If, for one reason or another, you've accidentally put dry ice in the sink and down the drain what should you do?
Should you just leave it or should you do something to get it out? Will it be ok or will it cause damage to your sink or pipes?
If you've accidentally put dry ice down your sink you should NOT just leave it.
If you've accidentally put dry ice in the sink or down the drain DO NOT just leave it. It will freeze the water in your pipes and break them. Instead, run hot water down your sink continuously. The hot water will make the dry ice sublimate (turn to gas) and continual flow will stop it from freezing.
If you've got a ceramic sink then the extreme temperature can also crack your sink entirely. So even if the dry ice doesn't go down the drain it can still cause damage.
How long you need to run the hot water for will depend on how much dry ice you've put down your sink.
If you've just put a small cube or two of dry ice in your sink then it'll be gone in a couple of minutes. However, if you've put a large chunk in there then you'll want to run hot water for a lot longer.
There is no guarantee that this will stop the dry ice from getting lodged in one part of your pipes and cracking them, but it'll greatly reduce the chances of this happening.
You learn how long dry ice lasts in water if you want more information on how long it'll likely take your dry ice to disappear completely and for your pipes to be safe.
What Happens If You Just Leave Dry Ice After Putting It Down The Sink?
What happen if you accidentally put dry ice down the drain and instead of running hot water you just leave it?
Because dry ice is so cold at -109ºF (-78ºC) it'll likely freeze the water in your pipes. As water freezes it expands and this expansion can crack or break your pipes.
There are lots of stories online of people accidentally cracking their pipes after putting dry ice down the sink.
There's this report from someone on this Reddit thread:
I put dry ice in a sink one accidentally. Cracked right open. Still keeps me up at night
Below you can see an image of frozen water that formed around some dry ice pellets that went down someone's sink. How they got the ice out I have no idea:
There's also the below report of someone who cracked their entire sink because someone put dry ice in the sink.
This wasn't an issue with the pipes but the sink itself was ceramic and either got cracked due to the extreme cold of dry ice or because there was water in the sink which the dry ice froze.
Someone put dry ice in the sink and it cracked…Got a hairline crack going all the way through my sink. It goes all the way through and is leaking below.
What To Do If You've Accidentally Put Dry Ice In The Toilet?
Maybe you've done it for a prank, a great instagram photo or to make your toilet look spooky during Halloween.
But what should you do if you (or someone else) has accidentally put dry ice in your toilet?
If you've put dry ice in your toilet don't leave it there and don't flush it. The water will freeze and crack your toilet and/or pipes. Get some gloves and pull it out of the bottom of the toilet. Don't touch dry ice with your bare hands or it'll burn you.
Dry ice is extremely cold. At -109ºF (-78ºC) it'll first make a smoke like you can see in the image (from this reddit post) above but then it'll cool down the water so much that the water will start to freeze.
Depending on how full the toilet bowl is and how much dry ice has been put in there you'll probably have a few minutes before the water will start to freeze.
This is enough time to take a quick photo of your cool smoking toilet and then run and grab some gloves and get that dry ice out of there.
If you have a toilet that has a lot of water in it and you've only put a small amount of dry ice in it then the dry ice will likely disappear before the water freezes and you can then flush the cold water down the toilet once the dry ice is gone. So in that case you don't need to do anything except leave it.
Another solution is to get some hot or boiling water and pour that into your toilet bowl. The heat from the boiling water will both stop the water in your toilet from freezing and it will make the dry ice disappear more quickly.
The hot water will also help to give you more of the cool smoke effect you may have seen on the internet or at halloween parties.
Just be careful you don't pour the water with so much force that the dry ice cubes go down the drain. If this happens they may get stuck in the drain, freezing the water (and sewage) in your pipes and cracking or breaking your pipes.
No one wants sewage water leaking all through their house because of cracked pipes caused by a dry ice experiment gone wrong.
What Happens If You Leave Dry Ice In The Toilet
If you leave dry ice in the toilet you'll likely get about 5-15 minutes of the smoke effect before the water gets too cold to release any vapor.
Once you reach this point the water is getting so cold that it's close to freezing temperature.
If you used a large amount of dry ice and if there isn't much water in your toilet then your toilet water will freeze.
Because water expands in all directions as it freezes there is a high probability that your ceramic toilet will crack or break from the frozen water.
If you flush the dry ice the same thing can happen in your sewage pipes. Once cracked you'll have sewage water leaking through your house and an expensive plumber's bill to replace it.
This risk means it's not really worth it to put dry ice in the toilet. You're better off using a bucket or bowl of warm water instead.