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Understanding Dry Ice: A Comprehensive Health and Safety Guide

dry ice – Dry ice, known as “es kering” in Indonesian, is not like conventional ice or ice cubes made of water. Although a valuable tool in various industries and applications, its unique properties also present certain health risks that need to be carefully considered.

What is Dry Ice?

Dry ice is solidified carbon dioxide (CO2). Unlike traditional ice that melts into water, dry ice sublimates directly into carbon dioxide gas. It’s often used to keep food and beverages cold within specific containers. Several sectors utilize dry ice, including:

Unlike regular ice cubes that melt at room temperature and are harmless, dry ice is solid CO2 and transforms into gas instead of liquid, posing unique health and safety challenges.

The Differences between Dry Ice and Regular Ice

1. Composition

2. Phase Transition

3. Temperature

4. Applications

5. Environmental and Health Impact

6. Storage and Handling

7. Disposal

The Uses and Facts of Dry Ice

1. Equipment Cleaning

Dry ice is employed for cleaning equipment, particularly in the industrial sector. As it leaves no wet residue, it’s excellent for cleaning delicate or breakable items. Its applications range from food preservation and beverage carbonation to preserving specimens in hospitals and pest control.

2. Zero Waste Disposal

Cleaning with dry ice doesn’t leave waste products, only the remnants of the original materials and contaminants.

3. Eradicating Harmful Microorganisms

Dry ice cleaning can eliminate bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli from surfaces like stainless steel, ceramic tiles, and plastic. This can be vital for the food and beverage industry.

4. Non-Consumable

Dry ice must never be ingested, as it can cause internal burns and release gas. Even storing it improperly can crack containers. If swallowed, symptoms of poisoning may include headaches, breathing difficulties, nausea, and vomiting.

5. Proper Ventilation is Essential

Store dry ice in well-ventilated areas to minimize CO2 buildup. Inhaling the sublimated CO2 can lead to suffocation. Sealed containers can even explode, making ventilation critical to prevent fatal accidents.

6. Responsible Disposal

Improper disposal of dry ice can cause serious damage to sinks and trash cans. Allow any unused portions to sublimate in a well-ventilated or outdoor area, keeping it away from children and pets. Pouring warm water can expedite the process.

7. Longer Lasting than Regular Ice

Dry ice lasts longer than regular ice, surviving up to 24 hours in a cooler, or even 3-4 days when stored with other dry ice. Several factors influence its longevity, such as the cooler’s thickness, the amount of dry ice, and external temperature.


While dry ice offers many benefits across various industries, it can also be dangerous if not handled properly. Awareness of its properties and following safety guidelines can help to harness its potential while minimizing risks to health and safety.

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