children and pets have the tendency to put everything in their mouths. A backyard or fire escape is an ideal place to put the dry ice to sublime. You should also have the dry ice on cardboard. Dry ice evaporates, leaving behind no residue.
b) Increase The Surface Area
Another way you can dispose of dry ice is by breaking it up into small pieces. Essentially crushing it with a hammer into really small pieces. By crushing the dry ice, you have increased its surface area. What this does, is expose more of the dry ice in a ventilated area. As a consequence, the dry ice will be fully evaporated.
To reiterate, it is important to take extra precautions like wearing safety glasses. A shard could go into your eye and blind you. You could also get severe frostbite. You need to do this in an area that has proper ventilation. After the sublimation process is complete, discard the gloves and any other materials in a local waste collection site for hazardous waste products.
c) Put It In Warm Water
You have to be exceptionally careful when you want to safely dispose of dry ice. First of all, it is imperative to ensure that you do not touch dry ice with your bare hands. Next, place ice into the warm water gently. However, it is better to use hot water to dispose of dry ice. This is so that heat is continuously added. This should be done properly in a well-ventilated space.
Do not leave dry ice in a small space with poor ventilation. Thus ensure to open all windows and openings, ensuring that the carbon dioxide gas does not build up. There is need for airflow and circulation in the room. The warm water will speed the process, and the dry ice will fully sublimate. Additionally, it is pretty cool to see carbon dioxide in its gaseous form.
d) Throw It In The Pool
One of our favorite ways to dispose of dry ice is, especially when it is in a large amount, is to throw it in the pool. Yes, that's right. Throw it right into the pool and enjoy the show. It's very entertaining to watch it fog up. It also works well to dispose of the dry ice.
The dry ice in the pool sublimes quickly because water does a much better job at transferring heat than air. Because it is outside, there is automatically good ventilation. Carbon dioxide gas can therefore react with the water to form weak carbonic acid, which is not potentially harmful to human beings. With time the gas is replaced with oxygen, thus getting rid of it.
e) Leave Dry Ice Inside
What happens when you cannot leave dry ice outside to turn to gas? It could be because you live in an apartment building or have no space outside. Worry not. We have a solution for you. Dispose of dry ice by leaving it inside your house. You could put it in a room that is barely used. However, ensure to have a good airflow going. It should be in a well-ventilated area.
There is a need to place dry ice in a container made of hard plastic. You could also leave it plastic bag. Dry ice disposal should not be a complicated process. However, do not dump dry ice in your toilet. It will ruin the toilet parts. In the same vein, garbage chutes and garbage disposal will cause a build-up in carbon dioxide.
Safety Precautions When Handling Dry Ice
Dry ice in its entirety is pretty dangerous. However, it can be found in grocery stores and home centers. As long as precautions are taken, such as working with it in maximum ventilation. Additionally, placing it on a solid surface as well as a flat surface is advised. Storing dry ice in a small freezer or cooler should not be attempted. Neither should it be in an enclosed space.
Touching dry ice should not be attempted with bare skin. It will cause frostbite, which is very painful. In the case that you are transporting dry ice, you should be careful to put the dry ice in a container and then placed in a large cooler. Even better, it should be placed in a large freezer to ensure there isn't too much carbon dioxide gas build-up.
The Bottom Line
Disposing of dry ice should be done using a method that will ensure everyone's safety. It should, therefore, not be dumped in a garbage chute. This is because we want to prevent carbon dioxide gas from accidentally causing death. In the case that you, however, need to transport dry ice, you should be careful and place it in a large freezer.