Dry Ice

News Excerpt:
Five people started vomiting and complained of cuts on their tongues after eating dry ice being served as a mouth freshener in a restaurant in Gurugram.

Dry Ice: 

  • Dry Ice is the common name for solid carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • It is formed by cooling and condensing carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. 
    • It was discovered in the early 1900s and began commercial production in the 1920s.
    • Unlike regular ice, it doesn’t melt into a liquid as it warms up. 
      • It converts directly back into its gaseous form in a process known as sublimation.
      • At -78° C, dry ice is also significantly colder than the 0° C surface temperature of regular ice.

What happens on contact with Dry Ice:

  • According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), dry ice is categorised as a lethal substance.
    • If touched or ingested, it can cause severe damage to the skin and internal organs.
    • If it is not handled with care, it can cause respiratory problems since it releases carbon dioxide.
    • Exposure leads to burns, ulcers in the mouth and stomach and frostbite (since dry ice is a coolant).
    • It can cause vomiting and once it comes in contact with the mouth, a person can throw up blood and experience breathlessness.
    • Dry ice hazards can also lead to asphyxiation, the state of being deprived of oxygen. 

Uses of Dry Ice:

  • Serves various purposes across industries such as medical, food and beverage, and research. 
  • Used by restaurants for a dramatic effect while serving dishes. 
  • Used in the entertainment industry, for creating special effects.
  • Used in shipping products in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
    • With a surface temperature of -78 degrees Celsius, dry ice helps keep products frozen during transportation. 
    • As it does not melt, it keeps goods free from moisture. 

What Is the Difference Between Dry Ice and Liquid Nitrogen?

  • Liquid nitrogen is much colder than dry ice which also makes it more dangerous to handle. 
    • Because it’s a liquid and not a solid, it’s also more challenging to work with.
  • Liquid nitrogen is commonly used as a refrigerant due to its very low temperature.

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