Dry ice can be just the thing that you are looking for to make a simple drink remarkable. Just a little bit of dry ice will make any drink release a whimsical smokey appearance. If you want to pull of this spectacle, here's what you need to know.
To use dry ice in drinks safely, never touch or swallow the ice with bare skin. Handle dry ice with tongs and add small amounts to a drink right before you serve it. Wait for the dry ice to melt before you drink from a glass. Dry ice can be extremely dangerous if it isn't handled carefully.
There is a good amount of prep required in order to create a successful dry ice-infused drink. Follow the instructions below to create the best (and safest) effect.
What is Dry Ice?
Dry ice is the solid form of Carbon Dioxide. When the gas is cooled down and pressurized, it becomes liquid. The liquid is then cooled down even more until it freezes. Dry ice needs to be stored at temperatures below -109 degrees Farenheight in order for it to stay in its solid state. The extremely cold temperature of dry ice makes it a danger to humans, as we can get freezer burns or frostbite from just touching it.
However, dry ice has some useful properties. It can be used to keep things frozen in a place where having a freezer is impossible. It can also be used to flash-freeze foods. One of the most commonly seen applications, however, is when dry ice is used to create smoke for dramatic effect.
Dry ice gets its name from the fact that, unlike water ice, dry ice doesn't melt into a liquid. It turns directly into a gas from its solid state, which makes each block of dry ice a repository of readily accessible smoke. By simply immersing the dry ice in water (or some other liquid) you can create a dramatic smoke that rolls off of the top of its container. Because Carbon Dioxide is denser than oxygen, it will stay near the ground instead of rising away like most smokes.
Though it has useful applications, it can also be a dangerous substance. In addition to being dangerously cold, this ice is toxic as well. The smoke is able to suffocate anyone, and if kept contained, it can build up explosive pressure. Because of the large number of accidents that can happen around dry ice, practice extreme caution while using it. Always wear gloves to protect your hands.
Where To Buy Dry Ice
Dry ice can be purchased at many supermarkets, though most stores only keep it in stock seasonally. Dry ice is in the highest demand during the month of October, as it supplies haunted houses with fog and parties with spooky cocktails. You can usually find it near the front of a supermarket, in a special freezer that keeps it at appropriate temperatures. It doesn't cost too much, and most uses of dry ice don't require you to buy a lot at a time. A couple of pounds should do just fine for whatever use you want to put it to.
When you go to purchase your dry ice, bring a cooler to keep it in solid form. A normal freezer won't do the job because dry ice needs to be kept at a much cooler temperature than just about anything else that you can buy. Just be sure to keep the cooler in a well-ventilated room with the lid off. Poor ventilation will allow the toxic gas to build up, and a closed cooler will build up pressure inside, which could result in an explosion.
Because dry ice will quickly evaporate without a special freezer to contain it, you should wait to buy your dry ice until a few hours before you want to use it. Plan out how you want to use it beforehand and prepare to use it immediately. This often means mixing the drinks that you want to serve the ice in before you purchase the ice.
How To Serve Dry Ice In Drinks
There are two main ways that you can serve your dry ice enhanced drinks safely. The first and most popular way is to put a little bit of dried ice into each glass. This will make each individual glass give off smoke. You can do this by breaking up your blocks of dried ice beforehand and distributing them among glasses using tongs.
In order to prepare the dried ice to be put into drinks, put a block of dried ice into a plastic bag and crush it against the floor. Keep the bag of small, one-inch-sized pieces of dry ice in a cooler until right before your drinks will be served. Right as you serve them, add one of the cubes into the glass to give the individual drinks their own smoky cloud.
In order to protect your guests or anyone who drinks from the glasses, warn them to only take sips from the top of the glass until the dry ice has enough time to dissolve entirely. The drink will be completely safe about five minutes after you add the small cube of ice, and the liquid on top will always be safe to drink. You should also warn your guests not to inhale much of the smoke that is released from the drink, as too much carbon dioxide can cause dizziness and other problems.
The alternative way of using dry ice in drinks is much safer and is usually used when serving drinks to children. Rather than preparing several glasses with dry ice, you can prepare one large punch bowl with dry ice. Fill the punch bowl with the drink that you wish to serve and add a block of dried ice to the bottom. Then, ladle out your drinks from the smoky bowl into cups. Because the individual cups will have no dry ice in them, they will be completely safe, though they will not give off their own smoke.
As long as you exercise caution while using dry ice, you should have no problem serving exciting drinks to your guests.