What Happens When You Put Dry Ice in Water?

What Happens When You Put Dry Ice in Water
••• Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Placing dry ice into water, such as fruit punch, to simulate a boiling cauldron of witch’s brew is a favorite Halloween party trick. Science teachers commonly use this effect to demonstrate the principles of sublimation and condensation.

Dry Ice

“Dry ice” is actually solidified carbon dioxide (CO?). Carbon dioxide is normally a gas at room temperature and pressure. When it is put under high pressure at low temperature, however, it solidifies into what is commonly called “dry ice.” When the dry ice is brought to atmospheric pressure, it remains solid and very cold (-109 °F).

Sublimation

Dry ice is called “dry” because it never enters a liquid state as it melts, unlike ice, which melts into liquid water. Dry ice transforms directly to gaseous carbon dioxide. Scientists refer to this process as “sublimation.”

Water

The water does not play a critical role in this process other than containing a substantial amount of heat that is transferred to the dry ice to sublimate it. Many other liquids could be used in place of water, but water is particularly good at retaining heat (in scientific terms, water has a high specific heat capacity).

Condensation

When a liquid such as water turns into vapor, the process is called evaporation. The reverse process is called condensation. At low temperatures, water will condense out of the air into very small droplets of water.

Clouds

Clouds are actually very small droplets of water (or possibly even ice crystals) that have condensed in the low temperatures of the upper atmosphere. The “witches brew” effect produced by dry ice in water represents the same phenomenon on a smaller scale. As the carbon dioxide sublimes, the gas-phase carbon dioxide is still quite cold. Water in the air condenses in the cold carbon dioxide gas as it rises above the water.

Fun Fact

The long tails of comets are the result of carbon dioxide and other ices sublimating as the comet passes close to the sun.

Related Articles

How Does Sugar Affect the Freezing Process?
How Does Water Enter the Earth's Atmosphere?
Science Projects on What Liquid Freezes Faster
How to Separate Blue Food Coloring From Water
How to Dissolve Rock Salt
Why Does Water Melt Ice?
Phase Transitions: Types, Classifications, Properties...
How to Make Ice Crystals
What Color Would a Tester PH Paper Turn if Is Dipped...
Examples of Condensation in Everyday Life
What Are the Causes of Evaporation & Condensation?
Why Does Sugar Affect the Freezing Point of Water?
Why Does Adding Salt to Water Make it Colder?
How to Extract Iodine From Potassium Iodide
Three Ways That Polarity of Water Molecules Affect...
What Is the Density of CO2?
What Is the Temperature Around Icebergs?
Why Is Water Good to Use in a Calorimeter?
How Does Water Freeze?
How to Calculate Freezing Point

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!