How to Safely Handle Dry Ice

Posted On August 5, 2015


It should go without saying that dry ice is an extremely cold substance. If you’re going to try to handle dry ice, you need to do so cautiously and with care. It must never come in contact with your skin, as it is actually cold enough to freeze your skin cells and cause a burn-like injury. Of course, the injury will only happen with prolonged contact, not a brief touch. Regardless, you must always, always wear a protective glove or at least use a towel when handling dry ice. Here are other initiatives you can take when working with dry ice.

  1. Protective Gear

As mentioned before, you must always wear gloves to prevent any burn that might come out of touching dry ice with your bare hands. However, you must aim to protect the other parts of your body too. To complete your ensemble, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, as well as closed-toed shoes. You want to be prepared for whatever were to happen when dealing with dry ice, like if it accidentally touches another part of your body or falls on your toes. It is best to avoid any accidents—better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Storage

Do not try to store your dry ice in a container that is completely airtight. It might seem like a great idea at first, but it is actually one of the worst mistakes you can make. This is because since the dry ice vaporizes into carbon dioxide, the gas will cause the container to expand, and possibly explode. Inside, store it in an insulated container. The insulation will slow the vaporizing process, so be sure that any place the dry ice is stored has proper ventilation. The carbon dioxide released from the dry ice will displace the oxygen in the air.

  1. Transportation

The worst drawback one can have with dry ice is how quickly it is known to vaporize. When transporting dry ice, always pick it up as close to the time it is needed as possible, and make sure you’re carrying it in a well-insulated container. The issue with having the dry ice in a car, without the windows open and fresh air coming in, is that the displacement of oxygen can mess with your breathing and present a danger to you. Make sure that you have a working ventilation system to prevent possibly fainting from lack of oxygen.

If something goes wrong and you contact a burn injury from handling the dry ice, treat the dry ice burn as you would any other burn, but go and see a doctor if the skin blisters or starts to peel. However, if it does not do any of that, the injury will only redden, but it will heal as any other burn does. Be sure to apply antibiotic ointment in order to prevent an infection, and only bandage the area if the skin needs to be protected.  

Upon disposing your dry ice, leave it in a warm room with a good ventilation system. The dry ice will vaporize and you’ll be rid of it in no time. Good luck, and stay safe!