How to Dispose of Dry Ice Safely? 

With time, the use of dry ice has become increasingly popular.

However, the disposal of dry ice disposal is tricky, but there is a variety of ways you can do it safely. When disposing of dry ice, there are multiple things one must take care of, to avoid any unpleasant incidents. Dry ice is beneficial, but if not treated with care, it can result in wounds and injuries.

In this article, we shall discuss safe ways of handling and disposing of dry ice.

Dry Ice: Pre-Disposal Steps

  • When handling dry ice, make sure you are wearing protective gloves. If you have worked with dry ice, you can understand how it freezes at sub-zero temperatures. As a result, exposing your naked skin to dry ice can result in burning and frostbite.
  • Dry ice must never be stored in airtight containers. Instead, try to put it in an open area. Dry ice releases carbon-dioxide, and if locked up in an airtight container, it can result in an explosion.
  • Never dispose of dry ice with your everyday trash. You may not know, but dry ice takes a day to sublimate fully. Furthermore, as discussed in the previous paragraph, the sublimation of dry ice results in the release of carbon dioxide. Carbon-dioxide reduces the amount of oxygen in an area, thus making it hard to breathe. This is potentially harmful to young children, and people suffering from respiratory issues.

How to Dispose of Dry Ice Safely?

Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways dry ice can be disposed of safely.

Styrofoam Coolers

Using a Styrofoam cooler is one of the easiest ways to dispose of dry ice. Unlike your everyday airtight containers, these coolers have in them, a layer of Styrofoam. Styrofoam serves as a means of insulation.

All you have to do is place dry ice in it, and leave it to sublimate in a safe area. These coolers have ventilation, which allows carbon-dioxide in dry ice escape.

As discussed above, 8 to 10 pounds of dry ice takes at least a day to sublimate fully. Make sure the cooler containing dry ice is placed in an area that is not frequented by people.

Room Temperature Sublimation

Another easy way of dry ice disposal is to place it in a room with ample ventilation. Since it is compressed carbon-dioxide, the remaining dry ice will sublimate.

However, make sure that there are no children or pets in or near the room where the dry ice is. After dry ice has fully sublimated, do not skimp on discarding the containers as well as the gloves used.

Remember, these things should only be dumped at special junkyards for hazardous materials.

Use Hot Water

Refrain from throwing dry ice down the drain. While in the pipe, it will continue to sublimate, thus damaging your plumbing.

If some of your dry ice has gone down the drain, start pouring hot water to quicken the process.

What if You Touch Dry Ice?

We have discussed in the previous paragraphs that dry ice can make your naked skin burn and blister. Most people do not know that it sublimates at -109.3 Fahrenheit.

At such low temperatures, if it comes in contact with your skin, it can seriously injure you. Therefore, it is better to avoid any physical contact with something as lethal as dry ice. If need be, refrain from handling dry ice, without wearing safety gloves.

In some cases, you understand the significance of safety gloves, but they aren’t readily available. In such cases, your everyday kitchen mittens will do.

If mitts do not ensure proper insulation, continue to use them, but do not touch dry ice for too long. If possible, use a sturdy metal tong to pick up dry ice.

Does Dry Ice Melt?

The process in which solid turns to liquid is known as melting. Dry ice turns into the gaseous state, instead of turning to the liquid state, which is known as sublimation. During sublimation, dry ice changes directly to carbon-dioxide. Therefore, it cannot be referred to as melting.

You may find it strange that dry ice is far colder than the ice in your refrigerator. Therefore, to keep it frigid, it is stored at a temperature of -109.3 Fahrenheit.

Interestingly, dry ice can be easily transported from one way to another. Therefore, it is the perfect cooling option for things that need to stay frozen.

Uses of Dry Ice

Let’s take a look at some of the most common uses of dry ice.

Meat Processing

Being extremely cold, dry ice keeps the temperatures low, which helps is meat processing.

Dry ice minimizes the chances of meat spoilage and keeps meat from going bad.

Flying Insects

Flying insects such as mosquitoes tend to sting, which results in malaria and similar diseases. Small pieces of dry ice attract mosquitoes and pull them away from humans.

If using dry ice for mosquitoes, make sure they are kept in separate rooms, for it can be potentially harmful.

Oil Industry

In oil industries, dry ice is used for cleaning tank bottoms. Sludge and paraffin tend to build up inside oil tanks. A chemical is mixed with dry ice is stirred in a tank’s base to get rid of these pollutants.

In this process, oil is separated from water and removed. As a result, tons of oil can be saved.

Animal Branding

Branding is done on animals like horses, dogs, cattle, and is extremely painful. Dry ice is used to cool the branding alcohol, thus making the process less painful for the animals.

In animal branding, methyl alcohol is used. Nitrogen is too cold and therefore is not a good option. Dry ice is the best alternative to cool off branding alcohol.

Baking

Dry ice is a common component of the baking process and is used by most bakers out there.

It is mixed with baking ingredients and prevents yeast from growing until it is time for it to grow.

Carbonated Liquids

Have you ever wondered what makes mineral water sparkle?

CO2 is used all across the world by beverage businesses and makes their soda pop.

Tile Removal

Tile removal is difficult, but dry ice makes it easier. Dry ice freezes the tiles, thus shrinking them.

Shrunk tiles are easy to remove. The coldness of dry ice breaks the bond between the tile and the adhesive that holds it to the ground.

Medical Purposes

When removing warts from a patient’s skin, doctors use dry ice or liquefied nitrogen to freeze the skin.

Also, in medical research, biological samples are transported in dry ice, for further testing. It is also used for freezing bone marrow, while it is shipped.

Fishing

In commercial and sport fishing, dry ice protects the fish from getting spoiled while being shipped to another place.

However, if you are carrying fish in dry ice, make sure you are using an insulated container, for airtight boxes can explode upon sublimation.

Dry Ice Handling Mistakes to Avoid

As discussed above, dry ice can be dangerous if treated carelessly.

Therefore, it is essential to handle it with safety gloves on. Here are some of the common mistakes people make when handling dry ice, and why to avoid them.

Purchasing It Long Before Use

This mistake has less to do with the dangers of drying ice and more to do with it not lasting longer. We have already talked about how quickly dry ice turns from solid to gas.

Regardless of whether it is stored in a cooler or not, it continues to sublimate. So, if you want to use dry ice for a Halloween event, try to bring it in when the event starts. If brought too early, it won’t last the night.

Storing Dry Ice in the Freezer

Before using dry ice, make sure you have it stored properly. Keeping dry ice in the freezer is not such a good idea. Although it won’t turn into gas, it can surely turn the fridge off.

On the flip side, storing dry ice in an airtight box can cause an explosion. The best thing you can do is to store dry ice into an insulated or Styrofoam cooler. Put the cooler in a room that is not frequented by your family members and pets.

Lack of Ventilation

Placing dry ice in an unventilated area is one of the most unforgivable mistakes you can make. Dry ice turns to carbon-dioxide upon sublimation.

If carbon dioxide gets trapped in a space, it will reduce the amount of oxygen, which makes it difficult to breathe. When using dry ice, make sure there is enough ventilation to protect yourself and your family members.

Conclusion

Dry ice isn’t your everyday waste and must be disposed of differently. Never dump it in your trashcan, dumpster, and also do not throw it down the drain.

When storing dry ice, make sure it is stored in an insulated or Styrofoam container. Ensure maximum ventilation and refrain from storing dry ice in airtight containers.

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